The Peking to Paris Motor Challenge 2007
May 27 - June 30 2007
The Tension Mounts
The day began with Paul Carter wondering what more he could do – after yesterday’s effort, just 18 seconds lay between the Carter and Fairclough Bentley and the second placed Chevy of the flying Belgians.
His tail was up, clearly another strong attack with four long Time Trials, one a closed road on tarmac and then three gravel sections, might just clinch it.
But it was not to be. Xavier del Marmol responded to the challenge this morning and set about his hardest day’s drive since leaving China – driving like a man clearly under pressure. Bit by bit, he extended his lead and ended the day the best performer in the Vintageant Category, setting best times on each of the Time Trials, with a total time for the leg of nine-hours 21 minutes 42 seconds. Paul Carter’s total added up to nine hours 22 minutes 16 seconds… third best of the day, four seconds adrift of another strong drive by Paul Merryweather who was second-best. It’s rather odd that drivers are now fussing over seconds after a drive that has taken them half way round the world, but cups are at stake.
It was the same tension in the Classics Category. Pit Linder in the Merc Fintail could have coasted to Paris a few days ago when we came out of Russia with a lead over the second placed Jaguar of over half an hour. It’s not like that any more. The smoother surfaces suit the Jag, and they have steadily eaten into the Merc’s lead. Pressure, a tired car, and tired crew, combine to cause mistakes and Pit landed in a ditch today, losing time, but, to his relief, the Jaguar crew then did the same thing, only they needed a tractor in order to get back onto the track.
The result now is that the Merc put in a total time today of nine hours 28 minutes and four seconds…. the Jaguar’s Richard Worts did nine hours 35 minutes and 16 seconds, but losing time with his “off” costs him dearly… the best effort of the day was on less than 60 bhp, the VW Beetle of Garrick Staples was brilliantly driven to chalk up a best time of nine hours 24 minutes 45 seconds, a terrific effort. The Beetle (top right) has been hard-charging everywhere and the tail hanging out and the driver putting in gritty determined effort, he comes out of the day having climbed up into second spot, finally overtaking the Jaguar, which is 31 seconds behind. The Riley of the Wilkinson’s (above left, arriving in Mikolajki) holds on to fourth spot.
Today was a great day with the expertise of the Poland’s national motor club running a highly efficient string of Time Trials over some stunning terrain.
The last four days has seen some glorious rallying over some of the best roads in Europe. One more day of this sort of thing tomorrow – and we can then back off and concentrate on getting to Paris. Meanwhile, the Jaguar will want to spend the day recovering to get back into second spot, and it remains all to play for in the Vintgageant Category. With a grip of top spot in the Pioneer Category, Ghost driver Fred Brown has an air of calm about him, which comes of having a half hour lead over Neville Jordan’s Ghost.
Who would have thought minutes and seconds would matter so much when we were trying to put up a tent in a sand-storm in Mongolia.