Day 14 Thu 23rd Sept – Belokurikha to Semey (Kazakhstan) – 548 km

Day 14   Thu 23rd Sept – Belokurikha to Semey   (Kazakhstan)  – 548 km

Update 24/09/10 21.12: Julie was able to email me today so I have left this update as her own words and the final paragraphs of are further details from her subsequent voicemail.

“Hard going again. Organisers of the rally have said that this is by far the toughest rally they have organised. Kms per day were determined based on better roads. 581 km a day when you average 40 kph is tough. There are potholes, gullies etc.   We have had about 5 massive whacks to the bottom of the car from unseen holes in the road. Tim’s heart sinks praying no damage to car. My heart stops because I am so scared!  I worry that we’ll hit a hole and get pushed in front of oncoming traffic.

So many cars are badly damaged with broken springs, axles, steering, shock absorbers so today must be so taxing for them. We had all thought that the worst was behind us but we were wrong. Took 90 mins this morning to rebuild a wheel that had been so severely damaged by potholes that the split rim could not be removed from the wheel.  Hub and drum removed from damaged wheel and fitted to spare on roadside. Even with the help of Oscar, a lovely passing Kazak, who spent the 90 mins with us doing all sorts of tasks, it was challenging.

Just stopped to check on Peter and Colin (car 20) who were roadside. They were repairing an existing bodged spring repair but are now on the move

On another note don’t think that they get many blondes in Kazakstan either!  Haved posed with so many men I cannot count. Tim does not seem to be getting jealous. Maybe he feels safe in the knowledge that gold gappy smiles don’t do it for me

Half way through the kms for the day and it is already  3 pm. We left at 7.22 am. Scenery not beautiful enough to compensate so the last couple of days have been, dare I say it, boring!  Bored in the Buick!  But that is the first time we have felt like that.   Jx”

At the end of the day they found themselves in a nice hotel with ice, vodka and a choice of wine – a nice reward after 2 hours waiting to cross the border. Friends suffered six puntures today and are understandably feeling a bit fed-up.

Due to the Russian border closing for lunch yesterday some crews were still arriving at the hotel in Belokurikha at 05.30. With another border crossing into Kazakhstan later today they had no choice but to shower, drink a coffee and start all over again. That’s endurance rallying pushed to the limit by bureaucracy. Let’s hope they can stay awake until Semey – pro-plus anyone?