Day 30 Non driving day in Istanbul

Some competitors, like us, can really have a day of today. Others have to attend to their cars in a small or, for some, in a big way. A Volvo had an accident on the highway the day before and requires above par care.

Something’s OFF

Sunrise from the Asia part of Istanbul.

Day 29 Ankara to Istanbul

Quite a few tests today and relatively few highway kilometers. The scenery continues to amaze us. Many villagers keep bees. Some keep cows.

Some houses have known better times.

Day 28 Sivas to Ankara

A maximum temperature of 36 degrees, combined with hillclimbs is an interesting recipe for pre war cars. Quite a few have issues caused by overheated fuel. We are ok and have a good day, driving the 481 km with ease whilst drinking lots of water.

The scenery is amazing, just as most roads are.

Day 27, Erzurum to Sivas

500 km of Turkeys finest roads. Great driving! Some hills are covered with solar panels. Others with cows or sheep. Or just rocks and grass.

Day 26, Tblisi to Erzurum

Today we cross the border from Georgia to Turkey.

A 600 km ride through mostly green hilly countryside’s. Snow covered mountain peaks. The maximum altitude reached is 2.740 meters. Trucks need to wait a few days to cross, we are on the Turkey side in a few hours. An early morning test on gravel near Tbilisi gets our blood pumping. Woolfy is behaving well after yesterdays thorough repairs, so we enter a new country with high spirits.

Day 22 – 25 Azerbaijan and Georgia

Baku gives all cars time to be checked and experts flown in. We only need an oil change and manage the spark plugs and air filter change ourselves. Others need more maintenance. A lot of welding going on.

The dash through Azerbaijan gives us amazing views and challenging roads. One challenge two many leaving us stranded in.. well actually in the middle of nowhere. A considerable wait for the sweeps, surrounded by flies provides time to take in the environment, one of the u bolts that ties the rear axle to the left rear spring breaks at both ends. Luckily the sweeps can make a temporary fix with a weaker solution, allowing us to crawl the last 50 kilometers to the hotel. Ending in the dark and rain.

So much for only needing an oil change. Lessons learned. This rally really is tough on the car and jumping and racing over bumps and potholes will present you the bill one day.

The border crossing to Georgia takes only 4,5 hours and brings us, driving carefully on tarmac only, to Garage 142 in Tbilisi. Where a friendly and professional team gets us back on steam in no time. Including a tire change and fixing the just found play in the left steering house.

X-mas trees in Baku

Another 5 minute delay due to police pulling us over in Azerbaijan

Day 21, Aktau to Baku

Today we fly over the Caspian Sea to Baku. The week in Kazakhstan is already done and leave memories of kind people, vast expanse of desert and steppe, lots of dust and the occasional sighting of the proud symbol of Kazakhstan.

Day 20, Beyneu to Kuryk Port

The morning of the last camp starts with the most dusty roads so far. Visability only 40 meters as the wind somehow throws the dust right in the cabin from under the front wheels. 532 km of vastly empty scenes end in the port of Kuryk where we leave our cars to be shipped over the Caspian Sea.

Day 19, Akespe to Beyneu, camp 7

The day starts with dusty cars and clean crews. The temperature rises to close to 40 Celsius. Dust is everywere, from start to finish. A pop up petrol station provides just enough fuel to get us to the next official station 467 km further down the road. The jaguar arrives after dinner. 2 shock absorbers gave up and the delay results in an evening drive against the sun, sinking towards the west, with so much dust that a sip of beer is quite welcome. Some cars are really beaten but still plow through to Baku. Others gave in and need considerate repairs in Baku before they can continue.

Day 18, Qizilorda to Akespe, Camp 6

A nice long, hot and dusty day indeed. 589 km on sandy and rocky tracks. Total kilometers on tarmac: 0,4. The camp is guarded by camels. The hero support team take time to clean their underwear. In the evening we get a warm welcome and a fresh camel milk treat from local villagers. The La France makes it in time for dinner.

Day 17, Shymkent to Qizilorda

Lunch bags are ready at the chandelier studded hotel in Shymkent. Cars ready for another day of fun and sun.

We drive 3 long tests today, leading us through another day of sand and dust. 545 km brings us about halfway Kazakhstan and halfway our route from Peking to Paris. Along the way we see many well maintained and beautifully built Islamic grave sites. And vehicle undercarriage inspection stations. A stop at 1 such station learned that some more bolts and rubbers are missing in our undercarriage. Nu big issues, but something to keep an eye out for.

