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Report: Peking to Paris, day 31

Published 28 June 2013

Davos to Gstaad

The teams drove across an alpine mountain range to Gstaad today. Just as we thought we had seen every kind of extreme weather condition, we drove up a foggy mountain and found it was snowing at the summit.

Ludovic Bois in his Volvo Amazon, car 82, suffered a spot of altitude sickness and refused to run any further at the top of one pass, and had to be pushed out of a passage-control where it then ran down the mountain. Bill and Jock Burridge from New Zealand in their 1925 Buick had just about the worst problem of the day when a front hub broke on the last closed-road test-section… the hub was stripped down and a local workshop found to weld it up, and the car was soon running again. Snow was falling and visibility was down to 15 metres.

Glen Duthie in the big black 1939 Cadillac La Salle, car 33, cooked the brakes on a mountain descent, and they were not alone… Rhys Timms and James Stone in the big 1936 MG SA also had issues with no brakes, overheating causes failure of the oil-seals. Andy Actman driving one of the sweep-vehicles reckons it was just “routine problems” and welding up a hub and coming across cars with no brakes was just a typical day.

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There were three timed test sections today. On the first short section Tony Strelzow in the Derby Bentley did well setting best time in the Vintageants on 1:34, and the Bentley of Lars Rolner, the Ford of Bill Cleyndert and the MG TC of Peter Zernial all set 1:38, with the Woodock Brothers setting 1:44. In the Classics division, Paul Kirkham set 1:22, and the Polish Jaguar XK 150 doing particularly well on 1:26, the same time as the blue Holden of Mike and James Killingsworth.

The second test of the day was run at a reduced speed as the local motor-club failed to close the road properly, but the third test was a time climb on the Croix de Couer, Mike Reeves in the Ford V8 setting a Vintageant Best of 9:30 and the Ford A Special eight seconds behind, with the best of the Classics set by Peter Lovett’s two litre Porsche, which has set a string of best times since leaving Kiev on 8:26, and car 55, the red VW Beetle, posting 8:45, going well once more, and the yellow Holden, car 100, on 8:56.

The day ended in Gstaad and two very fine hotels, and our supporters, Bonhams, Britain’s leading auction-house, provided a champagne reception which turned into a noisy party prior to a lavish meal, it was steak-night in the Palace Hotel. Everyone was in high spirits and looking forward to the final drive to Paris. First of all there is the rest of Switzerland, with Franco Lupi and his friends in the Swiss Automobile club intent on making sure the pressure is maintained. Our next stop is the medieval town of Troyes in France… south of Paris. There is a terrific atmosphere within the event this evening, and Troyes promises to be turned into one big party.

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