Day 36: Thanks..

The final daily post is to say a heartfelt thanks to my family for allowing me to go on this adventure. By the time I get back to Hong Kong I will have been away from our new home for nearly 2 months – looking forward to getting... read more

Day 36: Gala Dinner

The final event of the rally as we all gather at the very grand Intercontinental Paris Le Grand for the gala dinner. Amazingly there is both a slick photo recap of the whole event and a cool video – how these were edited in such short order I am not sure. After... read more

Day 36: Parking in the Place Vendome for the night

We leave the cars for the night in Place Vendome and this will be the last I see of the Jag for quite a while. Cars UK will come in the morning and pick it up to be shipped back to RPS for a report on just what terminal damage we have inflicted on this ‘one... read more

DAY 36: New Navigators!

Both Jake & Gemma have volunteered for future P2Ps but as they are 12 and 9 there are a few years to go. Much as it was a huge adventure and I am very privileged to have been able to take part I am not sure I would sign up for 2019 – not sure I have been... read more

DAY 36: Celebrations

The last 20 minutes has turned into quite a lot more as we queued to get to the finish.. photos of each finisher meant that it took a while. All the time the Jag was heating up, we were baking and there was a chance that we would end up being pushed under the finish... read more

DAY 36: FINISH LINE

Hard to believe but tomorrow morning will not be the same routine of packing, checking the route, start time, quick breakfast and 10 hours of driving. A decent hotel and a stroll round Paris in the sunshine beckons… Somewhat amazed that the car made it.... read more

DAY 36: Family

This is by far the longest I have ever been away from my children so catching sight of them as we wait to cross the finish line was fantastic. Laura had brought them to Paris a couple of days before and had ‘done’ Paris in that time so not sure who was... read more

DAY 36: PLACE VENDOME, PARIS

It’s taken me nearly as long to finish the ‘last 20 minutes’ on this blog as it has to drive from Beijing – apologies. After 36 days we finally arrive at the Place Vendome, closed for our arrival, on a beautifully sunny afternoon. We... read more

DAY 36: 20 mins to go

We line up at the holding point and when there is about 10 cars, and a suitable gap after the last group, we set off following a chequered flag waving roller skater into the melee of Parisian traffic. At most of the major junctions the roller skaters switch in a sort... read more

DAY 36: Circuit de Reims-Gueux

Just 20 minutes from Reims are the old grandstands and pit boxes of the old Reims Grand Prix circuit. Racing took place on this old road circuit from 1926 up until the last Grand Prix in 1966 and these old structures are now looked after and partially restored,... read more

DAY 36: 177KM TO GO

We are waved off from the start in Reims and only 177km left to go. Not sure exactly when we arrive in Place Vendome as we know that we have to first head to a holding point where we will be grouped into small batches and releases with a roller skating escort! The... read more

Day 35: Last countryside shots

All the posts are now heavily leaning towards ‘the last of’ whatever it is – much as, despite Matt’s sterling work on the rear suspension, the Jag is still heavily leaning to one side. Actually it’s not ‘heavily’ but it is... read more

Day 35: The last border crossing

After China, Mongolia, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy and Switzerland we cross our last border into our 11th country. Had it not been for the enthusiastic farewell from the Swiss side we would have not noticed one of the least noticeable... read more

Day 34: Lausanne.. we finish 23rd and 2nd in Class

We still have over 500km tomorrow and 180km on Sunday so the rally is not over but there is a definite sense of relief as we pull onto the Avenue de Rhodanie, past the interestingly named Chateau d”Ouchy and the Olympic Museum, in Lausanne. We are on the shores... read more

Day 34: No more leaning out of the window shots

It’s amazing that the iPhone has survived – it’s been held out of the window on gravel stages, in the Gobi desert, in Mongolian villages, on mountain passes and in the wilds of Siberia.. and it’s not been dropped!... read more

Day 34: The last stage

Today is the last day of actual competition. Tomorrow is a long but not competitive drive to Reims and then Sunday a short jaunt into Paris. So arriving at the last timed stage, at the Croix de Coeur overlooking Verbier, brought an air of excitement and trepidation.... read more

Day 34: is it the same day?

The Furka Pass is followed by an arrow straight 4-5km stretch of road that we took in bright sun. It’s amazing how different the weather can be from one side of a mountain to the other. It’s even more of a shock if you use the tunnels rather than the... read more

Day 34: Goldfinger

One of the best passes near Andermatt and the scene of the DB5 / Mustang chase in Goldfinger the Furka Pass was the best part of the day. It’s tight, very twisty and every time I’ve done it (three times now) the view at the top has been the same –... read more

Day 34: Julier and Oberalp

The planned route from St Moritz was impassable so a late change had us heading over the Julier and Oberalp passes towards Andermatt – sadly lunch was not arranged at the Chedi. There was a small track test in the morning and more cones to slalom around but with... read more

Day 34: St Moritz

We arrived last night in the chic resort of St Moritz and to another civic welcome in the centre of town. Passing Tom Ford, Ralph Lauren, Hermes and Valentino is a world away from where we have been so far – and as we then carried on to our hotel we seemed to be... read more

Day 33: Lunch on Lake Molveno

The rally has certainly taken on a more civilised air – lunch stops that we actually have time to stop for and in beautiful locations. Today was at the Grand Hotel Molveno and we enjoyed lunch on the terrace in the sunshine. Despite that the days are still long... read more

Day 33: and still we can’t shake the Mr Bean

We are catching here and they will let us overtake in a couple of corners but overall we cannot shake them – in fact as they are 30mins ahead of us the fact is we can’t actually catch them. Paul and Chris are an effective team in an even more unlikely car... read more

Day 33: Passo Manghen

Still in the Dolomites and having crossed Passo Brocon earlier in the day we now head up another switchback route to the 2,047m Passo Manghen. Coffee is on offer but, while fun to drive, winding up and down these passes takes ages and we are already not likely to be... read more

