Day 9 -- Olgy to Mankhan
Day 8 was an off day for Team USA and the rest of the TransSyberia competitors. The boys did not file a story yesterday: "All we did was relax and go over the car and the route instructions again! Who would be interested in that?" Us!
What a difference a day makes in the TransSyberia! This was our first Mongolian stage and it couldn't be more different than what we experienced in Russia. First of all, there are no roads in Mongolia and the roads that do exist are just dirt tracks. The special stages, if this first one is any indication, are going to be more and more rugged -- and that should play right into our hands!
Today's special stage went very well for us. At first we had a few navigation issues, but between Colin and me, we talked and worked our way through it together. We are definitely a great team. I guess that comes from us being really good friends... At one point we couldn't find the checkpoint and the route instructions weren't much help. So after talking it out, we simply drove up a nearby mountain and found it from there.
The rest of the route was really challenging -- it had ravines, boulders, water crossings and marshy areas. It seemed like every turn had another challenge waiting for us. And the rocks were so big! And really sharp too!
We found this out first hand when we had two punctures. One was my fault -- I got too close to a rock and cut the sidewall. The second, well, this area is just really tough on tires with a lot of flinty, sharp stones. I have to say that overall, the BF Goodrich tires have been nothing short of spectacular. I have heard stories from Dad about all the trouble they had last year with another brand of tire, and the BFGs have been virtually bulletproof. But even they can't save you when you drive the sidewall into a rock!
The stage was also dangerous -- the rally leader, Team Middle East, which had been leading in the overall standings for days, hit a huge pot hole. The driver, Said Rashid Al Hajri hurt his back. They took him to the nearest hospital for observation. His co-driver, Tim Trenker wasn't hurt. It is things like this incident and the accident Team Italia had the other day that makes it clear that the TransSyberia Rally is serious business. Colin and I wish Said and Tim good luck and we hope they are alright.
At the end of the day, we had really made some serious progress. After our (bogus) penalty, we were 13th in the standings -- we finished the day in 8th place!
So after another great meal and a quick once-over for our Cayenne S TransSyberia, we called it quits for the day. I can tell you, we can't wait to get back at it tomorrow!
Ryan & Colin