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The Peking to Paris Motor Challenge 2007

May 27 - June 30 2007

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Date Route Kms Local Time
Day 1 May 27 Sun Beijing to Datong 363 GMT+8 (UK+7)
Day 2 May 28 Mon Datong to Siziwangqi 368 GMT+8 (UK+7)
Day 3 May 29 Tue Siziwangqi to Erenhot 248 GMT+8 (UK+7)
Day 4 May 30 Wed Erenhot to Sainshand (+Border) 223 GMT+8 (UK+7)
Day 5 May 31 Thur Sainshand to Ulaan Bataar 436 GMT+8 (UK+7)
Day 6 Jun 1 Fri Rest Day Ulaan Bataar GMT+8 (UK+7)
Day 7 Jun 2 Sat Ulaan Bataar to Khakorin 365 GMT+8 (UK+7)
Day 8 Jun 3 Sun Khakorin to Bayankhongor 428 GMT+8 (UK+7)
Day 9 Jun 4 Mon Bayankhongor to Altay 388 GMT+8 (UK+7)
Day 10 Jun 5 Tue Altay to Khovd 433 GMT+8 (UK+7)
Day 11 Jun 6 Wed Khovd to Border Camp 295 GMT+7 (UK+6)
Day 12 Jun 7 Thur Border to Bijsk (+Border) 635 GMT+7 (UK+6)
Day 13 Jun 8 Fri Bijsk to Novosibirsk 437 GMT+7 (UK+6)
Day 14 Jun 9 Sat Rest Day Novosibirsk GMT+7 (UK+6)
Day 15 Jun 10 Sun Novosibirsk to Omsk 668 GMT+7 (UK+6)
Day 16 Jun 11 Mon Omsk to Tyumen 632 GMT+7 (UK+6)
Day 17 Jun 12 Tue Tyumen to Yekaterinburg 315 GMT+6 (UK+5)
Day 18 Jun 13 Wed Rest Day Yekaterinburg GMT+6 (UK+5)
Day 19 Jun 14 Thur Yekaterinburg to Perm 379 GMT+6 (UK+5)
Day 20 Jun 15 Fri Perm to Kazan 688 GMT+6 (UK+5)
Day 21 Jun 16 Sat Kazan to Niz. Novgorod 392 GMT+4 (UK+3)
Day 22 Jun 17 Sun Niz. Novgorod to Moscow 439 GMT+4 (UK+3)
Day 23 Jun 18 Mon Rest Day Moscow GMT+4 (UK+3)
Day 24 Jun 19 Tue Moscow to St Petersburg 730 GMT+4 (UK+3)
Day 25 Jun 20 Wed Rest Day St Petersburg GMT+3 (UK+2)
Day 26 Jun 21 Thur St Petersburg to Tallinn (+Border) 450 GMT+3 (UK+2)
Day 27 Jun 22 Fri Tallinn to Riga (+Border) 406 GMT+3 (UK+2)
Day 28 Jun 23 Sat Riga to Vilnius (+Border) 394 GMT+3 (UK+2)
Day 29 Jun 24 Sun Vilnius to Mikolajki (+Border) 403 GMT+3 (UK+2)
Day 30 Jun 25 Mon Mikolajki to Gdansk 351 GMT+2 (UK+1)
Day 31 Jun 26 Tue Rest Day Gdansk GMT+2 (UK+1)
Day 32 Jun 27 Wed Gdansk to Potsdam (+Border) 598 GMT+2 (UK+1)
Day 33 Jun 28 Thur Potsdam to Koblenz 556 GMT+2 (UK+1)
Day 34 Jun 29 Fri Koblenz to Reims (+Border) 461 GMT+2 (UK+1)
Day 35 Jun 30 Sat Reims to Paris 161 GMT+2 (UK+1)

Peking to Paris 2007 Participants

Num Crew Year – Car cc.
Pioneer (pre 1921 type cars)
1 David Ayre(GB) / Karen Ayre(GB) 1907 – Itala 40 7500
2 Jonathan Turner(GB) / Adam Hartley(GB) 1907 – Itala 40 3000
3 Paul Bessade(F) / Michel Magnin(F) / Marie-Emmanuelle 1911 – Brasier 22/30 Torpedo 3700
5 Daniel Ward(GB) / David Ingleby(GB) 1908 – Talbot 35 HP 5300
6 Michel Laarman(NL) / Antonius Poelsma(NL) 1911 – Knox Type R 7166
7 Scott Anderson(USA) / Gary Robert Fisher(USA) 1909 – Ford Model T 2859
8 Jan Voboril(USA) / Roland Moos(USA) 1916 – Lancia Theta 4700
9 Theodore Voukidis(GR) / Fabio Longo(I) 1924 – Itala 51B 2813
10 Timothy Clemons(AUS) / Christopher Clemons(AUS) 1917 – Packard twin six 6900
11 Ralf Weiss(D) / Kurt Schneiders(D) 1918 – La France Roadster 14500
12 Andrew Fulton(USA) / Warner Bruntjen(USA) 1919 – Essex 6A 2800
14 William Holmes(GB) / Malcolm Corrie(GB) 1919 – La France 14500
15 Neville Jordan(NZ) / Bruce McIlroy(NZ) 1922 – Rolls Royce Silver Ghost 7500
16 Frederick Brown(USA) / Thomas Stevenson(CAN) 1923 – Rolls Royce Silver Ghost 7500
17 Albert Eberhard(PT) / Monique Eberhard(PT) 1926 – Rolls Royce Silver Ghost 7428
18 Michael Power(GB) / Anthony Malcolm-Green(GB) 1923 – Vauxhall 30/98 4398
19 Timothy Scott(GB) / John Taylor(GB) 1903 – Mercedes 60HP 9236
Vintageant (pre 1941 type cars)
20 Wilhelmus Van Gemert(NL) / Johan De Swart(NL) 1934 – Singer Le Mans 933
21 Daniel Brooks(USA) / Matthew Heysel(CAN) 1927 – Bugatti Type 44 3000
22 William Erickson(USA) / Steven Dole(USA) 1925 – Buick Pickup Roadster 2550
23 Leighton Pullen(CAN) / Judy Pullen(GB) 1938 – Rover 12 Six Light Saloon 1496
24 Dennis Multon(GB) / Pollyanna Multon(GB) 1930 – Alvis 12/50 Beetleback 1635
25 Brian Larkins(GB) / Robin Long(GB) 1932 – Sunbeam 16 2200
26 Andrew Bailey(IRL) / Michael Bailey(IRL) 1929 – Chevrolet Roadster 3500
27 Paul R. Michael(GB) / Glen Grindrod(GB) 1933 – Rolls Royce 20/25 3669
28 Robert Pattison(USA) / Julie Fitzsimmons(AUS) 1928 – Chrysler 65 3200
29 Barrie Frost(AUS) / Lynn De Lacy Frost(AUS) 1928 – Chevrolet AB Roadster 2700
30 Pierre- Michel Singer(MC) / Claudine Singer(MC) 1928 – Chrysler 72 3000
31 Jorg Lemberg(D) / Dietmar Binkowska(D) 1927 – Lagonda High Chassis T1 4500
32 Nicholas Bailey(AUS) / Helena Edgill(IRL) 1926 – Bentley 3 – Litre 3000
33 Harry Hickling(AUS) / Catherine Hickling(AUS) 1938 – MG SA 2288
34 Daniel Rensing(USA) / Michele Shapiro(USA) 1930 – Chevrolet Coupe 3180
35 Horst Friedrichs(D) / Gerhard Lux(D) 1933 – Alvis Speed 20 2655
36 Mark de Ferranti(GB) / Sandra de Ferranti(GB) 1936 – Rolls Royce Coupe 7340
37 Christopher Claridge-Ware(GB) / Anita Claridge-Ware(D) 1933 – Lagonda M45 Tourer 4453
38 Nigel Gambier(GB) / Hugo Upton(GB) 1934 – Lagonda T7 3000
39 Robert Fountain(GB) / Joseph De Giorgi(GB) 1934 – Lagonda M45 Tourer 4553
40 Penelope Rawlings(GB) / Geoffrey Rawlings(GB) 1934 – Talbot 95 2687
41 Christopher Lunn(GB) / Nicola Lunn(GB) 1935 – Lagonda M45 Tourer 4500
42 David Cohen(CAN) / Adele Cohen(CAN) 1931 – Ford Model A 3300
43 Gerald Acher(GB) / Martin Read(GB) 1931 – Ford Model A Roadster 3225
44 Leonardus Schildkamp(NL) / Lucas Slijpen(NL) 1929 – Lancia Lambda 2570
45 Robert Wilson(IRL) / Susan Wilson(IRL) 1927 – Rolls Royce 20 Tourer 3000
46 Jean-Pierre Muller(CH) / William Medcalf(GB) 1927 – Bentley 4.5 Le Mans 4398
47 Rollo Malcolm-Green(GB) / Anthony Crew(GB) 1930 – Delage D6L 3075
48 Harold McNair(NZ) / Anne Thomson(NZ) 1930 – Delage D8S 4050
49 Hans-Dieter Kroenung(D) / Markus Strehle(D) 1924 – Bentley Tourer 2996
50 Robin Grant(GB) / Caroline Wright(GB) 1927 – Bentley Open Tourer 4398
51 Etienne Veen(CH) / Sven Veen(CH) 1927 – Mercedes 630 K Sport 6300
52 Marinus Dingemans(NL) / Helena Schapendonk(NL) 1927 – Mercedes-Benz 630 K 6240
53 Mark Seligman(GB) / Jocelyn Seligman(GB) 1928 – Bentley 4.5 Le Mans 4398
54 Robert Abrey(GB) / Jane Abrey(GB) 1928 – Bentley 4.5 Le Mans 4398
55 Michael O’Shea(GB) / Sarah O’Shea(IRL) 1948 – Jaguar 3.5 Litre Saloon 3500
57 Richard Dangerfield(GB) / Jillian Dangerfield(GB) 1929 – Bentley 4.5 4398
58 Dirk Lindenbergh(NL) / Esther Van Vooren(NL) 1929 – Bentley 6.5 Tourer 8000
59 Michael Thompson(GB) / Josephine Thompson(GB) 1929 – Chrysler 75 Roadster 4078
60 Janine Dunkley(GB) / Christopher Dunkley(GB) 1935 – Bentley 3.5 Tourer 3500
61 Gordon Phillips(GB) / Mark Phillips(GB) 1929 – Bentley 4.5 Le Mans 4398
62 Kevin Clemens(USA) / Richard Newman(USA) 1929 – Chrysler 75 Roadster 4600
63 Hugh Brogan(GB) / Paul Stead(GB) 1936 – Ford Pilot V8 3622
64 Peter Livanos(CH) / Bruce Blythe(GB) 1929 – Bentley 6.5 Tourer 6493
65 Ioannis Katsaounis(GR) / Franco Lupi(CH) 1929 – Bentley 6.5 Tourer 6597
66 Anthony Goodwin(GB) / Gillian Goodwin(GB) 1927 – Bentley 6.5 Tourer 6597
67 Roy Williams(GB) / Andrew Davies(GB) 1937 – Riley 16 2443
68 Robert Frankcom(GB) / Julia Frankcom(GB) 1933 – Dodge Roadster 3500
69 Paul Carter(GB) / Vincent Fairclough(GB) 1936 – Bentley Derby 4.25 4250
70 Werner Esch(LU) / Andree Kitzinger(LU) 1936 – La Salle Cadillac Roadster 4098
71 Peter Leighton-Squires(GB) / Neville Burrell(GB) 1939 – Bentley Derby 4.25 4259
72 Marc Rollinger(LU) / Viviane Marie Josee Biel(LU) 1937 – La Salle Cabriolet Sedan 5280
73 Richard Baker(GB) / Peter Boyland(GB) 1937 – Bentley Derby 4.25 4250
74 Jean Steinhauser(LU) / Anne Collard(B) 1940 – La Salle Coupe Cabriolet 5280
75 Olaf Pothoven(NL) / Robertus Van Den Berg(NL) 1939 – Citroen Traction Avant 2867
76 Charles Stuart-Menteth(GB) / Andrew May(GB) 1940 – Ford 01A 3622
77 David Hall(GB) / Jacqueline Hall(GB) 1929 – Chrysler 77 4275
78 Gerold Leumann(CH) / Hans-Rudolf Portmann(CH) 1926 – Bentley 6.5 Litre Tourer 6500
79 Richard Taylor(USA) / Antoinette Taylor(USA) 1940 – Chevrolet Coupe 3501
80 Igor Kolodotschko(GB) / Robert Moore(GB) 1937 – Buick Coupe 2480
81 Engelbertus Kersten(NL) / Berend van den Dool(NL) 1927 – Bentley Speed Six 6500
82 John Refault(GB) / Philip Lunnon(GB) 1938 – Buick Sedan Saloon 2480
83 Gordon Ketelbey(AUS) / Kim Ketelbey(AUS) 1936 – Cadillac 70 Fleetwood 5700
84 Bernard Gateau(USA) / Dina Bennett(USA) 1940 – La Salle Coupe 5277
85 Xavier del Marmol(B) / Catherine Janssens(B) 1937 – Chevrolet Convertible 4000
86 Martti Kiikka(SF) / Pirkko Kiikka(SF) 1938 – Packard Coupe 120 4625
87 Paul Merryweather(GB) / Sandra Merryweather(GB) 1938 – Chevrolet Fangio Coupe 3540
88 David Williams(GB) / Sadie Williams(GB) 1938 – Chevrolet Fangio Coupe 3500
89 Alain Grisay(B) / Tracey Curtis-Taylor(GB) 1941 – Chevrolet Fangio Coupe 4250
90 Richard Curtis(GB) / Tengku Idris Shah(MY) 1940 – Chevrolet Fangio Coupe 2998
91 John Hickman(GB) / Philip Hallett(GB) 1934 – Alvis Silver Eagle 3571
92 John Horton(USA) / Robert Brooks(USA) 1940 – Buick Convertible 8000
93 Matthew Bryson(AUS) / Gerald Crown(AUS) 1940 – Buick 4L Straight Eight 4000
94 Luis. F. Bustelo(RA) / Juan.P. Vignau(RA) 1940 – Ford Coupe TC 4000
95 Harold Blumenstein(USA) / Alberto Hodari(RA) 1937 – Ford Convertible 3600
96 James. W Taylor(USA) / Frederick Nelan(USA) 1941 – Buick Convertible 3900
Classics (pre 1961 type cars)
97 Teresita Aguilar(UY) / Haile Aguilar(UY) 1939 – Chevrolet Coupe TC ** 4000
98 Francesco Ciriminna(I) / Michele Ingoglia(I) 1948 – Fiat Cabriolet 1100
99 John Vincent(GB) / Edwin Hammond(CH) 1948 – Austin 16 2199
100 Jose Romao de Sousa(PT) / Maria Romao De Sousa(PT) 1956 – MG Magnette ZA 1798
101 Matthew Keeler(GB) / John Keeler(GB) 1959 – Volkswagen Beetle 1300
102 Garrick Staples(USA) / Jon Kennedy(USA) 1959 – Volkswagen Cabriolet 1500
103 Jens Pilo(DK) / Anne Pilo(DK) 1953 – Bentley R Saloon 4566
104 Nigel Challis(GB) / Michael Pink(GB) 1955 – Landrover Series 1 1997
105 Sally McCarthy(GB) / Carole Harvey(GB) 1954 – Citroen Traction Avant 1911
106 David Roberts(GB) / Joanna Roberts(GB) 1954 – Sunbeam Alpine 2267
107 Alan Crisp(GB) / Christopher Mower(GB) 1950 – Citroen Roadster 1911
108 Michael Wilkinson(AUS) / Anne Wilkinson(AUS) 1951 – Riley RMB 2443
109 Phillip Haslam(GB) / Yvonne Haslam(GB) 1950 – Chevrolet Bel Air 3550
110 Nigel Barton(GB) / Timothy Roupell(GB) 1950 – Ford Pilot V8 3622
111 Thomas Hayes(IRL) / Thomas Vann(USA) 1951 – Studebaker Starlite Coupe 3785
112 Roberto Chiodi(I) / Maria-Rita Degli Esposti(I) 1957 – Alfa Romeo Giulietta TI 1290
113 Simon Chance(GB) / Elizabeth Chance(GB) 1965 – Citroen 2CV6 602
114 John Fallows(GB) / Joan Fallows(GB) 1960 – Rover P4 80 2286
115 Bohodar Mykytowych(AUS) / Andrew Mykytowych(AUS) 1958 – Holden FC 2250
117 Nicholas Marks(GB) / Annabella Marks(GB) 1954 – Lancia Aurelia B20S 2400
118 Pamela Reid(GB) / Nicola Wainwright(GB) 1960 – Sunbeam Rapier Saloon 1592
119 Hans-Erik Rhodius(B) / Sabine Letzer(B) 1958 – Triumph TR3A 2188
120 David Spurling(GB) / Jonathan Spurling(GB) 1953 – Morgan plus 4 1991
121 Gerald Harrison(GB) / Andrew Douglas(GB) 1959 – Porsche 356A 1600
122 Francis Carey III(USA) / Gary Wales(USA) 1952 – Bentley Drophead 4500
123 Jon Goodwin(GB) / David Goodwin(GB) 1969 – Aston Martin DB6 3995
125 Rolf Korner(D) / Egbert Scheidhauer(D) 1958 – Mercedes Benz 220S 2195
126 Arthur Freeman(USA) / Roger James(USA) 1950 – Ford Coupe TC 4000
127 Roy Stephenson(GB) / Frederick Robinson(GB) 1960 – Aston Martin DB4 4000
128 Richard Ingham(GB) / Judy Ingham(GB) 1967 – Volvo 1800S 1800
129 Richard Worts(GB) / Nicola Shackleton(GB) 1961 – Jaguar MkII 3794
130 Ulrich Clauss(D) / Hagen Schmid(D) 1964 – Volvo PV544 1780
131 Steven Byrne(GB) / Linda Marston-Weston(GB) 1965 – Aston Martin DB6 3995
132 Hans Peter Lindner(D) / Frank Wiest(D) 1966 – Mercedes 200 Saloon 1988
133 Michael Campbell(GB) / Robin Widdows(GB) 1936 – Bentley Special * 6554
134 Stephen Moore(GB) / Alan Smith(GB) 1953 – Bentley Special * 5675

 

DAY

0

The Hyde Park Grand Prix

On their way to catch the boat to China, David Williams, ‘38 Chevy Fangio Coupe driver, and David Ayre, 1907 ‘Borghese-replica’ Itala (right), were among the bunch of Brits airing their lungs for what became a highly informal “Hyde Park Grand Prix”.

Raising the dust under the trees and the bark of the four litre Chevy engine was enough to startle the horses, and two Household Cavalry officers were thrown off their mounts, last seen running across the park in shiny breast-plate and long leather boots to catch their wayward steeds.

But even the police, who rolled up out of curiosity, found themselves cheering the cars on as the adventurers slid between the trees to the amusement of crowds buying their ice creams.

DAY

0

Under Starters Orders

Thursday: The 100th-anniversary Peking to Paris is now under starters orders- cars are out of the docks and here in Peking, with the entire rally in a downtown warehouse.

Tomorrow, drivers set out from the Shangri La hotel to drive their steeds into the hotel car park. Packing and final fine-tuning will then preocupy crews prior to making the pre-dawn run up to the Great Wall near Badeling for the ceremonial send-off at 8.30, when watch-company Blancpain drop the flag.

The air is sultry and damp following torrential rains in the last few days but crews are optimistic that the weather will turn in time for the start – the last thing anyone needs is for the Gobi Desert to turn to mud, the one thing that beset the original crews back in 1907.

The King of Malasia His Serene Highness Idris Sha (we all call him Matey Boy), turned up this afternoon and is now sleeping, essential preparation is you have to drive a four-litre Chevrolet Fangio Coupe, one of several such models in the Vintageant Category expected to put up a good performance.

Sponsor Blancpain are treating all crews to a dinner of Peking Duck tonight here in the Shangri La…we will all be experts on Chinese cooking before we depart on Sunday.

International news media are taking an interest in us all and we have just been interviewed by the Sunday Telegraph and ITN.

More tomorrow.

DAY

0

Friday in Peking

An easy day today with all the cars now out of the giant warehouse and rolling across Peking to the Shangri La. The hotel car park is packed with the most mouth-watering selection of Pioneer, Vintage and Classic cars. They are causing quite a stir.

