Day 17

Istanbul to Sliven, Bulgaria

A big day really:
  •   First a briefing telling us nothing new.
  • Someone  tried to get into my side of the car and broke the mechanism.
  • Lost glasses and keys by driving off with them on the roof.
  • Incredibly treacherous road conditions.
  • Hassles at the border crossing.
  • Stopped by police.

  • There will be at least 2 stages tomorrow (29 April) and they will run the last one again if they can.
  •  30th No stages.
  • 1st May, two stages.
  • 2nd May will be a rest day in Rijeka (ie no stages).
  • 3rd May will have two stages run twice.
  • Beyond that, possibly nothing until the UK

So, after the briefing, down to the car and my door doesn’t open! Seems someone has yanked on it and broken the mechanism.  I put my glasses and the car keys on the roof while trying to sort out the door.  They probably lasted there until we accelerated into the not insignificant Istanbul traffic.

The border crossing seemed to have four parts to it.  We sailed through the first.  At the 2nd one it turned out that when the car was checked in at Ankara they had entered the number plate incorrectly.  There was a 2nd ‘H’ on the end.  This seemed to be an enormous problem for the guy and he eventually had to call his manager. 

We then moved to the next spot and he had the same issue but his solution was to send us back to the other point.

Eventually they sorted this out and we moved to the Bulgarian side.  These guys wouldn’t accept that our rego was legitimate.  They wanted the original copy (we had a photocopy only) and they wanted proof that it has insurance.  They spent a lot of time discussing it and making phone calls.  But eventually we were through.

Meanwhile, the Chris Palmer Mustang wasn’t allowed across the border because it didn’t have proof of its rego, so they loaded it onto a trailer and took it across (presumably treated it as cargo).

left: a rally official with paperwork issues at the border - parked and waiting until it's sorted out.
At a town further down the road we were stopped by a policeman at what looked like a RBT, but after he pointed at the headlights and looked happier when Mark turned them on, we worked out that he wanted them on. 
He then spoke one word loudly GO!
Looking at other traffic it may be the law here that you have to have them on.

We decided to drive the route of the stages today to see the conditions and maybe fiddle with shock absorber settings.  Roads were wet as it had been raining fairly heavily.  The roads must be above the snow line in winter as there are signs for snow chains being required. The road had many black patches which seem to have no grip at all. If you open the throttle you get either wheel spin or the car snaps sideways, understeer is endemic, and braking is only slightly better than we had imagined.

 We are really wishing we had the softer rally springs to put back in.  We have backed the shocks off several clicks but that’s not making a huge difference.  But, it’s not only we who struggled.  We have since learned that Joost in his Porsch and Ondrej in the Z have panel and suspension damage from offs.  And the section was being run as transport!!

... Joost spun and hit a post.
... Francis Tuttle, the Porsche maestro,  is looking for a tyre groover to improve the Porsche's grip in the wet.

Day summary: I have a new stamp in my passport.  I’m in Bulgaria.  I wonder if they have red wine.
Next: Day 18: Onto Serbia