The Peking to Paris Motor Challenge 1997

September 6 - October 18 1997

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The Peking to Paris Motor Challenge ended in France on October 18th 1997, after an epic 45-day journey across half the world, from Peking. The event was won by a 50-year old Jeep, ahead of a gaggle or pursuing classic and vintage cars of varying ages.


The Peking to Paris Motor Challenge 1997 Route

Saturday 6 September     Peking to Zhang Jiakou     230 kms
A fairly short first day, allowing time for the starting ceremonies in Peking, a run on the new motorway to the Great Wall for another Ceremonial Start and then through low mountains to Zhang Jiakou.

Sunday 7 September     Zhang Jiakou to West Baotou     507 kms
A longer day, into Inner Mongolia, along the southern edge of the Daqing mountain range, towards the great Yellow River.  Northern China is fairly industrious, we do our best to chose the quietest roads.

Monday 8 September     West Baotou to Yinchuan     594 kms
For most of the day the road follows the broad Yellow River valley through the characteristic semi-desert landscape of Inner Mongolia.

Tuesday 9     September    Yinchuau to Lanzhou     501 kms
Still following the Yellow River, south into Ningxia Autonomous Region, a largely Muslim province, passing ruined mud-built sections of the Great Wall before Zhongwei noted for its huge pagoda temple and giant sand dunes.

Wednesday 10 September     Rest Day in Lanzhou

Thursday 11 September     Lanzhou to Koko Nor     475 kms
First along the narrowing Yellow River valley with substantial mountains to the north and south, and into Qinghai province and its capital Xining the last town of any size before Lhasa. Leaving Xining follow a gorge and climb through increasingly spectacular scenery onto the edge of the Tibetan plateau, descending to the fertile shores of the Koko Nor, China’s largest lake.

Friday 12 September     Koko Nor to Golmund     580 kms
A short climb away from the Koko Nor through rolling green hills to Caka salt lake, then through a typical central Asian landscape and broad irrigated valleys flanked by barren mountains, before dropping to drive along the edge of the Tsaidam, strange region of desert, swamp and salt pans. Some of this road will be dirt and gravel.

Saturday 13 September       Golmund to Tuotuoheyan     439 kms
Golmund marks the start of the ‘Roof of the World’ section. Although mainly tarmac, the road across the plateau is constantly being repaired because of the severe weather conditions and diversions and delays are to be expected. Ground clearance is important on this section. First there is the long steep climb up to the Kunlun Pass (16,000 ft) the scenery is awe-inspiring with expanses of snow and moorland pierced by numerous peaks. Tuotuoheyan is an army barracks on the Tuotuo River, one of the major tributaries of the Yangtze.

Sunday 14 September     Tuotuoheyan to Nagqu     433 kms
Continuing at around 15,000 ft a steady climb takes us up to the highest road in the world, the Tanggu La at nearly 17,000 ft from where we drop to Amdo at the junction of the main highway to western Tibet, and continue to Nagqu through abundant pasture with huge herds of sheep and yaks. Remote empty and windswept.

Monday 15 September     Nagqu to Lhasa     341 kms
South from Nagqu the road improves and crosses a pass below the Nyanchen Tangla range descending through grassland to the thermal power station at Yangbajing. It is then not far to the Lhasa valley with the great Potala Palace looming over the city.

Tuesday 16 September     Rest day in Lhasa
Lhasa is the religious, cultural and economic centre of Tibet. Sightseeing includes the Potala Palace and the Jokhang Temple. Lhasa offers most of the facilities that might be needed for preparations for the hard drive into the Himalayas and a warm, friendly greeting from Tibetans.

Wednesday 17 September     Lhasa to Xigaze     255 kms
Although short in distance, this is tough day. Down the Lhasa valley to the Yarlung Tsang-Po, Tibet’s great river which we cross and turn off to the west. From here to the Nepalese border the road is almost entirely dirt or gravel and is often in poor condition. There is the long climb to the Kamba La (15,600 ft) at the top is a splendid panorama of the stunning scorpion-shaped turquoise lake of Yamdrok Tso and the peaks along Tibet’s southern border. The road drops down to the Yamrock Tso and follows the shore before climbing to the Karo La (16,300 ft) passing close to a magnificent hanging glacier. A broad flat valley brings us to Gyangze an attractive town dominated by a fortress captured and destroyed by the British during their incursion into Tibet. From Gyangze to Xigaze (12,600 ft), Tibet’s second largest town and site of the Tashillunpo Monastry one of the centres of Buddhism.