Day 16, Almaty to Shymkent

The day starts with a sandy offroad trial, followed by a rutted one. Some turns are easy to miss. 754 km take us to Shymkent. The Kazakh people are really friendly and show many thumbs up for our old cars. Even the local cowboys enjoy our pitstop at the gas station. And the scenery all day is mesmerizing.

Day 15, Almaty no driving day

Woolfy has no issues and gives us time to catch up on sleep, enjoy the spa in the hotel and listen to stories of others that have more car issues. Some have parts and assistance flown over to get the car ready for the race through Kazakhstan. Others make their own hands dirty and only need to call backup.

Day 14 Khorgos to Almaty

We are send out by a group of performers, led by a proud Uyghur.

The border crossing takes about 3 hours and gives time to contemplate on the first third of the rally.

It is tough on the cars, unimaginably so. Really everything that can be shaken loose, actually does sooner rather than later. Dust gets everywhere. The sun can be brutal, for cars and crew. But the scenery and the people we meet, the long hours of driving. Great sport indeed.

Uyghur lead dancer.

A car is being towed over the border for further repairs in Kazakhstan.

We are stopped by the Kazakh police within 30 minutes. Luckily only just for the boss to have his picture taken.

Kazakhs still are a people of horses.

The Charyn Canyon is quite impressive

Day 13 Forest park to Khorgos

This already is our last driving day in China. Total distance driven in China is over 5.500 kilometers. China has no time zones. The difference between sunrise in Beijing and Khorgos is about 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Views of Sailimu lake.

We take a horse, or the tunnel?

Highway G30 would have taken only 4246 km to drive from Beijing from Khorgos. Luckily we use more challenging roads most of the time.

Khorgos.

Day 12 Urumqi to Forest Park

Camp night 5 after 449 km through the desert. The wind is gone and only little rain. Locals at the camp, camaraderie and good food. We go to bed early for a long day ahead of us, starting before sunrise.

Day 11, Great sea road to Urumqi

The longest day so far with a 650 km ride throws a lot at us and starts in the middle of the national park. Great time to stop. Very hard on the cars with most kilometers on gravel.

Missing a turn on the highway adds another 50 kilometers offroad without any support, but with many sheep. Late arrival at the hotel. Just in time for a quick car wash.

China and the energy transistion.

In China most trucks are powered by LNG, a clean fuel. Even the numerous coal truck are LNG powered

There is a new noise we are just checking.

The road before lunch is muddy.

Day 10 Gobi to Great sea road

300 windy and rainy (at first) kilometers take us to an amazing natural park. The wind is too strong to build up the tents, so we get a shorter trip and a nice hotel instead. And an interesting evening splash through the park.

Day 9, Dunhang to Gobi

Great to be on the road again after a non driving day. 395 kilometers take us to camp 3, Extremely windy and dusty. The tents can only be setup after the car is parked on the windy side and the tent attached to the car. Some crews forget to remove the tent wires from the car before departure.

Test, rest & repair.

Sandstorm.

Day 8, Dunhang no driving day

No rest day indeed. The day starts at 08.00 with checking and cleaning the car. Play in one wheel makes us check all tyres. And relube them as all the lube has disappeared. Some bolts are missing and have to be replaced. Spark plugs changed. Within 5 hours and some proper assistance of our Belgian friends and the Hero crew, Woolfy is good to go. Other cars are not there yet. A lot of mending is required. Preventive and corrective maintenance. Welding, grinding, greasing, cleaning. All in a days work. At around noon the temperature is reaching way over 30 Celsius, With no riding wind to cool us down.

Day 7, Jiquan to Dunhang

This turns out to be the most offroad day so far. Including many hight meters, going up to 3500 meters. That proves to be quite a challange for most cars as the carburetors are set to higher air pressure. The lack of power is considerable.

And of course there is a test at a high altitude. The 478 km ride takes us along straight roads and many mountainous curves. Just the way we like it.

The roads and the scenery today are mesmerizing. We follow the ‘telegraph’ poles in the spirit of the first P to P in 1907

Woolfy is doing great and looking good in her natural habitat.

Most people we encounter are very friendly and interested to get to know what we are doing here. ‘Are you from Beijing?’ We are already over 2500 km west of Beijing and probably not many locals have ever been to the capital.

