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Peking to Paris Motor Challenge Reaches Conclusion After 37 Days

*Overall Win for Bentley Debutants

*Cruel Late Twist Costs Chevy the Win

*Classic Category Trophy Returns to a Familiar Home

Peking to Paris Motor Challenge Reaches Conclusion After 37 Days

The Peking to Paris Motor Challenge 2024 finished on Sunday afternoon, in the grounds of the Gendarmerie National, in Paris. The event began in Beijing, 37 days and 14,500 kilometres ago, and after a late mechanical drama, was won by Andy Buchan and Mike Sinclair in a 1928 Bentley 4 ½ Le Mans.

Bentley Triumphant after Mechanical Woes for Chevrolet

During the early days of the competition the eventual winners were top of the leader board but were soon surpassed by P2P debutants Richard Walker and Faith Douglas, in their nimbler Chevrolet Master Deluxe Coupe. Despite a navigational error costing the red Chevy the lead midway through the competition, the number 37 car regained top spot again. There was only ever around a minute between first and second, but as the rally entered the final days, it seemed that the gap would be unassailable. However, three days from the end of the competition, as the crews prepared to cross the final border into France, the Chevy suffered an alternator failure, and despite fixing the issue, the subsequent loss of time dropped them out of contention.

The lead passed back to Scotsmen Buchan and Sinclair, and with several minutes over their nearest rivals and minimal competition remaining, a hard-fought win was theirs to claim at the finish in Paris, triumph for the Aberdonians at the first attempt. Second place was awarded to Norwegian Alex Vassbotten and Australian Bas Gross in the Alvis Firefly, with third place going to the Swiss pair of Carlos Rieder and Urs Schnüriger, driving a Ford Model A Coupe.

Andy Buchan: “Absolutely elated, it is fantastic. When we set off first in class was the target, but then it became apparent that things could be in reach. We had our battle with Richard and Faith, and it was a cruel rally for them, but we had to take our opportunity.”

Mike Sinclair: “A lot of work has gone into getting us ready for this, but we would never have expected this. We just kept going day by day, looking after the car and here we are on the top step of the podium, we are absolutely delighted.”

Familiar Machine at Top of Classic Category

In the fight for the win in the Classic Category it was the familiar Leyland P76 of Matt Bryson that finished first, and top of the time sheets overall, and this is Matt’s fourth Peking to Paris victory, and no doubt an emotional one after the previous three triumphs were shared with the late, great Gerry Crown. They had a good tussle with the Porsche 911 Safari of Lars and Annette Rolner, who had dominated the competition in China and Kazakhstan. The Rolner’s were leading as the competition reconvened in Baku, after crossing the Caspian Sea, but a navigational error then cost the Porsche the lead on the first day in Azerbaijan, and they fell down the leaderboard. The Porsche pair would fight back to second place, but Matt Bryson, and navigator Mike Pink, would not let the lead slip, slowly increasing their advantage all the way to Paris. The third-place battle was tight as well, fought out between a pair of Porches crewed by Martin Belvisi and Andy Lane, and father and son crew of Kevin and Cole Bradburn. On the final day the Bradburn’s leapfrogged the 911 in their 912 and secured third by just five seconds.

Matt “Incredible. The thing about this rally is it is so incredibly tough to finish, let alone be competitive. Then to win it, it hasn’t really sunk in yet. We didn’t expect to win, but Gerry [Crown] did say, when he knew he couldn’t do it, that if I entered, we would win it, and that was probably the biggest pressure!”

Mike “It’s a great opportunity to see other parts of the world, the challenge is the driving and navigating.” 

An Event of Explosive Drama

It was a rally that featured high drama, with the oldest car that began the event, the 1914 American LaFrance retiring after a fire all but destroyed the car. It was crewed by HERO-ERA Chairman Tomas de Vargas Machuca and The Royal Automobile Club Chairman Ben Cussons, competing in its third rally after finishing the 2022 Sahara Challenge and last year’s Badawï Trail. Cruelly, after all the effort that had gone into keeping the machine going each day, as well as the monumental effort of driving it, it did not make it much further than Baku. Tomas did re-join the rally again San Marino in another car, complete with singed passport, to finish with his fellow competitors in Paris.

Regardless of the story the leaderboard told, each competitor will have their own stories to tell, the story of their rally. As the competitors crossed the line in Paris, there was an emotional reunification with family and loved ones, and however their rally went, whatever challenges they faced, to finish is an incredible achievement. The Peking to Paris Motor Challenge is unique in so many ways, and to compete is to join an exclusive club of those that know what it means to take on the toughest endurance rally for vintage and classic cars, in the world.

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