Day 33: Watersplash

Leaving San Martino we had 4 stages in the route book but by the time we hit the first time control we were told that 2 were cancelled in the afternoon as the snow and ice had made the tracks dangerous. The first 2 were completed without incident, including a... read more

Day 33: Stylish headgear – not sure RR would approve

Having managed to secure VIP parking in the shade of the Rolls last night we were also left in the shade by the crew’s choice of headgear in the morning. It was cold this morning and there are warnings of snow in St Moritz so necessary protection in a semi open... read more

Day 32: San Martino di Castrozza

Another carefully organised arrival as we seem to take over a large swathe of the town’s hotels for a night. The Rolls Royce of the Sias, the Malaysian father and son team, has been granted VIP parking since it’s return from a fire early in the rally.... read more

Day 32: Mixing with the vintages

As we do the final miles into San Martino we catch a few of the vintage cars – Max and Julie in the Vauxhall, an Alvis, one of the Bentleys, and for the first time we actually pass the Rolls Royce on the road – the others are not so easy to pass. Following... read more

Day 32: Italia

We dive deep into the Dolomites and it’s an impressive backdrop as we climb one mountain road and then descend back down into the valley. We are in Italy and heading for the mountain resort of San Martino di Castrozza. The last 2 timed stages of the 6 scheduled... read more

Day 32: The Dolomites and the heavens opened

Eulogising about the weather and the roads was bound to cause a problem and after a sunny departure from Ljubljana the heavens opened late morning. It was a rainstorm of biblical proportions and I am not alone in stating that it is the worst rain I have ever driven... read more

Day 31: Swap?

This WW2 Willy’s Jeep was totally original down to the tools hanging off the side. The 1997 P2P was actually won by a Willy’s Jeep though looking at the seats it can’t have been a comfortable experience. This one was alongside the queue for the 6th... read more

Day 31: Stage 4

Helpfully the rally marshalls suggest different routes for a stage – ‘Friendly or Unfriendly’ – or maybe the arrows were pointing to the marshalls? We arrive at the lunch stop and before we are able to have break there is the matter of the... read more

Day 31: and then..

.. set in the midst of this bucolic scene and right on the edge of a small town – a massive power... read more

Day 31: More of beautiful Slovenia

This can’t be the same rally we have been on for the last 30 days. The roads are still smooth and quiet, the scenery still gorg and the sun still shining. The dreary slog through Russia seems a very long time ago now.... read more

Day 31: Whoops!

As I was saying – and this wasn’t even on a timed stage. The tarmac sections often have some unfortunately sited gravel just on the corner and a heavy car at speed doesn’t always go where you want it to when it comes into contact with said gravel.... read more

Day 31: Stages we can do without being overtaken!

Three stages before a lunch stop that will also incorporate a fourth. As with Hungary and Slovakia the stages are on closed roads with police, fire crews and ambulances in attendance. But, while smooth, the gravel can be very slippery and the drops through the trees... read more

Day 31: Slovenia is gorgeous

There are a few posts today and I make no apology as it has been a great day. Beautiful weather (if a tad sauna like in the Jag), fantastic roads (smooth and straight followed by mountainous and twisty) and kind stages. The first 3 timed stages of the morning are... read more

Day 31: The sheer diversity

Waiting for their start times the 1964 Porsche 356C of Charbel Habib and Walid Samaha is dwarfed by the 14,500cc 1917 La France of Ingo Strolz and Werner Gassner. On the road we rein in the 1935 Alvis Silver Eagle of Richard Bowser and Paul Rivlin, another 356, the... read more

Day 30: Chelsea 6 Maribor 0

An enthusiastic welcome from a small band of flag waving Slovenians as we cross the border and knowing very little about the country Slovenia turns out to be a welcome surprise. Tidy and pretty villages, simple and elegant whitewashed churches and lovely rolling... read more

Day 30: Volvos everywhere

There are about 8 Volvos on the rally including 4 Amazons and in fact Amazons are 2nd, 12th and 15th in the Classics category. Richard Allen and Graham York are 15th in No 72 and just negotiating to borrow our trolley jack for the afternoon, a easy negotiation as... read more

Day 30: Hungary to Slovenia

Another day another country as we head for the Slovenian border. Budapest was lovely but Hungarian drivers remind me of driving in Italy – they hang on your rear bumper and overtake manically everywhere. Our Italian competitors should feel at home here. The... read more

Day 29: Budapest – sad too..

Beautiful as it is, everywhere you walk you are reminded of tragedy. The short stroll from the hotel to the Parliament Building passes the memorial to the Kossuth ter massacre, of anywhere up to 1000 unarmed civilians, by the Russians, on October 25th 1956 during the... read more

Day 29: Budapest – a beautiful city

It is 10 years since I last came to Budapest and I had forgotten just how beautiful a city it is. The Kempinski is very close to the Danube and the rest day turns out to be 86′ and sunny. Cafes and bars line the squares and promenades and along the river,... read more

Day 28: Suitable..

The road sign seemed apposite.. followed a few km later by a sign on a roundabout to a bright red local factory ‘Hell’ (an energy drink). Today followed a similar format to yesterday in that we have a border crossing (from Slovakia into Hungary) and 2... read more

Day 27: Kosice

Another big welcome into the main street of Kosice, a wide cafe-lined avenue with tram tracks and a 3 foot wide and 2 foot deep rill running down the middle. We briefly check whether crossing this in the car is in the route book as we have been asked to do worse.... read more

Day 27: Time Trials

As mentioned, 4 time trials today. The first was mostly on tarmac and fast. The track however was narrow, there was gravel on the corners and the drops were pretty steep. While the roads are closed for the tests we have also started to see a lot of spectators on... read more

Day 27: Chasing the Mini

Not only has the scenery changed as we moved across Poland and Slovakia but the sense of moving West has increased and the feeling of prosperity also. One of the comments heard most as we moved to the Polish border was to question why so many Poles were living in the... read more

