A&K is proud to be sponsoring 'Shiner', a lovingly restored 1940 Ford Coupe in the incredible Peking to Paris Rally. Travel journalist Michelle Jana Chan and yacht designer Mike Reeves of Claydon Reeves are taking part in the grueling classic car rally that begins on the Great Wall of China and spans the plains of Ulaan Baatar, Novosibirsk, Kiev, Krakow, Bratislava and Salzburg, coming to a screeching halt in the Place Vendome in Paris. The rally began on Tuesday 28th May. See our daily highlights below:
28th June- Foot to The Pedal
"Wing and a prayer. Come on Shiner!" The competitors spent yesterday driving along miles of winding roads through a beautiful alpine mountain range between Davos and Gstaad. Not a day goes by without an obstacle, and Syd Stelio of Endurorally reported that "Just as we thought we had seen every kind of extreme weather condition, we drove up a foggy mountain and found it was snowing at the summit." Nevertheless, Shiner made it through and even came best in the Vintageants time trials but remains in third place. Today, Shiner is crossing over to France for a good night's sleep ready for tomorrow's final push to Paris.Croissants all round.
27th June- Clinging to Third Place
"At the top of the hill there was a terrific atmosphere over breakfast as the rally took over the small wooden chalet café. We then set out for Davos, including plenty of very rural and very steep mountain climbs… it's been hard work all round", says Syd Stelvio of Endurorally, and no one knows it more than our Shiner. Over the last few days, Michelle and Mike have travelled through Slovakia, Austria and Switzerland. Shiner is flagging slightly, but clinging to third place, held together by some miraculous DIY handiwork. It has been a tough week for all, and the finish line is still not quite within reach. Nevertheless, spirits remain high and Shiner has just a few days to go before the sprint up the Champs Elysees to the finish line. Photo by Alexy Markovich.
26th June- Switzerland Bound
"The hills are alive with the sound of V8s." Mike and Michelle are stuck fast in third past in the Vintageants and working hard to make some headway. Yesterday's amicable time trials unfortunately kept them there, but no doubt that as they make their way into Switzerland this afternoon, they will be pushing Shiner harder than ever. Syd Stelvio of Endurorally reports that, "Tonight, we are dining on what is probably the best menu we have been presented with so far...All this because some drivers have sent messages home saying they have lost weight while they have been away. A few days of eating like this could rectify things before Paris." It sounds as though our team is being rather well looked after.
25th June - Clutch Problems
It was a sorry day for Shiner when a disastrous mishap sent them down the leaderboard and out of the running for the European Trophy. The clutch problems were thankfully fixed by "roving sweep mechanic" Rob Dominy, but unfortunately in the process our team lost 45 minutes. Nevertheless, Mike and Michelle have retained their third-overall placing in the rally, as well as their Gold medals. Our hopes are still held high!
24th June- Nearly There!
On Saturday, the time trials between Kiev and Lviv revealed that our Shiner was the Best Vintageant with a time of exactly 6:00 minutes, 15 seconds ahead of the usual Vintageant top-performer in the red Chevy. Syd Stelvio reported that in the European Trophy-stakes, "the heat is on, with the V8 Ford Coupe outgunning the rest of the pack of Vintageants with a solid performance." Sunday saw Shiner working just as hard, no surprises there given that the European Trophy is at stake for the Kiev to Paris section. In the Vintageants Mike and Michelle proved to be the quickest again on 8:04, just a couple of seconds ahead of car 15, the Ford Model A. Today is the 28th day of the rally, and the competition is getting tense: ""Five time trials today, the day to win or lose!"
21st June- Shiner Running Like a Dream
"Day 24. Beautiful Ukraine. Cornfields. Sunflower fields. Lots of local support en route. Shiner running like a dream." Today consisted mainly of relaxed driving through lush countryside, with a network of roads threading through endless fields of gold, fringed with towering sunflowers. Just 30 seconds behind in third place in the Vintageants category, Mike and Michelle are set to push Shiner to the limit over the coming days. They're currently resting up in beautiful Kiev, with views to boot. Spot Michelle on Russian Television here.