China is continuously working on improvement of roads. Luckily we are in time to use the gravel.

Today is a day full of great driving. And dust everywhere.

Day 6, Tengger Desert to Jiuquan

683 km, a long day with a few pitstops and many fast kilometers.

Day 5, Olon Bulag to Tengger Desert, second camp day

A mere 439 km takes us further in the desert. Scenic routes and great company on the road.

A scary moment when the cooling water pressure valve was activated. No harm done. Lessons learned: ‘don’t open the radiator when hot’.

Off road regularities.

The camp is a good spot for checking the cars and make sure the tape for the external fuel line holds.

Day 4, Ordos to Olon Bulag, 1st camp day

Arriving in the first camp before dark is manageable for all, but a few. After a 528 km drive. Some cars need to blow off steam well before the finish of the day.

The Chile taxi gets a bolt check.

local traffic.

The toilets are easy to get used to.

Don’t park in the rough.

First evening at the dunes is amazing. Film crew at work.

Tents, mending cars, camels and the likes.

Day 3, Hohhot to Ordos

Ordos, close to Dongsheng is the home of a famous bike racing track we get to put to good use. A few drive off the track, but no serious damages. Total distance of the day is 344 km. Another hot day, the last day before we have a long stretch through the Inner Mongolian desert.

Filling up the petrol tank with petrol can be a predicament. Some fuel stations have RON92 max, others go up to 95. This Bentley is accidentally toped off with diesel. After some delays, this ‘’lorry’’ is back underway.

Petrol can be redistributed with smaller ‘trucks’ to the ‘hinterland’.

The Chile taxi is back in the rally after a day of fixing the gearbox and trucked transport.

In rural China, the tricycle is the workhorse to go to. Especially when you work the lands. Which still mostly is manual labor.

We really are chasing the tracks of Prince Borghese as he surely must have been in our Olon hotel before.

Day 2 Datong to Hohhot

Hohhot is a structured city of 2.2 million people. We drive only 342 km the end is on a track in Hohhot. Much do we know it is a horse track. Lots of dust and spinning wheels. Great fun ending in dust everywhere.

The first fender bender is spotted. The old Ford is still good to go.

Remnants of the great Ming dynasty.

Racing the horse race track.

May 18 starting day, Peking to Datong

Alarm at 04.20 hours, leaving the hotel at 05.00 hours, all ready for the first day. We drive with a smal detour to the start at the Great Wall. Finish around 17.00 in Datong, after a few hours on the main road and a steep and dusty mountain pass.

Max temp at 37 Celsius, combined with dust and steep slopes allows for many forced stops to cool down the old engines. Woolfy has a electric fan that works as a charm today. Many cars are overheated. Also gearbox, alternator and suspension issues are causing havoc to the field of cars. The first day already proves it: to finish first, first you have to finish.

Total drive around 475 km. 2 much for our 2 tanks that combined carry 115 Litres of petrol. The first timed trials are ok and an easy start. Ali Pay works like a charm for all manned toll gates.

As expected the key of a high ranking is not to arrive late at time checks. This proves to be hard when taking time for some pictures every now and then. Including the La France on the roll, a dash to the Hanging Temple and a chat with a rugged local shepard on top of the mountain.

And 2 way traffic on small roads also does not help. Although many truck drivers are keen to reverse and make way. And film the crazy guys driving on their road in vintage cars.

Colorful start at the Great Wall, with my personal sweet dragon and some other great actors.

At the parking lot in the garage of the hotel, it seems that the fire fighting system has met the first cars head on, just before our arrival. The foam is still fluffy. Note to next hotels: Disconnect your CO2 alarm from the active fire fighting system before we park.

Final checks and packing, May 18 minus 1

Armed with the roadbooks, the navigators go and prepare for the first week. Many interesting challenges to be expected.

The drivers get to mend the cars. Time to get the local but ‘German quality’’ octane booster. And other fluids that were not allowed on board the car.

Some cars require a little additional love and attention after yesterdays tedious drive from the pickup place. Mending a leaking radiator here and replacing a brake servo there…

Some cars look amazing from all angles: Car no 2, the twin exhaust flat V8 1926 Caddy.

And some cars you just cannot stop looking at at all, even with a little China dust on them.