A few engines needed coaxing into life after travelling half way round the world to get here. On the road, the oldest car of the bunch, the 1903 nine-litre Mercedes of Tim Scott (above), stopped to receive road-side help with a fuel-feed problem.

More major, a gearbox rebuild in the warehouse by The Banhams, their first service-job of the event was fixing new gear selectors to the 1950 Chevrolet Bel Air of Phillip and Yvonne Haslam.

Its been a bright, sunny, hot day here in Peking as packing and final fettling goes on in the car park outside.

Scrutineering checks under the eagle eye of the FIVA Steward goes on tomorrow and some crews have been running round town buying mud-flaps…everyone is agreed that now the cars are all together, we can’t wait to hit the road.

DAY

0

The Day Before Departure

One final day before departure. All cars have been going through the process of Scrutineering, having their technical specifications checked with the regulations, safety gear checked and medical equipment reviewed by the Team’s medics. 

Time-cards are only issued once all the formalities have been completed.

Sweep-crews have had their mobile workshops stationed around the car park and have been busy with final fettling and last minute preparations, a number of cars have not built exhaust systems in accordance with the recommended notes sent out to help crews prepare, and as a result have called on the Team’s mechanics for last-minute rebuilds of the exhaust system.

Getting to the Shangri La hotel was not without incident and here’s just some of the work carried out…crews are hoping these are teething-troubles rather than anything more ominous.

Numerous crews had battery problems and required attention to electrics after weeks at sea. The 1929 Lancia Lambda of Leo Schildkamp from Holland had charging problems. Nigel Gambier’s Lagonda needed a jump-start and suffered petrol starvation…The Roy Williams Riley looks good, but needed help with a flat battery, and had to retard the ignition, attention to a sticking brake light being the smallest problem. Alan Grisay’s Chevvy Fangio Coupe had a bent accelerator pump rod, Garrick Staples and Jon Kennedy, from America, with a VW Beetle needed a push start to get going, Kevin Clements and Richard Newman also from America in their Chrysler Special needed help with some servicing, and the Bentley of Gordon Phillips had dirt in the petrol – this could be a common problem for all and we have only just started.

The big MG SA saloon of Harry Hickling has a totally different fuel-system to a bag tank in the back, and this caused a break-down getting to the hotel. It’s the modified items that always seem to give the most trouble….

Alberto Hodari and Harold Blumenstein in their ’37 Ford Convertible needed all sorts of jobs attended to, having crashed on their way to the port, a track-control arm and the tracking was sorted first to get the wheels pointing in the right direction, and then repairs to the front wings – and it was one of several crews without mud-flaps. Alberto reckons the large rubber mat in the hotel doorway might suddenly appear with large holes in it, right under the bell-captains nose, before morning.

Plenty of problems to keep the Team’s mobile-workshops busy all day. The standards of preparation vary greatly was their diplomatic way of putting things. Only hours to go now for the final countdown, and the dawn patrol up to the Great Wall at Badeling for the flagging off. After three years of organising and planning, the great day is now upon us, and the talking point now is the weather. Peking is very hot, bright and sunny. But we hear that up on the Mongolian plains they have had not only rain but a freak fall of snow, and, to cap it all, the rivers we all have to cross are still in full flood from the spring thaw.

Back in the car park, it’s too late to worry about a lack of ground-clearance.

DAY

1

The First Day

Dawn breaks over Peking with the sun burning holes through the low-lying smog, and at 4:30am there are already several in the car park up and about, packing items away for the start, Dutchman Etienne Veen is fussing over his car but he has the lightest luggage of the lot, despite having one of the biggest cars with a vintage Mercedes 630K – anxious to keep weight to a minimum all his luggage from his hotel room to rear of car was one easy swing onto the backseat of a single shoulder bag.

Etienne’s approach is a total contrast with all the others, who spend an hour in the car park stuffing and stowing all manner of items and several cars give all the appearance of being so heavily loaded the rear springs are sagging before they have the chance of hitting the sleeping-policemen at the bottom of the drive. Everyone else in Peking who is not involved in the Great Race also sleeps on, and the rally rumbles out of town’s he car park is empty before 6.0am. First-car is not due to be flagged away until 8.30, but such is the eager anticipation to get on the road we all leave the hotel with plenty of time to spare.

The informal and un-timed run to the Great Wall at Badaling is a 40 km sweep up the main expressway and makes no great demands these days – back in 1907, it took Prince Borghese and his rivals a full day of heaving and pushing over polished marbled bridges, using bamboo canes to measure the width of goat tracks to ensure a car could squeeze between rock faces, and all had to bounce over enormous boulders of a river bed, tackling a course that would make any Camel Trophy-hunter blanch. This is easy-peasy, 100 years on. Nobody gets their wooden wheels sucked into mud, and, joy of joys, it is not raining.

 

Several find themselves on the hard-shoulder, however. We quickly come across David and Sadie Williams in the bright green Chevrolet Fangio Coupe, bonnet up, and David fuming over electrics, or is it over-heating, but he is soon mobile again. Climbing up the hills to Badaling sees others experience similar teething problems, and by now it is clearly going to a bright sunny day with temperatures rapidly soaring. Several engines are complaining of the heat, and the day has hardly started.

The send off from the Great Wall proves a colourful and noisy affair of umpteen cymbals, giant drums, dancers dressed as dragons, others on stilts, along with hoards of excited children, mystified locals cheering and clapping, mixing in with 70 press cameramen who force their way to the giant Blanc Pain watch standing tall at the top of a white pillar emblazoned with the word START. David and Karen Ayre take up position with Jonathan Turner and Adam Hartley inches behind, both Itala’s then anointing the spot by leaking large puddles of oil onto the 2,000-year-old stone slabs, staining a permanent memorial to the fact that 100 years ago an Itala setting out for Paris did exactly the same thing.

Everyone made it to line up and is flagged away on their correct minute and the Peking to Paris at last is now officially underway?first obstacle being to inch past the toes of a heaving and pushing press mob of eager photographers and film crews.

The run to Datong – capital of a coal-mining region but being Sunday we have had an easy time of the roads with very few trucks ?has been only eventful by the number of breakdowns.

First casualty was car 6, the lovely-looking low-riding Knox Tyre R (picture above at the Great Wall start) of Michel Laaman and Antonius Poelsma, Dutchmen looking to seek revenge for Charles Goddard who a hundred years ago failed to beat Prince Borghese with a Dutch Spyker. With separate cylinders, and exposed valve gear, their engine is captivating to look at, but by mid-afternoon had decided to let go with a loud bang. We came across Michel talking Chinese to a bunch of children who wanted to know why he had stopped by the roadside. He looked utterly gutted and totally choked off, a cylinder having split from the bottom of the crankcase with such force you could see the piston’s connecting rod. There was just a single loud bang, and we knew right away this was mighty serious. A black police car carried him off into town to find someone who could truck the 1911-age car back to Beijing.

Other mechanical woes today have not been so terminal, but numerous crews have suffered problems of dirt in petrol blocking fuel filters. You need a big glass jar of the truck variety for these sort of ventures, and the tiny plastic fuel filters commonly used just don’t seem man enough for the job. The four-litre Singer tourer of Wilhemus Van Gemert and Johan de Swart stopped with a coughing fit, and all attempts to move up a long hill only provoked more splutters. They were not alone, the Bentley Le Mans of Mark and Jocelyn Seligman must have picked up the same batch of dodgy fuel and also came to a stop with blocked fuel lines.

The Sunbeam 16, a large yellow vintage saloon, has stopped outside Datong with axle drive-shaft problems – this sounds worrying – and the sweeper teams of mobile workshops are now on the case.

Today has been an easy run via the hanging monastery that dramatically clings to the cliff face at Hunyuan. Crews had nothing more demanding made of them today than having to aim at collecting a stamp as proof of passage at the Passage Control checkpoint here, and get to Datong on time. How easy it’s been for all, with relaxed timing demands, is reflected in the results, and apart from rippled tarmac caused by constant pounding of coal trucks, its been an undemanding road as we all settle in with today’s hot but gentle shake-down.

Cars arriving into the large concrete hotel overlooking the compound just off the main street are being greeted by the pomp of a military brass band, where every player seems to be competing to see who can make the loudest noise. This, it seems, is proving just a touch more competitive than rallying out of Peking – and in this heat almost as exhausting.

DAY

2

Peking to Datong

Expect the unexpected

Expect the unexpected, they said at the driver’s briefing. Today could not have been more surprising. Coasting along, another easy lope across China, and we suddenly find a policeman in the road, speeking no English, but making it quite plain that we had to suddenly turn right.

We all obey. Now we are off the carefully measured route book, now even today’s bulletin of ammendments from the 24 hour advance car of Mike and Anthony Preston all became meaningless.

We drive out into open countryside, the terrain becoming more hilly. Beautifully smooth dark black tarmac snaked up a mountain pass, rich red rock faces loomed down as hills gave way to craggy mountains. The unexpected became Morocco and a road just like the Atlas Mountains, except we had cheering Chinese children in every village.

This went on for some time, and it was clear that we are now on a massive re-route, with no notes, no information. Junctions come and go, and groups of cars are in knots of confusion as navigators pour over maps in Chinese.

This could end up in one big muddle miles from civilisation, except that after bouncing off the new tar onto rutted hard-baked clay as dusty as hell for those with open-wheeled cars of the pioneer category, we suddenly hit the ring road of Hohot, and more by good luck than judgement tumble into the café where there is a Passage Control manned by Andy Actman.

A long day ends up on a Mongolia-style plateau, and we are all sleeping in round Yurts tonight. Facilitie are primitive.

News from the road is that car 55, the Jaguar saloon of Michael and Sarah O;Shea, have repeated yesterdays fuel starvation problems and had a frustrating time of it – the heat has caused vaporisation, and poor petrol blocked filters, for many.

More serious is the news that David and Adele Cohen from Canada have serious propshaft problems are may not make it in tonight, and Barry Frost from Australia in a Chevrolet have their axle apart and are in real difficulties. Our mobile workshop teams are on the case.

Despite the frustrations, the scenery has been glorious, the roads a challenge, whether crews took the proper rally route or the sudden alternative forced on many by the local policeman, and we have all ended up on the vast grassy plain which can only be good practice for Mongolia to come.

DAY

3

Inner Mongolia

One of the remotest spots on earth

We landed on the edge of Inner Mongolia yesterday, and today formed expedition parties to strike out into this magical kingdom so full of mystery. 

How come we are driving across Inner Mongolia, before you get to read reports of what it’s like in Outer Mongolia? Surely some mistake in the Route Book? No, its just the way things are out here on one of the remotest spots on earth that clings to its existence on the back of past reputations as one of the four corners of the earth.

Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, all have rallied this way in the past and raved about the place. Mongolia, Inner or Outer, is for sure very different from just about anywhere else you could bring a rally car. Back in 1907, Luigi Barzini sent a report to the Daily Telegraph describing this vast country – it’s six times the size of France, with fewer miles of tarmac than Tunbridge Wells – as hell on wheels. Recently, Andrew English also of the Daily Telegraph described it equally lucidly having inspected all of it from the comforts of 40,000ft as like a lump of upturned brown leather from the sole of an old boot. . Knarled and criss-crossed with the odd Yak and goat track, that just about sums up the place. Except right now it’s more green than brown, in late Spring, with rolling hills that just go on and on for ever, just when you cross the far horizon, you then face another umpteen kilometres of the same thing all over again. The size of this encounter is awesome…

And we are only just beginning. Tomorrow, we have the border to cross, get all the formalities for leaving China sorted, and then begin paperwork trails for all 130 cars from 30-odd officials, and with that out of the way, crack into the first of our Time Trials. Everyone is looking forward to tomorrow. Right now we are in a comfortable hotel in Erenhot, nothing like as much character as our round white Yurts where we all slept out on the plains last night (yes, temperatures dropped to freezing-point, many resorted to their sleeping-bags for the first time) but we have hot running water and much else at the flick of a button.

Getting into town was an uneventful romp on a Chinese road, dead smooth and not a pot-hole to remind the suspension that this is supposed to be a rally. We might call it boring, but in a few days time this road might be recalled with fond nostalgia.

So, today has been the easiest so far. Yet a good many cars have pulled into the car park lurching and spluttering and kangarooing into parking slots, misfiring on poor petrol. This is worrying, as the fuel quality will be down to 80 octane, or less, in a few days time and if engines are not running well now, they can’t expect to get any better when in the truly remote bits, the inner of outer Mongolia.

Here’s a summary of what we know: Today the latest to suffer fuel-starvation is the Buick Coupe of Igor Kolodotschko and Robert Moore, only fixed after a rapid road-side fettle by Igor blowing out a fuel line. It is possible to travel without this sickness as 90 per cent of the cars are running well, but, worryingly, a good ten-per-cent are suffering.

Yesterday, The four teams of Mechanic’s ‘job list’ went like this: Car 55, big pre-war Jaguar saloon of Michael and Sarah O’Shea: fuel pump problems, leak suspected near the fuel pump, filter and fuel pipe problems, car stops many times, rear suspension problems, to be solved by cutting up lumps of wood to turn into axle bump-stops. Car 12, Andrew Fulton and Warner Bruntjen, in the big Essex running in the Pioneer Category, recurring problems to vacuum pump, eventually fitted foot-pump to pressurise the fuel system and use a hand-pump; Car 70, Werner Esch, La Salle Cadillac, re-routed fuel pipe as hot engine is causing vaporisation; Car 110, Nigel Barton and Tom Roupell in the Ford V8 Pilot, arriving about 11.0pm last night just after the restaurant had packed up, having nursed the car all day with fuel starvation problems, car also needs to change the alternator as well as fit spare fuel-pumps; Car 18, Vauxhall Prince Henry of Michael Power in the Pioneer Category, fuel pressure problems, Car 52, Jan Dingemans in the big Mercedes 630K, help out with puncture repair; Car 86, the Finns, Martii and Pirkko Kiikka, in the white Packard, broken rear suspension, bent shock-absorbers, broken shock-absorber mountings – most cars are carrying far too much weight and yesterday’s diversion forced on most by the local policeman onto a dirt road proved the first real shake up. If cars are having problems after this stretch, it does not bode well for what is to come.

Cars that go into Mongolia can only come out in a shipping container – the Chinese are not allowing a truck with a car on its back to limp back across their border, and most entrants only have single-entry Chinese visas, so, those that go into Mongolia tomorrow have only one real way out – crossing this vast country to Russia, which will be more than ten days time.

The Model T Ford of Scott Anderson and Gary Fisher arrived into the Yurt campsite last night at three in the morning, the crew were up at first light fettling the car, having suffered electrical problems caused by vibration loosening a few essential wires (looking under the bonnet there are hardly any wires, this car is as simple as a Hornby train-set), but it suffers from a lack of power on the hills.

Electrical problems have been few, but the bright-red Itala of Jonathan Turner and Adam Hartley had to be given a short tow to bump start the car back into life in the middle of nowhere yesterday after it was found that the batteries were flat. It was one of the last to arrive yesterday and came into the camp guided by the lights of John Quincy’s film unit.

The Aston Martin DB6 of David and Jon Goodwin suffered a bent anti-roll bar which was forced up into the front springs after a bad landing yesterday – the brilliant tarmac that ran up the side of the mountain ended abruptly with a nine-inch drop onto baked clay dirt and at speed this was enough of a jolt to bend the front suspension due to the heavy landing, the dead-smooth tarmac had lulled many into a sense of well-being and most were brought down to earth and back to reality with this jolt.

So, ten per cent are having problems and we are only just getting out of China. Yet the atmosphere and the camaraderie is remarkably happy and the crystal air of Inner Mongolia is full of optimism.

Last night saw competitors singing Ging-Gang-Goolie round a campfire, with Mongolia costume dancers, fire works, and we awoke for a late-breakfast start in bright sunshine with riding skills on display on the vast grasslands that roll out from the little windows of our Yurts… more of this sort of thing to come.

DAY

4

Mongolia

Across a lunar moonscape and bouncing on surfaces to suit.

We crossed into Mongolia after the usual hassles of the two border formalities, first on leaving China, and then into Mongolia and within a few kilometres were driving across a lunar moonscape and bouncing on surfaces to suit… and it would be like this for the rest of the day. 

The roughest, toughest, longest day of the event was now under way. Rocky outcrops, loose sandy stretches, hard gravel, corrugations, constant ruts, all now came up thick and fast.

Gobi Desert tracks that criss-crossed everywhere made a challenge for the navigation, and we were no sooner into this than the first Time Trial was upon us. Now progress would be measured against the clock.

Those who prepared well would romp it, those who hadn’t were soon in difficulty. Cars that were too heavy or too overloaded suffered the worst. The track was taking us steadily northwards and we ran in the company of long lines of telegraph poles for a while, very Borghese-style, but soon we even lost these for company, and tracks across vast horizons were only dotted with the occasional dust-trail far ahead as a reminder that we were not exactly alone.

For some, GPS and the route-book were too much and a handful of cars made serious errors and took wrong turnings to end up well off course. By the end of the day, this was to put the organisation under severe pressure.

The wind was steadily whipping up small dust clouds, an omen of worse to come. The track to the start of the Time Trial was entertaining and a real challenge, the Time Trial was just more of the same, but, a touch smoother, with several changes of direction that could only be decided upon by accurate use of the GPS.

Best performance on the Time Trial, and leading the Vintageant Category by a clear four minutes was the green Chevrolet Fangio Coupe of David and Sadie Williams, with the red Buick straight eight saloon of former Australian Rally champion Gerry Crown, navigated by Matthew Bryson. Gerry competed on the Peking-Paris ten years ago with Ozzie rally legend John Bryson, and is now back with John’s son. They seem to have a cool and laid-back attitude to everything that is thrown up before them and their relaxed approach belies a steely resolve that confirms they have the full measure of this event. Clearly the boys to watch as they posted a time that shows that Gerry has lost non of the old-school touch when it comes to bashing over tracks that provided a reminder of the wilder parts of the Outback back home.

Under-dog performance of the day was the heroic efforts of the smallest car, the Singer Le Mans of Wilhelmus Van Gemert – this tiny one-litre two-seater was pitching and bucking over boulders and ditches all day long, lights and front wings flapped in protest to no avail, the crew were clearly enjoying themselves and enjoying every minute of it.

Best performance in the Classics Category was the Mercedes crew of Hans Linder and Frank Wiest, who lead the Category. (see results page for full details).

The day ended at our first camp-site and the first job on arrival was working out how to put up our tents, with the wind now getting more angry by the minute. As the sun dropped, the wind rose all the more and soon we were engulfed in a full-blooded sand-storm. The support we had from Nomad Tours of carefully laid out marquees for dining on hot vegetable soup, and various salads, soon were thrashed totally by the wind. This was serious stuff, and now so bad visibility dropped to ten metres of so, with everything being grit-blasted by sand.

Later numbers, those going too slowly, those who had navigation problems earlier in the day, and those who couldn’t find the right track when the visibility was totally clear, were now in real difficulty. Tony Fowkes and Andy Actman set up an impromptu camp for half a dozen crews at the end of the Time Trial and messages were sent on that these crews would be unable to proceed, electing to spend the night in a nearby nomad’s compound.

The medical-team of the two doctors, Paul and Lisa Rees, rolled the Organisation’s Mitsubishi in the sand storm – they were unhurt, but the vehicle is totally destroyed. The Itala of car two, Jonathan Turner and Adam Hartley, arrived after being towed through the night by The Banhams, severe engine problems are suspected. The Itala of car one, David and Karen Ayre, arrived late but under their own power – just one headlight eerily lighting the way across the sand to the campsite, and an axle bearing is their biggest worry.

Everyone else has suffered a severe bashing. And only a few hours sleep – the wind refused to ebb before midnight, and as soon as the sun rose at 4.30, the wind rose also, but nothing like as fierce as the previous evening.

A hearty breakfast under the marquees of fried egg and porridge was served for those who had succeeded in making it this far, but the longest and toughest day saw some 30 odd crews fail to make the final camp.

DAY

5

Mongolia

This was not what was expected.

This was not what was expected. With so many missing and four crews considered well off the intended course, the Organisation were forced to back track and send search parties, returning up the route.

Within hours, all were accounted for, but, this meant a change to the plans for the day and we now had a slightly more relaxed schedule of a touring-day to Ulaan Bataar. It meant 250 kilometres of stony rutted desert track before finding good quality tarmac which swept us into Mongolia’s capital city…. today has been under bright blue skies, and the final 200 kms of tarmac a welcome respite from the challenge of the previous two days.

