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Statement regarding vehicle fire on the Peking to Paris Motor Challenge 2024

Statement regarding vehicle fire on the Peking to Paris Motor Challenge 2024

10th June, Azerbaijan, outskirts of Baku. 10.30 am local time

HERO-ERA can confirm that car number one competing on the above named event, a Pioneer Class 1914 American LaFrance of Tomas de Vargas Machuca and Ben Cussons, was badly damaged in a serious fire, but fortunately neither crew member suffered any injury and were able to get clear of the flames.

Ben Cussons, the Chairman of the Royal Automobile Club in the UK and Tomas de Vargas Machuca, the Chairman of HERO-ERA, were on a major road in the outskirts of Baku on their way to the start of the first competitive section on Day 24 of the P2P from Baku to Qakh, when a motorist was seen pointing to the rear of the American LaFrance.

On stopping to investigate the rear of the vehicle, the car erupted into major flames which engulfed the American LaFrance. Despite discharging the fire extinguishers as soon as possible, it had no effect. The fire service arrived fifteen minutes later to finally put the fire out, but not before extensive damage to the 110 year old car which had been leading the Pioneer Class on the event.

Together with the damage to the car, all the crew’s personal effects were lost in the fire, save for Tomas de Vargas’ documents, including his passport, which was retrieved later in a sealed wallet in the vehicle.

Whilst Tomas and Ben are currently involved in salvage and logistical operations, they have stated that they are determined to reach the finish line in Paris by whatever means they can, as per the spirit of the original 1907 Peking to Paris.

For further information please contact Tony Jardine at

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