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Actions Speak Louder Than Words

The Peking-Paris rally is full of amazing stories, but one that showed the lengths William Medcalf Ltd is prepared to go to in support of its clients was an unfortunate episode with a wheel bearing, which threatened to have massive consequences for the crew in question.

Just two days into the event, the aforementioned component failed on the Bentley  Supersports Continuation of Bill Cleyndert and Jacqui Norman. Although the part itself only cost £87, given the car had failed in a remote part of China, it looked like the crew’s event would end early in disappointment.

William Medcalf was not about to watch the crew’s dream shattered over something as small as a wheel bearing. He drove to Heathrow and boarded the next flight to South Korea, then taking another flight to the capital of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar. From there at midnight it was straight into a hired 4×4 vehicle and out into the darkness of Mongolia, driving 450 km that took him into the extremes of the Gobi Desert. There he found the Cleyndert/Norman Bentley that had been towed across the border to a remote camp.

Recounting a significant adventure in itself, William takes up the story: “Bill suffered a rear wheel bearing failure on day two, which left the car immobile with a seized rear wheel. Due to the nature of the paperwork and permits he only had one shot to get across the China Mongolia border. If he didn’t get across with the other 100 cars, he would not have been able to get across at all. There are 2km of no man’s land, so ingeniously the car was towed across at walking pace, with the rear wheel supported on a trolley jack. Brilliant work by Bill and the Rally Sweeps.

“Driving in Mongolia is like nowhere else in the world. You have people driving at a clos-ing speed of over 100mph in the pitch black, and I mean pitch black, with full beam on, and you’re trying to stay alive.

“Then the road suddenly ends and you drop off into the desert; you have to find the road again, always driving within what you can see in your headlights. Forty miles per hour is about as fast as you can go and it’s quite an experience. You need to be able to stop or take avoiding action all the time.

“We got to within 130km of the camp, which wasn’t really a campsite at all, just a place in the desert, and we were crawling around boulders at 5mph following the longitude N 45.17293 and latitude E. 108.43776 with no clear way of getting there.”

William eventually reached the stricken car at 7.30am on Bill’s birthday, whereupon it took just 10 minutes to change the bearing and get the crew on their way again. William’s efforts were not in vain: not only did Bill and Jacqui have the adventure of a lifetime over the following weeks, they also came home 21st overall, fourth in class, and secured 1st in the European Cup – finishing seven minutes ahead of their nearest rivals. 

More than anything, this remarkable story shows the depth of commitment to the crews and a genuine “Lead from the front” approach from the Governor. The faulty wheel bearing has been sent back to the supplier!

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