Thursday 18 September     Xigaze to Xeger     230 kms
Another tough day, the road from here to Lhatze is under construction and there will be off-road excursions requiring good ground clearance and careful handling. After some dusty plains climb to the Tsuo La dropping again to Lhatze where the road turns south and climbs through bleak high altitude moorland to the Lhakpa La (16,900 ft) the watershed between Tibet and India. Xeger at 13,800 ft is cold and windswept with the snow-capped Himalayas on your horizon.

Friday 19 September     Xeger to Nyalam      260 kms
A rough road and a tough day with possible off-road excursions along the valley of the Nien Chu, past Tingri and the best views of Mount Everest then a short climb past Xixapangma (26,300 ft) to the summit of the pass Lalung Leh (16,400 ft) The road then descends very steeply into the bare valley eventually arriving at Nyalam (10,000 ft). Between here and the Nepal border landslides and delays, hence the choice of a night camping at Nyalam.

Saturday 20 September    Nyalam to Katmandu  355 kms
From Nyalam in less than one hour the road enters a gorge into a different world with dense vegetation to the border at Zhangmu, from here there are long demanding sections packed with hairpins to reach Friendship Bridge and enter Nepal. From the border point at Khodari the road winds around terraced hillsides to the Sun Kosi river with a climb to Dhulikhel before the final descent into the Katmandu valley.

Sunday 21 September     Rest day in Katmandu
Possible crew change point for Touring Category competitors, general facilities for car repairs and good choice of hotel accommodation after the ‘camping’ experiences across Tibet.

Monday 22 September     Rest day in Katmandu

Tuesday 23 September     Katmandu to Kohalpur     498 kms
From fabled Katmandu down from the Nepal Himalayas to the East-West Highway, good quality road, smooth and quick, past jungle with parrots, monkeys, elephants – don’t stop at the tiger warning signs! Camping at Kohalpur.

Wednesday 24 September     Kohalpur to Nainital     364 kms
Today starts with good quality asphalt then, after a major river bridge becomes tough, rocky gravel for a short distance.  Route continues on a mix of broken asphalt and gravel with many river crossings to the frontier.  Easy roads in India to the quaint Himalya foothills town of Nainital.  Nainital was a renowned summer retreat during the days of the Raj.

Thursday 25 September      Nainital to Delhi         350 kms
A descent through great scenery on super roads skirting the Corbett Tiger Reserve down to the Northern Indian Plain.  Then a main run down to a superb welcome in the Indian capital – Delhi.

Friday 26 September     Delhi to Lahore     600 kms
Leave Delhi and head north on a main road route which takes us across the plain to Amritsar and then to the India/Pakistan frontier.  Following the frontier formalities there is a short drive into Lahore where a superb well appointed hotel awaits.

Saturday 27 September     Rest Day in Lahore
A lovely city with a terrific welcome and a great hotel.

Sunday 28 September     Lahore to Multan     343 kms
Past the Chhanga Manga Forest and following the railway line for many miles to the historical Fort City of Multan.

Monday 29 September      Multan to Quetta     624 kms
A hard, long hot day but many highlights, crossing the Indus River, Jacobabad, famed for its Colonial Architecture, into the mountains and through the Bolan pass and the amazing colonial railway and into the Ancient Fortress town of Quetta. The North-West passage frontier district has changed little.

Tuesday 30 September    Quetta to Zahedan     724 kms
A difficult day over rough roads following the railway through inhospitable country to the Pakistan/Iran border. Into Persia, ancient trading route to the West in the tracks of Marco Polo. A memorable day.

Wednesday 1 October     Rest day in Zahedan
Small. dusty town, a chance to recover.

Thursday 2 October     Zahedan to Kerman     558 kms
A hot day through the Dasht e Lut Desert on a smooth road over some dusty, wild and empty tarmac.

Friday 3 October     Kerman to Esfahan     675 kms
A long day ending in Esfahan one of Iran’s most famous ancient places and beautiful temples.

