2006 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Paris to Beijing 1 - Paris to St. Petersburg

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W XYZ

 

1280x960 wallpaper

1280x960 wallpaper

1280x960 wallpaper

1280x960 wallpaper

1280x960 wallpaper

1920x1440 wallpaper

1920x1440 wallpaper

1920x1440 wallpaper

1920x1440 wallpaper

1920x1440 wallpaper

1280x960 wallpaper

1280x960 wallpaper

1280x960 wallpaper

1280x960 wallpaper

1280x960 wallpaper

1920x1440 wallpaper

1920x1440 wallpaper

1920x1440 wallpaper

1920x1440 wallpaper

1920x1440 wallpaper

1280x960 wallpaper

1280x960 wallpaper

1280x960 wallpaper

1280x960 wallpaper

1280x960 wallpaper

1920x1440 wallpaper

1920x1440 wallpaper

1920x1440 wallpaper

1920x1440 wallpaper

1920x1440 wallpaper

1280x960 wallpaper

1280x960 wallpaper

1280x960 wallpaper

1280x960 wallpaper

1280x960 wallpaper

1920x1440 wallpaper

1920x1440 wallpaper

1920x1440 wallpaper

1920x1440 wallpaper

1920x1440 wallpaper

1024x768 wallpaper

1280x960 wallpaper

1024x768 wallpaper

1280x960 wallpaper

1280x960 wallpaper

1600x1200 wallpaper

1920x1440 wallpaper

1600x1200 wallpaper

1920x1440 wallpaper

1920x1440 wallpaper

1280x960 wallpaper

1280x960 wallpaper

1024x768 wallpaper

1280x960 wallpaper

1280x960 wallpaper

1920x1440 wallpaper

1920x1440 wallpaper

1600x1200 wallpaper

1920x1440 wallpaper

1920x1440 wallpaper

1280x960 wallpaper

1280x960 wallpaper

1280x960 wallpaper

1280x960 wallpaper

1280x960 wallpaper

1920x1440 wallpaper

1920x1440 wallpaper

1920x1440 wallpaper

1920x1440 wallpaper

1920x1440 wallpaper

1280x960 wallpaper

1024x768 wallpaper

1280x960 wallpaper

1024x768 wallpaper

1280x960 wallpaper

1920x1440 wallpaper

1600x1200 wallpaper

1920x1440 wallpaper

1600x1200 wallpaper

1920x1440 wallpaper

1280x960 wallpaper

1280x960 wallpaper

1280x960 wallpaper

1280x960 wallpaper

1280x960 wallpaper

1920x1440 wallpaper

1920x1440 wallpaper

1920x1440 wallpaper

1920x1440 wallpaper

1920x1440 wallpaper

(from DaimlerChrysler Press Release)  Long-Distance Drive Paris–Beijing 2006 / Day 1 - Tour Start in the Shadow of the Eiffel Tower

• 80 drivers from 20 countries on their way to St. Petersburg
• First day’s leg over 663 kilometres to Stuttgart
• Weather: changeable, 15-20 degrees Celsius

Stuttgart, 21.10.2006 – The official starting shot for the E-Class long distance drive from Paris to Peking was fired off today in Paris. The first day’s drive took the 36 diesel saloons over the first of a total of eight state borders on the way to Stuttgart. The day ended at the new Mercedes-Benz Museum in the capital of Baden Württemberg after around seven hours driving time and a total of 663 kilometres.

At 9.30 a.m. this morning, Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of DaimlerChrysler AG and Head of Mercedes Car Group, personally signalled the start of the race for the car fleet with the flag. Numerous friends, fans and spectators were gathered at the Champs de Mars below the Eiffel Tower, in order to see the international team start on the first of a total of 25 daily driving stretches. The 36 Mercedes-Benz E-Class saloons sporting a variety of country flags also included two taxis, which will accompany the race during the whole way to Beijing. For the two Paris taxi drivers, Guy Lebreton and Serge Tognoni, who have chauffeured guests through the French capital for nearly 60 years, the 3550 kilometre drive to the destination of the first leg in St. Petersburg will be by far the longest tour of their professional careers. During the midday stop in Nancy, the taxi meter already showed a price of 579 Euro after the nearly 400 kilometre drive. “My longest drive was from Paris to Madrid and cost 1500 US dollars“, reminisced Guy Lebreton. “The passenger, a Colombian, was obviously in a great hurry.“
In contrast, the 80 participants from 20 countries comprising the peloton for the first leg to Russia, went into the day in a relaxed mood after their long drive to the starting line. The record for the longest distance travelled to the race was claimed by four journalists from Japan with their 13-hour flight from Tokyo. “I am very happy to be here“, said Sei Murakami, Editor of the technical magazine ”Engine“. “The route goes through so many extraordinary and historic locations, I am a very lucky man!“
Unique Venue for Intercultural Exchange

