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Twenty five Australians seek honour in the Peking to Paris Motor Challenge which leaves Beijing on September 10 this year.
 
With over 110 entries, this will be one of the hardest fought long distance international rallies for vintage and classic cars ever held.  Competitors face 37 days of competition to drive from China into Mongolia, Russia, Kazakstan, Krygystan, Uzbekstan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Turkey, Greece, Italy and into France where the event will finish on 16 October.

Crews have to drive around 500 km daily except for rest days in Ulaan Bataar, Khovd, Almaty and Samarkhand.  Service cars are not allowed so the crews are very much on their own in the tradition of the early ReDeX trials of the 1950's

 Vehicles already entered range from a 1907 Itala to a 1968 Volkswagen and include ten pre-1941 Bentleys, 12 pre-WWII Chevrolets, 7 Lagondas, 11 Rolls Royces, nine Fords, six  Buicks and three Holdens.  Practically all major makes are represented with Alvis, Austin and Aston Martin, Citroen, Jaguar and Mercedes Benz plus MG, Lancia, Peugeot, Porsche making up a field covering 40 manufacturers and a mix of models. 
 
Fancied crews include the Australian pairing of Gerry Crown and Matthew Bryson in a 1964 EH Holden.  This car earned Gerry Crown second classic outright in the 1997 Peking to Paris event, run to celebrate the efforts of Prince Borghese in winning the world's first cross-continent motoring rally.
 
Three classes are contested in the event - for cars manufactured before 1921, before 1941 and before 1968. It is possible for any car to win outright as the route involves some of the roughest country in the world.  Crown, an experienced rally competitor, claimed that the Mongolian roads were rougher than any of the Australian 4x4 safaris he contested.  He and Matt Bryson were leading in the 2007 event, driving a 1940 Buick, until a rock split the car's differential housing into two pieces.  This was repaired overnight and they still finished the event in Paris in the top half of the field.
 
Australian cars contesting the rugged event include a 1918 Buick, a  '23 Vauxhall 23/60, '26 Dodge, '35 Bentley, two MG SA’s, a '37 Alvis, '38 Chrysler, '39 Packard, '40 Cadillac, a 48/215 Holden , and two '64 Holden EH’s.
 
Competitors are from Great Britain, America, central and eastern Europe, Turkey, Iran, Zambia and Australasia.  

By John Bryson

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