Saturday 4 October     Rest day in Esfahan
A day to take in some of the best sights of Iran.  The Main Square, dedicated to the Imam Khomeini, is wonderful with two amazing mosques to visit.  An opportunity to wind down and, just for a day, become a tourist.

Sunday 5 October     Esfahan to Hamadan     500 kms
Today’s route begins to take us away from the desert into a more agricultural area.  Through the town of Khomein, home of the Imam Khomeini to Hamadan, one of the oldest continually inhabited towns in the world.  A favourite retreat for Iranians during the hot months, Hamadan, at 1750 metres, can be quite cool and windy.

Monday 6 October     Hamadan to Tabriz     565 kms
Another day through mainly agricultural countryside.  Many little villages and towns and plenty of opportunity for a cup of tea and something to eat.  Good roads all the way.  Tabriz, the last stop for us in Iran, is a large industrial town with some good shopping and eating houses.

Tuesday 7 October     Tabriz to Palandoken      593 kms
Tabriz is the fifth largest city of Iran on a high plateau close to Lake Urmea. To the north is Azerbajdzan and the mountains of the Caucasus. The Main road climbs steadily into the Zagros mountains and passes into Turkey only 40 kms south of Mount Ararat (16,800 ft). From the border the road crosses several minor passes before coming to the valley of the River Aras at Palandoken.

Wednesday 8 October     Erzurum to Nevsehiv      739 kms
From Erzurum we take the 1968 London to Sydney route to Erzincan, destroyed by an earthquake in 1939, now a modern farming town.  On to a lunch halt at Sivas, an old town devastated by many invading armies but now a pleasant place to be.  Onwards to Cappadocia, past the town of Kayseri and through the shadow of Mount Aergius to pass some of the amazing ‘Fairy Chimneys’ as well as some cliff dwellings.  Neveshir is our overnight halt and, if you are in early enough, you might take the short trip out to Goreme, a fairy tale place of underground cave dwellings and fairy chimneys.

Thursday 9 October     Nevsehiv to Istanbul     733 kms
North from Nevishir along quiet country roads until the outskirts of Ankara, Turkey’s capital city.  We skirt Ankara on the Motorway and head westwards.  A short stop at the top of the Bolu Mountain pass and then back onto the motorway and into Istanbul for a well earned rest and some concentrated sightseeing.

Friday 10 October     Rest day in Istanbul
Sightseeing and possible crew change point for those in the Touring Category.

Saturday 11 October     Istanbul to Thessalonika     640 kms
The route follows the north shore of the Sea of Marmara to the Greek/Turkish border.  To the south is the Peninsular of Gallipoli where so many ANZAC soldiers died in World War I.  The route then follows the Adriatic coast through Kavala before taking a diversion north of the twin lakes of Volvi and Koronia to approach Thessalonika from the north-east.  The view from the hotel and parc fermé takes in Mount Olympus across the sea.

Sunday 12 October     Thessalonika to  Kaména Voúrla    460 kms
A short burst down the National Road is the prelude to a morning spent in the foothills of Mount Olympus before descending on the ‘flying’ monasteries of Metéora and a break for lunch in Kalambáka.  The afternoon sees the rally climb into the old Acropolis Rally’s tough territory before descending to Lamia and the Plain of Thermoplyae and the night halt in Kaména Voúrla on the seaside overlooking Euboa.

Monday 13 October     Kaména Voúrla to Patras     608 kms
An early start and another big mountain to climb.  The route goes up the modern Bralos pass and then tackles the road over Mount Parnossos before descending to the Vale of Delphi.  Ancient Thebes, Megara and Corinth lead to the Peloponnese and a spectacular run through the central mountains to Olympia and the site of the original Olympic Games in 776 BC.  A main road then brings the rally to the port of Patras, once famous for its export of grapes, but now home to the modern Superfast ferries linking Greece to Italy.

Tuesday 14 October     Ancona to Rimini     106 kms
One of the easier days since breakfast and lunch are taken on board the ferry and the only motoring is up the Adriatic coast to the night halt on Rimini’s sea front looking out over the Adriatic.

