Beijing-Paris in a Ferrari 308 GT4: Novosibirsk pit stop

Giorgio Schön and Enrico Guggiari are dealing with lots of thrills and minor accidents along the way. First logbook from one of the world's most spectacular car races

Home road Beijing-Paris in a Ferrari 308 GT4: Novosibirsk pit stop
Beijing-Paris in a Ferrari 308 GT4: Novosibirsk pit stop

Saturday 15 June was to be a rest day for Giorgio Schön and Enrico Guggiari in Novosibirsk, the Trans-Siberian transport hub, with an annual average temperature of zero degrees, although currently cool but pleasant. "But instead I've been working on the car since 8 am - says Guggiari, nevertheless very satisfied -. So far it has held up very well, but we have improved it a bit together with a Rossocorsa mechanic, who came here for this purpose".

It's now been two weeks since the pair, born in 1946 and 1947, experienced businessmen and drivers, left Beijing and set off for Paris in a Ferrari 308 GT4 of 1975 with Pirelli tyres. They are accompanied by over 100 crews in classic cars, in what everyone considers to be one of the world's most spectacular endurance races. This incredible odyssey didn't start very well. "We lost the first two days due to a physical problem of mine, a kidney stone - recalls Guggiari, today fully recovered - otherwise now we could be among the leaders". Instead, I'm in the middle of the standings, but the experience is going great. "In Mongolia the special stages were very difficult. We had to go at an average speed of 80 km/h on roads that were uneven and impossible to read. But the landscapes we've been through are spectacular, authentic, pristine and tourist-free". He has few doubts about the best bit: "The Gobi Desert, incredible, beautiful colours. There were these valleys with snowy mountains at the bottom, really spectacular. Although, it's cold sleeping in a tent!"

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The Ferrari is doing very well for now, like the Pirelli Scorpion Atr tyre, ideal for the difficult terrain encountered so far. In Europe, Schön and Guggiari will mount the CN36 Pirelli Collezione, the same model used in the days of the 308 GT4, perfect for asphalt roads, where they will try to make up for the delay accumulated in the first few days. Currently they're crossing Kazakhstan, then they'll return to Russia again. Century old cars feature in the Beijing-Paris, but Ferrari exerts an unparalleled fascination everywhere.

Misadventures are the order of the day: "Something crazy always happens - continues Guggiari, who is struggling but having a whale of a time on the trip –. A crew that had stopped to change a tyre lost it in a stream, while another driver decided to take a short cut and cross a river: I think he stayed in it for two days with the car". All this is normal for a race that first took place in 1907 and has now become a 40-day party: "The people we meet are all very sociable, they are happy to welcome us, a lovely atmosphere. In Russia, with the end of school, the children were all out in the streets. We had a lot of parties.

My relationship with Schön works perfectly, despite the many hours spent together, in stressful and difficult situations: "We're both a little deaf and the car makes a lot of noise: that helps for sure," jokes Guggiari. The other day in Novokuznetst the Ferrari 308 GT4 didn't start, so to get through the first time check dozens of Russians literally needed to give us a push. There are still many miles to go, but everyone is pushing Giorgio Schön, Enrico Guggiari and their Ferrari to the finish line in Paris on 7 July, at Place Vendôme. They can hardly fail to get there.

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