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
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.