Wednesday 15 October     Rimini to Riva del Garda     451 kms
The day starts by heading into the hills and passing through the tiny Republic of San Marino.  It then descends to the southern edge of the vast Po valley and heads off to a lunchtime break at the home of Ferrari in Maranello.  The afternoon sees it heading north across the River Po near Mantua and then up the western side of Lake Garda to the night halt at its northern tip in Riva del Garda.

Thursday 16 October     Riva del Garda to Uberlinden     447 kms
A day of Alps starting with the Italian variety around Bolzano, moving on over the Passo di Resia to the Austrian version in the Arlberg and through the very up-market ski resort of Lech, and finally to the German side of Lake Constance and a night halt looking over to the Swiss Alps.

Friday 17 October     Uberlinden to Reims     565 kms
A short run westwards to the Black Forest, a steep descent to Frieberg onto the flat plain of the Rhone Valley and the final border crossing into France. Riquewihr, a beautifully preserved medieval village in the Alsace wine region provides an ideal lunch halt before the final Voges mountain range. After the Col de Bonhomme it is downhill all the way to the heart of France’s champagne country.

Saturday 18 October     Reims to Paris     175 kms
A straight road and a short distance for a relaxing and a happy final day’s run into Paris with the Final Control point in the Place de la Concorde.


The Entrants

 No. Crew Motor Car  (cc) Class
Group 1: Vintageants (pre-1950-type) – Class 1: Under 4.1 litres – Class 2: 4.1 litres and over
1 Lord Montagu of Beaulieu/Doug Hill (GB) 1915 Vauxhall Prince Henry 4000 1
2 Hermann Layher/John Dick (D) 1907 La France Hooper sports 9400 2
3 Walter Rothlauf/Fritz Walter (D) 1928 Bugatti Type 40 tourer 1496 1
4 Gerry Acher/Bruce Young (GB) 1932 Aston Martin International 1493 1
5 Gerhard Weissenbach (D)/ Susanne Huslisti (A) 1928 Rolls Royce Phantom I boat-tail roadster 7668 2
6 David Cohen/Adele Cohen (CDN) 1930 Stutz M Lancefield coupé s/c 5277 2
7 Etienne Veen (NL)/Robert Dean (GB) 1927 Mercedes 630K sports 6200 2
8 Kjeld Jessen/Hans-Henrik Jessen (DK) 1929 Bentley 4½-litre VdP Le Mans 4398 2
9 Prince Idris Shah (MAL)/Richard Curtis (GB) 1932 Ford Model B saloon 3300 1
10 Brian Ashby/Duncan Ashby (GB) 1930 Delage D8 drophead coupé 4050 2
11 Charles Kleptz/Arlene Kleptz (USA) 1919 Marmon 34 Touring 4 Person 5700 1
12 Chris Dunkley/Janine Dunkley (GB) 1935 Bentley 3½-litre open tourer 3587 1
14 Baron Willem Bentinck van Schoonheten(NL)/Werner Hastedt (D)/Pieter Le Febvre (NL) 1935 Bentley 3½-litre open tourer 3587 1
15 Don Saunders (USA)/Roger Coote (GB) 1932 Packard 903 convertible 6297 2
16 Jonathan Prior (GB)/Mariam El Accad (D) 1936 Railton Cobham saloon 4168 2
17 William Binnie/Edward Thompson (USA) 1928 Bentley 4½-litre HM Bentley sports 4500 2
18 Francis Noz/Casper Noz (USA) 1928 Ford Model A roadster 3278 1
