EH rules rally
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.