It was back in 1997 when I was working as a news journalist in Beijing that I first heard about the Peking-to-Paris Motor Challenge, one of the longest and toughest rallies undertaken in a classic car. The very first race had taken place in 1907 and was entirely off-road; participants travelled without passports or maps. The prize then was a magnum of champagne — as it is today. It sounded like my kind of race.
It was over fifteen years before I found a co-driver and a car. Mike Reeves and I bought the rolling shell of a 1940 Ford Coupé and set about preparing for the 33-day race from the Great Wall of China to the French capital. We named our car Shiner after the bootleggers who used this fast and strong vehicle to transport moonshine.
We crossed the Gobi Desert, the Mongolian grasslands and the Russian Steppes before we met the Urals and travelled into Europe. After a tough traverse of the Swiss Alps, we motored onwards to Paris along the Champs-Élysées and into the Place Vendôme – placed third.
During the rally, I wrote regular articles for The Daily Telegraph and blogged for their website. I also produced four short TV features on the rally for BBC World News, which were collated together into a half-hour special, which you can view here: Peking2paris2013.com.
About the author – Michelle Jana Chan
Michelle Jana Chan is a London-based journalist who works as a BBC presenter, and writer for The Daily Telegraph, The Wall Street Journal, Condé Nast Traveller and Tatler. Her adventures include summiting Mt Blanc, swimming across the Bosphorus, ice-driving in Lapland and sailing across the Great Australian Bight on the tall ship HMB Endeavour. She is planning to enter the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles in 2016, a women-only off-road rally in the Sahara. Michelle tweets at @michellejchan