The big finish

The big finish

Before I hand the blog back to Tim I really wanted to write a final post about our weekend in Paris and the final day of their amazing adventure.

We arrived in the Place Vendome just before 12pm and the finsh line was all set-up with a tape in place to keep the spectators out of the way of the cars as they passed the line and went round the square to park-up. We enjoyed nearly an hour of a particularly officious gendarme shouting at everyone to move back from the tape. To be honest it’s not suprising that he was getting a bit stressed as everyone just politely ignored him.

It was a somewhat charged atmosphere as we waited, as like us, most of the crowd had a personal reason to be there. Everyone went wild as the first car came through and it was such a pleasure to see the car piled with family members in addtion to the crew. Their delight at not only completing and winning this gruelling journey but being able to share the moment with their loved ones was clear to see.

We went down the other side of the Place Vendome to try and catch Tim and Julie as they approached the finsh line. The boys were really anxious about whether or not Benson was going to make it. My phone wasn’t working so we didn’t know for sure that the temporary repairs had actually held out to Paris.

Then they appeared round the corner, Benson looking far smarter than we had expected, Tim and Julie beaming from ear to ear. It was just so fantastic to witness them complete this incredible challenge they set themselves more than 2 years ago (and possibly never quite believed they would actually complete).

With characterisitc kindness and generosity they invited Freddy and Henry to join them in the car to cross the actual finish and I can honestly say that I have never seen either of them look so thrilled. Tim wearing the required silly hat (borrowed from Hugo) and a look of quiet disbelief as Benson nosed over the line. Julie looking typically beautiful and elegant despite 6 weeks of really hard travelling!

What an astonishing achievement for them both. Most of us might have heard about the rally, toyed with the idea over a bottle of wine and then woke-up the next morning and never done anything about it. Not Tim and Julie who had the idea and made it a reality – no soft start rallying for these guys – it was right in at the long distance deep end. It’s really hard to express without sounding patronising how incredibly proud we all are – congratulations on a good job very well done!

Tim as both driver and mechanic has done a stunning job of keeping Benson going with so few traumas over such an outrageously long distance. Julie has navigated them through desserts, mountains and plains with few mistakes and little or no real help from her monkey assistant.

So some champagne to soften the edges, a fantastic dinner to celebrate their successful return and a luxury bed for the last night of Peking to Paris 2010 – the Intercontinental must have seemed like heaven after some of their more recent resting places. The good cheer and camaraderie between all of the participants was genuinely touching – many of these are doubtlessly life long friendships.

I have really enjoyed blogging for them for the duration of the rally but now it’s back to them. I think that their plan is to add a new section to the blog as a Post Rally review once they have had a few days to digest everything they’ve experienced.

I hope Tim and Julie won’t mind my final words being a reminder that they funded this whole crazy road trip themselves and that every penny of the money they raise will go direct to the Angus Lawson Memorial Trust. If you’ve enjoyed the blog and haven’t yet done so please make a donation by clicking on the Charity Sponsorship link on the left of this page.

Thanks for reading – Clare xx

Day 37 Sat 16th Oct – Troyes to Paris (France) – 200 km

Day 37   Sat 16th Oct – Troyes to Paris   (France)  – 200 km


A message from Julie:

So there we were, screaming down the champs elysee surrounded by our fellow competitors, horns blasting and lines of people clapping us on. What a feeling!!!!!!

Our nephews, Freddy and Henry, jumped into Benson to navigate us across the finishing line and make the most of the photo opportunity.

I wish they had been there to navigate us to our hotel.

Will write more tomorrow. Wanted to let you know WE DID IT!!!!!!


Morning. Final day, and Julie has just emailed to say Benson is running like a dream this morning. He must know he’s almost there too!

Here is the rest of her message:

Benson  struggled to get to the hotel last night. We kept on having to stop as he was making strange noises. At the hotel Tim discovered that the whole handbrake assembly had fallen to bits and was rattling around in the drum. Also another  split rim failed catastropically so Tim was working on the car until 9:00 pm. Benson is making sure we know how much we have put him through!

Damp day with drizzle. Roof down and Julie wrapped in sleeping bag as has been the norm. Cannot believe we only have 190 km to go out of 14000!  We are being held back for entry to the finish line so that we can go in car order. We are car no 35. Our better position having been sacriced to get over borders and preserve Benson.

Good luck with the last day Tim, Julie and Benson. We are looking forward to seeing you all.

Day 36 Fri 15th Oct – Aix les Bains to Troyes (France) – 440 km

Day 36   Fri 15th Oct – Aix les Bains to Troyes   (France)  – 440 km

Spitting distance. Hello, Tim and Julie’s brother in law Will posting this. Clare has left with Fred and Henry for France. She has an early start tomorrow to get the train to Paris, so spent the day looking over Dover Castle with the boys. They are all very excited about seeing Tim, Julie and Benson. Anyway, apologies for that brief break in our programming. Here is the latest update from Julie:

Last few kms are proving to be difficult. We finally arrived last night at after 9:00 pm having taken about 2 1/2 hours to repair our accident. Benson is on his last legs. He has done so well, mostly down to Tim’s meticulous preparation which has taken over 18 months. But he is old and the difficult driving has taken its toll. We are taking it easy but it is not wothout its dramas. 100 km to go on the penultimate day and the engine just died on us. Fortunately we were able to determine problem (we actually equals Tim) and reconnected the neg from the coil to the distributor and are now on our way. 80 clicks to go.

Not again?! Benson gives up the ghost (sorry for the squashed image - if I can get a better one I'll replace it.
Not again?! Benson gives up the ghost (sorry for the squashed image - if I can get a better one I'll replace it.

Earlier on today we came across Richard and James in car 66, yet again roadside. Car 66 had broken down 12 km outside Beijing and richard and James have spent quite a lot of time woith their car on a trailer. Two days ago they had an oil pressure problem. Trailer again. This morning they were finally on the move only to be hit hard from behind by another rally car.  The whole of the bodywork was hanging off the back.  We spent about an hour using rope and spare aluminium sheets “taping” the back together.  Then duck tape was used to hide all the marks from the police as very dubious as to whether the car is roadworthy. Well it isn’t!  No back lights. Car 66 with its tape and  rope best signifies what we have all been through. We are all limping the last few km.

Workshop located for welding

Workshop located for welding

They have now found a workshop to do the welding. Don’t mind admitting there was a moment there when the possibility of them not making it to Paris made me cry. I don’t care if that’s lame to get teary over an old motor doing some miles but after everything they’ve been through in the last 5 weeks it just seemed too awful.

Workshop located for welding
Workshop located for welding

I told Freddy when I got to school and he just smiled and said it wasn’t a problem. When I asked him why he was so sure he just shrugged and said “Uncle Tim will find an answer because he always does”. You’ve got to appreciate that kind of blind faith!

Great news – back on the road

Great news – back on the road

Text from Julie 15.38 (sorry couldn’t re-post immediately – school run)!

The arrival of possible saviours
The arrival of possible saviours
The moment of truth - will it hold water?
The moment of truth - will it hold water?

The radiator is holding water and should last till Paris and they are now on their way to find a welder.

Julie has asked me to post that she loves Simon, Bill, Robert and Allan. Yes all of them!!!!!