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Mud, Sweat & Gears: the 8,500-Mile Adventure

There really is nothing quite like the Peking to Paris rally. Held once every three years, it’s an epic event in terms of scale, scenery and challenge to the crews. For William Medcalf Ltd, the rally was bittersweet: it rose to the challenge of fielding four cars, but although its cars led their class, the final results don’t do the crews’ competiveness justice.

“Where do you start?” says William with a wide-eyed look even now, some six months after the rally reached its  conclusion. “We had two 4½ Litre and two SuperSports Con-tinuation models on the event and at one stage the result could have been a 1-2-3 for us. However, it wasn’t to be.”

The rally started in the shadow of the Great Wall of  China, near Beijing, and then passed through Mongolia’s Gobi desert, across Russia, into Belarus and then over the Alps before reaching its conclusion in Paris some 36 days later. From start to finish, crews would cover an incredible 8,500 miles, all against the clock.

Endurance Rally Association Director Fred Gallagher said: “Prince Borghese, the very first winner of the Peking to Paris, said it was driving the impossible, and I’m sure all of our crews would agree. But they arrived in Paris to a heroic welcome and should all be very proud of what they have achieved. The spirit amongst the whole rally has been fantastic with friendships forged that will last a lifetime. An amazing experience for all of us.” 

Sadly, the Medcalf-entered Supersports of Helmut Roth-enberger crashed out on a gravel section whist leading its class by 46 minutes, and in the ensuing accident Helmut was very lucky to escape with his life. The quick thinking of his co-pilot Michael Schmidt and second on the scene Bruce Washington enabled Helmut to be freed from under the wreckage of the car, and without their direct intervention and effective first aid treatment things could have been very different. He is subsequently making a good recovery and vows to be back in the driver’s seat for the next event in three years’ time. 

The William Medcalf team follow the results daily when rallies are on. No pressure for the drivers!

In the end, success came for the Medcalf contingent when Bill Cleyndert and Jacqui Norman in their Supersports Continuation won the European cup and the other remain-ing Medcalf entered crews taking a second and third in class. Frustratingly, both held the top slot in the closing stages of the event, but as they say “That’s Rallying.”

Such is the scale of the Peking to Paris event that atten-tion is already focusing on preparation for the 2019 event, and once again William Medcalf Ltd will be going for victory!

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