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After five long years, the Peking to Paris Motor Challenge 2024 is set to crank back into life!

*The world’s last true motoring adventure will traverse 10 countries covering 14,500 kms

*Crews from 26 countries in 80 historic vehicles will attempt to cross the world’s largest landmass in 37 days (18th May – 23rd June)

*Following the pioneers of 1907, competitors will attempt to do what was described as to ‘Drive the Impossible’

After five long years, the Peking to Paris Motor Challenge 2024 is set to crank back into life!

The 8th Peking to Paris Motor Challenge (2024) represents one of the last true motoring adventures on the planet. To complete it has been described in the past as to ‘Drive the Impossible.’ After five long years it is back and ready to crank back into life with 80 cars and crews from 26 countries.

It will take 37 days over 14,250 kms across ten countries. Starting at the Great Wall of China, the challenge will take the crews across China, Inner Mongolia, Kazakhstan, and then across the Caspian Sea to Azerbaijan. From there the challenge continues over the tough tracks of Georgia, Turkey and Greece. But just in case crews think it is all over bar a cruise to Paris, a sting in the tail is promised through Italy, San Marino and finally France.

The Peking to Paris Motor Challenge is unique in the motoring world, a true historic vehicle and human endurance event that follows in the wheel tracks of the 1907 Pioneers and winner Italian Prince Scipione Borghese in his giant Itala, adhering to its original purpose of testing the automobile and crew. It provided the ultimate challenge of a 15,000 kms adventure across the world’s biggest land mass. The 2019 event, the seventh revived by HERO-ERA, was described by competitors as the toughest yet. 2024 could be even tougher as the competition will continue through Europe and only ease up as the teams head from Dijon to Paris on the 37th and final day.

It is such a test of man and machine that many are just hoping to cross the finish line in Paris on 23rd June, a feat in itself, but then others will be going all out for victory. The oldest car in the event, a 1914 American LaFrance, crewed by HERO-ERA Chairman Tomas De Vargas Machuca and The Royal Automobile Club Chairman Ben Cussons, are sure to be using every spanner in their toolbox just to to keep the ex-US fire engine going to get there!

Racing drivers Katarina Kyvalova (SK) and Jon Minshaw (GB) have limited rally experience but are expected to push hard in HERO-ERA 1, the Prodrive built 1967 Fastback Mustang which is the HERO-ERA Arrive Drive flagship vehicle, an out and out desert rally machine. It is expected to challenge the quick Porsche 911’s such as the Danish crew of Annette and Lars Rollner’s quick 1974 S version.

Whilst still in the world of racing, top engineer and legendary F1 and IndyCar engine designer Mario Illien (CH) whose Ilmor engines have won 22 Indianapolis 500s and 44 F1 Grands Prix, knows how to measure the pace across the deserts and mountain passes, having competed twice before in the Peking to Paris Motor Challenge. This time he will be navigated by his son Luca in their 1975 Ford Escort Mk 2 BDG.

Winners of the Classic Category in 2019, Australian engineer Matt Bryson (AU) with driver and car owner Gerry Crown, Matt returns in a winning Australian Leyland P76, this time as driver after his winning driving partner from 2019, P2P Champion Gerry, sadly passed away. Mike Pink (GB) will be navigating.

Father and son team Kevin Bradburn (USA) and Cole Bradburn (USA) were class winners on the HERO-ERA 2022 Sahara Challenge using the rally as a shakedown for the Peking to Paris. Their Porsche 912 never missed a beat thanks to Cole, a top engineer and classic Porsche specialist. Kevin and Cole have raced across deserts in Baja 500s and chased records in Land Speed racing riding Harley Davidsons over the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Apart from their passion for rock climbing and running Ultra Marathons, the family all climbed Mount Kilimanjaro together in 2015. This team seem to have all the credentials required!

Patrick and Pamela Watts (GB) could also be in the reckoning in their Sunbeam Tiger, not just because Patrick was an Historic Rally Champion, or a top ‘works’ Touring Car racer, but because of their sheer enthusiasm and level of preparation for the event. They are beside themselves with excitement!

Rugged thirties Fangio style Baja Chevrolets have been a weapon of choice in the Peking to Paris Motor Challenge over the last four events. This year, Badawi Trail winners 2023 and former WRC competitors from Argentina, Jorge Perez Companc and Jose Maria Volta, could be towards the front in their 1939 Chevrolet Coupe. Challenging them in another Chevrolet, this time in a 1939 Master Deluxe Coupe, could be another racer, this time three time European Truck Racing Champion Richard Walker with navigator Faith Douglas alongside.

The 30’s American ‘Gangster’ and 60’s muscle cars like Marc Buchanan (USA) and Ralf Weiss’ (DE) 1967 Ford Mustang will simply look gigantic when compared to Don and Stuart Henshall’s (GB) 1964 Morris Mini Cooper S, the smallest car on the challenge. The crew want to finish but are worried about the river crossings as they don’t want to float away.

The ‘Best of British’ is also represented by Canadians. Dr Tom Kinahan and his son Daniel who will be competing in their 1962 Austin Cambridge, they will be striving to get to the finish with the aim of raising $1 million for the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation.

So each crew will have their own objectives but what advice does HERO-ERA Competition Director Guy Woodcock have for both the would be winners and the teams who just want to achieve a finish?

Guy: “It’s a bit of a new one this time because normally the event was almost won or lost in Mongolia. But because we’re now using the Gobi Desert in China and then into Kazakhstan, continuing with off road sections in Azerbaijan and tough roads in Georgia and Turkey – essentially all the way through the event this this time – there will be the chance to either win or lose the event over a much longer period. This needs a different attitude.

“In my opinion, people need to be driving at 75- 80% of their capabilities and their car capability, so they can survive. Quite often, people who attack in the first week or 10 days may be leading, but then fall by the wayside.

“For those people who just want to get to the finish line in Paris, they should drive with their eyes. Make sure that they don’t take any undue risks, particularly on any of the roughest sections, and make sure to maintain the car in the evening.

“For me and my team after four years of planning it’s a bittersweet moment ahead. I’m looking forward to it, but I’m also looking forward to it actually happening rather than the event being over. Once we hit the ground in China it’ll be a big relief that we are there and we can actually start, but I’m certain that we will face challenges along the way. We’ve looked at everything we can, but I’m sure there’ll be a curveball thrown at us somewhere along the 37 days!”

Chris Elkins, Deputy Clerk of the Course and Senior Route Planner for HERO-ERA finalised the route after exhaustive reccies and negotiations over the last two years, but believes the team have a great event in prospect – including seven fantastic nights under canvas in the remote deserts;

Chris Elkins “It won’t be a walk in the park. The challenge of remote, off-road competition continues all the way through Inner Mongolia, China, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Georgia; rather than being concentrated in Mongolia as it has been in the past, as Guy said. There are long days, challenging surfaces and high altitudes. Its going to be a tough one!”

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