Epic floods claimed numerous four-wheeled casualties at the start of the Peking to Paris Rally yesterday.
Departing from the Great Wall of China, the 96 competitors were faced with a torrent of water, which claimed the 1960 3.4-litre Jaguar Mk2 of Dutch crew Willem and Ellen Vermeule. The car had to be pushed clear.
Fellow Jaguar team Daniel and Alexandra Spadini were even less lucky in their 1959 MkI as water got into the engine, causing it to bend two conrods.
Other casualties included a 1938 Chevrolet Fangio Coupe that suffered from an exploding (over-charged) battery and a 1928 Packard Phaeton, which ended the day on the back of a lorry after losing oil pressure.
The 1974 Citroën DS23, of Australians Bob Sherrard and Peter Washington, was in rude health, however. Its clever suspension allowed the team to glide over the rough terrain, while simultaneously keeping the car’s mechanicals well clear of the water.
The Australian team of Gerry Crown and Matt Bryson also seemed in its element driving a 1973 Leyland P76 V8, a previous Classic category winner.
As predicted, vintage machines – with their rugged construction and ‘wheel at each corner’ design – fared well, too, with Mani Dubb and Robi Huber’s 1932 Rockne Six 750 seeming particularly at home in the tough conditions.
Keep up to date with the competitors’ progress on the event’s website.