The Peking to Paris Motor Challenge 2010

September 10th - October 16th, 2010




Turkmenabat to Ashqabat

A Leader Loses His Grip…


Is metal fatigue beginning to make its impact on the results? 

Today was a fairly straight-forward run of 600 kilometres through the vast sands of the Taklamikan Desert, a Time Control out in the morning, one to clock in at the end of the day in the capital city of Ashgabat, and a few Passage Controls where no timing is recorded during the day.

 It sounds mighty light on pressure, but it was enough to see Max Stephenson in the 1925 Vauxhall tumble off the top of the leaderboard of the Pioneer Category, as he lost time with a broken steering arm.

He arrived at the hotel on the back of a truck, and for that, the penalty is that Max and navigator Carl Watson lose their claim for a Gold Medal finishers-award. It is a totally disheartening end of a very hot day for the two Australians who have dominated the top of the Pioneer leader-board since the outset.

Charlie and Nellie Bishop who have been 25 minutes adrift of the Australians now take over the top spot as 1st overall in the Pioneer Category, and David Ayre, in a remarkably reliable effort in the 1907 Itala, now takes up second overall, and Nicky Bailey and Janek Mamino in the 1918 Buick Roadster are third.

In the Vintageant Category, Steve Hyde in the Chevy Fangio Coupe still commands the pre-’41 Vintageant Category, with Michael Thompson and Andrew Davies second in a Chrysler 75 Roadster that survived the Peking Paris last time, they are just under 30 minutes off the pace of the leaders, and William and Victoria Medcalf are third in their Bentley. Michael and Anne Wilkinson are holding fourth in their Alvis.

In the Classic Category, Gerry Crown in the ’64 Holden with Matt Bryson is cruising along, having injured his wrist Gerry has let Matt take over the driving as the constant gearchange was just aggravating an old rally-injury, but he reckons he will be driving again when the Time Trials re-start in Iran.

The Turkish team in the ’67 Anadol – a glassfibre bodied car built in Turkey for some five years with the help of Reliant, powered by a Ford Cortina 1600cc engine, is second, and the Aston Martin DB5 of Adrian Gosen and Andrew Honeychurch holding third.

We are now in Ashgabat, a city that rarely makes the news. The capital of Turkmenistan, it is all wide tree-lined streets, immaculately kept, it could be Zurich, or Geneva, not a single cigarette-end is allowed in the gutter, there are manicured lawns, rows of pot-plants, lots of fountains, including a roundabout which a tour-guide reckons on being the largest water fountain in the world, and as you drive down the streets, little fountains in the central reservation of the dual-carriageways are lit up with constantly changing colours. The architecture is just unique – one vast government building, the national library, looks just like an open book. Truly a fascinating place.

Tomorrow we have the border to cross into Iran in the morning and then a massive 600 kilometre day to Gorgan... life on the Peking to Paris is certainly unpredictable.



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