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Report: Peking to Paris, day 27

Published 23 June 2013

L'viv to Košice

The teams left behind the friendliest town to the sound of cheering crowds and a starter's-gun with a difference. The early-morning send-off from L'viv saw a bizarre display of locals in traditional costumes, plus four riflemen with muskets and gun-powder charges who fired away, the echo of the gunfire bouncing off the tall hotel behind amplified the sound as cars lined up under the special arch to the street leading out of town.

With time in hand, and a road-closure permit for the afternoon set in stone, there was time for a bit of relaxing, fettling and sitting around in the sun to do late morning. We met up with a team of extra time-keeping marshals, who have driven out from the UK to reinforce our on-event organisation for the final days across Europe. Tomorrow, the teams willl run no less than four Time Trials on closed roads, working with the local motor-federation, plus a racing-circuit test, and that calls for a lot of extra help – reinforcements organised some months ago have now arrived, and they got down to work this afternoon.

The first closed-road test in Slovakia was running smoothly with a twisty and demanding challenge up the side of a steep mountain-side laced with hairpin bends and short straights, climbing up a dark and thickly wooded slope… first gear was called for by many coming out of tight bends.

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With the European Trophy at stake for the Kiev to Paris section many cars were working hard. In the Vintageants, again Mike Reeves in car 38, the V8 Ford Coupe, proved to be the quickest on 8:04, just a couple of seconds ahead of car 15, the Ford Model A, now going better thanks to finding a faulty electrical cable from the coil that was the cause of yesterday’s misfire, with the red Chevy - who say they are backing off and taking it easy - still stroking it along up the hill to set 8:33.

In the Classics, the best time was set by Peter Lovett in the two-litre Porsche 911, on 6:59, the only car to break below seven minutes, with Gerry Crown smoking the big V8 Leyland up the hill four seconds adrift in 7:03; the big yellow V8 Holden pick-up was 15 seconds off Gerry’s pace on 7:17. Torque and low-down grunt conquers hills this steep and the red Mercedes V8 450SL Coupe of Clamens and Lourseau made a great noise as they crested the summit before the short down-hill section on 7:41, the Kirkham’s red Datsun was close behind on 7:43, and the Italians were loving it in the nimble Lancia Fulvia, powering through the corners with the 1600cc V4 engine screaming in protest as the accelerator rarely lifted, to chalk up a time of 7:44.

The climb was hard work, and demanding - 'damn gut-wrenching' was how Rhys Timms in the Australian MG SA saloon called it – but everyone was in total agreement at the end: This has been a day all about crossing a border in plenty of time for an afternoon of good fun.

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