Day 27: The celebrity status will take a while to wear off

We are ushered to our place on the start ramp, announced to the crowd, loads more pictures taken and then we are waved off with the starters Polish flag. At the end of the rally it will take some time for me to actually stop waving as I drive. We have a drive to... read more

Day 27: Some of the other cars

I have been taking pictures of some of the other cars en route but as some of the competitors are sadly dropping out I am now starting to be a bit more thorough. 14: 1929 Chrysler 75 of Bruce & Harry Washington – winning the vintage race 33: 1936 Ford Coupe... read more

Day 27: Cafe culture

After what seemed like a month in Russia we are now entering the run in in Europe and almost a country a day. Setting off from the lovely town centre of Rzeszow we are heading across the border from Poland to Slovakia. A leisurely start and beautiful sunshine this... read more

Day 26: The Polish border

This’ll be quick – unlike the day. Although having left the hotel at 8am and be through the Polish border controls and on our way by 10.30am, I believe, is indeed actually very quick. Previous crossings have taken 9 hours! After 2 hours, three passport... read more

Day 25: Never tire of the welcomes

A welcome in Brest was arranged at the war memorial to the ‘Hero City’. The city was occupied by both Russian and German troops during WW2 and the memorial marks the site of the 1941 battle to defend the city. While the photos are very similar, for which I... read more

Day 25: Mir Castle

The days are still long but they have changed as we now have more ‘town parades’ and, for the second day running, a lunch stop. Delays on the stages in the morning as one of the cars was pulled out of the trees (a relatively gentle entry and all ok) meant... read more

Day 25: Belarus stages

A day of off-road stages today. The police were in attendance (and with a fire truck) and had closed the roads  – so the locals were a bit safer than they were in Russia.  The morning session was 2 fairly short runs round a lovely graded gravel and sand course... read more

Day 24: The other Europe

We’ve complained about the route a few times, questioning the logic when it forces us off the smooth paved highways onto some rotten bumpy track to take us through a few small villages. The annoyance is really just to do with having a pretty unsuitable car for... read more

Day 24: Military hardware

All the way through Russia (certainly Western Russia) and now into Belarus there are constant reminders of the regions war torn past and the struggles in the name of Mother Russia. From massive statues commemorating the dead to tanks in the middle of roundabouts and... read more

Day 24: The Centre of Europe.

Do not call Polotsk an Eastern European town. It is, in fact, the exact Centre of Europe, as seen on the map. Does Brexit shift things to one side by a few miles?  is Polotsk’s historic claim ruined by... read more

Day 24: Parade in Polotsk

Another very warm welcome from the town of Polotsk, as we gather in the main square and head off for an arranged lunch so as to give the the town time to check out the cars. Polotsk is another much fought over historic town (this is a much fought over part of the... read more

Day 24: All that fuss for a Belarus visa

Unbelievable. My understandable frustration with the difficulties of obtaining a visa for Belarus (early to Beijing as HK does not have a consulate, personal attendance (twice), queueing in a long line of hopeful immigrants (?) and a trip to pay to a bank across town)... read more

Day 23: Should have been more concerned..

Just when you think you are heading West and the hotels are getting better…! The crews are split into three hotels in Smolensk and I am not sure we drew the long straw of the three choices. A quick check under the bed confirms that the granny that lived here is... read more

Day 23: Smolensk Ring

Just before we head into Smolensk we have the second circuit of the day. The rain holds off and the Smolensk Ring turns out to be a lovely circuit with some great bends, a few nice little kinks and a fantastic sweeping straight into a wide right handed corner. We are... read more

Day 23: Last full day in Russia

Setting off from the lakeside retreat in Zavidovo, and reputed fave of Putin, we were not aware of what accommodation would await in Smolensk. Luckily the day was very full so this was not a concern. It started with a dash for the Moscow Raceway and a another quick... read more

Day 22: A few more churches, pushing in and a welcome view

After the rare occurrence of knowing the name of a church we are now back to un-named churches in un-named towns – my future is not that of a travel writer it seems.. and while pushing in to the front of a queue has sometimes been necessary as we get close to... read more

Day 22: A Day of Tests – 2 Dirt and Hill

Having started the day on the N-ring track we end at a small dirt circuit and a tarmac hill climb. The rain seems to be holding off as we start the dirt circuit and what looks soft and very sandy, as we watch the cars in front of us, is in fact a bit harder on the far... read more

Day 22: A varied grid

As much fun as driving the track is it is also great to watch the other cars handle the circuit. The driving styles and times are as much determined by capability (car and driver) as by a growing need to nurture the cars to ensure they exit Russia and continue on to... read more

Day 22: A Day of Tests – 1 Track

An early start as the Main Time Control (MTC), to check us out for the day, is not in the hotel but at the N-Ring and people are leaving an hour and a half to get there for the first test of another long day. Our start time on the track is 08:56 so we are on the road... read more

Day 21: Nizhny Novgorod

Driving on the banks of the Volga we approach Nizhny Novgorod and a first welcome in Victory Park overshadowed by the grand Kremlin. Every city should have one and, as it just means ‘citadel’, most of the big cities we are visiting do. Victory Park is an... read more

Day 21: Nearly embarrassing

We have heard that a couple of the crews have run out of petrol on the rally. In Mongolia it was somewhat understandable as fuel was scarce and mostly from tankers in camp, and another crew has a broken fuel gauge so it can happen – but we have 100 litre... read more

Day 21: On the road

We leave Kazan on smooth tarmac and hope for a more restful day as we have a long way to go. The morning turns out to be fine but the afternoon takes us back to some really bad roads and back to suspension fears as we crash and bang over them. Pit stops for Time... read more

Day 21: The Kazan Kremlin

Rest day over in Kazan and we hit the roads for along drive to Nizhny Novgorod. Our route out of Kazan takes in the Kazan Kremlin, built by Ivan the Terrible in the 1500’s and the chief historic citadel of the Tatars and now a World Heritage Site. Once again a... read more

