Peking to Paris 2016
After competing in the 2013 outing, Rod Wade once again took on the world’s greatest driving adventure – The Peking to Paris Motor Challenge in 2016.
The first ever Peking to Paris event took place in 1907. It came about as a challenge in the Paris newspaper Le Matin on 31 January 1907, reading:
“What needs to be proved today is that as long as a man has a car, he can do anything and go anywhere. Is there anyone who will undertake to travel this summer from Peking to Paris by automobile?”
The race, as it was called, began from the French embassy in Peking on 10 June 1907. There were originally forty entrants, but only five actually started from Peking.
Shell supported the race with fuel dumps placed strategically in the Gobi Desert and regular reports were telegraphed from along the route by a very young Syd Stelvio who travelled with the press convoy.
The winner was an Italian, Prince Scipione Borghese who travelled along with a journalist Luigi Barzini. He arrived in Paris on 10th August 1907 in his Itala, having covered a distance of 14,994 km. His prize? A magnum of Champagne.
The ‘modern incarnation’ of the Peking to Paris was launched by Philip Young and his Endurance Rally Association (ERA) in 1997. The ambitious route was 16000km long and took 45 days to complete. The Rally drove through China, became the first rally to cross Tibet and the Friendship Bridge into Nepal was opened especially for them as the Rally ploughed on through India and towards Pakistan. Some 95 cars took the start.
Ten years passed before the ERA ran another Peking to Paris in 2007 and this time the route was more true to the original one which Borghese set in that it crossed Mongolia and the Gobi Desert before pounding through Russia towards Moscow.
Such was the success of the 2007 event that the ERA settled on a plan to run P2P as a three yearly event and the subsequent 2010 and 2013 editions went down in legend in much the same way that the original did.
For 2016, the ERA stayed faithful to the original route in that Rod and his fellow 109 competitors crossed the Gobi Desert and Mongolia before striking through Russia but instead of heading to Moscow, turned to Belarus and entered Europe through Poland where the rally has been so warmly welcomed in the past.
Rod said: “With my good friend and neighbour Austen Richie by my side, we were back at the Great Wall of China ready to take on the ‘P2P’ again, this time in Ruby, another Ford Model A.
“A faster, stronger car, we started off well but I became overconfident and my brain disconnected from my right foot! Too much speed resulted in lots of repair, many busted spoked wheels, a bent front axle, damaged guards and much more.
“We finished 24th overall in the Vintageants and 2nd in class but I was frustrated with myself and wanted to do better next time round. I was already on the 2019 start line in my head, working out how I could make the car as strong as the engine.”
This is undoubtedly the most extraordinary journey possible in a motor car.
For more information visit HERO-ERA website at www.hero-era.com