The Peking to Paris Rally is a recreation of the 1907 challenge issued by Le Matin, "Is there anyone who will undertake to travel this summer from Peking to Paris by automobile?"
The 2016 version will follow a route of 13,695 Km (8,510 miles) and take 35 days. We are travelling in Rhubarb and Custard, a 1936 Buick. We know nothing about cars or rallying.
Wednesday, 18 May 2016
Is it safe?
Is marathon rallying safe?
The short answer is no, it isn't. In 2013 Emma Wilkinson was killed on the Peking to Paris when her Chevrolet collided with a local driver. According to locals it was a notoriously dangerous strip of road.
At RPS's workshop they have a very sad looking wreck from last year's Sahara challenge. The car rolled on one of the mountain sections. It was when we saw this that we decided to fit a roll bar to Rhubarb and Custard. Longstanding readers will recall the owner of the Jeep who lost the ends of several fingers when it rolled over in testing.
We have been warned that huge convoys of slow moving trucks are a problem in Russia. Overtaking them is lethal but sitting behind them is unbearable.
The biggest risk is probably from the cars themselves. They are big machines with lots of moving parts. Jamie Turner had a nipple taken off when a gas suspension strut exploded in front of him. He also told the story of the mechanic who didn't wear rubber gloves when working on his car and not only got infected hands from dirty grease but managed to get an infected penis as well!
Finally there are completely random hazards. On one of the road to Mandalay rallies a farmer decided to undertake some illegal mining by the roadside just as a competitor went past. One of the dynamited rocks smashed through a car window and shattered the navigator's jaw. Extensive plastic surgery was required.
So, no - not safe.