Two long-time Hong Kong residents, Vincent Duhamel and Jean Mouret, are going to drive from Beijing to Paris for 36 days with the aim of raising funds for the Asian University for Women (AUW).
Starting on Sunday, the duo will be using a 1941 Chevrolet business coupe, called Boomba, which has undergone complete restoration for the 13,695-kilometer car rally.
“We are classic car enthusiasts and collectors,” Mouret told EJ Insight in an interview. “It’s exciting that we can enjoy driving from one continent to another.”
Mouret said when he was young, he had participated in car rallies with his father.
Duhamel said the idea of driving across Asia and Europe came up three years ago when he and Mouret travelled from London to Paris back and forth frequently.
He said they started to prepare to join the rally, which is organized by The Endurance Rally Association for the sixth time, two years ago.
“We do this because of our personal curiosity, interest in cars and roads of Asia, as well as the opportunity to raise awareness for the Asian University for Women,” Duhamel said.
Mouret said the only argument between them was about how to equip their car as he wants to modify the car to boost endurance while Duhamel prefers to keep the car’s original structure.
“The argument did not last long,” Duhamel said. “We completely took the car apart and rebuilt it in a way that it has become much more solid and robust to make it through the rally.”
“We want to keep the original state of the car but we have to be realistic,” Mouret said, adding that they don’t want their car to break down in Mongolia just two days after the departure.
Now in its sixth year, “The Greatest Motoring Adventure – Peking to Paris 2016″ race starts at the Great Wall outside Beijing on Sunday.
Its route will take participants through northern Mongolia, into Russia and across Europe with closed-road mountain climbs in the Alps.
The AUW is an independent, international university based in Bangladesh which seeks to educate a new generation of female leaders in Asia by granting full scholarships to low-income women with potential from across the region.
Founded in 2008, AUW currently has about 500 students enrolled from 15 countries.
Duhamel is currently head of Asia at Lombard Odier while Mouret is the founder and chairman of Landa Ltd.
Mouret said he does not anticipate big danger on the road, except probably drunk drivers in Russia.
“My wife is used to my crazy activities and has accepted them. She is so supportive,” he said, adding that it was heartwarming that his wife cooked for him while he was preparing the car.
Duhamel also said his family is very supportive, and he will miss them for sure — it’s the first time he will be separated from his wife for five long weeks.
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