20th June - Fastest Vintage on the Dirt
"Results out. Fastest vintage on the dirt. Second fastest on the Tarmac. We like it dirty." Today, we are cheering Mike and Michelle on from our desks, following yesterday's fantastic news - Shiner was the best performing Vintageant on the Belgorod circuit, beating red Chevy Phil Garratt by 7 seconds! After last weeks terrible news, it seems that the spirit of the rally is starting to pick up again and Syd Stelvio from Endurorally reported that, "These two test sessions proved to be terrific fun, and highly enjoyable all round. Thick clouds of dust hung over the rally-cross circuit, and a helicopter took photographers for short rides overhead for airborne filming." With most rally crews overflowing with stories of enthusiastic help with repairs from good-willed souls in Russia, they arrived in Kharkiv to yet another astounding welcome, this time organised by the Ukraine Motorsport Federation. It seems the chefs were joking amongst themselves - serving up chicken kievs for dinner ("what else, given we are on the road to Kiev?"), and the evening's rally results indicated that Mike and Michelle have their teeth firmly sunk into third place in the Vintageants category.
19th June - Hello Ukraine
Wowsers. Give me a racetrack any day of the year. We ain't driving. We are flying!" Today Shiner arrived at the Belgorod race circuit to burn up the track on time trial and it certainly sounds like Mike and Michelle are enjoying the track. Day 23 of the Peking to Paris Rally saw the last of the Russian roads, a contrast of roadside sunflowers and silver birches against the ornamental tanks and fighter jets set at the centre of remote roundabouts. Shiner is currently in Ukraine and heading further west in third place, although we're hoping that after the racetrack time trial, we might be in for some exciting news! Photo by Nikita Khnyunin.
18th June - Shiner in Third Place!
"Lots of electrical problems including nocooling fan on a day the temperature was in the high 30s. Poor Shiner. Hot and bothered." Once they arrived in Sarato, the troopers spent a dusky evening putting Shiner right while hundreds of Russians came to tour the cars and show support. Despite the setbacks Shiner moved swiftly into third place. "We have loved Russia. Last full day tomorrow. To Voronezh in the morning."
17th June - Fix Up, Look Sharp
"Another flat. Repaired tyres. Reinstalled sump guard. New fan belt. Tapped wheel studs. Changed dampers. Welded crack in chassis." Poor Shiner! Although it doesn't seem to have affected the standings, with Shiner still firmly in fourth place, and a little more than an hour behind the Chevrolet.
15-16th June - Jumping Ahead
"I had such wondrous imaginings of Samara. The name alone conjurs. But currently stuck in a Renaissance hotel on the outskirts of town." Although they didn't get to see as much of Samara - described as a major cultural centre of south-eastern Russia, as they might have liked, Shiner hopped back on the road and into fourth place. Although not quite the way they wanted: "Moved up to 4th place. Not the way we'd like to get ahead but Car 8, a 1928 Bentley 41/2 litre, had car trouble."
14th June - Yekaterinburg
"Rally continues after the sadness of Day 16. Our thoughts are with Emma's loved ones." Today Shiner travelled on to Yekaterinburg no competitive stages. After miles of winding roads driving past remote villages and relics "dragged in from fields of a Soviet past", the competitors made their way to Yekaterinburg, home to the Bikers Museum. Syd Stelvio of Endurorally reports that the museum, filled to the brim with Russian-made motorcycles, was deserted, but that "drivers who stepped inside to look at the Russian version of bikers-paradise, returned to find the car park brimming with locals, far more interested in rallycars. The place was swarming with as many spectators as there were mosquitoes, given it was a nice fine sunny day, why not quit work and visit the Peking to Paris rally?"
A terribly sad day for the Peking to Paris Rally when British competitor Emma Wilkinson was tragically killed in a road traffic collision in Russia. A local man and a child in the other vehicle involved in the accident also lost their lives.Our thoughts are with the victims' families and friends.
12th June - "Adrenaline is Fuel"
"¼ the worlds forest are in Siberia" says Michelle on her latest video report, where she can be seen driving through incredible landscapes, recounting that they seem to have had more than their fair share of car problems.
Today, Mike and Michelle arrived in Omsk to a standing ovation with the biggest crowds yet waiting to watch the arrival of the Peking to Paris contestants. Poor Shiner was once again holed up in the garage after starting the day with yet another flat tyre, a flat battery and a hole in the radiator to boot. Nevertheless, it doesn't seem to be dampening any moods. On the contrary, with just over an hours sleep, they say "Adrenaline is fuel today. Always racing, yeah." That's the spirit, Shiner!