A chance to draw breath and get the washing into the laundry as tomorrow is a rest day. On the way into town, we passed a long row of shanty-style tin shacks that looked every bit like Motor City, with tyres and other automobilia racked up in front of small shops… they can look forward to plenty of custom in the next 24 hours.

The 1903 Mercedes of Tim Scott that has been such an amazing performer – on long hills it can outdrag any of the Organisation’s modern 4x4s – is coming into town on the back of a truck, and we have received a call from Nigel Challis, Land Rover driver who tackled the Peking to Paris in the same vehicle ten years ago, also requiring assistance from a local truck.

Alberto Hodari is retiring having been totally lost many kilometres off course, requiring the rescue of a search party. Francesco Cirimina, and Roberto and Rita Chiodi, were pulled from the some soft sand after becoming stuck on an alternate track close to the rally route – all part of yet another eventful day on the Peking to Paris.

The rest-day tomorrow is certainly well deserved.

DAY

6

Ulaan Bataar

Complete carnage

The car parks of both hotels are a scene of complete carnage with most cars now reduced to dusty piles of bits. Itís a day off and a bright sunny day, a chance to fettle and fidget with bits that are broken, about to break, or look like they could be next to crack up under the strain. The rally is going nowhere, but it’s another hard day for the teams of mobile-workshop crews.

The Morgan of David Spurling is looking dirty and dishevelled, doesnít it always, but has fewer problems than just about anyone on the entire event. We spotted David at the reception desk of the hotel asking if he could borrow a Hoover to give the inside of his car a good vacuum clean – this is firm proof of course that rallying the Peking to Paris is a life-changing experience. At home he also doesn’t know where the Hoover is kept.

Any day now he will be asking the service-crews for a tin of Simoniz to give it a polish up for the Moscow parade. The Morgan still wears its set of Colway Emjo remould tyres with the pimples on the blocks, its hard to think this car has just endured the toughest, roughest and hardest few days of rallying in its long career and we are not yet over the first week. Captain Morgan has to replace the brass screws holding the dashboard to the rest of the car, as they are not up to the job, and there is a bit of sewing going on to the hood. The most serious complaint is a broken radiator mounting – a common problem all round the car park right now.

The good news of the day is that the mighty Knox, the seven litre two-seater in the Pioneer category that was forced to retired and truck back to Beijing a few days ago is with us once more – the engine block was welded up in the car park of the Shangri La Hotel, and with the help of hotel staff is now back in the rally, with one piston disconnected it still has plenty of puff, despite three cylinders reducing it to a mere five-litres.

Here’s a summary which just goes to show how hard it is to drive across Mongolia – bear in mind we only a few days into this vast country, which is six times the size of France, and with fewer miles of tarmac than Tunbridge Wells.

Car 133, Bentley Special of Michael Campbell and Robin Widdows, fuel problems, running rich, consumption down to four miles to the gallon, also misfiring on the poor 80-octane fuel, crack in petrol tank near the fuel-filler pipe.

Car 111, Tom Hayes and Andy Vann, bright orange Studebaker, broken front shockabsorber mounting. Lots of things rattling lose. Crew say they are deliriously happy…

Car 110, Ford Pilot V8, rear shocks now removed after shockabsorbers punched large holes up through the floor at the rear, slats in the front radiator all lose and falling out.

Car 117, Here’s how to do it: No other car has so few problems  passenger door lock jammed with vibration pounding over corrugations, the Lancia Aurelia of Nicholas and Annabella Marks is running virtually trouble free.

Car 85, Chevy Coupe of Xavier del Marmol has broken mountings of the axle allowing too much sideways movement – the back of the car is heavily loaded – and there are worrying noises from the gearbox.

Car 88, Chevy Coupe of David Williams, electric fan at the front has holed the radiator, we see this on every event – so, the rad is now out and off being repaired, but as itís a conventional brass core this should not be a tricky repair. No news of the other Chevy Coupe, car 87, as the driver is not up to speaking to anyone, having instructed Syd Stelvio to remove himself from the car park, using words of fewer syllables, but also has radiator problems, judging by the steam coming out from car and driver.

Car 80, the big Buick Coupe of Igor Kolodotschko and Robert Moore is running better after changing the points and plugs.

Car 123, Jon and David Goodwin report nothing but minor servicing to the Aston Martin, they appear in good shape – the DB6 was seen pulling several cars out of the sandy stretches, but the Aston of Steven Byrne and Linda Marston-Weston spent a long time out in the desert yesterday waiting for a truck after bending the rear axle tube. They are optimistic it can be fixed.

Car 60, Chris and Jan Dunkley in the Derby Bentley Special – the most travelled Derby Bentley of all time – is suffering from fuel feed problems, blocked filter and sludge at the bottom of the tank. Driver looks worried.

Car134, Bentley Special of Stephen Moore and Alan Smith, split in the side of the fuel tank, lashed up with Opal Fruits has stemmed the flow (they packed tubes of Starburst sweets – Opal Fruits – just in case), but the tank is going off to a local workshop for brazing, radiator mountings broken despite using the excellent rubber Mini Cooper exhaust-buttons, and splits appear in the radiator.

Car 46: Diff broken, axle is out, parts being flown in, the Bentley looks very sad – it been attacking the ruts harder than most.

Car 113, Citroen 2CV of Simon and Liz Chance, broken suspension tie rods, stronger ones designed on the back of a menu now being put into prototype production in a workshop down the road. “We didn’t get this in the Sahara on the London-Dakar”.

Car 128, Volvo 1800S coupe of Richard and Judy Ingham looks set for an Autoglym Concours, only complaint is a noisy exhaust.

Car 19, denies trucking into town in the early hours this morning, the nine-litre Pioneer is having the radiator repaired. It looks right now like a Meccano outfit.

Car 108, Riley RM saloon of Michael Wilkinson, wings are breaking off the body of the car due to vibration over the corrugations, large lump of Australian wood is being turned into a vibration-proof washer, starter motor bracket broken.

Car 106, lovely looking Sunbeam Alpine of the type rallied by Stirling Moss on Alpine events, now looks like its been rallied by Stirling Moss on Alpine events, with overheating (usual for these), no horn, no wipers, broken axle straps that catch the axle on full droop, crumpled exhaust, and, a broken brake pipe. Looks even more authentic now its covered in dust.

Car 107, front wings falling off, broken speedo for Alan Crisp’s Citroen roadster.

Car 102, engine of the Beetle is eating push-rods but spares are being flown in from China and an all night session on the engine is planned. When it runs, this car goes well.

Car 105, Sally McCarthy complains of splits in the front wings, everything falling off or coming lose, drive shaft worries, and no exhaust mountings.

Car 114, the Rover 80 that has already seen the best of the Africa as well as the Around the World in 80 Days Rally sits the car park with no sign of John and Joan Fallows, who have gone shopping – the car requires no attention.

Car 95, Albert Hodari says he is oiling plugs as the oil is getting past the pistons so its time his car retired – he plans to go home – and Car 58, the Bentley of Dirk Lindenbergh is also retiring.

Car 47, the big Delage, came in at 3.30 this morning after a frustrating day of fuel-feed problems…. the most common bug on this event.

We gather the Triumph TR3 is planning to catch us up today. The slow-slung TR lost time stuck in sand, and had to be towed several times by other competitors, resorting to their sand-shovels and letting air out of the tyres to get through.

Car One, the 1907 Itala of David and Karen Ayre has a problem with an axle bearing and came in very late last night, but, it’s here… and the other Itala of Jonathan Turner and Adam Hartley is not here, as it has engine problems… the event’s Penelope Pitstop says its too early to send for a search party as the crew have probably just discovering the all-night disco.

The atmosphere is tremendous, and the camaraderie terrific.. with a sewing kit and a packet of Opal Fruits, vast rolling pastures of Mongolia unfolding to the far horizon under bright blue skies, and only the odd horseman to get in the way, what more could you possibly want.

As Sandra Merryweather said over breakfast, “out here a car is the only worry in life… the roads may be a challenge but this sure beats driving to the office”.

DAY

7

Khakorin

A dramatic start

A dramatic day started with all the pomp and ceremony of a brass military band – Syd Stelvio having to step in to help with the conducting at one point – and the Mayor and small baby insisting on riding in the navigator’s seat of Itala car number one.

Karen Ayre having to trudge in her leather long trench-coat and knee-high boots to the far side of the square before the Mayor decided he had done enough for his voters.

Thousands thronged round the cars so a somewhat chaotic early morning start from the centre of Ulaan Bataar.

A Ghost was left behind to repair a gearbox, an Alvis was still hunting for spare petrol cans, and Itala number two of Jonathan Turner and Adam Hartley was also feeling rather lonely – the news on this intrepid pair is that they need a new crankshaft to be made from a solid lump of iron, and, they have bent the back axle, a mere minor issue compared with the disaster in the engine. “We will be back…” says the driver, “Power Station Number Four have promised us a new crankshaft.” So, emulating Charles Goddard of Spyker fame in 1907, they now plan the most heroic of catch-ups.

Out of town, the rally really got going… good tarmac rippled across vast grassy plains, only the odd horseman for company. Catch one far horizon and you dip and rise and suddenly aim at another far horizon, under bright blue skies, and rising temperatures. A feel-good factor abounded with that good to be alive feeling.

We turned left off the main drag, only a morning bus provided the single oncoming traffic for all at this point, and then headed across another wide open plain, this time on a dusty dirt road with potholes filled with powdery dust. Another Time Trial had the clocks ticking and pulses racing for all.

Times show that the Vauxhall 30/98 of Michael Power and Malcolm Green set best time among the Pioneers of 24 minutes, with Fred Brown and Thomas Stevenson’s Rolls Royce Silver Ghost on 30:28.

The battle for top honours among the Vintageants was again taken by the green Chevy Fangio Coupe of David and Sadie Williams on 18 minutes 20 seconds, with the similar Chevy of Xavier del Marmol on 18:36, Paul Merryweather on 18:52 and Australian maestro Gerry Crown in a big Buick on 19:07. Paul Carter is best Bentley on today’s Time Trial with 22:50.

In the Classics Category, Hans Peter Linder in the two litre Mercedes 200 saloon dressed up as a taxi complete with taxi light on the roof set a time of 18:41, the Jaguar of Richard Worts and Nicola Shackleton on 22:45, and Tom Hayes and Andy Vann, with Andy at the wheel, stomped to a stop in a large cloud of dust with a time of 21:37, much to the displeasure of Chris and Jan Dunkley, who were instantly covered in most of the flying dust, so much so the Bentley refused to re-start in protest at such hooligan antics from the Studabaker crew.

Today has been a great day, and we all ended up at the petrol station eager for our dinner from our mobile chuck wagon – a spat over fuel supplies marred the atmosphere momentarily, as all crews have been given vouchers for 80 octane, and here in the wilds of nowhere, the gas station had a pump boasting 93 – enough to fool a good many, but the fact is the petrol all comes from the same hole in the ground regardless of what it says on the tin. Vouchers are for 80 octane, and if you want anything else, you have to pay more…a fact that was lost on some.

This disagreement quickly ended with all those lining up for a refuel engulfed in a sudden sand-storm.

The camp had hot vegetable soup, salads, hot slices of roast beef and roasted potato, and, to wash it down, bottles of Moet Champagne…flown in, we suspect, by Peter Livanos. Nothing washes the dust out of your throat quite like a cool glass of champagne when in the middle of Middle Earth.

That’s it for now – we are now off to light the stove in felt lined Yurt, we are going to need it tonight as the wind is getting up, this could be coldest night we have experienced so far. Bentley Boys in their flying jackets look like they have dressed correctly for dinner.

DAY

8

Khakorin to Bayankhongor

A grim struggle

We have knocked off another 400 kilometres today driving south and west from our Yurts at Khakorin to arrive at our camp for the night on the grassy bank of a river at Bayankhongor. 

It’s been a grim struggle to reach this place, with 200 kilometres of a cross-country dash over rutted, rocky barren desert scrub often offering a choice of different tracks to choose from, requiring the utmost concentration from navigator and driver alike.

It’s been particularly tough on those without good ground clearance like most of the Viintageants. We have charged up and down rolling hills that steadily became more and more challenging as the day unfolded, and the roughness of the tracks, the residue of a harsh winter, has caught us all by surprise, given we all hoped the worst was behind us.

The American cars of the 1930s, designed for crossing Praries, have romped it – everyone else has struggled.

Today has seen quite a few cars suffer suspension and chassis problems as a result and we are all feeling rather weary – putting up our tents beside the river is not as simple as it sounds as the wind is steadily rising. It doesn’t take much of a breeze to make tent-erecting an experience that ads to the frustrations, and as the sun goes down the wind is threatening to only gather force.

Several cars are coming in on t ow-ropes, the first to arrive at the end of a rope was the big MG SA tourer of Harry and Catherine Hickling, with a blown head-gasket, which they hope to fettle tonight.

There were two Time Trials today. Among the Pioneers, fastest on the first Time Trial was the Vauxhall Prince Henry again of Michael Power, just over four minutes clear of the La France of William Holmes, but the La France was best performer on the second Time Trial, beating the Vauxhall by 16 seconds, the second Trial being notably smoother.

It’s ultra-close among the Vintageants, scrapping for seconds now in real earnest. David and Sadie Williams in the green Chevy Fangio Coupe put up another strong performance on the first Time Trial, which was rocky and rutted throughout, but the time of 13.54 was matched to the second by Gerry Crown and Matt Bryson in the big Buick. However, this time was one second slower than the best time amongst the Vintageants put up by Paul and Sandra Merryweather’s Chevvy.

On the second Time Trial, smoother and more free-flowing, with downhill sections on dirt as well as uphill, it was the Chevvy of Xavier del Marmol and Catherine Janseens that set best time of 9.45, David Williams was next with 10.3, Paul Merryweather on 10.8 and Gerry Crown on 10.17. It clearly could not be closer with this bunch now trading seconds. Another notable performance came from the tiny Singer Le Mans, with a time of 12.36 on the second Time Trial which is better than several Bentleys. It’s in the top ten when ever timing gets serious, which seems to suit the Dutchmen.

In the Classics Category, Garrick Staples and Jon Kennedy in the VW Beetle were really flying today, romping over the rough stuff as if they were on the Baja, the first Time Trial was clocked in 17.38, only beaten by the Mercedes Fintail of Hans Peter Linder who took a time that was only a few second slower than the Chevvies in the Vintageant Category of 13.59. On the second Time Trial, the Merc was best performer with 10.30, the Beetle coming in on 11.02.

The Jaguar of Richard Worst and Nicola Shackleton went well today, so too did the Studabaker of Tom Hayes, but the all-girl team in the Sunbeam Rapier really have the bit between their teeth and put up a stirring drive which has surprised many…the Rapier bounced over the rocks, stormed through the grit, splashed through the mud and took all its stride…the times confirm their progress, 17.54 on the first Time Trial, and 12.12 on the second, is good going indeed.

Today may have been hard work but the scenery has been absolutely stunning – Yaks and horses grazing across the abundance of dirt tracks, snow on the line of high mountains to the south, bright blue skies, and endless, endless dirt roads that sweep and turn, running all day, with patches of muddy slime now and then as a reminder that the sunshine of early summer has only just arrived in these parts.

One of the last in has been the Morgan of the Spurlings, looking shattered, but the car sounds rather more healthy than the exhausted crew. There are a number of walking wounded however, we await the Chevrolet Coupe of Terista Aguilar, car 97 which broke its steering this afternoon.

Another long hard and tough day, through the most majestically barren and beautiful terrain you could ever wish to bring a classic-car.

DAY

9

Bayankhongor

Dancing With Wolves

Dawn breaks on a Biblical scene. Those exiled to roam the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights awake in their village of conical shaped tents just as the sun forces its way up past the tops of the rim of dark hills that circle this vast grassy Mongolian plain where we have spent a freezing night. By 5.0am the colours of the hills changes in the orange sky to a dark purple, and then a rich brown.

The whirr of the generator of the large marquee cookhouse has been running for the past hour, and the geese in the nearby river are now getting so excited their dawn chorus is enough to stir everyone from their sleeping bags. The reason for the geese to get so noisy so early is now apparent. A large grey wolf comes trotting down the river bank on the far side of the water, looking across at the strange site of the rally camp which has invaded its territory. The noise of the geese, the generator, and strong smell of bacon in the breeze, if you were a wolf you too would be full of curiosity. The site of rally-drivers popping their heads out of the tents though is enough for the Old Grey Wolf to change direction for his morning jog and he veers off across the plain.

Today is another 400 kms, and the road surface is a little kinder, for once, but it’s still all dirt. We climb up through a long row of hills and begin the first Time Trial of the day, which twists and turns through the hills.

The second test is more demanding, its more akin to the desert scrub we thought we had left behind, except that when we crest a hill-top there then unfolds vast plains of snaking gravel road ahead and wisps of dust-trails of previous runners give us a clue of what is next. We all thunder on across Mongolia.

This second Time Trial ends just before a river crossing. Some bog down in a patch of sand in sight of the chequered flag flying on the top of Bob Rutherford’s time-keeper’s vehicle. Tony Fowkes is off with his tow-rope and shovel. The river is a different kind of challenge. Those who prepared, with good water proofing, and ignore waving crowd on the far bank, take it steady, keep the bow-wave down, and so chug through the rapids with water up to the axles and no more. Others plunge in, send spray over the bonnet, and then wonder why they are running on two cylinders.

For the Lagonda of Bob Fountain, the sudden spray is enough to damage the over-hot exhaust manifold, cooking under layers of asbestos, and this sudden change of temperature, plus the fact that rally cars with tubular manifolds don’t like long continuous heat-build ups under asbestos wrapping, and the inevitable happens…the exhaust burns through and the Lagonda becomes the latest casualty to require road-side rescue. Others needing attention today include the Spurling’s Morgan – they are spending a night out on the plain as the Morgan’s springs have snapped in half. The pair of 6.5 litre Bentley’s of Peter Livanos, who made it to the camp site but both Bentleys have water spraying out the sides of their radiators. Paul Merryweather, we gather, had a puncture on one of the Time Trials. Vintageant Category leader David Williams in the green Chevy dashed into a small blacksmith’s hut in town to repair broken rear shock absorber mountings. Others were also off to take advantage of a welder who welds without goggles. The red Jaguar Mk 2 of Richard Worts had a broken spring hanger this afternoon but this did not look too serious. David and Joanna Roberts in the ’54 Sunbeam Alpine has broken suspension.

The two girls in the Sunbeam Rapier, Pamela Reid and Nicola Wainwright, have done remarkably well so far but today got stuck in sand and also lost crucial time with a puncture. Jean Steinhauser is coming in on a tow rope having broken a front wishbone 20 kilometres from tonight’s camp. Also coming in on the end of a rope are Chris and Jan Dunkley, as the Bentley carbs continue to cause troubles on the rough fuel. John Hickman’s Alvis is in with broken springs, and is getting repairs by torchlight from Tony Fowkes.

If anyone thinks all this is hard, spare a thought for Car 8, the Spartan two seater 1916 Lancia Special – Jan Voboril from America is driving it single-handed, and always comes up smiling… his navigator, Rick Moos, also from American, walked out on him several days ago – the two just couldn’t get on. This means Jan has no choice but to drive on single-handed and cope with repairs and navigation on his own. He is out of the rally as regulations require a crew of two – but that means nothing to this driver, who reckons its Paris or Bust.

Unless he fancies turning back and going over all we have just driven, he has no other choice. Tonight is 2,200 metres, almost the same height as the top of the Stelvio, and we expect it to be the coldest night of the rally.

Tomorrow will be easier, as there is no timing and it’s a simple run – a chance to catch breath and fettle some more repairs. Two more days and we are in Russia… but will Russian tarmac be any easier?

DAY

10

Khovd

The High Plains Drifters

Another 430 kilometres and we close more pages of the Route Notes Book as we inch our way to the Russian border. It’s been another incredibly tough, rough day of relentless pounding over rocky and corrugated gravel tracks as we head westward with the sun our backs this morning. Today’s objective has been to cross a vast plain, the High Chaparral of Mongolia.

We have arrived beside another river but the bank is full of mounds and scattered stones so pitching tents is even more tricky, outside a town called Khovd. A number of “walking wounded” snatched the benefit of a helpful small garage who could turn their hands to anything, including the making of a universal-joint from a sold lump of rubber.

Cars who dived into the dusty courtyard and watched welders putting battered metal parts back together again include Car 25, Brian Larkins and Robin Long in the yellow Sunbeam 16, having shockabsorber mounts welded, Car 63, the white Ford V8 of Hugh Brogan and Paul Stead needed a radiator split brazing up, neither of these gremlins are “stoppers” and crews planned to catch up later.

