37
DAYS

The Peking to Paris Motor Challenge 2010

September 10th - October 16th, 2010

 

SEPTEMBER 8TH, 2010

Car Collection & a Chinese Driving Lesson

We are all here, and the mood is one of eager anticipation mixed with more than just a little excitement as after three years of planning, the Peking to Paris finally looks real. The car park of the Shangri La Hotel is filled with vintage and classic cars with numbers on the doors.

It has not been an easy day. Nothing went to plan and that was made worse because there was nothing we could do about it. Various announcements about fetching our cars from a central customs-bonded warehouse came and went, delayed because the police wanted to lecture us about Chinese customs of the road including a need to drive on the other side of the road…. this caused some merriment among the 25 different nations other than British who are on the entry list. After the lecture, various deadlines were missed but finally everyone got on coaches, organised for the event, but with drivers who had only a vague idea of where the cars were actually parked. Two hours later, frustrated and grumpy drivers were delighted to pounce on their cars.

Two would not start – electrical problems are quite severe with a burnt out coil for at least one car, several had flat batteries, a few more had a virtually empty petrol tank now only being asked to run on fumes as the remains of the petrol had evaporated somewhere over the Equator, amid other niggles.

Rachel Vestey ran out of petrol a few miles from the first garage, and had to wait in the sun for rescue. The team of mobile workshops then went on to work on a blue Alvis, with fuel vaporisation problems, and a yellow Porsche 356 with a broken throttle linkage… teething problems on the road near the airport that takes an hour to drive through thick Chinese traffic to the hotel has been quite a tough test for some.

Tomorrow, an easy day of packing and repacking the car, a process known as scrutineering, with the checking of safety-equipment, and documentation to sign-on. Meanwhile, out on the lawn, wine glasses are being topped up and everyone is getting to know one another. More tomorrow….

 

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