Day 33 – Troyes to Paris

Heroes Welcome

By Syd Stelvio, www.endurorally.com

Whistles blew… someone sounded a trumpet…..and everyone clapped. The survivors of the Peking to Paris drove through the streets of Paris this morning – down the Champs-Élysées with girls in white T-shirts on roller skates escorting cars across traffic-lights, shoppers and children on the pavement stood and stared… then cheered…drivers waved back.

Driving the Impossible

The final few kilometres in the middle of Paris is no place to break down, but everyone was helping everyone and to loud cheers from a big crowd, survivors rolled over the finish line in Place Vendome. So ends the 2013 Peking to Paris – crossing 15 frontiers, driving the greatest land-mass between two capital cities and the biggest wilderness in the world where a car can turn a wheel. It’s also been an awfully big adventure.

Every driver who made it into Paris this morning to collect a finisher’s award can count themselves a winner. Tonight, 150 silver-plated trophies will be presented in a gala awards dinner. The cups are waiting, the special menus printed, bottles of wine are being set down on the tables… and the crews who have met up with loved ones and family for the first time in over a month are getting ready for one helluva party.

Driving the Impossible

“It’s been terrific, and the best organised Peking to Paris so far, a wonderful route, wonderfully put together,” said Gerry Crown, winner of the Classics Category sitting in the sun on the roof of his old Leyland P76, beaming. He should know. The 81-year-old driver who has beaten drivers half his age to win for a second time is the only one here qualified to judge the organising-team… he has driven all previous ERA Peking Paris events since the first retrospective in 1997. “Now I’m looking forward to a long bath, a long beer, a long meal with my mates… and I’m looking looking forward to Tibet for the next one.”

Worthy winners of the Vintageants category are Phil Garratt and Kieron Brown driving the same Chevrolet Fangio Coupe that was victorious on Peking to Paris 2010, in a perfect demonstration of careful planning, fine driving and meticulous attention to detail. Check out the results pages for the full classification.

With a total of 584 guests preparing to dine at the celebration prize giving dinner tonight, here in the sumptuous surroundings of the Intercontinental Hotel, the organising is not quite over…. but almost.

By Syd Stelvio, www.endurorally.com