Paris - The finish
Sunday afternoon we finally reached the finish in Paris of this amazing rally.
For classic rally fans this is the ultimate challenge and Anty and I have completed this feat twice!
In Peking we are thrown together with about two hundred and thirty competitors from all over the world. The next five weeks we live with each other, we suffer together, we enjoy the scenery and meet the local population.
Some come well prepared others have seen the pretty pictures on the website and have no idea how rough and tough it is going to be.
Five weeks later in Paris we are all friends for life , well almost all.
As you might have gathered from my reports this rally was different from the one we completed in 2013.
One main ingredient was missing. Philip Young.
The father of this rally, eccentric and sometimes autistic Englishman who recreated the 1907 event in 1997, tragically died last year during one of his events. Most of the preparations for the 2016 event were done and the entry list was oversubscribed.
Nevertheless Kim Banister the rally director and his wife Nikki Banister again did a sterling job but the firm hand of Philip was missing. It is therefore sad to hear that Kim and Nikki are also leaving ERA and will not be involved with future rallies.
The composition of the competitors was also different.
As one of our Portuguese rally friends, Manual Enes, remarked one evening. This rally used to be for the gentleman rally enthusiast.
This time there are quite a few ‘ mechanics’.
They came to race with specially prepared rally cars. They were wearing headsets all the time , like in WRC events. Most of them had already a career in rally driving behind them. There were regular tyre changes during rest days and our Italian Alfa friends sometimes disappeared with their broken cars for then re emerge a few days later with rebuild cars.
It influenced the atmosphere.
However when we have been rested and re-entered normal live I am sure we will look back on a very successful event.
Our broken sump adventure in the Goby desert, our bath in the Mongolian river brought another dimension to our previous experiences.
The car was perfect and after we restarted again in Ulaan Bataar we were back in 57th place in the classic category. When we finished in Paris we were in 27th place. Not the top ten finish we had wanted but considering the two near fatality breakdowns we did very well.
After the Goby breakdown we received a one-hour penalty for not doing one time trial and a 12 hour penalty for not clocking out at the end of the day. Thereafter we did not miss one control or MTC and if I deduct this thirteen-hour penalty from our finish time we would have finished in 7th! Place..
So is that a reason to try and do it again. No we don’t think so. Five weeks is very long. We will continue doing shorter rallies around the world but the P2P book is closed.
If any of you reading this have the ambition to do the 2019 event please talk to us first. I think we can help you with the preparation and planning. During this rally we came across so many people that were not well prepared and were frustrated when they discovered that it was such a tough event.
It’s the Everest of classic rallying and some people climbed this mountain on sneakers….
Rest me to thank a lot of people
First and foremost Anty who sat next to me for five weeks and with one exception- just before Reims- made no mistake at all. He guided me through Mongolia purely on waypoints. He sat through dozens of high speed time trials in some cases at very high speeds and he then still managed to coach me through the potholes ruts and blind corners. The fact that sometimes he did not scream or left the car after the finish means his complete trust in his driver.
Anty, the speeds with this car were new territory for me as well but we kept on the straight and narrow.
After all these rally miles we are still a very good team.
They prepared the car and they were always on stand by to help. After the Goby sump problem was solved we had few other serious problems, but I am sure they were sweating when we stalled our engine in the river and when a week later the ECU – computer - started to misfire. What luck that just before the rally we decided to take a spare one…
Thanks to the whole team, you have again build a perfect P2P car!
Peter and Henny van den Heuvel.
I send them my scribbling almost every night if and when we had decent Internet and wifi. Peter managed to decipher my texts and photo’s and put them on our CNNTY site as soon as possible.
Many thanks for keeping face book up-to-date
Lillian Klijnstra and Huub Dubbelman who were on stand by to help us find a Mercedes dealer in unknown territory. We did not need to much help this time thanks to a perfect Mercedes.
Zenith supplied us with their time pieces for the rally as I believe the profile of the 230 competitors in this rally fits their customer base. We have been their ambassadors and we have worn their watches all the time. I hope this will be the start of a stronger involvement for Zenith in future endurance rallies.
Family and friends
All of you that have followed us and send us messages of encouragement. It has help us a great deal in times when the going was tough.
We will be back watch this space!