Also having attention from this workshop is the 1903 nine-litre Mercedes of Tim Scott, needed a hole in the petrol tank sorted to regain fuel pressure, car 29, Barrie Frost’s Chevrolet, car 72, the La Selle of Marc Rollinger, the Bentley of Jorg Lemberg, Richard Newsman’s Chevy was having its shockabsorber mountings welded, and Nigel Gambier was sorting the spare wheel mounting of his Lagonda.

During the day we came across the two La France monsters in the Pioneer category, and after a spot of fidgeting with the magneto sorting advance and retard, the red La France of Malcolm Corrie was on its way again, the Citroen roadster of Alan Crisp and Chris Mower needed help with a broken track-control arm but this was fixable by the roadside, but more worringly the Lancia Aurelia needed a tow into camp having lost its oil, and the big Rolls of the Ferranti’s was limping as the crew had donated their coil to someone else, now they needed one.

It’s been a long hard day crossing a vast deserty scrubland ringed by snow-capped mountains – for those not nursing sick cars or worrying about their preparation given we are not yet out of Mongolia its been a stunningly beautiful day.

Harder than anyone could have anticipated…tomorrow we reach our last night in our tents, as we are aiming to stop just short of the Russian border

DAY

11

To the Russian border

Where Eagles Dare

Our final day in Mongolia has been a cracker. We have had a short day of just under 200 miles of considerably improved gravel, through stunningly beautiful passes with hills and mountains capped with streaks of the last of the snows.

Today has been a terrific adventure for all, with numerous river crossings. Some get it right, jog across at walking pace and minimum bow-wave, and others plunge in with white-water up to the windscreen and everyone has been loving it.

The final run down to the camp – this is our last night in our tents and sleeping bags. Eating together from the 20-strong team of chefs of our mobile chuck-wagons with vegetable soup and pasta has been a grand finale.

As Daniel Ward, driver of the Veteran Talbot summed up at the end of it all: “This has been the finest day’s drive of my life.” The views of the long dusty road that snaked downwards across a vast grassy plain towards our camp was breathtaking and a complete surprise as we suddenly crested the final hillclimb – magnificent doesn’t sum it properly. Gerry Acher, who raised over a quarter of a million pounds for cancer charities as a result of his drive on the 1997 Peking to Paris, says today makes all the punishment of the last week worthwhile, “unforgettable, stunningly beautiful and to see all this through the windscreen of a classic car is something we will never ever forget.”

We are now in a grassy meadow with another bubbling brook and a stiff cold wind rolling down the pass rattling our tents. This is Eagle’s Camp, just outside Tsagaannuur, a dusty run down border town but with several workshops offering just the kind of facilities we need. One crew have had a new king-pin made and are mobile again, this problem has afflicted the two girls in the Sunbeam Rapier as a front wheel fell off in the final run in to camp this afternoon – Chris Elkins, travelling marshal, came upon them and has been able to fettle them into running again.

William Holmes and Malcolm Corrie have had problems with their La France today, gremlins in the giant chains that take power from a 14 litre engine to the back wheels, but it does not sound serious.

Australian champ Gerry Crown has terminal problems having smashed the rear diff into a rock and this has been one bash too many.

The sheet that follows this report is a listing of all the runners and riders as of yesterday and gives the situation on a car by car basis. It confirms all are known to be safe and well. Individuals and loved ones seeking news of an individual crew should telephone them direct using their satellite phone – not calling the rally-office. Every crew has a satellite phone, but communications have been very difficult in the last few days. We have been eight hours ahead of UK time.

We now head for the Russian border in the morning.

DAY

12

Into Russia

The Great Escape…

We pulled off a mass-escape from Mongolia yesterday – sorry there was no report from the front-line yesterday, but communications have been fraught at the best of times.

The border crossings have been a major worry, as the tiny out-post on the top left hand corner of the map of Mongolia was only recently opened up for overland travellers, and coping with numbers any greater than half a dozen a day is something officialdom rarely experiences…. we rolled up with the biggest single party they have ever encountered. (our picture shows the early morning border queue)

Border guards saluted, but snapping to attention was simply never going to happen…the red and white pole is not lifted before 9.0am, then there is a gate, then a bit of no-man’s land, each stage requiring bits of paper (the first stage is paying out your last payment in Mongolia Tog’s), before reaching Russia. Be quick about it and keep gently pushing forwards is our advice, as the officials take a one-and-a-half hour lunch break, and if you are in no-mans land, you are sent back to the first square of the game. This happened! So, quite a few failed to get through before mid-afternoon – a long day. However, Russian officials truly impressed, and once the system was rolling with the advance information of giant spread sheets which the Rally Office had produced in advance with all lines of information like date of birth, chassis numbers, passport numbers clearly set out, the Russian could really switched things on. Even national TV came along to film the whole process, and this was a model of slick efficiency.

The sweeper-mechanics failed to get in before 3.0am however. The number of runners now the worst is over? We saw around 80 depart this morning from Bijsk, and nothing underlines the gruelling severity of the whole challenge so far than the statistic for the number of Gold Medal runners. There are 35 crews eligible for a Gold Medal – having completed the full course so far, and reached all the Time Controls on time. So ,here we are, less than half way, and nearly 100 crews have failed to score a Gold Medal standard, happily accepting either a Silver or, for those missing out on complete days due to repairs, a Bronze.

DAY

13

Into Russia

There has been a change in the leader-board with the Pioneer Category for cars of a model-type up to 1920…Fred Brown and Tom Stevenson in a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost now heads the leader-board, with an overall title of 63hours, 22 minutes, nine seconds…ahead of Neville Jordan and Bruce McIlroy in another Ghost on 63.53.23, with the Lancia Theta Special third – being driven single handed, an inspiration to the whole rally as he continues to plod on undaunted, carrying our his own repairs, refusing the offers from the official mobile workshops, after his co-driver left him a few days after the start. The Vauxhall of Michael Green has slipped down the leaderboard to 8th.

In the Vintageant Category, David and Sadie Williams in the Chevvy Fangio Coupe have a lead of around eight minutes from Xavier de Marmol in a similar car (but fitted with solid metal bushes in its suspension – incredible, but true – it’s little wonder the vibration caused by removal of the cushioning effect of rubber bushes meant that bashing over ground worse than an East African Safari caused all sorts of suspension bothers, only fixed by their rival Chevvy drivers). Third is Paul and Sandra Merryweather in a similar car, above Paul Carter and Vincence Fairclough’s Derby Bentley. Winner of the Vintage Sports Car Club’s award for top car up to 1931 so far is Gerold Leumann’s Bentley 6.5 tourer.

Classic Category cars see some changes to the leaderboard for this section. The VW Beetle of Garrick Staples has slipped to third overall, as the hard-charging Jaguar Mk11 of Richard Worts and Nicola Shackleton move up to second, but the Mercedes taxi of Han Peter Lindner has a firm grip at the top of the leaderboard with nearly half an hour in hand.

It could all change – much could happen getting across Russia, and there are more Time Trials organised by local motor-clubs in Latvia, Estonia, and Poland, which seems an age away.

The countryside was impressive – after the border-post, we left behind the sandy desert scenes of Mongolia very quickly, within half an hour it was green all around, then our first sight in nearly two weeks of a tree. The green became more lush by the kilometre, steep craggy peaks reminded us of the run into Cortina in the Dolomites, and many others said “it’s just like Austria”….then it changed, more like North Wales, maybe…it changed some more today, and it was more akin to driving up the A11 through the pines to Thetford. Yes, we are now on tarmac, and its been pretty good and very welcome – so far. Russian police sit by the roadside and wave red sticks for improtu checks, but in your correspondent’s car the policy is to just wave back, then a slight lift-off, but with no hint of stopping. We have had our fill of officialdom and forms for a while.

How are the under-dogs? The Flying Dutchmen of Wilhelmus Van Gemert and Johan de Swart slip down to 27th in their Singer Le Mans. This little black two seater with two tiny suitcases on the back continues to bounce from bump to bump but no longer beating Bentley’s in the top ten…but plenty of big heavy metal sits a few places behind them. A car once described in its day as two strips of tin and a pile of match-wood has out-performed many, and the one-litre engine sounded crisp this morning. The 2CV of Simon and Liz Chance continue to buzz along, they secretly get up in the middle of the night to wash their car…how else can they explain why it’s the cleanest and most dust-free set of wheels in the car park?

A good many crews are dining out tonight, relieved that all the desert sections are now just memories. Denis Wilson in car 45, a Rolls 20, sums up the feelings like this:

“Jill does not want to see a desert again unless it’s spelt with two s’s. We are now in a good hotel in the capital of Siberia, 1,000 kms from the Mongolia-Russian border, and she says it took three fills of the bath tub before it ran clear. Sun oil on the skin makes an excellent base for sand to stick to…so I need to be careful not to rub her up the wrong way.

The Rolls is now running well minus an exhaust.” The exhaust was not modified along the lines of the fact-sheets produced by the Rally Office, so like many others that chose to ignore all the reams of preparation advice, this item now lies in the sands of the Gobi.

Tomorrow is a rest-day, even the crews of the mobile-workshops are having a rest day so anyone needing repairs will have to exercise their bargaining skills with the locals, who are fascinated by the whole thing and came out with large crowds to greet our arrival, and yet further national television crews to film us as we crawled up the hotel steps to a welcome beer.

DAY

14

Novosibirsk

Fettling and Servicing

Novosibirsk is a modern busy city and we are now spending the day fettling and servicing, sweeping out the dust of Mongolia. For many, more fundamental repairs are being carried out in a nearby Land Rover dealership.

The Singer Nine got here with broken steering, the car being steered by two luggage straps tied onto the front of the car, pull the left strap for a swing to the left, tug on the right one for right turns and despite the hectic traffic, umpteen traffic lights and roundabouts, the car made it in without incident and new steering is now being fitted. Resourcefulness and invention is clearly a major ingredient for success on the Peking to Paris.

In the car park it’s more general servicing for most. The VW Beetle of Matthew and John Keeler is having a major re-wire with the help of a local garage who has come to the hotel to assist, following a fire which burnt out several essential wires, but the crew seem in good spirits. The Austin 16 of John Vincent and Edwin Hammond has now been given a freshen-up with the rear brakes sorted – the petrol tank shield shifted, braking the rear rod-brake system, but being rods and not hydraulic is “simplicity when it comes to replacing a broken rod.” A rear spring was found to be broken and this has also been sorted. The Studabaker (pictured above) of Tom Hayes and Andy Vann is doing well in the classification and requires little more than a general check-over, David Ayre with the Itala says much the same thing but he is totally covered from head to toe in oil. The Rawlings Talbot has had news shockabsorbers this morning, wheel bearings tightened up and a good grease-up.

Gerry Crown in the big Buick reckons he is back in the hunt, the car has been trucked into Russia, the rear axle has been welded up, and a new steering box fitted and he’s grinning again.

For the crew of the red Jag Mk2, the car is now just inches from the top of the leader-board in the Classics section but the heavy engine and lack of pukka rally-prep has taken its toll, after broken spring hangers which were a regular weakness when this car was being rallied in the Sixties, the car now has broken engine-mounts, and was overheating badly on the run into town.

Car 22, William Erickson and Steven Dole, Buick Pickup, has just arrived and is rejoining the event. The Spurlings are planning to re-join with their Morgan, which is amazing news, but Marc Rollinger reckons his big La Salle won’t be arriving today but plans to stay here and play-catch up once the car arrives by truck. A two-inch split in the side of the chassis of the French team in the veteran Brasier has now been completed and this car will be running again in the Pioneer Category, the crew are still up for a Silver medal.

Heroic rallying corner: How about this for Effort Beyond The Call of Duty: The scruffy old Vauxhall Prince Henry which looked like stitching up the Pioneer Category with a commanding lead suffered no less than ten punctures in one day, a 400 km section of rough gravel in the middle of Mongolia, and, to ad to the crews woes (one of many crews to get punctures on Blockley tyres – which run better according to this crew once you bang up the pressures to 60 lbs) they then split the radiator. With no sweeper mechanics in sight, they drive 40 kms off route to find a lake, fill the radiator, solder it up so it stops leaking, driving back the 40 kms to rejoin the route. Wow – they lose their lead but are still 8th, and now plan a fight-back. They are also eligible for the scruffiest car providing they get it to Paris. They deny their run of punctures is anything to do with lose wire spokes dropping onto the tubes, but fixing no less than ten punctures on top of a split radiator (a common occurrence throughout the entire event) in the heat of the desert surely ranks as an all-time record, deserving of some kind of special Mongolia Medal, “ for commitment to a mad cause.”

How the medals work: To qualify for a Gold Medal you need to re-start every morning, clock in every night, and go through a number of checkpoints and time trials which are designated medal-controls. The timing for the Pioneers is more relaxed than the Vintageants, and the Classics have a tighter schedule.

Provisional Results (subject to change) reveal that there are four Gold Medal contenders in the Pioneer Category, (two Ghosts, and two Italas). There are 17 Gold Medal contenders in the intageant Category, and eight in the Classics Category, making a total at this stage of the event of 30 Gold Medals at stake. There are 21 up for Silver medals (a slightly more relaxed criteria). To get a

Bronze medal you need to start from Peking, get to St. Petersburg when the Time-Control is open, and clock in at Reims, and finish at Paris.

There are additional time penalties for those who arrive on the end of a tow-rope or on the back of a truck in that a car has to be driven on its own wheels into and out of Time-Controls. Always a contentious issue, it’s a tricky issue when you consider that someone on the back of a truck has an easier time at missing a Time Control than someone like the Vauxhall Team who slog their guts out and still miss a control, but do so without having chickened out and found a truck-driver. Shit happens, and at the end of the day those who solve problems the hard way have less concerns with their conscience, and so surely sleep better at night (well, so they should, they are more tired out than the rest of us).

As it’s a day off, it’s time for recent results to be reviewed and the number of cars up for various Medals is something that can be questioned, so a busy time for the results-team of Chris Bruce, Lee and Sue Vincent. The mobile w

orkshop teams have had some time off – they have been going through the night in their “sweeper” role for days on end so a day-off is welcome respite for them, but crews needing serious work have found a number of local workshops.

DAY

15

Out of Novoborisk

Nothing quite prepared us for this

Nothing quite prepared us for this. After remarkable Swiss-Standard green countryside coming into Russia out of Mongolia, we left Novoborisk this morning and pounded down 600 kms of dead flat, virtually straight roads, raised up over flat Norfolk-like terrain, with the odd clump of birch trees on either side. 

Nothing changes, and we are told we have to “get used to the monotony.” What a contrast compared with Mongolia only a few days ago. We stopped at truckers cafés for time-controls, snacks and coffees, before pushing on for Omsk. Prince Borghese and his rivals came here in 1907, and entering the town you wonder if little has changed, with old shacks and wooden chalets of a distinctive Russian architecture.

Not much to report then, except that we have torn out yet another page from the Route Book. The morning start was not after a good breakfast at 8.0am, and officially 109 rallycars clocked out of the start control, but, at least five had skipped this procedure and were already on the road, eager for an early start to get going again after a day’s relaxation, collecting a bucket load of penalties for the jump-start.

We passed the Pullen’s little Rover 12, running in close company with the Delage of Harold McNair and Anne Thomson, the Ayre’s Itala, sounding perfectly healthy, and the Wilson’s in their yellow Rolls Royce. At a coffee stop we noticed Richard Newman’s Chryler Special and Arthur Freeman’s Ford re-fuelling, the roads are bumpy, rippled with the odd pothole but most are able to romp this stuff with ease, car 35, the Alvis Speed 20 of Horst Friedrichs and Gerhard Lux made light work of today’s mega-long haul and were among the first to reach the hotel near the river here, at one point cruising at 140 kph – being Sunday traffic was light and there was only the odd truck, otherwise we had all this road to ourselves. The Talbot of Daniel Ward was the first Pioneer to reach Omsk, reckoning he completed the 600 kms in under 12 hours. The car continues to run like clockwork, having had the front axle straightened out in a giant cold-press discovered in a Russian Locomotive Museum which had enormous old steam engines that look like something loaned to the Dr. Zhivago film-set on its front lawn.

We have been joined by Car 6 – readers with good memories will recall the shattering disappointment of the seven-litre Knock Type R, which retired in China when the crankcase split open, well, the good news is that the Michael Laarman and Antonius Poelsma who patched things up after trucking back to Peking have played a mighty job of playing catch-up and are now running with us, although the engine is now on three cylinders. The long, low red Pioneer chugs along, sounding just like a Sopwith Camel on take-off.

The first casualty today concerned the Frost’s Chevrolet, which was sidelined with broken steering, and a truck was rapidly organised by local police.

We said goodbye today to the Dunkley’s, who have retired with engine troubles, suspecting a duff big-end bearing, in what is probably the most travelled Derby Bentley in captivity – the car that has completed the 1997 Peking Paris, the Around the World in 80 Days seven years ago as well as Monte Carlo Challenges and a Classic Safari…the old girl has cried enough to all of this, and the couple are now on their way home.

One Bentley crew have put in an extraordinary effort in catching us up…Jean Pierre Muller and William Medcalf in a Bentley 4.5 have driven 36 hours non stop after a broken back axle and much else, damage caused simply by too much haste over the rough stuff of Mongolia. What an effort!

Shock Horror! The Lancia Special of Jan Voboril has been kicked out of the General Classification by Clerk of the Course Kim Bannister – so, he is no longer third, although the driver reckons that if sheer determination counts for anything he ought to be at least first-overall. The reasoning is simple: The Regulations say a crew of two has to compete, and, now that the general standings have been reviewed, and, the fact that nothing seems to deter this car or force it into retirement, the facts of the matter are that he can’t be classified. It makes no difference to the driver – he intends to continue onwards, and reckons he will not only complete the entire course single-handed, he wants to do it as the only car in the entry-list without the official service-crews putting so much as a screw-driver on his car. So officially he is not competing, (but your correspondent will be keeping you up to date on this heroic effort). The driver (see photo) says when he gets to Paris, he is going to buy his own trophy – and then present it to FIVA.

Gossip Column: We hear wild rumours that the crew of Car 2, the three-litre Itala of Jonathan Turner and Adam Hartley, are on the Trans-Siberian Express, and hope to re-join their car (which is on a truck) somewhere later on in Russia…we got this gossip from David Hall, who is running well in the open Chrysler Special that completed the 1997 Peking-Paris in the hands of Bill Ainscough. Interestingly, we picked up David’s travel bag before it was stowed away and we reckon the Hall’s are travelling considerably lighter than anyone else on the entire event… (well, except “Biggles and Ginger” in the tiny Singer Nine).

So, 109 set out today – remarkable – but the true picture is that rather more are either on the road early, or, playing catch up…and at this stage in the game this statistic on its own is a quite remarkable under-scoring of Peking-Paris determination, and sheer human endeavour.

DAY

16

Omsk

Go to work on an egg.

Go to work on an egg. For the crew of Car 9, the Itala 51b of Theordor Voukidis and Fabio Longo who are holding fifth place in the Pioneer Category with their 1915 tourer, this is perfectly sound advice. 

But for the team from Russian State Television, it was, well, all perfectly Greek…. they couldn’t fathom why anyone would want to crack raw eggs and drop them into the top of the large brass radiator. The pump is leaking, water is pissing onto the ground, for the crew it seems just the dodge to get going and knock off another day of Siberian route-notes.

Not without explaining what is going on, why we are here, what this rally is all about, who on earth is Prince Borghese and what was he doing in Omsk exactly 100 years ago, and is the strange ritual of dropping eggs into radiators something to do with paying homage to the Prince nobody has heard of… or, a strange Greek custom?

Having dodged the trickier questions the Itala was soon rumbling out into the early morning traffic, so the TV crew turned to the Rally Director. “Before we start the interview, can we check the sound-levels on the microphone? Can you tell us what you had for breakfast… and what do you think of President Bush?” How long do you want this interview to be?

The early-morning start out of Omsk saw all sorts of starting rituals, the bonnet was up on the Austin 16, several needed a push-start, some struggled with starting handles, if you are a Russian TV crew all very bemusing. The Knox crew looked worried, and the car chuffed out of the hotel car park sounding as if its now down to two cylinders.

