EH rules rally

NT News - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE - By MARK HINCH­LIFFE

HIS­TORIC Aus­tralian au­to­mo­tive en­gi­neer­ing has eclipsed the world’s car mak­ers with a stun­ning dis­play in the an­nual Pek­ing to Paris Mo­tor Chal­lenge.

A stripped-down and re­built 1964 EH Holden driven by Matthew Bryson, 38, and Gerry Crown, 78, scored an out­right win in the 37-day transcontinental rally.

‘‘It is re­mark­able how 37 days of ral­ly­ing can make you work,’’ said Bryson a vet­eran for­est and en­durance rally driv­ers.

‘‘We re­ally had to work hard to win, there was some bril­liant op­po­si­tion but when things aren’t easy, it makes the win more valu­able.’’

The EH was com­pet­ing against an ex­otic ar­ray of clas­sic ma­chin­ery in­clud­ing the old­est com­peti­tor, a 1907 Itala and the youngest, a 1972 Hill­man Hunter-Peykan.

Of the 96 ve­hi­cles that started the rally, only 83 fin­ished.

‘‘The EH Holden was fan­tas­tic,’’ Bryson said.

‘‘It was a trib­ute to Aus­tralian en­gi­neer­ing.

‘‘We went through the whole rally with only a few small prob­lems — we holed a ra­di­a­tor, a head­light stopped work­ing and we got wa­ter in the fuel tank from bad fuel.

‘‘We didn’t have one punc­ture while oth­ers had over 30 flats and had to have tyres flown in.

‘‘Some cars had mas­sive prob­lems and there were a lot of ac­ci­dents with lo­cals be­cause any- one can drive there and it’s pretty wild on the road.’’

The Doric Rac­ing-pre­pared EH was also cam­paigned in the 1997 rally by Matthew’s fa­ther, John, co-driv­ing with Crown.

It won its clas­sic cat­e­gory and fin­ished sec­ond out­right.

Bryson said Crown shared the driv­ing with him un­til the 78-year-old hurt his hand and couldn’t change gears.

‘‘Gerry’s quite fit and he’s still ex­tremely com­pet­i­tive,’’ he said. ‘‘With him, age is just a num­ber.’’

The orig­i­nal Pek­ing to Paris Mo­tor Chal­lenge was run in 1907 as the first transContinental mo­tor-rally.

Only five cars set out from Pek­ing and all but one com­pleted the jour­ney to Paris.

It was not held again un­til 1997.

The gru­elling 2010 event left Bei­jing on Septem­ber 10, pass­ing through China, Mon­go­lia, Kaza­khstan, Uzbek­istan, Iran, Turkey, Greece, Italy and France be­fore ar­riv­ing in Paris last month.

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