Morning had broken at about 4.30 am and it was a clear day, so far.
The hotel we stayed in was very good and food was excellent.
The city was quiet at that time and the police still had a presence directing early risers to their cars parked a couple of hundred meters from the hotel.
Breakfast commenced at 5.30 and many competitors were preparing their cars (vintage) to start going out at 7.00.
Buses were ferrying drivers and navigators from the hotel continuously.
The bulletin (short for amendments) was five pages long. A lot had changed since the recce teams had put the route book together so naturally, in a country such as Kazakhstan that is developing rapidly took a bit to understand and incorporate the changes onto the book. You’ve just got to get it right or the chances are you will err en-route.
All done and away at 8.25 looking for the way out of the city.
A modern new bridge outside the city of Irtysh, and cars ready to depart the Time Control in correct order
There were to be 4 STC’s and 7 TC’s. This is a heavy schedule considering that we have to cover 556kms today. But if getting to the starting points correctly and on time the event can be good fun.
The first STC was great fun on an open paddock with farm like tracks. The distance was 8.24 kms in a time of 8 minutes, average speed of 67kph.
It was a soft rough course and surface with mud holes and water holes. About two thirds of the way, the Russian competitors, who started one minute behind us, passed in a wash of mud going like a bat out of hell. As he passed his car swerved and fishtailed as if it was going to roll. Our windscreen was covered in mud and we couldn’t see the track ahead. Squirting water from our water bottles cleared up the vision enough to get to the end. Crazy stuff.
We got in in 9 minutes so we lose points for the one minute.
Then onto the next STC, which when we got there, had been cancelled. We were expected to cover the course at our leisure to maintain our mileage totals. But doing this showed just why this stage was withdrawn from competition. We nearly rolled whilst just having a leisurely look. It was just too dangerous, so good on the ERA for deciding to cancel.
Then on to two STC’s in a row. One after the other. On a field with tracks going every which way. The total for the course was twelve kms in twelve minutes.
There were just so many tracks that you would have to be excused for not having selected the correct one. It was so complicated that there were many, including us that were just too perplexed to find the correct route.
It was good fun but frustrating.
After this last event we had some 200kms to get to the MTC at the Marriott hotel in Nur-Sultan.
Nice cloud structure
Straight newly completed concrete motorways that stretch so far into the distance. You get the feel that Kazakhstan is developing into a very well structured country. Vast fertile land and mining is allowing the country to prosper as they harness their potential.
New motorway construction and Denise covered in mud, again
Whilst travelling the motorway Denise decided to lose the electric overdrive gear.
This means travelling at a slower pace while using more fuel.
At the hotel Steve donned his overalls and began evaluating the reason for the fault. He’s still at as I write this blog.
The city that we entered is truly startling! New buildings of glass, stone and concrete abound. Designs that are amazing and modern. We couldn’t really assay these while driving but will have a look in the morning before we leave. This city surpasses some of the more well-known capital cities of the world. It’s really an eye opener.
Tomorrow we leave base at 9.25am. The trek is for 416kms. We camp out for the last time in this rally at Balkashino.