The day has been uneventful…pretty good tarmac, in the main, with the odd bump and pot-hole to make us all nostalgic for Mongolia, and then it rained…we have had dust-storms, hail-storms (for some) yesterday, and steady icy rain this afternoon, and temperatures have dropped to 9-degrees. The official photographer reckons it’s chilly enough to change from shorts to Rohan trousers.

Lots of the open crews got a thorough soaking coming into town, the first time its rained since we left Peking. Mike and Josey Thompson in an open Chrysler looked cold and wet, despite being well wrapped up, and the Wilkinson’s in the yellow Rolls have lost half of the enormous hood, broken by the blast of an overtaking truck.

Some are still endeavouring to catch up the event – car 2, Itala, and 98, Francesco Ciriminna’s baby Fiat, are meeting us in Moscow, and car 71, the Derby Bentley of Digby Squires, and 106, the Robert’s Sunbeam Alpine we hear have both now successfully crossed the border from Mongolia to Russia – several days behind but now running. Car 62, Richard Newman’s Chrysler, has broken steering and plans to catch up once repairs have been carried out.

The youngest crew members, Gerald Harrison and Andrew Douglas, (aged 25, and 26), have taken up smoking…the engine is limping at the moment with a broken piston-ring, and is well down the General Classification, we spotted a plastic Tupperware box jamming open the rear boot for added cooling as we left Omsk this morning.

Here’s an idle thought that came to mind as we pounded another dead flat road across Siberia today: Do you need an expensive car to get a good result on the Peking to Paris?

In the Veterens, a La France will set you back anything from ten-thousand-pounds, two are currently third and fourth overall. In the Vintageant Category, the one-litre Single Nine Le Mans was bought for five-thousand-pounds… it’s on the leaderboard a full ten minutes ahead of a pair of six-and-a-half litre Speed Six Bentleys, (among the most expensive cars in the event), the Singer crew having been in the top five at one point. The Multon’s are doing well in an Alvis 12/60, hardly expensive wheels, and up for a Gold Medal at the moment… the Vintageant Category is headed by David Williams who paid ten-grand for his Chevrolet Fangio Coupe, the same sort of money that the King of Malaysia paid for his Chevvy….Chevrolet’s hold 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, a clean sweep at the top of the leaderboard with gold-medals for their crews… when were Chevrolet so successful in an international event… probably not since Fangio was driving these cars as a lad…

Among the Classic Category, the Mercedes “taxi-lookalike” Fintail of Hans Lindner and Frank Wiest is the sort of car you can pick up for under five-grand in museum-condition, the Mark Two Jaguar of Richard Worts is close behind, both cars have set a Gold Medal standard for their crews, not missing a single time-control that would have cost them their Gold… third place in this Category is a game performance by Garry Staples who is driving a VW Beetle Cabrio, also up for a Gold Medal, fifth placed car is the Riley RM saloon of the Wilkinson’s despite rattles and things dropping off it’s earning the crew a Gold Medal… the much-travelled Rover 80 of John and Joan Fallows is also earning a Gold Medal, and sounds perfectly fit, and Simon and Liz Chance in a Citroen 2CV laughed at all the rough stuff in Mongolia and are also up for a Gold Medal.

Also going well is Roberto Chiodi and Maria-Rita in their 1600cc Alfa, on a Silver Medal… Pamela Reid and Nicola Wainwright’s Sunbeam Rapier was bought for a few grand, and was up with the front runners earlier on… currently earning the crew a Silver Medal… non of these cars are exactly expensive motors.

DAY

17

Tyumen to Yekaterinburg

Ah! What a breeze!

Ah! What a breeze! A short day of half the usual distance from our normal daily grind of crossing Siberia. Knocking off 350 kms has brought us from Tyumen to Yekaterinburg. The odd shower of rain mixed in with bright sunny periods, and mostly good roads, has given just about all of us a short-haul day.

Our early morning start was from a street closed down specially for us, with all the cars lined up under police guard, a noisy early morning call for the locals when the big 14-litre La France was first to explode into life, almost literally with large bangs and pops through its four-inch exhaust.

We welcomed another starter who has finally caught up. Tim Scott, in the oldest entry of all, the 1903 Mercedes, car 19, has finally made it. He came into town late last night and found his first hotel bed in days… he has been camping by the roadside for the past three days, the only competitor still forced to use his tent and sleeping bag, in a heroic effort to rejoin the Peking to Paris.

Regular readers will recall he took time out in a village blacksmith’s workshop to repair his petrol tank, which had lost pressure, so his nine-litres were unable to receive regular and constant fuel supl;ies. With that repair carried out, he was away, now having lost a day. But after crossing the border into Russia, a stray cow roamed across the road…1903 Mercs with no front brakes, cross-ply tyres worn extra hard having driven the full width of Mongolia, don’t stop on a sixpence and the poor cow was hurled back into its field with rather more force than it bargain on…alas, the Veteren now had a radiator stuffed with cow-hide. This cost yet another day in repairs…so the crew were forced into mega-long 800 kilometre driving stints, up at first line having just put up the tent whenever it became too dark, too tiring, to continue….the car in driving rain can’t have been easy, it has no windscreen.

The oldest car on the event has rejoined us having driven the entire distance on its own wheels, having refused offers of lifts in trucks. The engine sounds remarkably healthy.

The roads today offered us an hour or so respite from the horrors of the past with perhaps the smoothest since leaving China, running on fresh-laid tar, then, suddenly a reminder of what rally across half the globe is all about with a sudden chassis-jarring crash of large ruts, rippled and folded up bitumen with giant holes that can catch out the unwary.

We came across the two Bentley Speed Sixes of Ioannis Katsaounis and Franco Lup, and Peter Livanos and Bruce Blythe, giant hoods billowing in the windy conditioins, and sounding fabulous… running in close company with the growl of the white Mercedes 630K, top down, of Etienne and Sven Veen…. young Sven left all of today’s work to his father, as he covered most of today totally oblivious to the conditions, the road, the weather and the scenery as he was sound asleep, slumped back with his head on one side, despite the fact that the car is running fully open… and a cold wind blasted all the open cars today. Even when the giant Merc was lifted totally airborne by a sudden crater in the road, the navigator of Car 51 showed no signs of life. It must have been a good night out last night, not even the icy blast of a fast run in an open car across Siberia cured this hang-over.

Car Six, the five litre Knox that started out from China as seven litres, now sounds like a dumper-truck, but continues to rumble along, with a loud huff-and-chuff, huff-and-chuff, rolling into more miles of Russia, the crew however look increasingly worried.

Gain one, lose one. Coming into town this afternoon, the solo-effort of Jan Vorboril was involved in a minor traffic accident at a cross-roads… reading the road-book, and driving while checking that the car is making the right turns is harder than it sounds in a Veteran with no navigator, and the car that has performed without a single mishap was involved in a collision with a local driving a modern Mercedes. The Veteran has a bent front axle, bent front wheels, and the film crew’s Land Rover of John Quincy had to winch the car to a nearby parking slot. So, the remarkable effort that has seen this car cross Mongolia and most of Siberia single-handed looks now a very sorry sight. It remains to be seen if the car can now be straightened out…

The roads today saw numerous passers-by form into huddles to cheer us on… the interest from crowds of spectators grew thicker by the mile, and our final parc-ferme was thronging with a vast crowd of onlookers as we came into the town centre. And more television crews than we have seen so far.

It helps that tomorrow is a rest-day. Everyone will be involved in running repairs and servicing (well, unless you are out clubbing with the co-driver of Car 51). The Itala crew of Car One hope to drop the crankshaft to replace an oil seal, a truly major undertaking. David Ayre looks perfectly calm about it all, however…

We then have four more driving days before we finally reach Moscow.

DAY

18

Yekaterinburg

Major mechanical overhauls and servicing

Rest day in Yekaterinburg been one of hectic activity as spares have been sought, and workshops hunted down for some major mechanical overhauls and servicing before we hit the road again tomorrow.

For Xavier del Marmol and Catherine Janssens, two new wheels have been sought – from a Russian truck – which fit the Chevrolet, and they are now in the best of health, having had the suspension totally overhauled in Tyumen, where a truck workshop rebuilt them new springs and shock-absorbers, and then refused any suggestion of payment.

We have heard from the crew of Car 63, Hugh Brogan and Paul Stead who split the radiator in Mongolia, have had it repaired, and hope to catch up the event by joining us in time for tomorrow morning’s re-start. The Spurlings seem to have solved their problem of broken springs by using the offer of some Lagonda springs.

A spirit of “make-do and improvise” has been the attitude of the day as we prepare for the next four days that take us to Moscow.

DAY

19

To Perm

North by North-West

We hit the road bright and early this morning – breakfast was called for the four hotels where we have been lodging for the past 24 hours at 6:00am, buses were due to collect us at 6:30am, for a crack of dawn start after our day off from the town-centre car park where all cars have been under guard.

Veterans spit and spat and barked in protest, chains were soon flailing round, Vintageants had starting-handles to stir cold oil, the classics having a later departure time had an easier time of it but we were all soon inching way out across town for the haul to Perm.

So, how are we doing, now that the event has passed the half-way make in terms of both days, and distance, since leaving Peking?

In the Veteran’s division, known as The Pioneer Category, there are four Gold Medal performances which have been set by the two leaders, both Rolls Royce Silver Ghosts…. Fred Brown and Tom Stevenson is first overall, and Neville Jordan and Bruce McIlroy second, both up for Gold Medals… the 1915 Itala of Theodore Voukidis and Fabio Longo and the La France of Ralf Weiss and Kurt Schneiders are also on Gold, fourth and fifth overall. Tim Scott’s 1903 nine-litre Merc, the oldest car in the event, has driven every mile, along with Daniel Ward and David Ingleby in the Talbot…Silver Medals are the ambition of David and Karen Ayre, in the Itala, Michael Power and Anthony Malcolm-Green in the Prince Henry Vauxhall, and the Paul Bessade’s team in the Brasier Torpedo. Andrew Fulton and Warner Burntjen in the Essex is running again and one of those due for a Bronze Medal if they can now keep going. A truly remarkable effort by this bunch. The 1907 Itala of David and Karen Ayre is here, parked up next to the Talbot of Daniel Ward and the Rawling’s Chrysler.

Some have been a model of reliability. They have coped with no windscreens, bench seats, next to no suspension, no front brakes, skinny cross-ply tyres, and pounded over appalling surfaces equally as bad as anything found on an East African Safari. Every day they have checked out to qualify for either a Gold or Silver Medal, driving a route that defeated two celebrities on off-road modern BMW motor-bikes who tried the same route for “The Long Way Round” but felt forced to give up and leave Mongolia for a softer-option route across the top of the country in Russia. This fact alone makes their effort truly fantastic.

The route has been bad. Far worse than we found on our various recce route-surveys, Mongolia proved really tough. As Igor Kolodotschko commented the other night in the bar: “Prince Borghese had it far easier – he had no roads!” The argument goes like this…. trucks cause ripples and severe corrugations, this is the root cause of the terrible vibration that shakes us all apart, cracks the chassis, breaks shock-absorber mountings. Pot-holes, craters, ditches, rocks the size of bar-room coffee tables, we have climbed over the lot. But where there are no roads in Mongolia, you run on grit and gravel that is smooth in comparison… Its argued that Prince Borghese had a smoother run across Mongolia than the first-ever Historic Rally to attempt such a route by some on this event. The past winter changed conditions since our route-survey, and as one other driver commented: “What has Mongolia got in common with driving the surface of the Moon? …. Er, There’s air in Mongolia.”

Those crews who prepared for the absolute worse, followed the notes in our book “How To Prepare a Successful Rallycar”, and came with a car that was blessed with good suspension travel and good ground-clearance, have done better than many others. Quite a few cars looked like they could be contenders for a concours-de-elegance, but had no rally preparation at all. Quite a few set out from Peking with no waterproofing, no dust-proofing, no caps to the engine mounts, no expansion bottle or header-tank for the radiator, no reinforcement for the battery tray. Indeed, some came with batteries many years old. Quite a few had no skids or protection over vulnerable areas underneath – the tiny Rover 12 has absolutely nothing underneath to protect it from the rigours of desert travel, not even in a tank-shield and sump shield as bash-protection. Driven with the utmost care, it’s had far fewer problems than many. Those who are eternal optimists, but admit they can’t change a light-bulb, and refused to pass on to their workshops any of the Rally Office bulletins, have in the main been riding some or most of the route on the back of a truck.

Copper fuel pipes, unprotected and having to run the length of an engine bay, hanging over a hot engine, soon had tiny splits as a result of the vibration – all advice having been ignored. Those who fitted plenty of large fuel-filters, the size of jam-jars, and ran protected fuel lines inside the car, had fewer problems. Some engines were never built for running on 80 octane fuel. Others fitted shock absorbers that were twice as hard, doubly strong, but without substantially reinforced mountings suffered the problem of many who experienced broken mountings, losing time in having these welded up.

Drivers who came on this event reckoning “we are not out to drive fast, so have not had to prepare it like a rallycar” found themselves caught out and became victims of the conditions. One car dumped a radiator full of vital water onto the ground of a desert when the radiator boiled, after the fan split the core open due to broken engine-mounts. “The car ran perfectly in Ireland,” was a comment from the driver… Quite a few drivers can’t say when anyone last looked inside their back axle or when seals and bearings were replaced, but hoped it would get them half-way round the world on an event that was billed as an accurate recreation of what the pioneers faced 100 years ago. So, given all this, the fact that we have more than 100 cars running, and so many up for medals, it quite astonishing.

Tyres have been a regular discussion point. Blockleys have given the Vintageants plenty of punctures, others on Michelins or Dunlops with heavier plies less so, and some regard punctures the least of their problems. In the Classic Category, some cars have run tough Colway Emjo remoulds, and experienced no problems or punctures at all. Others who fitted heavy truck-like tyres wonder if the increase in unsprung-weight has added to their shock absorber problems.

Determination is a very personal thing. And determination has had a big bearing in deciding who wins a Gold or Silver medal. There are those who will seek out a blacksmiths workshop and have a radiator brazed up and drive through the night to catch up….others with ailments that were hardly of the car-breaking category gave up just as soon as it got tough. Some cars that should never have crossed into Mongolia insisted on doing so, hoping in a spirit of great optimising all would hold together, only to face the bureaucratic hassles a day or so later of how to get out of the country. Willpower, determination in the face of adversity, an ability keep going when the car presents despair, the results leader-board sums it up. The crew of car 75, the Dutch crew of Olaf Pothoven and Robertus Van Den Berg in a ’39 Maigret Citroen, drove 1,650 kms to catch up the rally – in 21 hours. The driver lost time having to go to clinic for injections after being bitten by a dog, and the car suspension added to the crew’s woes. One of the oldest drivers is Bob Pattison in a 1928 Chrysler – a late entrant, perhaps it was not prepared as well as the best. Once in Mongolia, he suffered engine problems with a bent con-rod, and then broke a half-shaft in the axle. He is here tonight, walking round the hotel, and looks a happy man.

In the Vintageant’s Category there are 22 crews up for a Gold Medal, and 18 on Silver. The Category is still headed by the three Chevy Fangio Coupes, but its interesting to note that Paul Carter and Vincent Fairclough are just over a minute behind in fourth place, and the Alvis of Horst Friedrichs is in fifth – the Thompson’s in seventh-overall are on their first-ever rally in their Chrysler 75.

The Classic Category is headed by the Mercedes Fintail of Pit Lindner who must now be feeling a touch fed up with being asked “are you really a taxi” by Russian TV crews, with around half an hour in hand over the Jaguar Mk2 of Richard Worts and Nichola Shackleton, nearly four minutes ahead of the VW Beetle of Garry Staples. The striking looking orange Studebaker of Tom Hays and Andy Vann is fourth, and the Goodwin’s Aston Martin fifth, with the Riley RM of the Wilkinsons sixth.

The Ladies Prize looks like going to Pamela Reid and Nicola Wainwright in the Sunbeam Rapier, holding 7th and on for Silver Medals if they can keep going.

Francis Carey in the open Fifties Bentley lost his co-driver due to disagreements, but is still in the running, luckily for him he was able to take on another in the shape of Scott Anderson, who was piloting the troublesome Model T Ford which failed to get out to Ulaan Bataar, but flew in, and found himself a role – the penalty for an unscheduled crew-switch of 24 hours has been applied.

The Porsche 356 of the two youngest crew members in the event, Gerry Harrison and Andrew Douglas, elected to stay behind this morning, awaiting parts for a rebuild of their engine after breaking a piston ring – the old troubles of swallowing too much dust that used to afflict Porsches on the original Marathons of the Sixties is thought to be the root cause, and rather than limp on they have decided discretion is the better part of valour. A pity, not starting out today means they lose their Silver Medals.

However, despite the severe bashing yesterday, this morning’s line up included the pith-helmet of the lone driver Jan Vorboril in his home-made Veteren Special, the bent front axle and buckled wheels from the accident the other day was all hammered straight on the day off. Walking to his car in a long-flowing sheepskin ankle-length coat, donning his hat, he got a little clap from a bunch of drivers who have had it far easier, so far.

A total of 110 cars clocked in to Perm tonight, out of a total of 128 that left Peking. Nobody expected that statistic at the half-way point.

DAY

20

Perm to Kazan

Dawn Patrol

“Things can only get better,” sang Tim Scott this afternoon as he toiled in the sun with co-driver John Taylor. They had just experienced a rear tyre blow out at full cruising speed – which is quite an impressive rate of knots when the 1903 nine-litre is given an empty stretch of road. It was his sixth puncture since leaving Peking.

We came across the pair who are attempting to get the oldest car in the event to Paris on the dirt hard-shoulder at 3.30pm this afternoon. That’s exactly ten hours since they left Perm for the 700 kms stretch to Kazan – no other day is much longer than this, so a departure at first-light was the choice of those in the Pioneers camp.

The hotel at Perm housed the 300-bookings of the Peking to Paris without a cough of protest – it’s so vast this old concrete monolith left over from the days of Communist-control could have lodged and fed several long-distance rallies. The walls are built around a central courtyard, and the 1903 Mercedes, the Itala, and Daniel Ward’s Talbot were all parked together. At 5.30 am, the Merc coughed and spluttered into life…we know it was that time as the warming up procedure for this engine, when the rear of the exhaust is parked up against a wall, funnels the boat-like burble of this engine on tick over right up to the tenth-floor. We don’t need wake-up calls on this rally, all you do is rely on Tim Scott leaving miles ahead of the rest.

Daniel Ward had the Talbot running half an hour later, just in case anyone had gone back to sleep, and to cap that, the six litres of the Itala grumbled and splattered on the third swing soon after, David having hardly to put in much of a sweat to crank the starting handle round before the car was suggesting it was eager to catch up with the others.

When we talked with David Ayre at the end of the day,. he said the engine is running fine and he and Karen seemed no worse for wear after today’s long haul – he is at the back of the hotel at the moment in the company of The Goodwin’s who are servicing their Bentley.

It’s been a good run today, despite the mega distance. The roads have been a lot more interesting, surrounded by bright green scenery, rolling hills, blue skies in warm sunshine. As Peter Livanos summed it up at the mid-day Time Control, “We all were dreading today, but it’s turned out to be some pretty good motoring.”

Olaf Pothoven and Robertus Van Den Berg arrived in good spirits at the hotel this evening pleased to be running and enjoying a trouble-free day with their Maigrety Citrkoen – they have had a string of rear axle problems, having to have the axle welded up no less than five times….that sets a new record for this event.

One car that didn’t start out today was the Bentley of Richard and Jill Dangerfield – the axle has let go and they have decided that retirement is the better part of valour for the old girl, which will be trucked home. Bernard Gateau and Dina Bennett in a La Salle also were seen on a truck today. Today’s roads were a lot less bumpy than we have become accustomed to in Russia, but we hear that Charles Stuart-Menteth and Andrew May in their big Ford have broken a rear spring – help has been organised.

Tomorrow is a lot shorter at around 350 kms.

DAY

21

From Kazan

The Hunt for Red October

We welcomed back the crew of Car 2, the three-litre Itala of Jonathan Turner and Adam Hartley this morning…. readers with very long memories will recall they went missing soon after entering Mongolia. 

We left them behind at Ulaan Bataar to have a new crank-shaft made from solid lump of iron by optimistic craftsmen at Power Station Number Four.

