Competitors in the world's longest car rally, from London to Sydney in Australia, are entering one of the toughest stages of the event as they head from Istanbul towards Iran.
Competitors in the world's longest car rally, from London to Sydney in Australia, are entering one of the toughest stages of the event as they head from Istanbul towards Iran. Emerging in the lead was a team of Mercedes, which had taken up four out of the first five positions.
SYNOPSIS: As the cars arrived in Athens or Friday a Holden, driven by Australians Bretnall Goldsborough and Michael Coles was among the 60 competitors still going, as well as the American Jeep team--although they've had teething problems with their new vehicle.
In first place at the Athens stage point was the Mercedes team, followed by Scotland's Andrew Cowan and Poland's Sobieslaw Zasada in a Porsche. But many of the drivers found themselves with serious problems. One of the most hair-raising incidents was experienced by Australia's Bruce Mudd. After the steering on his team's car failed, he had to sit on the mudguard and steer it through the heavy rush hour traffic in Athens by kicking the wheels.
The next official rest break for the drivers, as they set off for Istanbul, wouldn't be until they arrived in Tehran 4,000 kilometres (2,485 miles) away.
The time allowed for the stretch between Athens and Tehran will be 67 hours, with a break of just six hours before the cars set off on the next leg to Bombay. Britain's Paddy Hopkirk was in sixth position in Athens and the Australian Range Rover team led by Evan Green were optimistic about their chances.
The cars arrived in Istanbul at night and crossed from Europe into Asia over the Bosphorus bridge, heading for the mountains of eastern Turkey and the deserts of Iran. Bad roads and the scorching heat of the desert were expected to take a heavy toll between Istanbul and Tehran. But car 13, a Mazda, was still going strong despite its unlucky number.
The rally organisers, Singapore Airlines, reported that most crews were beginning to relax and enjoy the adventure of taking part in the most gruelling motoring event ever staged. There'd been several cases of competing crews assisting each other when they were in difficulties.