19 Francesco Ciriminna/Michele Ingoglia(I) 1948 Fiat 1100 Cabriolet 1098 1
20 Raymond Carr (USA)/Mike Wyka (POL) 1939 Ford V-8 convertible 4000 1
21 Adam Hartley/Jonathan Turner (GB) 1929 Bentley 4½-litre VdP Le Mans 4493 2
22 Pat Brooks/Mary Brooks (USA) 1949 Buick 59 Straight 8 Woody 4000 1
23 Ted Thomas/Vic Zannis (USA) 1950 Ford Club Coupe 4000 1
24 John Jung/Andy Vann (USA) 1950 Ford Club Coupe 4000 1
25 Richard Clark/Ken Hughes (GB) 1948 Buick 8 Special Sedanet 4092 1
26 David Dalrymple/Patricia Dalrymple (GB) 1949 Cadillac Series 62 coupé 5723 2
27 David Arrigo/William Caruana (Malta) 1948 Allard M-type drophead coupé 3622 1
28 Kurt Dichtl/Roswitha Dichtl (A) 1950 Rolls Royce Silver Dawn 4250 2
29 Roby Hellers/Nicholas Thill (L) 1951 Sunbeam Talbot 90 dhc 2267 1
41 Burt Richmond/Richard Newman (USA) 1953 Citroen 2CV 602 1
42 John Matheson/Jeanne Eve (AUS) 1967 Rolls Royce Phantom V 6250 2
43 Johan Van der Laan/Willem Graal (NL) 1958 Citroen 2CV 720 1
46 John O’Neill/Susan O’Neill-Tsicrycas (CDN) 1960 Volkswagen Cabriolet 1192 1
49 Lisa Klokgieters-Lankes (NL)/James Wheildon(GB) 1951 MG YB saloon 1622 1
Group 2: Classics (pre-1968-type) – Class 3: Under 2.1 litres – Class 4: 3.1 litres and over
44 Richard Sackelariou/Andrew Snelling/Susan O’Neill (AUS) 1966 Wolseley 24/80 2433 4
45 Jennie Dorey/Geoffrey Dorey (GB) 1960 Morris Minor 1293 3
47 John Thomason (GB)/Mike Kunz (USA) 1963 Triumph Vitesse 1596 3
48 George Tinzl/Monica Tinzl (I) 1963 Peugeot 404 1618 3
50 John Catt/Simon Catt (GB) 1965 Ford Cortina Mk I 1770 3
51 Linda Dodwell/Genevieve Obert (USA) 1968 Hillman Hunter 1805 3
52 Nigel Broderick/Paula Broderick (GB) 1967 Ford Anglia Estate 1680 3
53 Maurizio Selci/Andrea Campagnoli (I) 1965 Citroen 2CV 1299 3
54 Werner Esch/Sylvia Esch (L) 1952 Mercedes Benz 300 Adenauer 3000 4
55 Fred Multon/Tim Laughton (GB) 1955 Austin A90 Westminster 2912 4
56 Peter Cordrey/Gordon Phillips (GB) 1961 Rover 100 P4 2625 4
57 David Morris/Sheila Morris (GB) 1956 Austin A90 Westminster 2639 4
58 Dr Theodore Voukidis/Stelios Vartholomaios (GR) 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air 4000 5
59 David Bull/Angela Riley/Helen McGugan (GB) 1965 Rover 3-litre P5 coupé 3050 4
61 Peter Noble/Susan Noble (GB) 1955 Bentley Continental Mulliner 4887 5
62 The Honourable Francesca Sternberg/Jennifer Gillies (GB) 1964 Volvo 122S Amazon 1800 3
63 Erik Christiansen (Bahamas)/Michael Veys (GB) 1965 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud S3 4500 5
64 Derek Radcliffe/Nigel Webb (GB) 1953 Jaguar Mark VII saloon 3400 5
65 Carl Schneider/Don Jones (USA) 1954 Packard Straight 8 convertible 4000 5
66 Renger Guliker/Gerda Guliker (NL) 1956 Chevrolet pick-up 3860 5
67 Roberto Chiodi/Fabio Longo (I) 1964 Lancia Flavia coupé 1800 3
68 Melissa Ong/Colin Syn (Singapore) 1963 Porsche 356 SC coupé 1600 3
69 Daniel Orteu/Jonathan Davies (GB) 1962 Volvo P122S Amazon 1780 3
70 Peter Janssen/Gunter Klarholz/Wolfgang Meier (D) 1965 Mercedes Benz 220A 2171 3
