Day 3 -- Kazan to Yekaterinburg Well, after some consultation last night and this morning with the Porsche mechanics, it turns out that our toasted transmission (like all Cayennes) has a limp-home mode that runs it in top gear. And with...
Day 3 -- Kazan to Yekaterinburg
Well, after some consultation last night and this morning with the Porsche mechanics, it turns out that our toasted transmission (like all Cayennes) has a limp-home mode that runs it in top gear. And with nobody in Kazan that could fix our car, it was decided that we should, as long as we could before it gave out, drive the 986-km route to Yekaterinburg today. There's a dealer here that might be able to help and the service vehicles were driving the same route we were, in case anything went wrong.
To be honest, I didn't think we'd make it through the morning, let alone the day, but some very patient and skillful driving on Kees' part (his trucking experience helped here, as we were constantly going between high and low range to get at least some acceleration out of the car) meant we did. And, as we skipped the special stage, we even got to today's end point before some of the other competitors.
While driving slowly across the Russian plains and into the Urals wasn't exactly the sort of day we were hoping for, it was nevertheless an adventure - each hill a major drama of whether we could make it up before the car gave up. Turns out, though, that it lasted and lasted. And while it may not have gotten better, from behind the wheel it wasn't feeling any worse.
It was also a pleasure to drive through the countryside at a pace that allowed us to take in all manner of interesting sociological sights. Such as the uncommonly high count of timber houses painted bright blue and yellow. Or the uniformly scowly faces of Lada 110 drivers. Or the truly odd custom of paying upfront for gas, pumping it into your car, and having to go back for more gas, or your change, if you've somehow miscalculated exactly how much a full tank was. They also don't take credit cards in most places outside of the major cities.
As I mentioned, we didn't get to do today's special stage, a fast 10-km section of gravel in the Urals. But we did drive the route to its start and picked things up from the end point - and were treated to the smiles and waves of hundreds of local children and families, out for a Sunday stroll when a bunch of rally cars happened to come blatting through their neighborhood.
They - and, despite a rough couple of days, WE - couldn't have been happier.
As for Ryan and Colin, our Team U.S.A. cohorts, they turned in another excellent day. With a total of nearly 1,000 kilometers to cover, they found themselves a little frustrated, dodging a lot of the same traffic as we did. After a consultation with his Dad, Rod Millen, via Sat Phone, Ryan is convinced that they should play the Russian part of the TransSyberia conservatively. He feels that while they can't make up big chunks of time in Russia, they certainly can lose a lot of it. And it's his feeling that a lot of our fellow competitors are turning in some good times, but are abusing their vehicles to do it. So by conserving the car in Russia, he feels he and Colin will be in good shape when they hit Mongolia.
So that is it from here... We'll update our status as soon as we know what our next step is.