We spent the past week trekking through Mongolia and Siberia – some of the most extraordinary places we've ever seen, filled with seriously rough conditions.
The “roads” were not what we expected on this leg of the Peking to Paris rally. They were much worse. Despite the challenges, the unbelievable views, the wonderful people, and the Gobi Desert made up for everything. We spent every night at a new camp – doing nighttime assessments of the car, trying to get some rest and avoiding the bugs.
Our trek off the grid went like this:
Day 8 Tsagaan Uul to Undurkhangai
The miles were adding up in Mongolia which proved to be challenging on the car, but we wanted to push through. On our fourth day in, the trailing arm snapped clean off, and we lost a rear shock. Our tow mount was hanging too low and while going over a bad rock, it ripped right off.
This left us with a couple of options:
- Get towed to the nearest big city for repairs and get docked on time
- Patch it up the best we could at camp but potentially lose another shock in the process
- Keep driving another 1000km with one rear shock to try to get to Novosibirsk
We chose option 3.
Day 9 Undurkhangai to Achit Lake
Despite extremely rough roads, we pushed on to Achit Lake. It was wet and steep on our way to the camp, but by putting it in first gear and charging up the hill, the 912 passed many cars needing a tow. Arriving at the campsite was such a rewarding feeling. Despite the miles between us and the next big city, coming into camp felt like a small success.
Day 10 Achit Lake to Kochevnik
Two days after the shock was gone, it was clear the car had serious issues, but with a border crossing ahead of us, it'd be an easier day. Border crossings make for lighter days on the cars, but more challenging on our patience. It seemed to be a constant game of hurry-up-and-wait. Although the roads were supposed to be easy, we lost another tire and our windshield popped out. Our A-pillars took such a beating that they cracked and started rattling. After duct-taping the windshield back in, we drove through the border into Russia.
Day 11 Kochevnik to Aya
From our campsite in Kochevnik, Novosibirsk was only a few hundred miles away where we could do actual repairs on the car. We smelled gas and knew the car needed some serious work but we were so close to the city, we agreed to push the car a little bit more to get through Siberia.
Unfortunately, 150km through the day, the car began making some serious noises and we were forced to stop. After going over 750km on a single rear shock we decided that we finally needed a tow.
We were out in the middle of nowhere in Siberia waiting for the truck, and just when we thought it couldn’t get much worse, a hail storm started.
After 9 hours of waiting, the tow truck finally arrived. On the lift to the truck bed, the car got some body damage. Dirty and exhausted, we got to rest on the driver's bed, with loud Russian music in the background adding to the overall experience.
Day 12 Novosbirik
12 hours later we got to Novosbirik, and searched around for a shop that could help with our repairs. Sleep deprived and delirious, we started tearing the car apart. The Russian mechanics were really helpful, but the only way communication was possible was through Google translate. With our help, it took one-and-a-half days and three guys to complete the repairs so we could get back on the road to Paris.
After going through the 912, our list of items to fix was a little long:
- Torsion tube
- Trailing arm fabricated for shock
- 2 shocks
- 1 axle
- Exhaust welded
- Motor secured (dropped from rattling)
- Gas tank welded (leaked)
- Oil and plugs (running warm from lots of dust)
- Windshield and A-pillars welded
- Mount 6 tires and alignment
- Bumper welded (fell off)
- Front and rear hood brackets (brackets and racing straps broke)
- Clean, tighten and lube car
- Speedo + tachometer (but who really needs those)
It felt like the car was going through a full restoration. The motor, transmission, and gas tank were out, the fenders and windshield were off and parts were scattered everywhere.
Luckily, we didn’t lose much time. After about 36 hours of working on the Porsche, it was about as ready as it ever would be, so we set back on the road. The past few days were really difficult, but they’ve made this whole experience that much more memorable. Now we’re off to Kazakhstan and then back north to Russia. Only 5,700 miles until Paris.