Today, the bright red Veteran was raring to go at the first Time Control of the day and the crew received a hearty welcome from rival competitors, including the crew of Itala Number One, David and Karen Ayre. Our photo shows the sort of celebratory antics that were going on early this morning with Jonathan sporting his newly acquired hat. Others were more interested in looking under the bonnet, and Adam finally felt obliged to undo the leather strap… There, for all to see, is a three litre engine, but, it never saw the inside of an Italian factory in 1907, although it does appear to be rather old. The downdraught carburettor looks like it would fit a Ford Capri. The engine, we are reliably informed, is out of a Volga truck and is two-and-a-half litres.

Well, ten out of ten for initiative and refusing to call it quits, even if it has meant a very long truck journey – with the crew lapping up the luxury of the Trans Siberian Express while all the rest had to slum it the hard way.

Not much else to report, it’s been a hot day, but a short one with less than 400 kms, but you need your wits about you for this trek, as the roads now we are nearing Moscow are considerably busier, and the number of trucks that we dodge in and out of is enough to keep anyone on their toes – apart from the ticking of the clock that comes from doing it all within a time-schedule. We came across the crew of car 34, the potent Alvis of Horst Friedrichs and Gerhard Lux who hold down 5th spot in the Vintageant Category, they were out of water, we offered them a bottle of lemonade as a donation for their radiator, but as they were parked by a small stream this was declined.

We are now all parked up in the shadow of a giant statue of Lenin by the River Volga here in Novgorod. That is all except car 34, the Chevrolet of Daniel Rensing and New York Times correspondent Michele Shapiro, which had battery problems – the battery literally exploded yesterday, but being six-volt is not exactly a common thing to replace… and the crew of car 80, the Chevrolet of Russian-competitor Igor Kolodotschko, but if anyone can talk their way out of a problem he can. We understand he has suffered a terrible bout of blocked fuel lines, and a carburettor that refuses to perform even when it stripped and adjusted. The sweeper crews are out looking for Igor at the moment.

The broken spring of Charles Stuart-Menteth yesterday meant missing a vital Passage Control and the final Time Control of the day, so has cost him a Gold Medal – a sad blow as the car was diligently prepared. The big Ford was up to 15th in the Vintageants Category at one point, but failed to re-start today.

One who has caught up after taking a day out for repairs is the Porsche 356 of Gerald Harrison and Andrew Douglas. We also saw on the road today the Citroen of Alan Crisp and Chris Mower.

Tomorrow being Sunday should mean a short run over considerably quieter roads into Moscow.

At Moscow, Kim Bannister as Clerk of the Course will hand over his duties of manager of the sporting aspects of the event to Martin Clark, who takes over as Clerk of the Course for the second-half of the route from Moscow to Paris. Once out of Russia, a string of Time Trials kick-starts the competitive side – much will no doubt change in the remaining two weeks.

We all have a day off on Monday, and then follow the example set by of Prince Borghese, heading north for St. Petersburg…

DAY

22

Moscow

At Last...

A straight-forward run has taken us on good roads the 400 kms into Moscow. We are at a large hotel on the outskirts of the city. 

There is a tremendous spirit within the ranks at this point – those still in fine fettle are feeling a sense of relief, as well as optimism, that they have become survivors of what is the first Historic Rally to cross the full width of Russia, apart from Mongolia which now seems an age away.

Barry Frost is running again, he has been trucking for the past few days as a result of a valve dropping into a cylinder and smashing a hole into the top of the cylinder head of his Chevrolet…tonight in the bar he explained that he found a Russian workshop who looked at all the broken pieces, and damage done, and then carefully welded the hole in the top of the piston, and found a Fiat valve which was adapted to fit and the engine is now running again. Stories like this abound – railway engineers, and truck workshops, have been responsible for numerous running repairs (and usually insist on no payment), even one competitor had the helping hand of two policemen who sorted out burnt points in the ignition.

Denis Wilson in the Rolls Royce 20 tourer summed up the feelings of many in his report to us: “There is a palpable sense of relief as we entered Moscow… the cold potholed and awesome drive up through vast Siberia has given way to fertile plained with improved roads and warmer air. Many locals gathered to say ‘well done’ and waved from the pavements and we felt we had rather deserved it.”

Tomorrow is day off, an opportunity to tour round a city we have not seen before, relax and recall the horrors we have all endured, and re-charge our batteries for the 700kms drive up to St. Petersburg… a road which Prince Borghese knocked off in one hit when conditions were more like we saw in Mongolia.

The break here has given the administration-team a chance to review results and take on board queries and questions, and the latest positiionings are posted up on this site, taking into account that on the last day in Mongolia, Time-Trials were cancelled in order for all the officials to concentrate on sweeping-duties, hauling cars out of Mongolia and if Time-Trials can’t have the full cover of our ambulances and mobile-workshops, there is little choice but to cancel the competition… however, road timing for the day – the timed-schedule into the final rest-camp – remains as originally planned, and that in itself had a bearing on the leaderboard, given the hardship of the navigation over a course with virtually no roads.

It all seems such a long time ago…

DAY

23

Moscow

A Day of Rest

It’s a rest day in Moscow. Your reporter has taken the day off to catch up with the laundry and join the tourist round along with those crews who were able to find a little time away from their cars.

Tomorrow we make the long drive to St. Petersburg and we’ll be back reporting from along the way. There is no timing over this final 700 kilometre day of our route through Russian.

In a couple of days we move on to Estonia where the competition resumes.

DAY

24

To St. Petersburg

The Long Haul

A massive day of no less than 730 kms from Moscow to St. Petersburg… but not quite as bad as it sounds. 

This was by far the best surface we have driven since China and even the Veterans could clip along at a fair gallop… the Itala of the Ayre’s took it steady and knocked it off in 12 hours, others far less, and it was an untimed, “cruising” day.

We hear that having got going again, the Frost’s Chevrolet holed the piston that has only just been welded up, so it was onto the back of a truck again, but the crew remain optimistic that this problem can be sorted as today is a rest-day, but, the remaining rest-days for major repairs are now rather limited, only Gdansk sees the rally take a day off between here and Paris.

We have been joined by two missing crews, Digby Leighton-Squires and Neville Burrell are here in the Derby Bentley, having holed the sump in the crossing of Mongolia he had to return to Ulaan Bataar to find someone who could weld up aluminium, and the Robert’s Sunbeam Alpine – both have endured extraordinary adventures of their own in catching up with the event.

Several crews came up to St. Petersburg on the day off in Moscow, in order to spend more time here, and now we can see why… it’s a stunningly beautiful place, the centre and the long water front by the river remind you of Prague and there is certainly a lot to see… there is a wonderfully unspoilt, timeless air about this place and everyone is going to take full advantage of the rest-day.

After tomorrow’s rest day we set out for Tallinn – a big sense of relief all round then as we now cross into Europe. The event changes gear somewhat, as we begin a string of Time Trials that provide the event with a sting in the tail.

DAY

25

Tallinn

Espionage?

It’s only to be expected that on an event like the Peking to Paris for us to see more than just a few personalities emerge – after all, it takes rather unusual qualities to enter in the first place.

Ten years ago, on the 1997 event, the Officials and Marshals had their own pet names for a few… nobody on that event, for example, will ever forget ‘Dip and Dazzle’ who drove a Rover, or, the character who drove an open Allard, to win the Marshal’s ‘Richard Head Trophy’ only to ask at the prizegiving, “who on earth is Richard Head?”

However, the characters that made the 1997 event such an epic are no match for this bunch. Given that today is a rest-day, it’s time for Syd Stelvio to reveal some of the antics of a few. However, one driver is very much couched in mystery. He says little. He turns up, drives, posts good times, and then fades into the background. You don’t see him at the bar, you don’t see him eating the restaurants. This is a driver who has been with us since China, and doesn’t ever eat or drink. He doesn’t even sleep with us when there are alternatives in town. Yet he knows exactly what he is doing, and is right up with the leaders – a deadly serious sort of bloke then.

This is the driver of Car 35, who drives a four-litre Alvis, and even de-tuned and running on the world’s worst petrol, it has the best part of 200 horse-power and enough torque to plough a field. His name is Horst Friedrichs, and as German as they come, but when his green two-seater comes speeding into a Time Control, the Marshals just call say “here comes the German Spy.” He looks every bit as if he should be riding a rusty bicycle around Norfolk with Michael Caine in the film about a plot to capture Churchill, or, perhaps, scrambling across Scottish moorland in his tweed jacket and cap, seeking a secret rendevous with a U-boat.

He wears a Dunhill jacket, it goes with the dashing image of the green Alvis perfectly. He buys his shirts in Jermyn Street. He wears a variety of cloth caps, but with a certain jaunty style that suggests his hat maker is in the same class as his Lobb brogue shoes. The accent is perfect, what comes from years no doubt of whispering down valve-glowing radio sets kept under the bed, with the call-sign ‘Buckingham Palace.’

Quite what his mission is on the Peking to Paris is difficult to fathom, but he is in fifth place in the Vintageant Category. The bulge in the waistcoat maybe because he packs a 9mm Walther PPK, or merely a silver Dunhill flask for his Schnapps.

We are trying to find out more, as like you we are filled with curiosity, but this is not as easy as it sounds. Take coming into town yesterday: At the traffic lights, we pull up alongside German Spy, rorty Alvis exhaust turns heads. A stunningly glamourous lady is laughing alongside him. How did she arrive? What is she doing in his car? What has happened to the person who is neither co-driver, or navigator, but described by the Marshals as “The Accomplice?” Has he met a grizzly end, and is now lying face down in a Siberian ditch? Should we not know the answers to these questions?

So, our photographer grapples with his telephoto lens in the back of our car for the photo that will confirm all this, while shouting to German Spy: Who is that lady?… it can’t be your wife!’ Back comes the response, “of course it’s my wife, look…” and he lands her a big long kiss, while holding up the traffic. Alas, the photographer is so surprised by all this he drops his camera. The lights change, we drive straight on, as per route-book, but German Spy turns right, adding to the mystery, as he has not been seen since. We are convinced his latest travelling companion is not his wife. He is no doubt now in disguise, living in a back street bed and breakfast, wireless set connected to coat hangers as an aerial, sending out messages under the code-name Buckingham Palace, while the mystery blonde now wears a little black dress in a coffee shop collecting messages on the back of till receipts. All this is very odd.

If you have ever secretly thought you would like to indulge in the murky world of espionage, get yourself over to St. Petersburg. You have 24 hours to solve the riddle of the mysterious driver everyone calls The German Spy. Our photo shown here is your only clue… he is not in the rally hotel, and we have no idea where you should begin the hunt.

Before Paris, Syd Stelvio would like to have the answers to the biggest mystery so far of the Peking to Paris.

DAY

26

Russia to Estonia

The best laid plans of mice and men… Goodbye Russia

Despite all the promises and assurances that the border crossing out of Russia would be as slick and as impressive as the process of going in, it all came to naught today as all the hopes and planning came unravelled. It’s hard to think of a worse border crossing – there are tiny African countries who can organise immigration and customs desks more efficiently than this.

All of us are in Tallin, we are in a very comfortable hotel, and the afternoon for those of us who got through in time, has been some of the finest and most enjoyable roads of the entire trip. Smooth, sandy-gravel forest tracks, free flowing open bends, now we understand why Estonia is a country which has rally enthusiasts raving. Even the coast road was a joy to drive – its like a step back in time, wooden chalets and log cabins, twisty smooth tarmac, not a pothole or ripple in sight, smiling faces, cheering children, Estonia has it all.

Its just that getting here from Russia can be such a pain. Hugo Upton claims the record, he spent 11 hours crossing from Russia to Estonia. It’s an enormous test of patience. You sit in the lane you think is moving, then discover it’s the wrong one. Locals and trucks barge in front, for newcomers, and foreigners without the language, it’s a highly frustrating game of lottery to get a passport stamped, the bit of paper that they gave you when you came in returned, our colour-photocopies of the log-book examined, someone lifts the bonnet and the boot-lid to ensure we are not carrying out a pet dog (the examination is that cursory), and you think a system could be devised that does all this in minutes… five minutes a car would suffice. We allowed no less than four hours per car – enough slack there to ensure we all “joined up” with a programme of Time Controls.

It could have been a super day. For some, it was…once into Estonia. We had two Time Trial sections planned, each running over wonderful forest tracks, specially closed for us and monitored by experienced local motor-club officials. It could have ran like clock-work.

We have a small army of British marshals who have trekked out to make it all work, and provide us with very many more checkpoints…results have yet to be computed as this is written, but, its clear the organisation is now on the horns of a dilemma. Some ran what was planned, and every Time Control was in place, every marshal delivered the goods. The timing of the test-sections was smoothly clicking into gear as soon as the first car arrived.

Tom Hayes with Andy Vann at the wheel (picture left) was swinging through the bends and looked dramatic with giant sweeps of crossed-up opposite-lock driving…. the Germans in the very British Alvis were spectacular, but had electrical problems, the Bentleys loved the smooth surface and long open bends, it was something for everyone. Even the Singer was revelling in it all. Except about 40 or so cars were stuck in the queues at the border – helpless. A further hindrance, at least 20 cars were pulled in by Russian police, some more than once, and several crews taken to road-side police-offices, for large demands of money. David Williams was threatened with having his car confiscated. Nobody can say what they were supposed to have done wrong. Hugo Upton and Nigel Gambier in a Lagonda, hardly the fastest of cars, were “fined” 6,000 roubles (120-pounds), David Williams negotiated down a demand for a million roubles. The 1300cc Alfa of the Chiodis was tugged for speeding at 75 mph, they tried to explain that was more than the flat-out speed of the overloaded car but to no avail, they paid an on the spot fine of 2,000 roubles. A sour taste, much loss of goodwill, by over officious policemen eager to make a fast buck on the last day has not done relations much good. Andy Vann had his licence taken away – for supposedly overtaking a bus, an accusation he strongly denies.

In the past 20 years, we only have had two really tricky borders where promises of help never materialised. Driving from Nepal into India on the last Peking to Paris in 1997 was an ultra-slow and highly bureaucratic affair, despite having paid $10,000 dollars to the national motor-sport federation, who demonstrated what they can organise by failing to turn up. A call to the BBC radio’s Mark Tulley suddenly changed attitudes and service, and the rally was back on schedule. And today. Events to Dakar, and other far flung places, have run without the kind of dramas we all experienced today.

Tomorrow, we get to grips with some real rallying – we have arrived, today’s frustrations have to be put behind us.

DAY

27

Estonia

What a difference a day makes…

That was the best day’s rallying I have ever seen… simply fantastic.” That’s the verdict on today from Dutchman Berend van den Dool, who is navigating Bert Kersten in a 1927 Bentley Speed Six.

It’s a sentiment that has been expressed by others in the bar this evening… a wonderful day, real rallying, best since Peking… for the Dutch who have been around just a bit, they think it goes even further than that. “Can’t recall a day that was organised any better, roads that were so stunning, scenery that’s an added bonus… with really exciting competition.” Yet only yesterday, every one was saying “what a shit day – surely the Russians gave us a send-off with something to remember…Police harassment and a border control non of us will forget.” That may well be true for some 40 cars bogged down in queues that refused to move at more than a snail’s pace, but today was very different.

We ran out of Tallin to a remarkable circuit used for rallycross. Forget Lydden Hill and the likes, it was as long if not longer than Brands Hatch, with dips and crests, even a lake in the middle and cars run alongside the water… the surface is a powdery, dusty gravel, and those who can drive on lose surfaces revelled in all this, sliding round the hairpins… with a Time Trial timed to the second. It was remarkably smooth, and slickly run by the motor-club who have put on a superb welcome for all of us who have never been to Estonia before. This was just the opener to the day…after this, we had more of their forest-sections, we ran past remote log-cabins, even small villages, where everything was shut down and where all the locals turned up to sit on tractors and doorsteps and cheer us on our way. Tightly marshalled – every gate, every footpath, was well manned. Just as well, as when Nigel Challis in his Land Rover pulled over to give room to the flying Xavier de Marmol and Catherine Janssens in their Chevy (with the top rolled down as it was such a bright warm day) he beached it. The only four-wheel-drive car in the whole event had two wheels down a soft dirt bank, the drivers door resting against a birch tree, and no way up – but help is just a mobile phone call away from on the spot help.

Estonia certainly knows how to put on a good rally. The help and reception we have received here has been simply wonderful.

It’s changed the results. Firstly, to bring you up to date. The tests yesterdays had to be cancelled as so many were stuck at the border. Move on. Nobody is grumbling now, the atmosphere and the camaraderie is terrific… a warm after glow after today’s organisation which has seen literally hundreds of marshals all in the right place at the right time. The gap has closed to seven minutes separating the two leading Chevy Coupes at the head of the Vintageant Category. Xavier was on a charge and the David Williams car was banging and popping and sounds less healthy. In the Classics Division, the Merc Fintail and Jaguar Mark Two are having a lot of fun… the two Astons were revelling in the rallycross circuit, with long lurid slides on opposite lock… and the engines sounding glorious punching out of the corners… the Germans in the Alvis have slipped down the leaderboard in the Vintageant Category, with Paul Merryweather also slipping out of third to fourth, overhauled by a flying Paul Carter, despite messing up on the circuit (stopping after the first lap to ask the marshals if this is the start of the second lap… while seconds tick away…Time Trials on circuits with “splits” and route changes clearly caught out a few… suggesting that a circuit test is more than just a driver’s benefit, navigators who can call the shots contribute to the results.

Roy Williams in the Riley Special was going well today but still holds tenth spot in the Vintageants, like Paul Carter, he stopped half way to ask a Marshal for instructions… tests that sort the really experienced? Estonia was a day full of surprises. In 17th position overall is one of the more unlikely cars… the Rolls Royce “doctors coupe” of Mark and Sandra de Ferranti.

Coming into Riga tonight, Gordon Phillips was slicing up the traffic anxious to avoid an overheating radiator, and we spotted the Morgan of the Spurlings sidelined in a car park with the bonnet up. Car 63, Hugh Brogan, is thought to be joining us here after a mega-long marathon from Mongolia. And news from the Pioneer Category: the big La France of Oliver Holmes and Malcolm Corrie have a broken half-shaft. A dud axle in a strange town is normally enough to sideline just about anyone, certainly a 1919 14-litre chain-drive monster. But, an engineer who happened to be walking down the road saw the car, asked “what’s up” – like you do – and offered to open up his workshop. The promise is that this car will be rolling on time when we leave here tomorrow morning, with a new axle – the workshop has opened up, and the staff of three are on a race against time to make a totally new axle shaft from a bare lump of iron. Hard to believe, all this, if you are not on the Peking to Paris, but this sort of gung-ho fever has got all sorts of crews rolling again.

What a difference a day makes… the frustrations of leaving Russia is now all behind us. Another intensive day, with lots of time-controls and more time trials, backed up with the extra marshalling crews who have come out from England, for an exciting route that packs in the best roads that can be rallied between here and Poland. With the clocks ticking every inch of the way.

Tomorrow, we will take a look at the Medal situation. The buzz is that only a handful of crews now retain grip of a Gold Medal – and keeping hold of that honour becomes all the more difficult as we nurse our cars towards Paris.

DAY

28

Lithuania

Glorious Rally Roads

Having crossed from Estonia to Latvia in mere minutes, today we crossed into Lithuania, the third of the Baltic States to offer us some glorious rally roads. The border formalities we snapped together with an average of two-minutes per car.

Another day, another country, and we are now a week away from the champagne at Place Vendome in Paris. Today we have enjoyed more super-smooth gravel roads, long testing Time Trials laid on by the national motor-club, arriving in a very pleasant hotel beside a large lake just outside Villnuis. Competitors are on the verandah taking in a few beers after experiencing a great day’s rallying.

The girls have gone well in the Rapier and Pamela Reid is always giving it 100 per cent, but today came unstuck quite literally, parking it in a hedge after a tight 90-right… but came out of the bushes smiling – the car is unmarked and was soon flying again.

The day opened at the first time-control at Riga Motor Museum, opened specially for us at 7.0am, and then on to the first test of the day at Riga Circuit. A number of crews made navigational errors in the lay out or did too many laps, or, not enough laps failing to understand a “split” to collect extra penalties – these include Xavier de Marmol in the Chevy, who had a fantastic day yesterday, chopping a great chunnk of time off David Williams who leads the Vintageant Category.

So, after the circuit opener, the rally headed off into the woods for a string of testing sessions on tracks closed just for us – wonderfully smooth graded gravel roads offering some long Time Trials capable of sorting things. The Aston Martin DB6 of the Goodwins was just about the best-performer of the day today, “cleaning” some of the test sections by a second or two, but, surprisingly, second best car of the day was the Alvis Speed 20 of Friedrichs Lux, who chucks the car around with great sweeps of the wheel and clearly enjoys sertting up the car with long lurid slides through sweeping bends. The day also witnessed a fight back by Paul Merryweather… having seen Paul Carter and Vincent Fairclough give him a real mauling yesterday, the Chevy driver stepped back into the ring clearly intent on punching back.

