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Vintage Bentley Wins epic Peking to Paris rally

Pictures: Will Broadhead; Blue Passion

Scots Andy Buchan and Mike Sinclair have triumphed in the epic Peking to Paris Motor Challenge in their 1928 Bentley 4 ½ Le Mans.

The final reckoning of the HERO-ERA event came in Paris yesterday afternoon (Sunday 23 June) after 37 days and 14,500 kilometres travelled over all terrains and in all weathers from Beijing.

The win came despite the charge being led for the majority of the rally by P2P first-timers Richard Walker and Faith Douglas in a Chevrolet Master Deluxe Coupe which was hexed by an alternator failure on the French border and couldn’t make up the lost time before the Paris finish. 

With Buchan and Sinclair then secure in top spot, second place went to Norwegian Alex Vassbotten and Austrian Bas Gross in the Alvis Firefy, with third going to the Swiss pair of Carlos Rieder and Urs Schnüriger, driving a Ford Model A Coupe. 

Commenting on the win, Andy Buchan said: ‘Absolutely elated, it is fantastic. When we set off first in class was the target, but then it became apparent that things could be in reach. We had our battle with Richard and Faith, and it was a cruel rally for them, but we had to take our opportunity.’ 

Sinclair added: ‘A lot of work has gone into getting us ready for this, but we would never have expected this. We just kept going day by day, looking after the car and here we are on the top step of the podium, we are absolutely delighted.’

Matt Bryson took his fourth win in the classic class in his familiar Leyland P76, but the first without co-driver the late Gerry Crown. Second place went to the sporadically dominant Lars and Annette Rolner in their Porsche 911 Safari.

Oldest car on the eighth edition of the marathon rally was a 1914 American LaFrance crewed by HERO-ERA Chairman Tomas de Vargas Machuca and The Royal Automobile Club Chairman Ben Cussons. Despite the impeccable credentials of the pilots, the vehicle was all but destroyed by fire. 

Unusually, this event will take place two years running and the ninth Peking to Paris Motor Challenge sets off on 7 May 2025. Click here for details. 

See the next issue of Octane (published in the UK on 24 July) for a through-the-lens view of the event by rally photographer Will Broadhead. 

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