71 Antonius De Witt/Herman Haukes (NL)Josef Feit/René Feit (D) 1964 Volvo 122 Amazon 1800 4
72 Josef Feit/René Feit (D) 1967 Volkswagen Cabriolet 2300 3
73 Klaus Koppel/Peter Kuhn (D) 1968 Triumph TR6 2467 4
74 Dr Friedrich Flick (D)/Felix Mumenthaler (SW) 1964 Mercedes 220 SB 2200 4
75 Bart Rietbergen/Jolijn van Overbeehe-Rietbergen (NL) 1965 Volvo PV 544 2100 4
76 Paul Minassian (F)/Paul Grogan (GB) 1962 Peugeot 404 sedan 1971 4
77 David Hardman/Philip Dean (GB) 1964 Aston Martin DB5 3995 3
78 Murray Kayll/Amanda Kayll (GB) 1967 Mercedes Benz 250 SE 2496 5
79 Anthony Buckingham/Simon Mann (GB) 1964 Aston Martin DB5 3997 4
80 Thomas Noor (D)/Maria Bouvier-Noor (F) 1966 Mercedes Benz 250SEC 2496 5
81 John Goldsmith/Murdoch Laing (GB) 1966 Aston Martin DB6 4200 4
82 Jane King/Phil Bowen (GB) 1968 Volvo 122 Amazon 1986 5
83 David Wilks/Andrew Bedingham (GB) 1974 Austin 1800 saloon 1800 3
84 Ivar Moe/Tom Granli (N) 1969 Morgan Plus 8 sports 3951 3
85 Seyed Amir Ali Javed/Homayoun Kamal Hedayat (Iran) 1970 Peykan Hunter saloon 1725 5
86 Vahid Kazerani/Roozben Razzaghi (Iran) 1970 Peykan Hunter saloon 1725 3
87 Mohsen Eijadi/Ramin Khadem (Iran) 1970 Peykan Hunter saloon 1725 3
88 Gerald Crown/John Bryson (AUS) 1964 Holden EH saloon 3300 5
89 Anton Aan de Stegge/Willemien Aan de Stegge (NL) 1966 Citroen ID 21 2300 4
90 Richard Dangerfield/Jill Dangerfield (GB) 1965 Holden HR saloon 3500 5
91 Howard Bellm/Christopher Taylor (GB) 1968 Chevrolet Camaro 5740 5
92 Rolf Meyer/Gerrit Geiser (D) 1968 Mercedes Benz 280SE 2800 4
93 Jonathan Lux/David Drew (GB) 1972 Rover 3.5 P5B coupé 4442 5
Class 6: Classic 4-wheel drive
96 Nigel Challis/Anthony Jefferis (GB) 1934 Rolls Royce 20/25 saloon 1987 6
97 John Bayliss/Phil Surtees (GB) 1942 Ford Willys Jeep MB 2199 6
98 Carolyn Ward/David Tremain (GB) 1961 Land Rover Series IIA 2286 6
99 Richard Taylor/Larry Davis/David Pierce (USA) 1962 Willys Jeep Station Wagon 3870 6
Class 7: Touring Category
31 John Stuttard/Roy O’Sullivan/Simon Anderson/Gordon Barrass/David Colvin (GB) 1934 Rolls Royce 20/25 saloon 3669 7
32 Herbert Handlbauer/Elfi Handlbauer/Lisbeth Handlbauer (A) 1938 BMW 328 sports tourer 1971 7
33 Joao Netto/Jose Costa Simoes/Jose Machado/Jose Netto (P) 1932 Ford Model B saloon 3280 7
34 Bill Ainscough/William Ainscough/Barry Attwood/Andrew Walker (GB) 1929 Chrysler 77 open sports 4300 7
35 Arnold Schulze/Jutta Breuer/Nora Schulze (D) 1950 Bentley Donnington special 6300 7
36 Jeff Fortune/Joan Fortune/Bud Risser (USA) 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air 4000 7
37 Peng Yew Wong/Win Win Wong/Suet Lyn Wong/May Lyn Wong (MAL) 1954 MGA sports 1800 7
38 Eustache Tsicrycas (GR)/Christoforos Karaolis (CY)/Jasmine Lovric (CDN) 1955 Peugeot 403 sedan 1472 7
39 David Brister/Brian Miller/Keith Barton (GB) 1963 Rover 110 P4 2625 7
40 Mark Klabin (I)/John Dick II (USA)/Jorg Holzwarth (D) 1964 Land Rover Series IIA 109 2497 7