On the Iecava Time Trial, it was Goodwins cleaning it in the Aston, then the Alvis, with Paul and Sandra Merryweather third, two seconds better than Xavier’s Chevvy. At Bucas forest, it was again the Goodwin’s Aston, then the Alvis12 seconds further down, Xavier third, just one second later, but with the Merryweather’s hanging on to his heels two seconds adrift. Gerry Crown was enjoying himself, tenth best, and the one litre Singer Le Mans crew were giving it a maximum attack and came in 17th.

n the last Time Trial of the day, Dubrogiai, hilly, with sudden crests and long open bends, with very smooth gravel, the Aston again stormed it to set best time, but Xavier was second, the Jaguar Mark Two third, the Alvis fourth… Merryweather was fifth, over a minute better than Paul Carter who was sixth. Several TV crews were filming us and, there were crowds of spectators out on this one – clearly this run through the forest is a rally favourite.

Summing up, total penalties for the leg today show that the Alvis of the German Spy took best times, chalking up 9.04.49, second was the Chevy of the Merryweathers, 9.05.58, and Paul Carter third best on 9.06.21. What this means is that the David Williams Chevy leads the Vintageants with total penalties of 171 hours, 15 minutes, 38 seconds, with Xavier de Marmol second on 171.36.45, having collected a maximum time for taking the wrong route on the circuit test, and the gap between second and third closes… Paul Carter’s Bentley in third is on 171.37.03, less than a minute from second place and still much to decide things.

On the Medal stakes, we have 28 crews in total up for a Gold Medal, including three in the Pioneer Category, and 33 going for a Silver, with the rest aiming to cross the line in Place Vendome for a Bronze.

DAY

29

Poland

The Tension Mounts

The day began with Paul Carter wondering what more he could do – after yesterday’s effort, just 18 seconds lay between the Carter and Fairclough Bentley and the second placed Chevy of the flying Belgians.

His tail was up, clearly another strong attack with four long Time Trials, one a closed road on tarmac and then three gravel sections, might just clinch it.

But it was not to be. Xavier del Marmol responded to the challenge this morning and set about his hardest day’s drive since leaving China – driving like a man clearly under pressure. Bit by bit, he extended his lead and ended the day the best performer in the Vintageant Category, setting best times on each of the Time Trials, with a total time for the leg of nine-hours 21 minutes 42 seconds. Paul Carter’s total added up to nine hours 22 minutes 16 seconds… third best of the day, four seconds adrift of another strong drive by Paul Merryweather who was second-best. It’s rather odd that drivers are now fussing over seconds after a drive that has taken them half way round the world, but cups are at stake.

It was the same tension in the Classics Category. Pit Linder in the Merc Fintail could have coasted to Paris a few days ago when we came out of Russia with a lead over the second placed Jaguar of over half an hour. It’s not like that any more. The smoother surfaces suit the Jag, and they have steadily eaten into the Merc’s lead. Pressure, a tired car, and tired crew, combine to cause mistakes and Pit landed in a ditch today, losing time, but, to his relief, the Jaguar crew then did the same thing, only they needed a tractor in order to get back onto the track.

The result now is that the Merc put in a total time today of nine hours 28 minutes and four seconds…. the Jaguar’s Richard Worts did nine hours 35 minutes and 16 seconds, but losing time with his “off” costs him dearly… the best effort of the day was on less than 60 bhp, the VW Beetle of Garrick Staples was brilliantly driven to chalk up a best time of nine hours 24 minutes 45 seconds, a terrific effort. The Beetle (top right) has been hard-charging everywhere and the tail hanging out and the driver putting in gritty determined effort, he comes out of the day having climbed up into second spot, finally overtaking the Jaguar, which is 31 seconds behind. The Riley of the Wilkinson’s (above left, arriving in Mikolajki) holds on to fourth spot.

Today was a great day with the expertise of the Poland’s national motor club running a highly efficient string of Time Trials over some stunning terrain.

The last four days has seen some glorious rallying over some of the best roads in Europe. One more day of this sort of thing tomorrow – and we can then back off and concentrate on getting to Paris. Meanwhile, the Jaguar will want to spend the day recovering to get back into second spot, and it remains all to play for in the Vintgageant Category. With a grip of top spot in the Pioneer Category, Ghost driver Fred Brown has an air of calm about him, which comes of having a half hour lead over Neville Jordan’s Ghost.

Who would have thought minutes and seconds would matter so much when we were trying to put up a tent in a sand-storm in Mongolia.

DAY

30

The Baltic Coast

Going down to the wire…

An exciting day through rolling Polish countryside has brought us to Gdansk on the northern coast – we are at a seaside hotel overlooking the Baltic, after a hot day in bright sunshine.

Three long Time Trials all on dirt have changed the results today. In the Vintageant Category, David and Sadie Williams cruised round in their Chevy, dropping time in the process, not looking flurried or hurried – thanks to their commanding lead they now adopt the Fangio saying of “winning is best done at the slowest speed that does the job.” The Belgian rival Chevy is second Vintageant, with a day’s total of 7hrs 35m 9s. Paul Carter sealed his third place with a day’s total of 7hrs 35m 40s. Paul Merryweather was 16 seconds behind for the day and on his tail all day.

Best performance with a day’s total of 7hrs 34m 48s in the Vintageant Category was again the Alvis of Horst Friedrichs, this time betters just about all in the Classics Category apart from the Jaguar Mk 2.

Gerold Leumann and Hans Rudolf Portman in their Bentley 6.5 tourer clinch the Vintage Sports Car Trophy for the pre-’31 class if they now make it to Paris.

There was a needle contest going on in the Classics Category – anyone who has driven a 2.5 litre Riley RM with its ash-frame body knows what a handful this car can be on corners so for the Wilkinson’s to get into fourth spot was a terrific effort but today, they lost their hold by a flying Studabaker… Andy Vann and Tom Hayes moved up and took fourth by just one second.

The lead of Pit Linder was secured with a time today of 7hrs 37mins 59 seconds, Richard Worts in the Jaguar has regained second place with 7hrs 34mins 24, and was quickest car today…Garry Staples and the gallant drive in the VW has secured him third.

There are three gold medals in the Pioneer Category, the fourth was lost the other day by the La France crew of Ralf Weiss landed in a ditch and lost time when the heavy machine needed help with a tow. The Knox, running with a split cylinder block on three pistons since China, is still going, along with the two Italas.

The string of Time Trials since we left Russia to this spot has provided us with what many regard as the best week’s historic rallying seen in years – the sections through the Baltic States have been a revelation.

We now have a few days of road sections but still a time schedule to adhere to before we get to Reims and then roll into Paris. Tomorrow is a day off, the final rest day of the event, and the last chance for fettling before the finish.

DAY

31

Through Poland

A day off today for the last spot of servicing

A day off today for the last spot of servicing before we set out on the final 1,000 miles to Paris. There is a great spirit, with everyone enjoying a relaxing day and thinking of the party in Paris… but to get there, we have to cross the rest of Poland and Germany, with cars that have already chalked up five countries in the last five days.

In the car park this afternoon we found Gordon Phillips worried about a noisy cam in his Bentley so he had undertaken a partial engine strip down – it’s going back together and will have to remain noisy for the final stretch. The Dodge Roadster of Robert and Julia Francom has had a total gearbox overhaul having got here with two gears, fortunately he had carried some spare gears so now is back to three… the work was finished in a nearby workshop at 2.0am. We hear that the Holden from Australia has found an axle and will be running again tomorrow, having been out for the past two days with differential problems. The Frosts, also from Australia, still have piston problems are hopeful of a truck into Germany where they plan engine rebuild number three… car 12 found a brake shoe was down to the rivets, so some servicing was going on for the crew of the Essex, and the Derby Bentley of Richard Baker and Peter Boyland is having makeshift repairs to the exhaust manifold, which has broken at the joint with the exhaust – two bits of tin and a couple of jubilee clips are going to have to last for the next three days. Nigel Gambier rebuilt the starter motor of his Lagonda using some Ford parts, the girls in the Citroen are sporting two short strips of plastic mudguard, linings from truck wings, over the front tyres – the original Citroen wings were prettier but they fell off in Mongolia…. and the Lancia Aurelia has had a spot of welding to the front of the chassis-frame.

No great dramas today and everyone is looking forward to an early start.

On the wall of the bar is a list of the times for all the Time Trials for the entire event… interestingly, the best performing car has not been one of the classics, such as the Jaguar or Aston Martin, but the Chevrolet Fangio Coupe of David and Sadie Williams… and close behind him in second spot, is one of the smallest cars on the entire rally, the VW Beetle of Garry Staples, who has put up a most determined show of opposite-lock driving whenever it mattered…. his total times beat the Astons and the Jaguar 3.8. Does size matter? Gary has done it with 57 bhp. And does the size of the cheque book count? The Chevy was purchased for £10,000…. the VW Cabrio similar money.

There are three gold medals still at stake in the Pioneer Category, the two Ghosts and the Itala of Theordore Voukidis…. in the Vintageant Category, 13 are heading for a gold medal, and in the Classics Category, just eight crews still cling to a gold… with the final 1,500 kilometres now deciding the final outcome.

Reliability over the next few days will be the utmost of importance. Andy Actman who has been one of the time keepers since China but also involved himself in rescue-duties reckons there are many engines on their last gasp, and is highly pessimistic about some making it to Place Vendome – it’s now all down to the last few days.

DAY

32

To Potsdam

More than a few dramas today…

More than a few dramas today…Tom Hayes books out early from the final Time Control in Poland, and instantly collects a bucket of penalties which is sufficient to cost him his class lead… so the Riley from Australia of the Wilkinson’s regains the class lead, who find themselves projected up to fourth overall, above the Studabaker in the Vintageant Category. 

It just goes to show it’s not over until the fat lady sings, and she is only just revving up. Tiredness and fatigue are setting in, and the route still catches people and twists the final results.

In the car park, other dramas, car 23, the little Rover 12, has lost its clutch. Peter and Betty Banham with Richard Pybus is trying to effect some sort of rescue, but its been a time consuming job so far as to get the gearbox out, first they have to pull out the floor, and to get the floor up they find its been glued with rubber to the chassis rails which is proving frustrating. There is no spare clutch in the box in the back – can it be fixed? It’s too early to call but soup and dinner on a tray is being carried out across the car park to the night-shift.

Alongside the Rover is Jonathan Turner and the ailing Itala… now with wheel bearing problems on the rear axle, and as this is written Robert Kitchen is sweating over the vice on the rear of the tail-gate of the Banham’s workshop sawing away at a large washer which is actually just a lump of pipe, the top of an axle stand now being trimmed down for this donation. Its just another example of the makeshift ingenuity that is going into the fettling to ensure cars get to the end of another day… there is still 1,000 kilometres to go.

Today was an interesting day, with big crowds around an arch set up by the national motor club for mid-day time-control. We drove the morning through interesting countryside over a varied course with no shortage of variety, a village bakers was visited for elevenses, and despite the polish family not understanding a word of English still managed to put a selection of pastries in a bag. We ran in company for a while with the big blue Delage, the Argentinian Chevy Coupe, and the Dutch singer… but after very swift formalties crossing the border into Germany, the roads changed markedly and we found ourselves on our first stretch of motorway since China.

The weather was cold and blustery this morning when the Veterans were leaving, with the occasional shower, but brightened up this evening when German television teams turned up to film our arrival into the Dorint Hotel here in Potsdam.

The Knox is still running on three cylinders – remarkable – the solo drive of Jan Verbril continues, the Itala of the Ayres sounds much as it did in China and still spews out a gallon of oil onto the lobby steps when it pulls up at the end of the day…

Tom Hayes is now off to the bar to drown his sorrows, after a few beers he will not doubt be helping the Wilkinson’s celebrate.

We have knocked off a total of 600 kilometres today. Koblenz and Reims beckons.

DAY

33

Berlin

Another long day.

Another long day, but everyone is coming into the hotel smiling, ordering a beer, after a day which is the equivalent of having driven from Carlisle to Windsor. A good stretch for any car, let alone one that is at least 40 years old which has just been in the first Historic Rally to drive across Mongolia and the first Historic Rally to cross Russia.

Problems for a few are therefore to be expected. First an update… the Veteran Essex is running again having had a clutch give out on the ramp to the hotel a couple of days ago, and the little 1400cc Rover 12 was given a clean bill of health by Robert Kitchen of the mobile-workshop team at around midnight last night, having had a clutch release fork welded up. Take it gently, he said, but Leigh and Judy Pullen are on a truck for the first time today, going direct to Reims, as they feel anything else will be risking the drive into Paris.

Bigger problems hit the Chevrolet of Igor Kolodotschko, as their rear axle pinion bearing let go, and this is serious only in that it requires a workshop to repair it … the torque-tube propshaft might be mighty strong but its not an easy thing to strip down. Getting it fixed in Germany will be quite a headache.

The VW Beetle of car 101 of Matthew and John Keeler, spent all night in a Berlin workshop with engine bothers, and the crew only were seen at the Potsdam hotel this morning for a quick breakfast. If you have problems with a Beetle, and need a Volkswagen garage, surely Berlin is the place. They report a cracked cylinder head and much else. After reversing out of the workshop, the clutch release bearing let go, and the crew were off this morning to start work on the engine again and then play catch up… not easy thing when the final days are so long.

On the run today we spotted the Sunbeam Alpne of David and Jo Roberts, sidelined with a blocked fuel line, the crew say its becoming a regular frustration.

Other cars roll into the hotel without a murmour… the Vauxhall 30´98 crew report a steady run with no problems, Roy Williamson’s Riley running in convoy with the Bentley of Paul Carter sounds crisp, the Jaguar MkV of the O’Shea‘s has visited a car wash and looks gleaming, but the Alvis John Hickman and Philip Hallett pulled up at the lobby steps to immediatly open the bonnet, the crew suspect the points have closed up or some other trivial bother as the engine is `running on five`. So what, say the crew of car 6, the Knox, which continues to bang along, firing on three.

The Rolls 20-25 of Paul Michael and Glen Grindrod breezed into our hotel here in Koblenz fresh as a daisy, the crew appearing as if they have driven from just around the corner… how do they do it?

Must go, someone has just shouted that dinner is now ready.

DAY

34

Reims

Thousands of Spectators

We have arrived in Reims, Henriot vintage champagne house first of all welcomed us by closing a street, parking up all the cars in Le Mans chevron formation, and watching all the crews down several glasses, and then roll into the town centre where the pedestrian precinct was closed off for our exclusive parking area. The place is packed with thousands of spectators.

Most of us are here, but the biggest surprise is the non-appearance of Car One, David and Karen Ayre, as one competitor reports receiving a very brief call from the Ayres to say they have been taken in by the traffic police and are being held at Metz….. this is terrible news which we are unable to verify the exact cause although we are assured there has been no accident or injury.

We await further news, rather anxiously and trust that it will be a misunderstanding of the demands of driving a 100-year-old car through modern traffic. The run to Paris is tomorrow, and every crew has made great efforts to be part of it.

Car 82, the Buick of John Refaul and Philip Lunnon arrived into the town centre in a big cloud of blue smoke, the engine is an eight cylinder now running on six, due to piston-ring failure but the crew is confident of getting into Paris tomorrow.

Jan Vorbril arrived late… the solo driver who has driven here in a remarkable single-handed effort confessed he was so tired he filled the petrol tank with diesel. The engine smokes a bit more but continues to struggle onwards.

Chateau Henriot and the Mayor of Reims are hosting a reception for all crews here tonight… the celebrations have started a day early.

DAY

35

The Paris Finish

Spectacular

Over two thousand people lined the avenue down to the finish in Place Vendom today… the ramp was up by mid-day in its position over the finish line opposite the Ritz Hotel, and everyone was in party mood. Flags flew, champagne corks popped. After helping us yesterday at Reims, Henriot had Magnums for the winning cars of the three categories. And the sun shone.

We reckoned on around 105 would be crossing the line out of the 128 who set out 10,000 miles and 35 days ago. But two are missing… car 10, Tim and Chris Clemons in the big eight-litre V12 saloon failed to roll into the centre of town, which mystified us as nobody in the organisation had received a phone call and the sweep crews had not spotted the black Packard, but just as we feared they might lose their bronze medal Chris and Time reached Place Vedome with minutes to spare before the control point closed… and of course the sad news of Car One, the Itala of David and Karen Ayres. What do we know? Not a lot. It would appear they spent the night in jail in Metz, hauled in by the police. No accident, no crime, nothing has been reported back. The Paris Chief of Police, who is attending our dinner tonight, naturally made a few calls on our behalf… from what we gather, and this is all shrouded in mystery, is that the police are might upset by the behaviour of the Itala crew, and its nothing more than bad tempers all round…. but doesn’t it seem amazing that a car, albeit one off-route, should be held up this way? Even more odd is that in this day and age, no calls have been allowed.

In 1907, Goddard chasing the Itala in his Dutch Spyker was thrown into jail for trivial offences on the final approach to Paris. History has a habit of repeating itself. It seems a driver 100 years on has landed in the same pickle. The Itala was missing at the head of the parade.

The champagne was popping until well into the middle of the afternoon and the cars are all lined up now in Place Vendome. Crews are getting ready for a party dinner tonight, with a film of the event, and presentation of over 70 magnificent trophies.

Everyone is talking about the “next one.” There wasn’t going to be one. It was the last thing on our minds before we set out, but given the incredible spirit here in Paris, the last remaining route that has yet to be driven as a rally from Peking to Paris suggests itself… through the “Stans” of the Silk Route… we have been to Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan before, and know from the “Around the World in 80 Days” we organised seven years ago that this is perhaps the most beautiful route of the lot. For those who want something shorter with more comforts, then our African Safari is very special, but its restricted to 25 cars, set to run next year. Watch this space for more.

Meanwhile, keep an eye on this site for news of the book of Gerard Brown photos and words from Syd Stelvio, and all the results, which Veloce are publishing later this summer : Peking to Paris – the Full Story.

Before signing off, there is something that has to be said. Rallying through remote parts of the world and being encouraged and cheered on by those less fortunate than ourselves ought to leave something behind. We ought to be capable to helping those who live with little hope, but whose life has been brightened by cheering a car with a number on the door, and meeting international rally drivers first hand. Events like these should be capable of putting something back, and leaving something positive behind, a permanent reminder, a real contribution.

This is the reason we are announcing tonight an attempt by the Endurance Rally Association to contribute to the lives of the children of Ulaan Bataar in Mongolia. Some children were seen living in sewers. We hope to raise money from each and every crew member, who goes home with broken metal, big repair bills, and credit card bills to come, who will still find it within themselves to pledge a donation. We are discussing this with the British Embassy – our role is the be the catalyst that makes things happen. Already, various charities will benefit from individual efforts – over £250,000 has been raised for good causes already.

Helping the children of Mongolia is something we can all do as a lasting reminder…big or small, if you want to chip in, send Syd Stelvio an email and we will be in touch. The money will be paid directly to a Mongolia charity, but the spending of it will be overseen by us.

That’s it for now. We’re dashing off to the party…we sit down in the gilt and velvet ornate surroundings of the Grand Intercontinental Hotel with no less than 740 places….tonight is the last time we will be trying to beam out words and pictures of the 100th Peking to Paris…naturally, we all hope you have all enjoyed following our efforts to reports and updates from places so remote, they don’t even get a mention on the map.

Back to the Future:

The journey back is going to be a lonely experience for us all, and very different from the vast empty plains under big skies, with roads that would hardly rank as a farm track back home. Drivers now split up to go back to 25 different countries, but do so having made lasting friendships – as one put it, “we all feel like war veterans, this is more than just Christmas-card companionship, something happened on the road from China that changed our outlook and altered our lives.”

This hotel room is as all very sumptuous, giant Egyptian-cotton pillows, stacked up mini-bar, television with news programmes we have all forgotten for weeks, but claustrophobic and stuffy after what we have all just endured…getting back into the groove of “normality” won’t be easy for any of us.

Me? The first thing Syd Stelvio is going to do is chill out, the tent is going up in the back garden, despite all the dust and grime from Outer Mongolia the sleeping bag is being unrolled, and the only company is going to be Arthur Ransome’s first book of ripping yarns, Swallows and Amazons.