Pickup and scruiteneering, May 18 minus 2

Today first day on the road in Beijing China. All cars are parked in a specius circular hall. Car number 1 starts easy. Car number 2 requires a bit more pre start attention. Don’t you just love these century old cars? Ours took a jump starter due to flat battery. Fluids out and in the car. Filling the 5 liter tanks with 20W50, Petrol and cooling fluids.

First fill up at the gas station is something else. A number of cars are pulled to the station as they run out of gas within 5 km. Seems like somewhere down the line our cars tanks are emptied rather enthousiasticly. Lots of small technical issues on the first kilometers.

After 10 km a police officer stops us and 10 other competitors. Hi is on higher alert due to a foreign VIP visit to China. With assistance of the great HERO support we can continue after 1,5 hours.

Scruiteneering of the cars next to the hotel. All lights green.

Competitors breefing day, May 18 minus 3

All participants and the Hero Era crew in 1 room, Guided by Guy, our Clark of the course. All aspects of the rally are briefly touched. Staff is presented,

Including 4 doctors: ‘Don’t call us on the emergency line for a splinter, but we will help you at camp site’.

10 Mechanics: ‘focus on daily preventive maintenance and check loose bolts daily!’.

Route master: ‘beware, it is I linear route. If you fall behind, there are no shortcuts to catch up’.

Hospitality team:’ separate rooms based on availability only, no guarantees.’’.

Onther interesting quotes:

‘In west of China, only go to gas stations that are in the roadbook as only there you can get petrol. Guided by police, since our ID does not allow for petrol anywhere in the west of China, without local police support. Only Chinese locals can fill up provided they can show their ID.

‘We have a 70 meter river crossing on day 9 and expect the crossing to be about 40 centimeters deep and part of a regularity. 75% of the cars are expected to make it, others can try their luck or ask for a tow, resulting in a 5 minutes penalty.’

’We don’t have rest days, we only have non driving days’

’2 campsite teams of 100 personeel total with 16 vehicles will move 23 tonnes of equipment for the 7 campsite days’

We all are starting to feel the adrenaline pumping and are eager to go to pickup the cars and get going!

Peking duck day, May 18 minus 4

The ducks fly low in Bejing. Today is a rest day and day for shopping.

Driver’s license day, May 18 minus 5

1 hour by bus to go to a traffic police station where we are the first foreigners ever to obtain a Chinese driver’s license. The first intake takes about an hour, but the rest is considerably faster. Back to to hotel in time for a healthy Chinese dinner.

Sightseeing day, May 18 minus 6

Today is arrival day to the centre of the world. The top of the hill of Jingshan park is the centre of Beijing. North: Shouhuangdian palace, East, just behind the Guanmiao Pavilion, the Beijing business district, South: the forbidden palace, West leads to Paris.

P to P 1907 – 2024

This motor challenge is unique in the world. Following the wheel tracks of Prince Borghese and the other pioneers of 1907. Driving a pre war Bentley nearly half way around the world with 85 competitors. Against the clock. with many off road timed sections. This rally is the longest and toughest driving challenge for Vintage cars!

Borghese and his crew finishing first after 61 days in Paris.

The road from Peking to Paris was not always paved.. In Siberia a bridge collapsed from under the Itala, nearly finishing the race for Borghese.

Back in 1907 locals were of great help for the teams. Camaraderic support from locals and other crews still is what makes the P to P rally so special. As we intend to find out in the coming months.

Above photo’s curtesy of Louwman Museum.

The 2024 ride: Woolfy, the 1948 Bentley MK VI Justine Special

For this rally we want to drive a durable vintage convertible. One with presence and ample space for spare parts, tools and luggage. And fit for-the-purpose of driving many miles off tarmac. Obvious choice is the Bentley Justine Special from Belrose. A 1948 matching numbers Mark VI Bentley. Updated for long tough off road miles. At least that is what Franz from Belrose promises us. Follow Woolfy and her crew on this epic adventure through 9 countries in 5 weeks, driving 14.250 km.

Woolfy on her way to the 2023 Scottish Malts Hero Era rally, about to pass the Hadrian wall. An enjoyable test for car and crew.

The basis: Matching numbers Bentley Mark VI

This is the original body, with the factory supplied stitched chassis and 4 1/4 line six engine. Engine and chassis bolt and nut restored and enhanced whilst keeping all technical details original. Bar a few that we trust will come in handy on our way to Paris ;{) These pictures are from the extensive paper file of Woolfy and made by Belrose.