11th June - Resting Up
Due to poor weather, Shiner's on a well-deserved rest day, so instead we bring you the latest, greatest Peking to Paris Rally photos.
10th June - Hooligans, Rescue Missions and Lots of Good Eggs on the Road
After a long weekend of flat tyres, dodgy oil pressure and sleet, Shiner is now approaching Novosibirsk. An eventful few days included several rescue missions: "Rescued Bentley twice. Towed it backwards then forwards out of sand. Karma flows." The team spirit is really quite something considering the competitive nature and mischievous behaviour of some of the participants. "Stopped by police on outskirts of Novosibirsk. Called a 'hooligan' for an illegal u-turn but no fine. Lucky Shiner" Mike & Michelle are holding steady in the Vingeants in fifth place, gaining speed slowly but surely on their competitors, some of which seems to be dropping like flies. "So many cars/friends not making it to camp. Gotta keep on…" Shiner caused quite the stir in Mongolia and contributed to numerous family photo albums so we hear. Endurorally reported on the incredible efforts of the support team "Each morning, 12 chefs cracked 360 eggs, that is 360x7 days, totalling 2,520 eggs… all the eggs were carried on a fleet of 12 Unimog 4x4 trucks over severely rough roads - and not one egg was broken in transit, entirely down to the way they were carefully packed." Impressive commitment we say. In the meantime, our Shiner remains a traffic stopper!
7th June - Lakes, Mountains and Rivers in Mongolia
Mike and Michelle kept up a steady pace in today's stretch between Chjargas Lake and Uureg Lake as they approach the Russian border. We hear it's only getting more beautiful, with today's landscape hailed as 'Simply the most stunning day of the event so far' by Endurorally's Syd Stelvio. Just one full day left in Mongolia and it sounds like they've picked a good spot to pitch their tents -a tiny bay surrounded by snow-capped mountains. Tomorrow promises an even more spectacular route into the snowy Atlai Mountains, where the Peking to Paris crew will end up beside a flowing river for their final night in Mongolia
6th June - Sandstorms and Canvas
Mike and Michelle are back in the game and overtaking left right and centre to claim their rightful position once more. We hear that after today's run, Shiner is holding steady in fifth place and the rally has knuckled down under canvas for the night in the distinctly frosty (near) Siberian air. Last night, a long hot day was blown to smithereens by a bitter, freezing gale, followed by a ruthless sandstorm. No one said it would be easy!This evening's experience was made slightly easier by the chefs delicious food, praised highly by all, and a remarkable lakeside sunset at Chjargas. Just two nights left of desert camping before the competitors reach the Russian border
5th June - Into the Wilderness
Mike & Michelle are stuck in sixth place, having broken their second rear axle tie-rod (immediately after they had managed to weld the first 'which snapped in half like a stick of barley sugar', as reported by Syd Selvio of Endurorally).Their spirits are still held high thanks to the astoundingly beautiful remote wilderness and breath-taking landscapes of the lake district as they head towards Lake Telmen. Despite setbacks, Shiner still has an engine fully capable of competing against the current leader, number #30 Chevy. We're hopeful that after a bit of TLC, Shiner will be ready to battle it back to first place once more!
4th June - One Behind
Michelle and Mike are currently somewhere out in the great desert pushing Shiner to the brink in an attempt to reclaim first place in the Vintageants category, which was recently stolen by a rather slick Chevrolet Fangio Coupe.They were spotted looking rather glum at breakfast yesterday morning prior to all the repair worked caused by a broken axle tie-rod.Mike was heard saying "If we can get the axle ties sorted, we'll be back in the hunt with a vengeance." In the meantime, here's one of Gerard Brown's brilliant images of Shiner on the move.
3rd June - In the Lead
We have been closely following Michelle & Mike over the weekend and we're proud that they're still laying claim to 1st place in the Vintage Category! Over the weekend, Michelle caught up with some locals and later made friends some monks at the Petrol Station (see photo!)Making the most of their time in the city, Shiner was all patched up and ready for some serious desert driving in the wilderness. Hitches and glitches aside, Shiner has performed exceptionally throughout the rally so far and has retained first place by the spin of a wheel. Fingers crossed the desert will be kind to our intrepid duo!