DAY

36

The Final Day

Getting over the hangover

The party was terrific. A total of 742 sat down to lamb steaks followed by chocolate pudding. Paul Merryweather, the Chevy driver of car 87, forever the optimist, thought it best to try to get a drink five minutes before the film was due to start, ignoring the fact of life that the bar was taking at least half an hour to serve people, and that’s if you are lucky. 

The bar was heaving, and it meant the film couldn’t start on time to kick things off, so that had to be put off ‘til after the meal, and the cups were still being presented at gone midnight. But judging by the roar of the crowd, it seemed schedules and timing, for once, were now irrelevant – people were going to enjoy themselves.

The film went down well, so it seems all the hard work of getting up early to pull up wooden planks from tiny bridges, finding rocks to damn the streams and rivers, and other essential “props” of film making, were all worthwhile. The long views, the sunsets, the vast plains of Mongolia, had them ooing and ahhing in the aisles. Hopefully, we will try and get some of this film up on the website here in due course. It’s knock-out stuff in that it’s scenery that takes your breath away.

There were lots of prizes apart from ones for the sporting element of the event. Jan Vorbril got a roaring cheer and for collecting an “Against All Odds” cup after his single-handed drive, even if technically losing your navigator puts you out of the event.

The Rapier Girls, Pamela Reid & Nicola Wainwright, won the Ladies Prize. The Veteren Car Club award for pre-1919 cars went to Ralf Weiss and Kurt Schneiders – La France Roadster, the Vintage Sports Car Club’s award for best effort in a pre-1931 car went to Gerold Leumann and Hans-Rudolf Portmann in a 1926 Bentley Tourer.

There were “True Grit” tankards for the Dutch crew of the tiny Singer Le Mans, no longer can we dub that car a Singer Lemon. The Dutch crew of the Knox were on two cylinders for several days, cannibalised bits from another cylinder, got it back onto three, and banged and popped into Paris to win the Against All Odds Trophy. There was a True Grit tankards for the Spurlings, three days in the desert stranded and not a single moan or whinge, Digby Leighton Squires and David and Jo Roberts who drove their cars north out of Ulaan Bataar to catch up on their own route through southern Siberia (and maybe had worse conditions than the rest of us), a big cheer went up for the True Grit tankard that went to Tim Scott, who brought us the oldest car – the nine-litre Mercedes of 1903, who drove 900 kms on one day, put his tent up beside the road, and then drove another 700 kms to catch up and hit a cow after falling asleep, so lost time putting the radiator right, another True Grit award to Christopher and Anita Claridge Ware for giving up his gold medal to help Richard and Jill Dangerfield, and also a trophy for David and Karen Ayre, who were pulling up outside in the street in the Itala when the prizegiving was going on.

“Too dirty, too tired, too fed up,” said David later when we asked why he didn’t walk into the room… after 24 hours of hassle and hell being banged up in Metz prison for traffic offences, but, no charges, he can be excused.

Concours awards went to Daniel Ward, whose reliable performance in the veteran Talbot was inspirational, Leigh and Judy Pullen in the tiny Rover 12, and the Classics Category Concours was lifted by Nicholas and Annabella Marks in the dark red Lancia Aurelia.

The event broke new ground – no historic rally has ever crossed Mongolia, camped seven nights on the trot anywhere, and no rally for old cars has ever driven right across Russia. We had it as bad as the pioneers of 1907 at times, some argue even worse, given they didn’t have the vicious corrugations on desert tracks.

Fuel, water, food, back up, four medical teams, four mobile workshops, all clicked into place when it was needed with 300 people supported during an event that ran with the clocks ticking every day. Results sheets came out every night, start lists pinned to telegraph poles every morning, and every night something appeared on the internet for a following of hundreds of thousands. The 32 officials drove the same route as everyone else, and made it work…with the wonderful surprise that after Russia, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and Poland saw hundreds of extra marshals for a string of Time Trials on wonderfully smooth dirt roads through some great countryside, making “five countries in five days” something to remember as the sting in the tail.

Downsides? If the border crossing into Russia was slick, smooth, well-oiled and speedily handled with a good welcome, the leaving was anything but, one car spent 11 hours getting across. Russian police hauled in some cars and threatened to confiscate the whole car unless enormous fines were paid on the spot. “Your Aston Martin is the same as James Bond? Then the fine for you is one-million Roubles.” That actually happened… others had grim times, fines, and hefty delays, ruining their chances on the Time Trials before Tallinn, so, there was little choice but to neutralise those sections. A great pity as those who drove them, and crossing early in the day saw delays of less than two hours, all raved about how good this section was to drive.

Highlights? Nobody will forget coming over a crest in Mongolia, looking down at vast empty plains, and a tiny dot on the horizon, the dust trail of a rival, nobody will forget the hot bowls of soup in the evenings, the hassles of getting the tent packed up, the river crossings, which downed more than a few, and the endless, endless miles of truly empty roads through stunning terrain.

It did us some good to get away and live without a newspaper, television, news reports on anything at all.

Getting back into the rut of what they call normality is not easy, having lived in a bubble for over a month. Forgetting to collect that pair of socks of the railings of the balcony, nicking the bread rolls at breakfast for lunch on the move, trying to be on the road before the first car, all that became almost a routine.

There was not a single pot-hole to dodge on the way to the Rally Office…. Dull old life, eh?

PAUSE PLAY

The Reports

The 100th-anniversary Peking to Paris Motor Challenge re-traced the original 1907 route of Prince Borghese across the Gobi Desert, Inner and Outer Mongolia, Russian Steppes to Moscow and into Europe.

Look back on the Reports and Results from the 100th anniversary, 2007 Peking to Paris Motor Challenge.

Num Crew Car Day
Total
Overall
Total
Overall Pos. Class Pos. Medal Status
Pioneer Category – pre 1921 model cars
16 Frederick Brown / Thomas Stevenson Rolls Royce Silver Ghost 0:00:00 234:17:49 1 G
15 Neville Jordan / Bruce McIlroy Rolls Royce Silver Ghost 0:00:00 235:43:52 2 G
9 Theodore Voukidis / Fabio Longo Itala 51B 0:00:00 238:32:52 3 G
18 Michael Power / Anthony Malcolm-Green Vauxhall 30/98 0:00:00 246:20:47 4 S
11 Ralf Weiss / Kurt Schneiders La France Roadster 0:00:00 253:21:37 5 S
3 Paul Bessade / Michel Magnin / Marie-Emmanuelle Brasier 22/30 Torpedo 0:00:00 273:05:07 6 S
14 William Holmes / Malcolm Corrie La France 0:00:00 294:48:25 7 S
17 Albert Eberhard / Monique Eberhard Rolls Royce Silver Ghost 0:00:00 295:03:34 8 B
5 Daniel Ward / David Ingleby Talbot 35 HP 0:00:00 305:49:47 9 B
1 David Ayre / Karen Ayre Itala 40 0:00:00 325:50:33 10
10 Timothy Clemons / Christopher Clemons Packard twin six 0:00:00 353:37:56 11 B
6 Michel Laarman / Antonius Poelsma Knox Type R 0:00:00 377:15:22 12 B
12 Andrew Fulton / Warner Bruntjen Essex 6A 0:00:00 379:41:58 13 B
2 Jonathan Turner / Adam Hartley Itala 40 0:00:00 411:55:14 14 B
19 Timothy Scott / John Taylor Mercedes 60HP 0:00:00 443:38:00 15 B
7 Scott Anderson / Gary Robert Fisher Ford Model T 0:00:00 Ret. Day 7
8 Jan Voboril / Roland Moos Lancia Theta 0:00:00 Unclassified
Vintageant Category – pre 1941 model cars
88 David Williams / Sadie Williams Chevrolet Fangio Coupe 0:00:00 225:18:59 1 1 G
85 Xavier del Marmol / Catherine Janssens Chevrolet Convertible 0:00:00 225:31:36 2 2 G
69 Paul Carter / Vincent Fairclough Bentley Derby 4.25 0:00:00 225:32:59 3 3 G
87 Paul Merryweather / Sandra Merryweather Chevrolet Fangio Coupe 0:00:00 225:38:41 4 4 G
35 Horst Friedrichs / Gerhard Lux Alvis Speed 20 0:00:00 225:41:57 5 5 G
83 Gordon Ketelbey / Kim Ketelbey Cadillac 70 Fleetwood 0:00:00 226:04:00 6 6 G
78 Gerold Leumann / Hans-Rudolf Portmann Bentley 6.5 Litre Tourer 0:00:00 226:12:29 7 1 G
59 Michael Thompson / Josephine Thompson Chrysler 75 Roadster 0:00:00 226:16:19 8 2 G
61 Gordon Phillips / Mark Phillips Bentley 4.5 Le Mans 0:00:00 226:51:20 9 3 G
54 Robert Abrey / Jane Abrey Bentley 4.5 Le Mans 0:00:00 227:15:36 10 4 G
50 Robin Grant / Caroline Wright Bentley Open Tourer 0:00:00 227:24:45 11 5 G
67 Roy Williams / Andrew Davies Riley 16 0:00:00 227:32:23 12 7 G
68 Robert Frankcom / Julia Frankcom Dodge Roadster 0:00:00 227:48:32 13 8 G
39 Robert Fountain / Joseph De Giorgi Lagonda M45 Tourer 0:00:00 227:54:14 14 9 S
24 Dennis Multon / Pollyanna Multon Alvis 12/50 Beetleback 0:00:00 228:21:00 15 6 G
86 Martti Kiikka / Pirkko Kiikka Packard Coupe 120 0:00:00 228:21:08 16 10 S
27 Paul R. Michael / Glen Grindrod Rolls Royce 20/25 0:00:00 228:39:26 17 11 S
79 Richard Taylor / Antoinette Taylor Chevrolet Coupe 0:00:00 228:48:20 18 12 G
36 Mark de Ferranti / Sandra de Ferranti Rolls Royce Coupe 0:00:00 228:50:33 19 13 G
77 David Hall / Jacqueline Hall Chrysler 77 0:00:00 228:57:19 20 7 S
41 Christopher Lunn / Nicola Lunn Lagonda M45 Tourer 0:00:00 230:15:33 21 14 S
81 Engelbertus Kersten / Berend van den Dool Bentley Speed Six 0:00:00 230:43:12 22 8 S
20 Wilhelmus Van Gemert / Johan De Swart Singer Le Mans 0:00:00 240:04:15 23 15 S
55 Michael O’Shea / Sarah O’Shea Jaguar 3.5 Litre Saloon 0:00:00 241:40:19 24 16 S
94 Luis. F. Bustelo / Juan.P. Vignau Ford Coupe TC 0:00:00 242:12:09 25 17 S
66 Anthony Goodwin / Gillian Goodwin Bentley 6.5 Tourer 0:00:00 243:49:53 26 9 S
40 Penelope Rawlings / Geoffrey Rawlings Talbot 95 0:00:00 245:31:23 27 18 S
91 John Hickman / Philip Hallett Alvis Silver Eagle 0:00:00 248:38:06 28 19 B
93 Matthew Bryson / Gerald Crown Buick 4L Straight Eight 0:00:00 249:47:06 29 20 S
26 Andrew Bailey / Michael Bailey Chevrolet Roadster 0:00:00 254:15:56 30 10 S
37 Christopher Claridge-Ware / Anita Claridge-Ware Lagonda M45 Tourer 0:00:00 254:40:20 31 21 B
33 Harry Hickling / Catherine Hickling MG SA 0:00:00 258:24:39 32 22 B
90 Richard Curtis / Tengku Idris Shah Chevrolet Fangio Coupe 0:00:00 259:03:06 33 23 S
43 Gerald Acher / Martin Read Ford Model A Roadster 0:00:00 259:19:01 34 11 S
82 John Refault / Philip Lunnon Buick Sedan Saloon 0:00:00 260:08:19 35 24 S
51 Etienne Veen / Sven Veen Mercedes 630K Sport 0:00:00 262:22:15 36 12 S
89 Alain Grisay / Tracey Curtis-Taylor Chevrolet Fangio Coupe 0:00:00 262:59:58 37 25 S
76 Charles Stuart-Menteth / Andrew May Ford 01A 0:00:00 264:02:45 38 26 B
42 David Cohen / Adele Cohen Ford Model A 0:00:00 264:06:35 39 13 B
44 Leonardus Schildkamp / Lucas Slijpen Lancia Lambda 0:00:00 265:01:44 40 14 B
64 Peter Livanos / Bruce Blythe Bentley 6.5 Tourer 0:00:00 265:30:27 41 15 S
65 Ioannis Katsaounis / Franco Lupi Bentley 6.5 Tourer 0:00:00 265:41:34 42 16 S
73 Richard Baker / Peter Boyland Bentley Derby 4.25 0:00:00 266:25:21 43 27 S
52 Marinus Dingemans / Helena Schapendonk Mercedes-Benz 630 K 0:00:00 267:40:21 44 17 S
74 Jean Steinhauser / Anne Collard La Salle Coupe Cabriolet 0:00:00 271:22:28 45 28 B
70 Werner Esch / Andree Kitzinger La Salle Cadillac Roadster 0:00:00 272:31:11 46 29 B
53 Mark Seligman / Jocelyn Seligman Bentley 4.5 Le Mans 0:00:00 287:23:22 47 18 B
32 Nicholas Bailey / Helena Edgill Bentley 3 – Litre 0:00:00 295:32:11 48 19 B
34 Daniel Rensing / Michele Shapiro Chevrolet Coupe 0:00:00 296:49:27 49 20 B
80 Igor Kolodotschko / Robert Moore Buick Coupe 0:00:00 297:49:14 50 30 B
38 Nigel Gambier / Hugo Upton Lagonda T7 0:00:00 300:10:00 51 31 B
48 Harold McNair / Anne Thomson Delage D8S 0:00:00 303:47:46 52 21 B
47 Rollo Malcolm-Green / Anthony Crew Delage D6L 0:00:00 307:12:50 53 22 B
46 Jean-Pierre Muller / William Medcalf Bentley 4.5 Le Mans 0:00:00 307:54:12 54 23 B
75 Olaf Pothoven / Robertus Van Den Berg Citroen Traction Avant 0:00:00 308:36:20 55 32 B
22 William Erickson / Steven Dole Buick Pickup Roadster 0:00:00 309:47:40 56 24 B
62 Kevin Clemens / Richard Newman Chrysler 75 Roadster 0:00:00 313:56:49 57 25 B
45 Robert Wilson / Susan Wilson Rolls Royce 20 Tourer 0:00:00 317:03:36 58 26 B
92 John Horton / Robert Brooks Buick Convertible 0:00:00 331:16:11 59 33 B
72 Marc Rollinger / Viviane Marie Josee Biel La Salle Cabriolet Sedan 0:00:00 336:27:47 60 34 B
84 Bernard Gateau / Dina Bennett La Salle Coupe 0:00:00 344:13:51 61 35 B
28 Robert Pattison / Julie Fitzsimmons Chrysler 65 0:00:00 348:16:06 62 27 B
23 Leighton Pullen / Judy Pullen Rover 12 Six Light Saloon 0:00:00 348:40:36 63 36 B
96 James. W Taylor / Frederick Nelan Buick Convertible 0:00:00 357:28:02 64 37 B
71 Peter Leighton-Squires / Neville Burrell Bentley Derby 4.25 0:00:00 367:23:21 65 38 B
98 Francesco Ciriminna / Michele Ingoglia Fiat Cabriolet 0:00:00 388:14:29 66 39 B
31 Jorg Lemberg / Dietmar Binkowska Lagonda High Chassis T1 0:00:00 401:25:06 67 28 B
63 Hugh Brogan / Paul Stead Ford Pilot V8 0:00:00 405:20:46 68 40
25 Brian Larkins / Robin Long Sunbeam 16 0:00:00 407:58:00 69 41 B
29 Barrie Frost / Lynn De Lacy Frost Chevrolet AB Roadster 0:00:00 421:50:37 70 29 B
57 Richard Dangerfield / Jillian Dangerfield Bentley 4.5 0:00:00 Ret. Day 20
60 Janine Dunkley / Christopher Dunkley Bentley 3.5 Tourer 0:00:00 Ret. Day 13
30 Pierre- Michel Singer / Claudine Singer Chrysler 72 0:00:00 Ret. Day 8
21 Daniel Brooks / Matthew Heysel Bugatti Type 44 0:00:00 Ret. Day 5
58 Dirk Lindenbergh / Esther Van Vooren Bentley 6.5 Tourer 0:00:00 Ret. Day 5
95 Harold Blumenstein / Alberto Hodari Ford Convertible 0:00:00 Ret. Day 5
Classic Category – pre 1961 model cars
132 Hans Peter Lindner / Frank Wiest Mercedes 200 Saloon 0:00:00 217:05:32 1 1 G
129 Richard Worts / Nicola Shackleton Jaguar MkII 0:00:00 217:37:20 2 2 G
102 Garrick Staples / Jon Kennedy Volkswagen Cabriolet 0:00:00 217:37:55 3 3 G
108 Michael Wilkinson / Anne Wilkinson Riley RMB 0:00:00 218:14:38 4 1 G
111 Thomas Hayes / Thomas Vann Studebaker Starlite Coupe 0:00:00 219:04:37 5 2 G
109 Phillip Haslam / Yvonne Haslam Chevrolet Bel Air 0:00:00 220:03:30 6 3 G
114 John Fallows / Joan Fallows Rover P4 80 0:00:00 220:27:38 7 4 G
113 Simon Chance / Elizabeth Chance Citroen 2CV6 0:00:00 220:42:00 8 5 G
123 Jon Goodwin / David Goodwin Aston Martin DB6 0:00:00 229:35:35 9 6 S
115 Bohodar Mykytowych / Andrew Mykytowych Holden FC 0:00:00 232:17:30 10 7 S
127 Roy Stephenson / Frederick Robinson Aston Martin DB4 0:00:00 232:54:03 11 8 S
118 Pamela Reid / Nicola Wainwright Sunbeam Rapier Saloon 0:00:00 235:40:08 12 9 S
100 Jose Romao de Sousa / Maria Romao De Sousa MG Magnette ZA 0:00:00 241:13:44 13 10 B
134 Stephen Moore / Alan Smith Bentley Special 0:00:00 246:24:23 1 S
125 Rolf Korner / Egbert Scheidhauer Mercedes Benz 220S 0:00:00 248:26:10 14 11 S
131 Steven Byrne / Linda Marston-Weston Aston Martin DB6 0:00:00 249:08:39 15 12 B
104 Nigel Challis / Michael Pink Landrover Series 1 0:00:00 257:41:54 16 4 B
128 Richard Ingham / Judy Ingham Volvo 1800S 0:00:00 259:59:23 17 13 B
117 Nicholas Marks / Annabella Marks Lancia Aurelia B20S 0:00:00 264:49:49 18 5 B
103 Jens Pilo / Anne Pilo Bentley R Saloon 0:00:00 264:52:21 19 6 S
105 Sally McCarthy / Carole Harvey Citroen Traction Avant 0:00:00 274:55:25 20 7 S
112 Roberto Chiodi / Maria-Rita Degli Esposti Alfa Romeo Giulietta TI 0:00:00 278:57:55 21 14 B
120 David Spurling / Jonathan Spurling Morgan plus 4 0:00:00 288:15:04 22 8 B
101 Matthew Keeler / John Keeler Volkswagen Beetle 0:00:00 299:21:55 23 15 B
99 John Vincent / Edwin Hammond Austin 16 0:00:00 310:41:00 24 9 B
130 Ulrich Clauss / Hagen Schmid Volvo PV544 0:00:00 315:32:36 25 16 B
97 Teresita Aguilar / Haile Aguilar Chevrolet Coupe TC 0:00:00 322:47:08 26 10 B
121 Gerald Harrison / Andrew Douglas Porsche 356A 0:00:00 324:50:12 27 17 B
107 Alan Crisp / Christopher Mower Citroen Roadster 0:00:00 326:22:00 28 11 B
110 Nigel Barton / Timothy Roupell Ford Pilot V8 0:00:00 328:54:00 29 12
126 Arthur Freeman / Roger James Ford Coupe TC 0:00:00 365:24:00 30 13 B
106 David Roberts / Joanna Roberts Sunbeam Alpine 0:00:00 376:24:52 31 14 B
122 Francis Carey III / Gary Wales Bentley Drophead 0:00:00 381:41:56 32 15 B
133 Michael Campbell / Robin Widdows Bentley Special 0:00:00 Ret. Day 8
119 Hans-Erik Rhodius / Sabine Letzer Triumph TR3A 0:00:00 Ret. Day 5