Century old trike resurrected for 14,000km rally

Riley Riley

A 112-year-old three-wheel car is set to take part in the 14,000km Peking to Paris race.

It’s almost identical to the Mototri Contal that took part in the first race held way back in 1907.

Back then five competitors accepted the seemingly impossible challenge.

One of them was a French three-wheeled Mototri Contal piloted by an ambitious duo, Frenchman Auguste Pons and Oscar Foucauld.

Unfortunately the race didn’t go as planned for them and they became stranded in the Gobi Desert.

They nearly died and the Contal is still out there covered by sand somewhere.

Mototri Contal brochure

Fast forward and Anton Gonnissen, 58, a successful architect from Sint-Martens-Latem near Ghent in Belgium will attempt to rewrite history by starting the 2019 Peking Paris Rally in a rebuilt Mototri Contal.

Inspired by the story that almost cost Pons and his co-driver Foucauld their lives, Anton Gonnissen set about acquiring an original Mototri Contal.

He reached out to many for support and all, including the Rally Director of the Endurance Rally Association, and all of them asked if he was mad.

But Gonnissen is anything but mad.

He’s a modern day adventurer who has finished three Dakars, four Rallies of Egypt, and one UAE desert rally variously in car, truck and on a quadbike.

He is taking this bold venture very seriously and intends to make the impossible journey possible, using all his experience from his previous adventures.

Some improvements have been made to the chassis of the rebuilt Mototri Contal, along with the wheels and engine, although, as the original Mototri Contal had no rear suspension and only crude springing still on the front.

The navigator will sit over the front axle, perched out front in what has long been christened the ‘suicide seat’, or as the French said: ‘le tue belle-mère’.

Brave navigator, Belgian Herman Gelan, an interior architect from Ghent, will be in that seat.

Herman is an accomplished triathlon and marathon runner, a passion he shares with Anton.

But this will be his first motor sport event, he is a total novice.

Anton Gonnissen will be behind him steering the trike from over the rear wheel for 36 days and 13,840 km aiming to finish in Paris six weeks later.

The only concession to comfort for the endurance rally specialist from Belgium is a Harley Davidson saddle in place of the original bottom crusher.

Starting June 2, 115 car enthusiasts will competing in what has been billed as the greatest classic motoring event in the world.

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