Sponsorship Request for Place2Be – Peking to Paris 2016

Please don’t let me have camped in vain.. Matt and I are doing this rally in aid of Place2Be and any donations that you can make would be VERY gratefully received. There is a Virgon Giving page on our website:  www.pekingtoparis.co.uk  PLACE2BE – Royal... read more

Day 20: Rest day in Kazan

Changing the wheels around..  and the car wash had a busy day today as half the car park is clean and shiny. Another rest day and not enough exploration of the location – Kazan, the Tatar capital where the Volga and Kazanka Rivers meet, a world heritage site in... read more

Day 19: Kazan circuit

After a gruelling day we are presented with a few laps of the Kazan Ring and presented with a photocopied map of the circuit and having had a local official check that we were not about to lay a trail of oil on the circuit (nice to know that we weren’t after the... read more

Day 19: The worst road in the world

.. and at the end of it (or the middle, I can’t remember already) we have to queue to pay a toll of 300 rubles. Suggestions of what the toll guys should actually be doing are held back and we pay and move on, slowly (pretty sure we are overtaken by every car on... read more

Day 19: The glamour of endurance rallying

The aftermath of the forest stages means that the any identification by door number is now impossible (not sure of Matt is drinking the water or planning to clean the car) and as we pull into a truck stop cafe for a passage check we can only wonder at the glitz and... read more

Day 19: The Forest Stages

  This was great fun this morning, three forest stage tracks in quick succession, exuberance noted by pretty quick times despite assurances that we were taking it easy. The surface of hard clay and mud made even more slippery by recent rains (see first image of... read more

Day 19: Perm to Kazan

We are back over 600km today and as we left Perm, apparently the most northerly point on the route (might explain the weather), heading for Kazan we were not aware just what a ling day this would turn out to be. Not too long out of town we were heading off road again... read more

Day 18: Perm – and another crowd

I gather that arranging our stay in Perm was more troublesome than most places we are visiting. This was a closed city in the Cold War and the hotel made that somewhat apparent – shades of student digs again. But, also once again, the welcome from the locals is... read more

Day 18: What a welcome

A late diversion had been asked for by the Chusovoy authorities but we were not expecting the reason why. Turning off the road towards the small athletics stadium we were first guided under an impromptu arch and then, post the video interview, we set off very slowly... read more

Day 18: The Urals

The Urals add some contours to the view but I had been expecting more in the way of altitude. From the open plains of Siberia we are now in mile after mile of forest, but still long, straight roads punctuated with occasional rather ‘rustic’ villages and... read more

Day 18: Entering Europe

Irony not lost so soon after leaving Europe. A noticeable but fairly unimpressive monument marks our crossing from Asia into Europe and other than a quick photo op to have the car astride the ‘border’ we press on. We still have days more to go in Russia... read more

Day 18: This is getting more like it!

After what was a bit like student digs in Tyumen we were treated to the Hyatt in Ekaterinburg and a handy and well deserved slot in the VIP parking for the Jag. Leaving the hotel however was also what we will encounter more of as we move further west – rain and... read more

Day 17: Rallycross

This is going to be like watching World of Sport as a kid. The weather has intervened again and the 2 off road time trials have been changed to 2 timed laps of a proper Moto-Cross track. It is not a long track and, while we certainly take part, discretion is the... read more

Day 17: Tyumen

A very welcome easy day of only 360km and, apart from a small section off-road, all on tarmac. As we leave Tyumen lots of very interesting buildings cause slight regret at not having explored a little last night. Our navigation has been pretty good but if any mistakes... read more

Day 18: Another day, another shock.

As if in complaint at the traffic it was not far down the line that the rear shock gave way. I was complaining that the guys from London brought over rear shocks instead of the front ones we needed in Novosibirsk but lucky for us we didn’t hand them back as we... read more

Day 16: Making ends meet

We don’t get much time to ‘stop and smell the roses’ on this trip – especially as we are not the most competitive cars on the rally – so I am not well enough informed to brief on social issues but as we approach Tyumen we pass countless... read more

Day 16: More straight roads

We had been warned that the issue over the Russian section was boredom and that os the case. Mongolia is a tough act to follow and miles of endless tarmac is way less intense than the tracks in the desert. There are snippets of excitement as we pass through some very... read more

Day 15: 700km to Omsk

700km on pretty boring roads with a lot of overtaking – a RHD car adds to the excitement but generally the road os straight and overtaking is despatched fairly easily. The off road timed sections had to be cancelled, unfortunately this was an ‘on the... read more

Day 15: The Test!

Now to see if the fix was successful, but we are at least on the start line and if you are going to have a problem, the day before a rest day is the best day to have it. Sadly we are leaving Novosibirsk without having seen much of the city but we are waved off in the... read more

Day 14: The Fix

There are a lot of P2P cars hare and it takes a while to get going but once it does there is a steady stream of activity. The casing is sent off to be welded and on it’s return the weld is not deemed to be good enough. They welded the outside but left the crack... read more

Day 14: The Damage

It seems that it was not the overdrive plug that we hit but a drain plug in the rear housing. I will not go deeper into the technical assessment right now, save to say that the big hole in the casing in photo 1 is supposed to be filled by the rather large wedge of... read more

Day 14: Rest Day (of sorts)

We are back at the garage soon after 8am. We already had a list of ailments to be sorted out before Day 13’s incident. We have 2 new front shocks just delivered – they are not ‘indestructible’ Ohlins but Konis and should be a bot better than... read more

Day 13: 500km in a breakdown truck

Our driver smoked, had incredibly bad taste in Russian pop and seemed near to dozing off while driving the 6 or 7 hours to Novosibirsk – but was very nice and very cheerful. Matt and I sat up front in the cramped cab though the music alone was enough to suggest... read more

Day 13: Unlucky 13 (part 2)

We had been quite proud that we had got this far without any roadside assistance from the sweeps. They have over 100 cars to look after and we were trying to make sure that we were not one of their regular customers. The prognosis seemed to suggest that we had hit the... read more

Day 13: Unlucky 13!

