Two Crazy Belgians Are Planning To Drive This Three-Wheeler From Peking To Paris
One hundred and twelve years ago, in 1907, this Mototri Contal three-wheeler set out on the first ever Peking to Paris race, an 8600-mile journey across some of the world’s most hostile terrain. You might not be surprised to hear that it didn’t go well; running behind the other four cars–a Dutch Spyker, two French Dion Boutons and an Italian Itala–the Contral failed in the Gobi Desert. Driver Auguste Pons and navigator Oscar Foucauld ended up drinking the water out of the radiator, before starting the long walk back to Peking in fierce heat. They were lucky to survive.
The Contal is still in the Gobi Desert somewhere, buried in the sand, but now there’s a brave (ok, mad) plan to drive a similar Mototri Contral three-wheeler in the 2019 Peking to Paris rally. Architect Anton Gonnissen from Sint-Martens-Latem near Ghent in Belgium and Herman Gelan, an interior architect from Ghent, will set off from Peking on June 2. Navigator Gelan will be perched out front in the “suicide seat”, with Gonnissen behind him steering the trike from over the rear wheel. He’ll be sat on a Harley Davidson saddle, the only concession to comfort; there is no rear suspension and only crude springing still on the front.
Gonnissen has finished three Dakar rallies, four Rallies of Egypt, and one UAE desert rally variously in cars, trucks and on a quadbike but this will be Gelan’s first ever motorsport event. The Contral has been kept close to original condition, though minor improvements have been made to the chassis, wheels and engine following a structural test by Ghent University. The pair will drive the three-wheeler for 36 days, aiming to finish in Paris on July 7. The rally is organised by the Endurance Rally Association, part of the HERO organisation.
Images courtesy of HERO