The Peking to Paris Motor Challenge 2007
May 27 - June 30 2007
|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|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.