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Report: Peking to Paris, day 29

Published 26 June 2013

Bratislava to Schladming

The town of Grobming is quite used to the sound of vintage and classic cars filling their narrow cobbled streets as it is here that the Ennstal Classic takes place, an annual classic-car rally which arrived on the scene soon after the first Pirelli Classic Marathons which came this way over 20 years ago.

The teams crossed from Slovakia to Austria, driving through the valley where The Sound of Music was filmed, and arrived into Grobming to find the road closed by the local town council and everything organised to welcome the entrants. There is a great mountain climb just outside of town which was also closed specially for us this afternoon, and most of us enjoyed finding the energy to storm up to the top, where there is a wonderful wooden chalet which acts as café and restaurant to events.

Not everyone has enjoyed a trouble-free run today and the final days before we enter Paris are a nerve-jangling affair, we all are glad of some competition and driving great roads but equally our hearts are set on driving into Place Vendome mid-day on Saturday. Someone who hit trouble early on was the Ford Model A of Rod Wade in car 19 – he has run a big-end bearing, he has a spare and has taken the decision to get his car on a truck to Davos for repairs. It probably means the engine has to come out.

One car that didn’t make it to the hill climb was car 33, the big La Salle Cadillac of Glen Duthie and Allan Cullen, which has suffered over-heating problems since China, and today the engine decided enough is enough. These big V8 engines, originally used in World War Two to power Sherman tanks, are simple affairs and there is plenty of room in the engine bay, and as a spare head-gasket was on board our Simon Ayris was soon able to get the car running again.

In the Classics Category, the Porsche of Peter Lovett was flicked round the demandingly twisty stuff in just 2:26, yellow Holden pick-up was working hard to be one second adrift, on 2:27, Mike and James Killingsworth, in car 78, the 1963 Holden, was on 2:35, and the Mercedes V8 of Philippe Clamens again going well on 2:36, despite the roof being burdened down by bags that never seem to be opened and Mongolia sand-shovels. In between the morning test and the classic climb out of Grobming, we drove some spectacular roads through great scenery today.

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