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Peking-Paris crews prepare for Russia

Published 28 June 2016

The tough terrain of Mongolia and the Gobi Desert has widened the field in the 2016 Peking to Paris Motor Challenge, with many of the early favourites suffering mechanical issues and limping into Russia for repair.

‘Mongolia certainly separated the men from the boys as it were,’ said rally director Fred Gallagher. ‘Recent bad weather had made the terrain more challenging and so it exposed any weaknesses in the cars.

‘We had some return to the capital Ulaan Baatar for repair while those affected later in the journey found themselves being towed across the border to a waiting truck to head to Novosibirsk, utilising the rest day in the garage.’

Among these was last year’s runner up in the classics category Peter Lovett and Tim Smith in the 1965 Porsche 911. Major suspension issues made the car ‘near on impossible to drive’ in the latter stages of the Gobi Desert according to the experienced rally team. The car is now repaired and back in the rally but has cost them the chance to challenge for the overall trophy.

1st Bruce And Harry Washington

Bruce and Harry Washington in their 1929 Chrysler 75 Roadster

However, don’t count them out completely as three-time winner Gerry Crown and Matt Bryson are slowly climbing back up the leader board in their Leyland P76 after sorting their mechanical issues and are now in sixth place. With more time trials and competition to come along the route, the Australian team will be waiting for their chance to show why they are a winning crew.

New Zealander Bruce Washington and his son Harry in the 1929 Chrysler 75 Roadster still lead the Vintageant category, with the UK’s Mike Thompson and Andrew Davies hot on their wheels in the same car. Fellow Brits Richard Thompson and Paul Dilley are in third in their 1940 Studebaker Coupe.

There has been a change in leadership in the Classic category after a serious of technical issues for Italians Giorgio Schon and Pierre Tonetti in the 1971 Alfa Romeo Giulia Super.

Australians Mark Pickering and Dave Boddy have picked up the lead in the 1973 Datsun 240Z with fellow countrymen Rob Garnsworthy and John Teasdale in the 1970 Ford Mustang in second. Britain’s Nigel Farmer and Stephen Lovell in the 1971 Ford Escort Mexico Mk1 sit in third place.

The Peking to Paris has had an amazing welcome in Russia and will spend 13 days driving across the country before making its first visit to Belarus. The Altai and Russian Motoring Clubs have supported the event and arranged closed roads, circuit use and additional time trials to keep the competitors on their toes.

The event crosses into Europe on Tuesday, 7 July, when another competition will begin for the European Cup. Fred Gallagher added, 'This will give those who were looking to claim some silverware the chance to redeem themselves and will make the final run to Paris even more exciting.'

Billed as the world’s toughest endurance rally for classic and vintage cars, the competitors will cover around 8510 miles (13,695 kilometres) and 11 countries before reaching Paris on Sunday, 17 July, at around 1pm.


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