Spare parts

What to bring with you on a ride like this? What could possibly go wrong? Besides the obvious, like spare tires, plugs, filters etc. Heaviest spare part is a complete differential, packed in the box. You don’t want to be in the middle of the Mongolian Desert with a broken dif and no spare within a 5000 km radius!

Packing list

Every nook and cranny filled with parts and gear.

interesting links:

The 8th Peking to Paris

The above link brings you to the webpage of Hero-Era where you can check the list of cars and petrol heads that are scheduled to embark this epic journey with us. Choose Tab to find:

  • List of participants
  • The Route
  • Competitor Tracking
  • Rally Reports
  • Results
  • Competitor Blogs

Live location of all competitors cars. Woofly is car number 46

26 Comments

  1. Hugo Kampman

    Hoeveel reservebanden heb je bij je? Hoeveel procent is off road rijden?
    Gaaf avontuur, geniet ervan!

    Reply
    • Berend Groeneveld

      Hi Hugo, We bring 4 inner tubes, 2 outer tubes and 2 complete tire sets as spares. We expect only about 10% offroad driving. With close to 15000 km ride, this still amounts to 1500 km offroad. In an open car. Bad hair days are quite possible.

      Reply
    • Patrick Syen

      Succes Berend en Ellen🙏🏻👍. En opletten voor de Chinese putten en keien… wij duimen voor een goede en veilige Rallye 🤞👍

      Reply
      • Berend Groeneveld

        Thanks Patrick, we will do our very best to keep the shiny side up!

        Reply
  2. Gerrit Kasper

    Dit lijkt mij een geweldige uitdaging.

    Ik ben zeer benieuwd hoe het allemaal gaat verlopen.

    Reply
    • Berend Groeneveld

      Thanks Gerrit, wij ook😊😊😊

      Reply
    • Priscilla v Maurik

      Ontzettend veel plezier en succes toegewenst.
      Liefs Kapster Pris

      Reply
      • Lefki Moschona

        “It “s all about the Journey, they say and not the destination”, but i wish You enjoy both!! What a magic trip,with a unique car and special characters,like taken from a different era!
        Veel succes Berend en Ellen! Enjoy a safe trip. 🙏🧿

        Reply
  3. Andre van der Linden

    Mooie presentatie gezien van Ellen zonet. Super gaaf en heel veel plezier en veilige kilometers. Groetjes Andre en Mary-Ann

    Reply
  4. Marcel Naaktgeboren

    Heel veel plezier Berend en Ellen! Mooi avontuur, geniet ervan👌🏼

    Reply
    • Berend Groeneveld

      Thanks, we gaan dr voor!

      Reply
  5. Peter van Kruijsdijk

    Prachtig avontuur Berend en Ellen,
    Er zullen veel bolletjes en pijltjes nodig zijn om 15000 km te overbruggen. Veel succes en we kijken erg uit naar jullie blogs..
    Groet Peter

    Reply
  6. Henk Kraaijeveld

    Zo dan, das geen kattepis! Heel gaaf, mooie uitdaging, veel succes de komende tijd en hou ons een beetje op de hoogte hoe het gaat !

    Reply
  7. Rolf Vd Horst

    Succes en geniet er van !

    Reply
  8. Jeffrey

    Een mooie en veilige reis beiden! Geniet ervan!

    Reply
    • Berend Groeneveld

      Thanks!

      Reply
    • radi

      best day with best people

      Reply
      • Berend Groeneveld

        Thanks a million for the great support to get our car ready for the dash to Paros again, 3 cheers for all the Georgia Automobile Club supporters and Garage 142!

        Reply
  9. Barbara

    Héél veel plezier en veilige kilometers

    Reply
    • Berend Groeneveld

      Thanks Barbara, plenty of kilometers to be safe at😃

      Reply
  10. Raymond Schrik

    Geweldig!! Goeie reis en maximaal genieten!

    Reply
  11. Gerrit

    Prachtig om jullie zo te volgen en mooie foto’s Berend.

    Ellen moet wel aan de bak zag ik gezien haar handen.😂

    Reply
  12. Apple

    Half way already~ good pictures!

    Reply
    • Berend Groeneveld

      Thanks! 2 weeks driving all the way from west to east China were amazing!

      Reply
  13. radi

    bes day with best people

    Reply

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