The Peking to Paris Motor Challenge 2010

September 10th - October 16th, 2010




Rasht to Tabriz

Has Anyone Seen Richard Head?


Who is Richard Head? Who has heard of him? What did he ever do to have his name engraved on a rally trophy?

For the first Peking Paris Retrospective in 1997, a special award, decided by the Marshals, was awarded to a competitor called The Richard Head Award. 

Alas, the recipient never understood why he was presented with this trophy, or, what he had done to qualify for this unique award.

The talk among the marhals now that we are about to enter Europe is a simple question: Do we revive the Richard Head Award, and if so, who should qualify for this?

A little background: The winner in ’97 drove a red Allard. In the Baluchistan Desert, between Pakistan and Iran, he ran out of water with an over-heated radiator. 

Along comes Peter Banham, and tops up the rad, and all is well. “You ought to carry a spare can of water, you’ve got a leak,” advises Peter.

The following day, the rally is now crossing Iran and is the hottest part of the desert. A tiny spec on the horizon. Peter Banham inches closer… it’s the red Allard, in trouble again. The radiator has run dry. “I thought I suggested you carry a jerry-can of water,” says Peter, now just a little exasperated.

Driver David Arrigo then explained his reasoning. “I can’t possibly carry a can of water… the only way of strapping a jerry-can onto the car is on the back, and if I did that, it would spoil the lines of the car in the photos.”

This, and other incidents, qualified David for the Richard Head trophy. The Marshals are now wondering if there are any candidates out there to ensure this prizegiving initiative perhaps becomes a perpetual trophy.

Some years after this event, David Arrigo called us to enquire “Who was Richard Head… what did he do to get his name onto a rally trophy, and what did I do to qualify for this?” A lack of understanding of rally procedures, the event Regulations, preparation tips, and advice from the sweep-mechanics might count in the criteria… alas, explanations are not always a good thing. We dropped off the David Arrigo Chrismas Card list.

He was last seen driving an Austin A35 around Malta.


TABRIZ LATEST: We have reached the city of Tabriz, and are all now in a modern glass and marble hotel. Alastair Caldwell has repaired the cylinder head of his Alfa, and navigator Catriona Rings came running up the steps into the main foyer to reach the final time-control of the day with a minute to spare. 

We gather that they were swept through red traffic lights by baton-waving policemen. 

The latest worry for the driver however is that now the propshaft sounds as if it it’s about to fall out.

We have driven some remarkable roads today… at times it reminds you of South Africa and the hills of Isalwandha on the way to Rorkes Drift… turn a corner and you could be on the Alaska run from Anchorage through the Rocky Mountains to Dawson… Iran has some remarkable scenery.

The American crews are all impressed, and feel overwhelmed by the reception by local Iranians… several crews have received invitations to visit the homes of locals. American VW Beetle driver Garry Staples Jnr. is now back in the rally, having abandoned his plans to truck the Beetle to Turkey for repairs… a VW main-dealer spotted the car on the back of the truck, asked what the problem is, and when told that the crankshaft has a serious issue with a thrust bearing, he offered them a replacement engine… which was fitted in a matter of hours. The VW will now drive to the Turkey-border under its own power.

Where is Car 89? The local police know where every car is… they chalk off our progress as we go through the towns and villages… the national police have an over-view on where we all are and what we are doing… but, there is a problem with Car 89. The little blue Renault 4CV of Andrew Drinkwater is missing. Nobody has seen it… even the Iran police and security departments don’t know and the Motor Federation are just a little concerned that a car that has never given the impression of doing more than 50 kph flat out has somehow managed to give everyone, including those helping us, the total slip.

Tomorrow we head for Turkey.


 (0) 1235 831221