Sun to Red Sea Rally
17th June 2002
Day 15 -
(Tukey) to Damascus (Syria)
CALLINAN – GETS
SERIOUS IN SYRIA
Some great mountain roads, a bit slow
going in places early on but spectacular distant views.
A tarmac stage in the mountains
before we drop down to the Syrian border. Our Syrian friends
will lay on a formal welcome at the tiny frontier. Welcome
to Arabia - it's different, not just the signs all in fretwork
Arabic writing but the whole life style is just very relaxed
and very polite.
Then a run to Damascus
which is the worlds' oldest permanently inhabited city and
a chance to take an evening tour of the city and it's souks
Our hotel is 20 minutes
out of Damascus because there's no way you'd want to try driving
in the centre amongst the million yellow cabs each one which
is piloted by a Syrian who goes like Schumacher on steroids.
For the second successive
day Keith and Mary-Ann Callinan blitzed the opposition with
a stunning time over the 22 km tarmac stage – the last in
Turkey - to record their third stage victory.
Today’s stage was fast hilly tarmac, well suited to the bigger
engined cars and from there it was a run to the Syrian frontier
where a warm welcome awaited the competitors. The Minister
of Tourism’s department had laid on a slick Fast Lane to process
the cars through the normally time-consuming procedures.
A band and a troupe of traditional dancing girls greeted the
competitors all of whom were presented with gifts of flowers
and scarves. “Quite the most impressive welcome we’ve had
so far,” said John De Stefano as he struggled with a local
The big blip of the day was the American BMW of Paul Shaver.
“Peter Hall overtook us and we tried to keep up. Not a real
smart move. I went off backwards 50 feet down and bank and
got towed out by an army truck with about 20 officials present
all laughing and giving instructions. No damage apart from
a broken mud flap and a shattered ego,” reported a chastened
Hall’s problems were confined to the rope that was holding
their alternator on burning through. The bolts had broken
two days ago. What to do about a repair tonight? “Buy some
more rope,” said a straight faced Peter Hall.
Steve Blunt’s Peugeot had developed a wonky steering
rack that was making coffee grinder noises. “It was giving
me heaps of erratic understeer and with 300 ft drops into
Turkish nowheresville - I backed off a bit on that stage,”
said Blunt. more...