Paris, the Contal speech.

“Ladies and Gentlemen of the 7th Peking to Paris 2019,

Thomas, Patrick… organisers and crew… my fellow competitors, Herman and Peggy… my beloved wife Inge…

More men have walked on the moon then drove a tricycle from Peking to Paris. History has been written. August Pons and Oscar Foucauld set out 112 years ago to try to drive the impossible and they failed. Today it has been tracked, it has been traced, it has been noted by the officials and you, my fellow competitors, you have witnessed it on the first row, Herman and I did just that. We drove the whole distance, every kilometer, without being on a truck, without being towed, on three wheels, one cilinder, no suspension in the back, chain driven.

Have we done this alone, no way!

I need to thank a lot of people, starting with the organisation. Guy, Chris, John, Alan and the whole crew did everything they legally could to help us to the finish. The sweepers were a blessing in red cars and special thanks goes to Bob, Tony and Skippy who always seemed to be on the exact spot where we needed them. You, the competitors were ever so enthousiast in cheering us forward. In the beginning a bit hesitating but once through Mongolia your encouragements were essential to us. Especialy the female competitors who kept calling us heroes were important for us. In the end Herman and I started to believe them, something our wives will surely correct in the coming weeks. 

Two special thanks are essentialy important and one goes to the Belgian Family Leblon. Without them we would not stand on this podium. Rudy, Els and Joren have given it their best to build a Contal that could resist all challenges, which it did. the second special thank you goes to… Herman Jr Gelan. From this day on, his name will never be ‘Bumper Herman’ or ‘Airbag Herman’ any more. From this day on the Herminator will be called: Herman the brave, Herman the couragous. Ruler of the World Roads, Protector of the Front Seat. 

A last thank you goes to Inge, the love of my life, for NOT accepting my offer to be my co-pilot for this trip. She probably saved our marriage with it. 

A lot of you called the Herminator and myself heroes on this trip. But if you think about it… 6 races have taken place from Peking to Paris, let’s say 100 cars each time, equals 1200 competitors of which, let’s say about 200 didn’t make it… So that makes 1000 persons on a about 8 billion in this world that made it from Peking to Paris, who drove the impossible… I can only conclude we are all heroes… that we are one big family of heroes. So repeat after me: “we are one big family of heroes…”

A last thing I have to do now is find the grave of August Pons and leave this trophy behind on it. There is no doubt in my mind that August Pons was the bravest P2P’er that ever existed. That he was the bravest of us all. 

Thank you and good night, enjoy Paris!”