Aya to Novosibirsk today, nearly 600km and a mix of tarmac and off road stages awaits – but so does a much needed rest day in Novo. Not sure that either Matt or I are superstitious but Day 13 certainly does not start well. About 20km out of Aya we head off the... read more

Day 12: One result of the suspension issues

The front wing has developed vertical cracks where the wheel arch keeps hitting the tyre. There is not much we can do about this right now but as the crack is developing it is producing a sharo edge and what was rubbing is now turning into gouging – it is... read more

Day 12: Altai Republic

We are heading towards Aya and then the day after to Novosibirsk, third largest city in Russia (I did not know that) and effectively the capital of Siberia (I did know that). But in order to deserve our rest day it seems we have to work for it. I drive the morning and... read more

Day 11: Heading to the last campsite!!!

It is a short day today, though the crossing took up a few hours, so we arrive at the campsite pretty early. A stage has been constructed  which is not a great omen – especially as showers and loos have not been. I am also lacking a working tent and there are no... read more

Day 11: Russia

I am ridiculously careful as I take a photo coming up the military checkpoint – and I don’t even risk it at the actual border crossing. All is pretty simple if a little slow – but Matt and I diligently line up for passport control, then the car... read more

Day 11: Pushed across

Not everyone is making it under their own steam – I am told that around 10 cars will be trucked to the border where they will have to be unloaded and pushed across. Many of the drivers at the back of the immigration queue take on the extra responsibility of... read more

Day 11: Why is leaving a country so difficult?

We approach the Mongolian border and have probably created the busiest day for 3 years since the last P2P crossed this remote border outpost. As the cars sit in the queue drivers have to take various documents including passport, driving licence, car registration and... read more

Day 11: Dual carriageway

A long straight piece of good tarmac and so the idea of heading to the border in convoy is soon dropped – as is the tarmac as soon as we get through the... read more

Day 11: Leaving Mongolia

This morning dawns crisp and clear for the dash to the Russian border. This is normally an off road section but given the difficulty of the terrain recently and the likelihood that this will not be a quick border crossing we head off on tarmac. A not totally unwelcome... read more

Day 10: Indestructible shocks..

Our nightly struggle with stick absorbers continues in camp. We changed all the shocks for very hi-performance, oil filled Ohlin shocks which we were ‘indestructible’ and would ‘outlast the car’. For anyone who doesn’t look at shocks that... read more

Day 10: Dropping like flies

The attrition rate is, so we are told, pretty high this time. The cars are better prepared than in the past and quite a few of the drivers are on their second or third P2P and many of the newcomers have done Madrid-Marrakech or some other shake-down for this P2P so... read more

Day 10: Moonscape and more water

Not only do we compare Mongolian landscapes with other locations on earth we are now comparing it with the moon. In an instant the colours change and this dark forbidding landscape looms ahead. It runs alongside the flooded Khovd river and while we manage to overtake... read more

Day 10: What track?

And then back in the desert! Some of the sections in the Route Book are marked CBT which means Choose Best Track. This is where on earlier photos posted you have seen a choice of half a dozen tracks that all meander across the deserts. There are also certain sections... read more

Day 10: Wet Stuff (2)

The next river is fast flowing and quite deep which explains the queue. We watch a few of the late vintage cars barely stop to check and sail across and then watch in quick succession one of the 40’s Chevys and one of the Volvo Amazons get stuck – the... read more

Day 10: Wet stuff (1)

There is no end to the variety of terrain we encounter every day. So far most of the river beds and gulleys we have got through have been dry but the rain has changed that today. This one is OK for us and we manage to ford it with no problem – other than a... read more

Day 10: The generation gap

When we pull into one of the villages to refuel we are followed in by the Mini. A late car change forced upon the crew by the fact that their much larger American 40’s car wasn’t ready in time. The guys have rallied before but it still surprises me that... read more

Day 10: The Yanks are coming – every day!

Suitable for a landscape that (to me) looks a bit like the Wild West we are immediately then overtaken by one of the Mustangs and the AMC. Both are higher than us and have bigger engines and while we are holding our own and slowly climbing the table from a kid table... read more

Day 10: Arizona?

The weather changes and so does the landscape – for some reason I am always comparing it in my mind to somewhere else rather than just seeing it as Mongolia and this bit has me thinking of Western... read more

Day 10: Weather

The weather changes quickly but you can see it coming most of the time – unless there is a mountain in the way. Today there isn’t though the heavy rain in the distance stays... read more

Day 10: A few of the vintage section

As I may have mentioned in an earlier post we mostly only see the vintage cars at the start and the finish of the day in the camps as they certainly don’t hang around on the road – whether that road is smooth tarmac or bumpy track. Even the faster classics... read more

Day 10: ’38 Plymouth Coupe

Today we head off to Olgiy and the last stop in Mongolia before crossing into Russia.. Another 350km day but some is tarmac and we do pass through villages and see people!.. We see quite a few people in fact as the villagers turn out to watch and wave as the cars pass... read more

Day 10: Tents again

These are the excellent Nomad tents. I am not the only one who likes the idea of sub-contracting the tent... read more

Day 9: Nomad’s

After the queue for fuel we have some welding to get done. Our shock absorber problems persist and we now need to weld where the top of the shock protrudes through the mounting point. A Nomad is under the car and welding pretty quickly – he saves time by the... read more

Day 9: The queue for fuel

A long tough day and as we approach Chjargas Lake the prospect of a cold beer is enticing. We have been warned that the first thing we should do, however, is make sure we have filled up with fuel from the tanker in camp. Unfortunately this was the queue – so... read more

Day 9: Hawks and eagles

Despite saying earlier that we’re not watching the local birdlife it is easy to see the hawks and eagles – not so easy to photograph them from a bouncing car on an iPhone however. One swooped down on the car, so close that it felt like it was planning to... read more

Day 9: Rough day

We set off from Ulliasta to Chjargas Lake in the cold and rain and the rough terrain matches the mood. Even the speed tests are getting tougher. Navigation is not proving to be a problem and we are still on for a gold by hitting all the tome controls and speed tests... read more

