Photos: Gerard Brown
For those of you that have followed our rally adventures since 2008 you will not be surprised that we are back again with a new challenge.
In July 2013 we arrived in Paris after five tough weeks of rallying the Peking to Paris classic endurance rally.
There were no new challenges on the horizon. With the exception of Africa* we have rallied all continents with our trusted Mercedes 280 SE Coupe V8 from 1970. We have covered at least 45.000 rally kilometres with the Lady in Red
However the memory of the 2013 Peking to Paris rally kept lingering in our heads. China, Mongolia and Siberia left a big impression on both of us.
The much-feared camping days in Mongolia turned out to be on of the most memorable experiences of all our previous endurance rallies.
ERA the organisers of the P2P rally had given us the impression that the 2016 P2P would take the Himalayan route.
Like the Nike ad said we had done that already in 2008 when we rallied from Maastricht in Holland to Bhutan in the Himalaya Trial. After driving through Pakistan and India for many days often in darkness we vowed never to go back there again. So to our surprise we learned early 2014 that the 2016 rally would take the Mongolian/ Russian route again. Around the same time – early 2014 – we had a discussion with the Altena Classic car team, that prepared our P2P 280 SE so well, about the ideal classic endurance rally car. The 280 SE is perfect, comfortable, safe and reliable like all Mercedes used to be. She is however a bit heavy and not totally the ideal car for off road sections and circuits.
We discussed with Altena sourcing a good classic Porsche 911 or a MK1 Ford Escort but there are too many classic rally Porsches already and the Ford Escort is not really a very special car to look at. Both cars are quite hard to find and when you find them often very expensive to buy and prepare.
I have always liked the Mercedes 230 SL or the Pagoda, build from the mid-sixties. They come with a hard and a soft top and they are as strong and safe as the bigger 280 SE. Its is called a Pagoda after the styling of the hard top on the cars.
Some of the Altena team had some experience with restoring Pagodes and they were quite excited to find a good car and build a dedicated endurance rally car for us. The urge to do the P2P one more time and to build a lighter and faster Mercedes rally car all came together in the spring of 2014.
Altena found us a good 230SL Pagoda restoration project in the summer of 2014. They spend the winter stripping and rebuilding the car to our specification. You can find more on the preparation in the car section of the site.
With two years to go before the P2P, we thought it might be an idea to enter the ERA organised ‘Trans America Challenge” in 2015. This would be a good test for our new Pagode R. To make the change complete I also thought it might be an idea to ask ‘the wife’ on this rally. Grace and I had never rallied before, but Grace had as a teenager made a road trip through the USA. When I suggested we do this rally together she jumped at the idea. The route took us from Halifax in Canada to San Francisco in California .
It was a great success and even more so as Anty with his wive Sonja also entered this rally with his trusted MGB V8. More of our adventures in the US can be found at www.mickandgrace.nl and for the Dutch readers sonjaverloop.wordpress.com.
The Trans America rally turned out to be a good test for the Pagoda. There were off road sections, circuits, desert heat and a very nice group of competitors. The shipping deadline of April 2015 was also a good deadline for the Altena crew to get the car ready in time. When we entered the Trans America rally at the end of 2014, I thought I would wait until after this rally to make my entry for P2P 2016. Early 2015 I read on the ERA website that the entry was almost full. So I entered the P2P early 2015 without consulting Anty if he would really wanted to do it again….
It all came good and Anty and I started the epic Peking to Paris Rally for the second time.
Again a great experience but not entirely without its hickups.
We hope you will enjoy the daily reports.
Mick* Watch this space! Africa is on the cards for 2017
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