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Sky Drivers

Part one of a two-part series

Half way around the world is a long way
to go to get lost in a Porsche, to get dirty
. . . and crash

December 27, 2007|By Laurance Lapspecial to wheelbase communications

Dirt. It’s everywhere.

Gumming up the keys of my laptop computer, clogging the zoom lens of my camera. It’s in all of my clothing. There’s even dirt in my dreams. And then in the memories of unzipping the tent every morning to see another perfect, yet absolutely different-from-last-night, landscape. Dirt in my nightmares, too. Of the ground rushing up to meet us as our Porsche Cayenne tumbled end over end. There was dirt all over the inside of the vehicle and dirt mixed with blood. My blood.

Until then, all was going quite well. Ex-Porsche factory race driver Kees Nierop and I were running in the top 10 of the Rallye Transsyberia and were skimming across a grassy plain, the satellite navigation system telling us the next stop was straight ahead about three miles.

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Across the plain, rally cars were scattering in a dozen different directions, following a dozen different ways to the same point. Having finally broken into the top 10 after a good run the day before, we had talked about how we were going to take things easy, maintain a steady pace and stay safe. As we drove toward the crest of the hill, Nierop eased into the Cayenne’s brakes, not knowing what was on the other side.

We expected to actually drive down. We did not expect the ground to be replaced with sky. All four wheels left the ground and we paused to hold on in midair before the front left corner dug into the ground. There was a moment when Nierop looked over from the driver’s seat to ask if I was OK, only to be cut off by the final impact that shattered the windshield into a million pieces, tore by wristwatch from my tensed arm and also detached the engine from the car, tossing it away from the main wreckage. There were parts strewn everywhere.

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