Day 8: Skies

Throughout Mongolia the skies have been gorgeous. I have twice woken up in the night and made myself get out of the tent to stare at the stars and the full moon rather than just turning over and going back to sleep. It has definitely been worth it as they are not... read more

Day 8: Tent issues

Once you finally arrive at camp there is little time to relax as the first thing to do is check the car for any damage. We are having issues with the shock absorbers and the tyres rubbing on the front wings. The mechanical back up is excellent as the sweep crews offer... read more

Day 8: Only 350km

It never sounds much when you look at the day\s route and mileage in the morning, 350km. Open roads, no traffic  – in camp in time for a spot of lunch! This obviously never happens so we are fortunate that the Nomad’s provide a packed lunch for the day.... read more

Day 8: A signpost just when you need one

Not quite sure how you might happen to be on the right track to actually find the signpost in the first place! Fortunately we have Route Books, Monit and GPS and my Mongolian is not up to much anyway so the signpost is just a waypoint in our Route Book. We were also... read more

Day 8: Uliastai

We now head south to one of the oldest Mongolian settlements, Uliastai. We are now over 1000km from UB and it is certainly pretty remote. Much of the same as yesterday- the tracks change very quickly and you cannot take your eyes from the track for a second as  sandy... read more

Day 7: The Bristol 403

The 1954 Bristol 403 is also performing well and has zoomed past us on a few occasions. They had arrived in UB with neat creases in each front wing as the front of the car had folded back slightly after hitting a gulley a bit fast. That has not held them back and all... read more

Day 7: Escort Mexico

An Escort ‘Mexico’ on a timed section. There are 2 Escorts in the rally and both are doing well. Not surprisingly they look to be great fun on the Mongolian tracks and will also be perfectly suited for the race tracks and some of the Alpine passes when we... read more

Day 7: Pick a track

Leaving the camp site at Bulgan we now head to Murun and another night under canvas. As we head deeper into Northern Mongolia there are many times the choice of track is a bit of a lottery. It’s often the case that on one of the other tracks ‘the grass... read more

Day 6: Camping

Back to camping for the next 6 nights. The scenery is absolutely stunning, the camping experience, however, is one that I have yet to see the attractions off (I speak again very personally here as Matt is far happier to camp than me) Some of the more hardened veterans... read more

Day 6: Timed sections

As we enter the ‘meat’ of the rally there are an ever increasing number of timed sections, time controls and passage controls to add to the competition. These start out with quite achievable times and, as we will discover, get harder. Most of the time we... read more

Day 6: Rough terrain

  The terrain changes quickly too.. from softer sand to a corrugated compacted sandy surface that rattles everything loose enough to rattle – and loosens everything that isn’t – to gulleys, dry river beds and, for me the worst of all, rocks. The... read more

Day 6: Northern Mongolia

The start of the toughest part of the rally as we cross Northern Mongolia to the Russian border. We have been told many times that the rally is not won in Mongolia but can definitely be lost as the next 6 days are going to be tough on the car. There are some excellent... read more

Day 6: Leaving Ulaanbataar

The cars leave each morning at 1 minute intervals with the vintage cars going first. With a 1959 Jag we are in the ‘Classics’ category and go to the end of the start line. The majority of the vintage cars are quite capable of cruising at a very healthy... read more

Day 6: Genghis Khan Square

After a day of car fixing and not a lot of rest we had an early start from UB as the mayor had requested a ceremonial departure from Genghis Khan Square. Bands, presentations and a lot of locals strolling past the cars. The Jaguar gets a lot of attention as it is... read more

Day 5: Lotus Children’s Centre – 2

A really good performance from the kids some of whom were very young but very professional and very excited so it was nice to see a full turnout. It’s an early start tomorrow morning as despite our start time of 10.19am there is a ceremony laid on by the... read more

Day 5: Lotus Children’s Centre

This years P2P is supporting the Lotus Children’s Centre and we were invited to a specially arranged evening of the children’s excellent dancing and then singing from one of just 200 remaining Mongolian throat singers… the video I took should please... read more

Day 5: Not too many people in the spa at the Shangri-La

Lot’s of major work being done here and at garages around the city. Some big jobs as the desert (and for some, the speed) took it’s toll on axles, suspension and engines. Sadly a few retirements and certainly one car being trucked to Novosibirsk for major... read more

Day 5: Rest day in Ulaanbataar

Today was a ‘no driving’ day if not really a rest day. The car park is a hive of activity as everyone preps (fixes) the cars ahead of driving through Northern Mongolia. We had some issues with one of the front shocks but having taken the wheels off the... read more

Day 4: Change of scenery

As we near UB the scenery changes. The off-road has been tough, we hear of quite a few automotive casualties, big rocks in the middle of the road and some very rough stretches. One of the front wheels is scuffing on the arch – broken shock absorber would not be... read more

Day 4: A familiar sight

This has been the view we normally have of this particular 240Z.. though this is leaving a Time Control so it’s not swathed in the usual  cloud of dust as it flashes by at approximately twice our... read more

Day 4: Where did they come from?

Wherever we have been so far the locals have been brilliant. People waiting at the hotels, in towns, by the side of the road and 100km into the desert to see the cars go... read more

Day 4: Only overtake when it’s safe

Heading for a Time Control and you hit traffic.. typical. Overtaking obviously pretty easy here but not always.. loads of tracks too choose from but some are better than others and what looks like acres of space to overtake may be full of rocks and stones.. bit like... read more

Day 4: No hut!

