Hi­malayan Chal­lenge

Brits take the top hon­ours in one of the world’s most spec­tac­u­lar clas­sic ad­ven­tures – a three-week trek into the foothills of Mount Ever­est

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - THIS WEEK - Im­ages by Ger­ard Brown

This 21-day rally for pre-1976 cars took 40 clas­sics onto some of the most chal­leng­ing roads any­where on earth – with a big con­tin­gent of ve­hi­cles en­tered by Brits.

Michael Ve­lasco and Aus­tralian co-driver Peter St Ge­orge won the event’s clas­sic car cat­e­gory in their 1971 Mer­cedes-Benz 280S, hav­ing faced land­slides, storms and road clo­sures en route.

Fel­low UK en­trants Nigel Lee and Richard Turner also took vic­tory in the event’s Vin­tageant class, aimed at 1932-47 cars, with their 1938 Ford 62, while Lu­dovic Bois and Ju­lia Col­man, driv­ing a 1969 Volvo Ama­zon, won the class for 1947-75 cars with sub­2000cc en­gines.

While the rally missed out on the higher al­ti­tude roads af­ter heavy rain washed away bridges along the orig­i­nal route, par­tic­i­pants did have to make their way across the ex­tremely nar­row Rai­son Bridge af­ter the En­durance Rally As­so­ci­a­tion put to­gether an al­ter­na­tive.

John Spiller, clerk of the course, said: ‘This was al­ways planned as a chal­leng­ing event, we knew that the land­scape and ter­rain would be the things to beat, but we were thrown a curve ball with the most test­ing set of cir­cum­stances on an ERA event since 1997. I’ve been im­pressed with how the crews have risen to this chal­lenge and taken ev­ery­thing in their stride with un­fail­ing good hu­mour and com­mon sense.’

Daniel Spa­dini and Ravi Venkat­acha­lam found the hy­drop­neu­matic sus­pen­sion of their Citroën DS a big help on the rut­ted roads lead­ing into the Hi­malayan foothills. Roland Singer and Hans Malus took things very care­fully when travers­ing the nar­row Rai­son Bridge in their 1966 Saab 96. Michael Ve­lasco said that pi­lot­ing this 1971 Mer­cedes-Benz 280S was a chal­lenge, even with­out the higher roads orig­i­nally in­tended for the event. The old­est car tak­ing part in the Hi­malayan Chal­lenge was this 1925 Bent­ley 4.5-litre, en­tered by British clas­sic fans Bill Cleyn­dert and Jac­qui Nor­man.

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