31st May - The Gobi Desert
"Anyone who says they are here for the ride is lying." Last night, Shiner made it to the camp site in the Gobi Desert in just 8h23 minutes, the first place in the vintage category. Unfortunately, there was one minor thing missing: the tent.After just over 300km of desert motoring without a soul in sight (we hear there was a sighting of a lone tree), navigating through the wilderness and desperately hoping their bearings were correct, Michelle and Mike deserved a good comfortable rest in a cosy tent that had been so carefully packed into Shiner's boot. But it was not to be. So far, the rally has cost Mike & Michelle a set of car keys (retrieved just in time), the Ford V8 manual (sitting smugly on the bedside table in London), a credit card (eaten by a cash machine in Beijing) and, most recently, a tent, coolant, drip sheet and the air filter (unceremoniously catapulted into the desert when the boot straps unlatched). After crossing the border between China and Mongolia, the real competition began."Cresting a hill, we spot an old truck tyre that has been left baking in the sand for years, burning fiercely. It's a signal from the marshals, along with their giant roof-top chequered flag, that this is the start of the competition." We're rooting for you Shiner!
30th May - Erenhot
From the vast open roads at the edge of the Gobi desert to the bustling concrete jungle, the Peking to Paris competitors (or most of them anyway) made it to Erenhot, the final city stop before the frontier yesterday afternoon. Last night was the final evening spent in true comfort before this evening, whereby the competitors will be setting up their tents at dusk for a night of wilderness camping in Mongolia. Shiner is holding up spectacularly despite a few minor glitches and made it into Erenhot in 10h18minutes along with several other top racers. Shiner says "Crossing the border tomorrow. Any guesses as to how long immigration will take from China to Mongolia?" Your guess is as good as ours!
29th May - And They're Off!
Last night, Michelle and Mike made it safely into Dahai in just 9h42minutes alongside several speedy competitors. Not without complications though - we hear that a few didn't make the start line and several more dropped off the route somewhere along the way! Shiner pushed through despite a day of tough navigation and an inaccurate tripmeter: ''Oil pressure rocketing. Stopped. Lifted bonnet. Closed it again. And made a wish'. We're holding off on contacting A&K Lifestyle Club just yet as we heard that Michelle and Mike made it to the grasslands…'Icy-cool air and a blazing sun. We love Shiner!'30th May- ErenhotFrom the vast open roads at the edge of the Gobi desert to the bustling concrete jungle, the Peking to Paris competitors (or most of them anyway) made it to Erenhot, the final city stop before the frontier yesterday afternoon. Last night was the final evening spent in true comfort before this evening, whereby the competitors will be setting up their tents at dusk for a night of wilderness camping in Mongolia. Shiner is holding up spectacularly despite a few minor glitches and made it into Erenhot in 10h18minutes along with several other top racers. Shiner says "Crossing the border tomorrow. Any guesses as to how long immigration will take from China to Mongolia?" Your guess is as good as ours!
24th May - Leaving London/Race to the rescue
"We do have the car keys, don't we?"
His look said it all. We were leaving for a near-8,000-mile motor rally and had forgotten the car keys.
We both jumped up out of our seats. "Let's go back to the flat."
There was a moment's hesitation. Would we then make the flight?
The train doors bleeped and shut. There was no turning back.
We arrived at Heathrow slightly dazed. As we rushed through check-in and security, we did what lots of people do in this situation (even when pushing the age of 40): we called our mums.
Me (cringing): "Mum, do you think you could go around to our flat and see if our car keys are there?"
Mike (cringing): "Mum, can you be on standby. I think the car keys might be in my office in Sussex."
Thankfully, the super-mums recovered the keys just in time to dispatch to the Endurorally association, so a happy ending to a tumultuous beginning. Next time Mike & Michelle need anything, no doubt A&K Lifestyle Club will be racing to their rescue instead!
The holiday was made by our guide, Adnan Duvenci. He was a constant source of good humour. He has left us with many highlights of our trip and introduced us to a wide variety of different experiences that have crowded into my mind since.
- KM, London
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