This marshall obviously upset the hierarchy – no hut! As well as the vintage cars and the 40’s Americana there is also a very varied range of cars within the classic sections – the very suitable Peugeot 504 checking in here ahead of the beautiful... read more

Day 4: The officials have a cushy time

A Time Control. There are 3 Timed Sections today – just a certain distance in a maximum time. This is not a sprint so the distances are  anywhere from 30-90km and achievable (even in a MkII Jag) as long as you don’t go too far off track or have a major car... read more

Day 4: To Ulaanbataar

Car packed up and ready to go. Modern camping gear packs up into really small packs – and actually goes back into them when you have used it – who knew! (I apologise to Matt here – this aversion to camping is mine alone. Matt has taken most of the... read more

Day 3 Finish

Camping!! I haven’t camped since I was 11 and I wasn’t that keen then. Still the fancy air tents that Matt recommended went up well  (though they went up a lot easier with an electric pump at home). The scenery remains stunning and the brief rain shower... read more

Day 3: Campsite

Day 2 done. The cars are parked a lot closer to the beer truck than they are the time check. Nomads, the company that are providing the food and facilities throughout Mongolia are set up and waiting with cold beers and hot food. Latrines and showers are a bit more... read more

Day 3: Off Road!

This is where the fun starts!. 150km of nothing much.. other than of course magnificent skies and clouds that look painted on. Relatively smooth to start but that’s set  to change as the Route Book warns of ‘stony’ and ‘rutted mud’ We... read more

Day 3: The Navigator’s job

Matt and I are sharing the driving, starting with one day on and one day off but after the first rest day in Ulaanbataar we will probably switch at lunch time – the afternoon driver doing the next morning etc. For the navigator following the Tulip charts (on... read more

Day 3: An easy start

The Gobi Desert stretches into the distance but this is an easy start as the first 200kkm of the day are on a very good (pretty new) tarmac road. Previous P2P rallies have hit the dirt immediately – one of the problems for the route planners is that rural China... read more

Day 3: Ride height

A very quick example of the problems we will face. We are already in the Gobi Desert but not yet headed off-road but as we queue for the Mongolian side of the border the difference in ride height between the 2 cars in front of us is obvious. We have the same issue... read more

Day 3: The first border crossing

Despite the signs not to take photos at the border crossing!.. We are now leaving China and entering Mongolia. This is supposed to be the easier of the borders we will encounter but not too many smiles from the border guards. The police in rural China have been a lot... read more

Day 2: Coal fired hotel

The sight to greet us in the hotel car park – we have passed enough coal trucks in the last 2 days but hadn’t thought that our hotel would be coal fired. Let’s hope the maids have set the fires in the... read more

Day 2: Erenhot dinosaurs

Finally at the edge of today’s destination. Erenhot is in Inner Mongolia, an autonomous region in China. Dinosaurs everywhere as you get to the town as a nearby salt lake has been a great source of finds for palaeontologists. The famous arch went up about 10... read more

Day 2: Queuing

With over 100 cars leaving at 1 minute intervals it might seem like a convoy but in fact the cars spread out quickly and you can go a while without seeing anyone and then at Time Checks and fuel stops cars start to group together again. We left this morning in number... read more

Day 2: Climbing towards the border

Starting to feel very real now as we have Control Points and check in times but not too tricky. All on road and heading higher towards Erenhot and the Mongolian border.... read more

End of Day 1 – The Hanging Monastery

A treat at the end of Day 1 – not too many sightseeing detours in the Route Book but this is one and definitely worth it. Built in 491 this Buddhist monastery hangs 50m above the ground on the west cliff of Jinxia Gorge near... read more

Ghost towns?

This was not really a ‘ghost town’ but huge construction on the edge of an existing town. Massive apartment blocks  stretching as far as you can... read more

Definitely out of Beijing

Certainly not the shiny towers of Beijing. We are crossing coal mining country – a constant stream of loaded trucks coming the other way. All along the way there are small groups or individual people just standing waiting for the cars to pass. We must already be... read more

Aah the joy of the open road

Heading North from the Great Wall the first thing we encounter was a chaotic traffic jam of very large and very heavy trucks. At one junction a nice local guy had stepped into the middle of a solid mass of virtually stationary trucks and controlled the traffic,... read more

We’re off – 8.47am Sunday 12th June 2016

The flag drops and Car No 92 is off to Paris. Please don’t forget we are doing this in aid of Place2Be, the amazing children’s mental health charity who’s Royal Patron is HRH the Duchess of Cambridge. Laura is a trustee of the charity and while we... read more

Heading for the start

OMG what were we thinking.. 14,000km across the Gobi and Siberia in a 57 year old BRITISH car. Failure to reach Paris will have Laura and Tracey pondering the holidays that could have been bought with the cost of this adventure. No pressure then!... read more

Weight issues

One of the things we have been told hundreds of times is to keep the weight down in the car. The suggestion that Jake should replace me was not well received – well by me at least. Jake expecting a win and at the very least a Gold medal – tough to get as... read more

Dragon Dancing

Dragon dancing to scare away evil spirits – lets hope it doesn’t just work in... read more

Not a bad backdrop

An amazing location – the hills and the wall are the perfect backdrop. Though I’m embarrassed to say that I had to make myself look at the scenery – luckily Matt is taking photos. Concentrating and excited about what’s ahead mixed with sadness... read more

The Start

Two and a half years of preparation and finally at the start at the Great Wall outside Beijing. The first cars, the vintage ones, will leave at 8am and we will all leave in 30 second intervals heading for Datong. No 92 starts at 8.47am.... read more

No 92 is the favourite

Well of my (Doug’s) kids anyway. Jake and Gemma expect us to win.. and they told one of the race officials.. so that’s all sorted.... read more

Some very nice cars

An Aston Martin DB6.. I’m a bit torn between thinking ‘it’s fantastic it’s on the rally’ and ‘but it’s an Aston Martin!’ Though ‘No point having them if you don’t use them’ has generally been my view... read more

Not quite Halfords..