Countdown begins for Peking to Paris Motor Challenge

A Prince, a Lord, an MP and a brain surgeon are among more than 90 confirmed entries for the Peking to Paris Motor Challenge which next year celebrates the 90th anniversary of the world’s first epic motor race. 

No fewer than 25 countries are represented on the entry list, selected from more than 1000 applications for places on this longest and most difficult challenge ever for classic and vintage cars.

The Peking to Paris Motor Challenge breaks new rallying ground with a breathtaking 15,000km route traversing Outer Mongolia and Nepal on its way to Iran, via northern India and Pakistan, thence to Turkey, Greece, Italy and on towards the finish in Paris, 45 days later.

The cars will have to contend with some of the most remote passes in the world including the highest road ever built, which touches 17,000ft between Golmud and Lhasa in Nepal. Three deserts and a section through the Himalayas, passing within sight of Everest base camp, are among the challenges that will confront the crews during just the first two weeks of the great adventure.

The entry list includes a remarkable cross section of sporting classic and vintage cars, ranging from a vintage Bugatti and several Bentleys, through to post-war rally classics such as Triumph TRs, Volvos and Jaguars. Two Citroen 2CVs have taken up the challenge, relying on reliability and strength to overcome the outright power of other contenders.

Philip Young, the historic rallying pioneer and organiser of top international events, along with Peter Browning, one-time BMC Competitions Manager, lead the 12-strong professional team behind the Peking-Paris Challenge.

Philip Young recently returned from a planning trip to China, Nepal and India, reporting that some of the roads on the route are more exciting than even he had imagined. He commented: “Some of the areas we will be passing through have barely changed since Prince Borghese and his Itala sped through on their way to winning the original race 90 years ago… I saw a Yak frozen to the spot in the Himalayas and cattle dying of thirst on the fringes of the Gobi Desert: this rally will be an amazing experience for all involved.”

Just a handful of entries on the Challenge are being reserved for additional international entries and for drivers with examples of cars not yet represented on the confirmed entry list.



Starters assemble in Peking for the Great Adventure

Nearly 100 Vintage and classic cars will set out on Saturday, September 6, to drive from Peking to Paris to mark the 90th anniversary of the world’s first ever car rally. 

Competitors on this times event will be taking an epic 45-day journey through China, Tibet, India, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and across Europe to Paris, in what has been hailed as the longest ever event staged for classic cars, and one of the longest rallies in motoring history.

In 1907, five pioneer motorists raced from Peking to Paris, across the Gobi Desert and the Marco Polo trails through Persia, to prove that the car could provide an independent means of travel. Throughout the intervening 90 years, the Chinese have always refused permission for a re-run of the original Great Race.

Cars leave from outside the Beijing Hotel for an official flagging-away from the Great Wall of China at Badeling, just outside Peking, at 10am on Saturday. The route will take the intrepid crews through Tibet and over the Himalayas, reaching a height of 17,000 ft, where they will spend a night camping at the foot of Mount Everest.

The entry is made up from 23 different nationalities – drivers have brought to the Chinese capital nearly 80 different makes and models of car, ranging from a Morris Minor, a Ford Anglia and three Citroen 2CVs, to Le Mans vintage Bentleys, Rolls-Royces, Aston Martins, Jaguars, Buicks and Cadillacs. The oldest car is a 1907 aero-engined La France, on an outing from a German motor museum. Also, ‘blowing away the cobwebs’ is 72-year old Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, who is piloting the National Motor Museum’s prized 1915 Prince Henry Vauxhall, one of the world’s first true sports cars.

In the burning hear of the Iranian desert (the rally is the first to be allowed to cross Iran in 20 years) the two all-woman crews will at least be better protected from the sun than most of the men – they will be well covered out of respect for Muslim traditions. Former British showjumpers, the Hon Francesca Sternberg and Jennifer Gillies will be up against the West Coast American women’s team of Linda Dodwell and Genny Obert (“Just don’t call us ‘California Girls’).

Other personalities among the entrants include Prince Idris Shah, the crown prince of Selangor, Malaysia, and straight out of the pages of Hello! Magazine comes Singapore’s Melissa Ong, currently studying in London, who is one of the world’s most eligible heiresses. Heir to much of the Daimler Benz empire is Dr Friedrich Flick, who has received press attention recent from a divorce case, and will be driving a product of the family form, a 1964 Mercedes 220 SB.



The culmination of four years' work...

A typhoon in the South China Seas did not hinder the arrival of the ship carrying the 94 competing cars in the 1997 Peking to Paris Motor Challenge.

