We went on to have great success. Gerry, the P76 and I made quite a team and whilst we were a super competitive team we did these endurance events for more than just the competition. Gerry decided to enter the Road to Mandalay without even looking at the start, finish or any route detail at all, it was the entry list that got him “ we have to do this, all our friends are doing it” .
The friends we have made on these events have been a very special element of the whole thing and for us most of them are and will be lifelong friendships.
Gerry was a great sportsman and very good loser, twice we were only just beaten on the East Asian events and in particular on the Road to Mandalay we were essentially dead even into the last regularity with Peter and Zoe Lovett. The Lovett’s won the rally by one second and Gerry was the first to congratulate them and really couldn’t be happier for them. His enthusiasm for Marco and Claudia who beat us on Road to Saigon was the same!
Gerry was a terrible passenger, regardless of vehicle.
I had come from a background of forest rallying with extensive driving and co-driving experience but Gerry had only ever been a driver and the fear of being a passenger was definitely real and obvious.
He once arranged to catch the Trans-Siberia railway to just avoid flying to Europe from Asia.
Airports were always fun with Gerry as an early arrival and essential bar time were required to get him on a plane. Which shows just how incredibly brave he really was in these rallies.
In 2007 he was forced to navigate for 3 days across China due to the licensing laws there, and we did share the driving from that point on something dad was amazed at – a privilege.
But in 2010 and 2019 he showed GREAT bravery as he had to navigate at competitive speeds on the tests.
In 2010 he sprained his wrist in Mongolia and couldn’t change gear, this ended up being a lifelong wrist injury for him and most will remember him wearing wrist braces on driving days to prevent a repeat of the following. Gerry was in immense pain and it got to the point where couldn’t change gear at all. We spent a day with me moving the gear stick from the passenger seat and Gerry doing the rest but it was getting difficult for us to always co-ordinate our actions in the conditions and his wrists were still deteriorating, the next day he said I had better drive. I could see just how hard it was for him to make this decision and how incredibly brave of him it was. A few days rest and he was back behind the wheel.
Gerry was a remarkable driver on dirt and loose surfaces. Neat, smooth and concise, but on tarmac and especially on racetracks something went wrong, he actually drove slower and he knew it. His decision to let me drive the race tracks was the bravest thing I’ve seen someone do, from the navigator’s seat it was everything he hated, but he just got on with it and encouraged me to go faster.
Gerry lived the fullest life you could hope for surrounded by friends and family and constantly planning and working towards another big rally or project.
The stories of our friendship and adventures we had are endless.
He held it flat till the end!
We are all better for knowing this great man and the world is a lesser place without him.
1997 Peking to Paris 2nd Classics 1964 Holden EH
2002 Trial to the Nile 2nd “speed” 1964 Holden EH
2007 Peking to Paris 20th Vintageant 1940 Buick (the one that got away)
2010 Peking to Paris 1st Classics 1964 Holden EH
2012 Trans-American Challenge 2nd 1974 Leyland P76
2013 Peking to Paris 1st Classics 1974 Leyland P76
2015 Road to Mandalay, 2nd, 1974 Leyland P76
2016 Peking to Paris, 6th Classics, Leyland P76
2017 Samurai Challenge, 6th, 1st in class, 1st speed, 1974 Leyland P76
2018 Road to Saigon, 2nd, 1974 Leyland P76
2019 Peking to Paris, 1st Classics, 1974 Leyland P76
With enormous thanks and appreciation to Matt for sharing this wonderful tribute to Gerry. It really has been an incredible rally ride for an amazing character who will be sorely missed but remembered for all time as his achievements are etched into rally folklore.
You can find Matt on social media @mattbrysonrally