Day 5 -- Tyumen to Omsk
We had a fantastic day today! We drove the 500k to the start of the Special Stage, which was about 50k long itself. The start was delayed for a half an hour because it was really dry and dusty -- so dusty that we couldn't even see that track made by the cars that went through before us!
There was a lot of waist-high grass, which wasn't there when they first laid out the rally a bunch of months back. Since it was going to be almost impossible to see, they gave us a bunch of waypoints. It didn't help the early starters because some of them got pretty lost.
Colin and I discussed it and decided that instead of taking our 12th starting start, we opted for a rear start, which we were allowed to do. Judging by the dust, it was the right move, I think.
I think we rolled off second to last and the track was pretty well burned-in by that time. Because of that, we were able to carry a massive amount of speed throughout the stage.
With all the dust, just about everybody was having overheating problems. So Colin and I decided that since our strategy is to conserve the car until we get to Mongolia, we ran fast, we could have gone faster. We played it conservatively, engine-wise. And for a little insurance, we opened up all the windows and cranked up the heat. It must have helped because we were the only team that had no problem with engine temp.
Some of the other teams didn't do so well -- one of the Russian teams lost an engine and is out and the British team went out in a heartbreaking way -- their car burned to the ground, probably from the heat setting off all the grass that had accumulated under the car. Really sad. We had been kinda cooperating with them and with Kees Nierop and Laurance Yap in the Team Canada entry, and now they are both out.
But we are really pretty happy with the day. As we looked around the bivouac at the end, ours was the only car that didn't need to be worked on! And, while we have a CV joint that has a damaged boot, the mechanics think it's OK.
So it's off to bed. Tomorrow will be a long day with a 700k leg and a 70k Special Stage. The weather tomorrow won't be great -- they are expecting rain. So all that dust will turn to mud. We think we are really well placed. We finished the day in 12th and we have only done about 15% of the off-road stuff, and we are getting better with every stage. There is a lot of the TransSyberia Rally left to go!
Tomorrow, on to Novosibirsk!
Ryan & Colin