A 112-year-old, three-wheeled motorcycle is set to take on the 2019 Peking to Paris Motor Challenge, aiming to finish an 8600-mile marathon it started in 1907, and Newspress Creative will be on hand to track its progress on this classic endurance event.
First run in 1907, the Peking to Paris (P2P) event was initially undertaken by five intrepid crews, who had answered an advert in the French newspaper Le Matin inviting entrants to prove that with a motor car, man could go anywhere.
Of the five crews, only one did not finish, that of two Frenchmen riding a Mototri Contal three-wheeler. The pair were overcome by the conditions in the desert and, having drunk the water from the three-wheeler’s radiator, abandoned their machine to the desert sands and returned to Peking on foot, risking death in the process.
112 years later, the rally has become a world-famous event, now run by the Historic Endurance Rally Organisation and the Endurance Rally Association. Taking place from the 2nd June to 7th July, this year’s event will see 120 crews battling the conditions in an eclectic mixture of historic vehicles, and none more so than the Mototri Contal belonging to the European crew of Anton Gonnissen and Herman Gelan. Although this partnership will be aboard the same machinery as that used in 1907, they have Paris set firmly within their sights.
Gonnissen is an experienced rally competitor, who has taken part in three Paris-Dakars, four Rally-of-Egypts and one UAE desert rally, behind the controls of a car, a truck and a quadbike respectively. For navigator Gelan, however, this will be his first experience of an endurance rally event.
It will be a baptism of fire. The three-wheeler’s suspension is notable in that it doesn’t have any, and same goes for the bodywork, where none exists. Gelan will find himself seated at the very front of the vehicle in a wicker chair (also known as a suicide seat) with his pilot seated directly behind him above the motor. The one concession to comfort is the fitting of a modern seat from a Harley-Davidson motorcycle in place of the harder original and, in a small nod towards safety, the bike’s frame has been mildly strengthened in key areas by structural engineers at the University of Ghent.
Newspress Creative has worked with HERO on the distribution of this amazing story and, as committed fans of historic motoring, will be following the progress of all competitors on the Peking to Paris Motor Challenge throughout.
For news of the team and how they are progressing, check our website for updates or, for those seeking daily updates of the exploits, thrills and spills of this bold pair, keep an eye on Anton’s blog here.