Headed off to the AutoMall – we need grease for the hundreds (slight exaggeration maybe) of grease points on the Jaguar that have to be done every day.. Yay! if I was expecting Halfords I was a bit disappointed.. streets of small shops – mostly fitting car... read more

An idea of scale

This really gives an idea of the size of the La France.. the Mini looks like the car they attach to the back to use as a runabout at the camp site..   I don’t think it is... read more

First navigational test passed

Tulip charts and the Monit got us back to the Shangri-la – despite a clerical error on the charts at the last turning!! A test to see if we are ready maybe. The cordoned off hotel car park is now a hive of activity as cars are checked and fettled. We have a... read more

The first petrol stop

We had to pretty much drain the cars to be allowed to ship them – and then when we got to the warehouse a ‘Fuel leak’ sign on the windscreen was not a great start. So heading out of the warehouse a few stop was pretty urgent. Bit embarrassing to... read more

Police briefing

The first official event of the rally is a briefing by the Chinese Police and the presentations of (a few) licences. Very well attended – though we do have to sign in so pretty mandatory and very ceremonial. Most of us will get our docs tomorrow morning. Content... read more

Belarus Embassy

Seriously!.. 4 hours sleep, arrived at the Belarus embassy half an hour before it opens – and a queue!!  Three hours later..  and a trip across Beijing to visit the one bank branch that will accept the payment for said visa. Belarus better be worth it. However,... read more

Beijing

Arrived in Beijing at 4am Monday morning so that I could head to the Belarus embassy when it opens to get the final stamp. Sadly, there is  not Belarussian diplomatic presence in Hong Kong and unlike virtually every major country in the world Belarus do not allow you... read more

Heading to the docks

April 2016 – A long journey ahead – and I see the Place2Be sticker on the rear wing.. one less job for Beijing then. read more

Ready to go

March 2016 – All done. Actually still waiting for a few decals – The Place2Be logo and the route map. Not sure if these will get on before the shipping date! A job for Beijing. read more

Doesn’t look so bad now

March 2016 – Maybe the E-type would not have been a good idea! This is actually a pretty basic list of stuff.. no personal items yet but we can’t take much. It’s vital to keep the weight down. read more

In the workshop

March 2016 – Back to the UK for both of us to check the car for the last time and RPS showing us how to maintain it on the rally.   RAC is programmed into the Sat Phone – though Matt got a period Haynes manual on the Jag for xmas – so we’re... read more

Nearly finished

February 2016 – Can’t do without a leather bonnet strap. RPS not so sure – but it looks good! read more

Slight change of plans

January 2016 – Six months to go and plans for me to look after the car and test it in the few months before shipping to China slightly changed by a fairly short notice move to Hong Kong.. Getting to the start now pretty easy for both Matt and me.. read more

Punctures will be fun

December 2015 – Stripped out interior (though we have kept the big red  leather seats). All ready for carefully packaged spares, tents and pared down luggage. read more

Briefing Weekend

November 2015 – A day at Gaydon talking about insurance and shipping and picking up GPS trackers. Not sure if we can track our position on our own website but I only foresee the kids asking why Matt and Daddy are in Tibet. It seems there are quite a few... read more

Which way?

November 2015 – Time to get a handle on navigation. A one-to-one session with Alan Smith instructs us in using the Garmin and Monit and reading Tulip charts. Didn’t have built in satnav in 1959. read more

Protection

September 2015 – A steel undertray. Obviously to direct the airflow and add downforce – just like a Ferrari. read more

Some of the competition

August 2015 – RPS are prepping quite a few of the entrants. Pre-war Americans are popular – strong and unstressed – just like a 59 Jaguar. read more

A work of Art

RPS are inordinately proud of the new steel exhaust. It all squeezes in perfectly. Stainless steel is stronger but a steel exhaust gives us the chance to make repairs en route. Haven’t seen a welders mask in the kit! read more

Power

June 2015 – The engine drops back in.. still triple carb (too complicated to change that) so we will have one of the more powerful cars on the rally. Looking good! read more

Regulations

May 2015 – Time to start prepping again. A read through of the regulations. read more

Extra fuel

As well as downtuning the engine (slightly!) to take account of Mongolian petrol we need to be able to carry more of it should we plan a detour in the Gobi. A new back up fuel tank is specially crafted into the boot.. just like having fitted luggage made. read more

Starting to look like a competition car

One of the first things to be added inside is a full roll bar. Still has the red leather armchairs – but not for long. Apparently this is not a continental cruise so rally seats are on their way. read more

Engine out

The upgraded triple carb engine – basically an E Type engine (we did get one then!) is sent off for a strip and rebuild. read more

Taking it all apart again

10 days of driving across the Gobi followed by the less than smooth roads of Siberia and Eastern Europe suggest that anything that can be strengthened should be (including the drivers). read more

Some of the work already done for us

March 2015 – Rally Preparation Services helped us check the car over before we bought it and will do the prep work for us. A big file of photos accompanied the car showing that a fair amount of work has been done. Unfortunately, making it sound and pretty and... read more

We have a car!

March 2015 – Can’t have an E Type but we have a Jag… Not sure it will look quite as polished in Paris! A 3.8 Litre, Mark II Jag from 1959 with some Coombs modifications. In lovely condition and, apart from some issues with the synchro, drives well.... read more

Where did the year go?

February 2015 – Hmm, the two and a half years is now down to about one and a quarter. No car yet, but lots of chat about what might be fun – the E Type sadly didn’t make the cut. At least I’ve had a year to get fit..  hmmm. read more

Paperwork

February 2014 – As we discuss the fun stuff of picking a car Matt quite rightly suggests that we get the entry forms back. There are only going to be 100-110 entries and despite the cost it seems that these events sell out very quickly. With our acceptance... read more

Research

Two and a half years to the start – ages. No problem in finding a car, getting it prepared to handle 14,000km, getting fit.. preparing to camp in a desert!.. Matt has been thinking about this for a while so is ahead of me.. Fortunately there are a few articles... read more

Signed up and I wasn’t there!

December 2013 – Laura (my wife) is on a business trip to Tokyo and is having dinner with an old friend (Matt) at the Oak Door Restaurant at the Grand Hyatt. Fortunately Laura loves cars and so when Matt mentioned that he had been thinking about entering the... read more