The cars are now unloaded and the formalities almost complete ahead of the ceremonial start on Saturday. The first car away at 10am local time will be the 1915 Prince Henry Vauxhall driven by 72-year old Lord Montagu of Beaulieu.

Some hour and a half later the last car to leave the start ramp will be the 1964 Land Rover of Mark Klabin, John Dick II and Jorg Holzwarth, of Italy, USA and Germany respectively, for this is an international event in all respects.

The 1997 Peking to Paris Motor Challenge is organised by the Classic Rally Association (CRA), a professional, full-time rally organising body, based in Oxfordshire, UK. Speaking from his temporary office in Peking, founder of the CRA, Philip Young, said: “We have organised more than 20 top international rallies but the Peking to Paris in by far the most challenging. After four year’s effort to get to this point, we have everything in place to make it a great success.”



Saturday September 6th, 1997

Bulletin 01 - Landslide ahead...

Amid huge crowds and exceptional media attention, the 94 cars of the second Peking to Paris Motor Challenge left Peking (Beijing) at 07.00hr local time today (September 6th, 22.00 GMT Friday) and made the official start at the Great Wall of China, 75km from the city centre. The engines of the departing cars blended with the clash of cymbals and the glorious sound of a 100 trumpets. Chinese dancing dragons mingled with the cars and drivers

Competitors are spending the night at Zhang Jiakou, having completed just 231km of the marathon journey.

At the drivers’ briefing held just before the start in Peking, Rally Chief, Philip Young stunned the entrants by telling them he had been informed of a major landslide in the Himalayas. This had been caused by recent heavy rains and had blocked the one-and-only road out of Tibet which leads to Friendship Bridge.

“No re-route is possible,” Philip told everyone but he also reported that the organisers had guaranteed hefty overtime rates to the road menders to put on night shifts to bulldoze a way through.

In 15 days time we hope they will have done the trick. It’s amazing what a few sticks of dynamite and some overtime money can achieve.



The first Peking to Paris Rally, 1907

The world’s first ever international motor rally took place in the summer of 1907. Five pioneer motorists – all larger than life characters – shipped their cars to China to race half way round the globe to prove that the motor car could provide an independent means of travel.

When they eventually arrived in China (the event having been cancelled at least twice), the Chinese authorities said that no car should be allowed to start. Regardless, they set off, in an event with no officials, barely any rules or regulations, no proper organisation, and no garage assistance, recording their positions by sending telegrams to relay stations at towns and railways junctions along the route.

It quickly settled down to be a race between a Prince and a Pauper… The prince was Italian Prince Scipio Borghese and his main challenger a fairground roustabout called Charles Goddard (right) who had no money, but possessed a quick wit and an even quicker tongue. He persuaded all manner of supporters to back his efforts. Having borrowed a car, tyres and money, he sweet-talked his way onto the boat and even relied on his rival competition for fuel.

The race went into the history books – and is still talked about today. For the next 90 years, a follow up anniversary drive from Peking to Paris has been impossible. Now the thaw in international relations makes the dream a reality. Drivers from more than 24 nations are assembling on the start line in Peking for a remarkable drive that takes in deserts and numerous mountain climbs, for a an epic challenge half way round the world, to keep an appointment with history – driving from Peking to Paris.


The Results

No. Crew Car Cls Pens. Pos. O/A Pos. Cls
97 Surtees/Bayliss Ford Willys Jeep MB 6 43d 0h17 1 1
23 Thomas/Zannis Ford Club Coupe 1 43d 0h21 2 1
50 Catt/Catt Ford Cortina Mk I 3 43d 0h44 3 1
24 Jung/Vann Ford Club Coupe 1 43d 0h53 4 2
88 Crown/Bryson Holden EH saloon 5 43d 0h55 5 1
52 Broderick/Broderick Ford Anglia Estate 3 43d 0h59 6 2
85 Javid/Healy Peykan Hunter 3 43d 1h42 7 3
87 Eijadi/Khadem Peykan Hunter 3 43d 2h08 8 4
28 Dichtl/Dichtl Rolls Royce Silver Dawn 2 43d 2h12 9 1
86 Kazerani/Razzaghi Peykan Hunter 3 43d 2h15 10 5