The start of the race was preceded by an evening celebration at ”Automobile Club de France“, the oldest automobile club in the world. One of the founding members of the club, created in 1895, was French automobile pioneer Albert de Dion, who was also among the initiators of the long-distance race Beijing–Paris in 1907. During cocktails in the historic library of the club at Place de la Concorde in Paris, the 80 participants received their car keys from two particularly ambitious drivers: Mercedes-Benz DTM pilots, Susie Stoddart and Bruno Spengler, who just last weekend won the first DTM race on the legendary course of Le Mans.

“In contrast to a car race, our long-distance drive from Paris to Beijing is not about speed“, told Dr. Dieter Zetsche the participants as another reminder of the true purpose of ”E-Class Experience“, which is to achieve a possibly low consumption of diesel fuel during the individual legs and over the entire distance. “At the same time, this drive is an exciting journey of discovery of other cultures. You will hear foreign languages, discover new things, and perhaps even find new friends. Insofar, the diesel marathon provides a unique venue for intercultural exchange, which DaimlerChrysler actively promotes as a global company with more than 380,000 employees worldwide.“

Long Distance Drive Paris–Beijing 2006 / Day 2 
International E-Class Fleet Crosses Old Border Between East and West

• Start from Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart
• Second day’s route stretches over 649 kilometres to Berlin
• Weather: Sunny, 16-20 degrees Celsius

Berlin – On the second day of the E-Class long distance drive, the fleet of 33 E 320 CDIs and three E 320 BLUETEC saloons crossed the old border between Western and Eastern Europe. At Rudolphstein, the 80 participants from 20 countries driving on Autobahn No. 9 passed through the imaginary line that divided Europe as an ”Iron Curtain“ for nearly thirty years.

In the morning, the car fleet started on the 649-kilometre drive to Berlin from the new Mercedes-Benz Museum, surrounded by brilliant sunlight. The route led mostly over motorways and a few picturesque country roads in the Nature Park Fränkische Schweiz. The magnificent autumn landscapes along the route were enough to charm even the German participants: “I have never yet driven along this stretch. In this weather it is simply beautiful“, commented Iris Zimmermanns, 39, who won a seat in the car of our cooperation partner ebay from over 50,000 Internet applicants, on the view of the picturesque countryside. She also went on to say “luckily, the only thing that’s left of the old border are some old watchtowers“.

At the intermediate stop at the Eremitage in Bayreuth, a summer palace with a great formal garden built during the Rococo period, the conspicuous design of the cars drew a crowd of admiring sightseers around the fleet. The marathon fleet also continued to attract lively attention from drivers along the next driving stretch past Leipzig and Potsdam, many of whom spontaneously grabbed for their digital photo cell phones.

At the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, the destination of today’s leg, passers by were curious to find out about the next stages of the tour – and anxiously to find an open seat in one the E-Class saloons. A number of places for the crossing of the German capital were spontaneously filled by the family of another Internet applicant, who are accompanying the Canadian driver on his marathon drive through Europe on their own.

The evening program calls for a dinner in the historic Bärensaal ballroom of the Alte Stadthaus, where the German Unification Treaty was negotiated after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The dinner will also be attended by diplomats from the nine states, through which the ”E-Class Experience“ will pass.

Long Distance Drive Paris–Beijing 2006 / Day 3  First Passport Check - The Entry into Poland

• First of six border control points on the way to Beijing
• Third day’s drive over 632 kilometres to Warsaw
• Weather: cloudy, 17 degrees Celsius

Warsaw – On the third day of the E-Class long distance drive from Paris to Beijing the 80 participants today had to show their passports for the first time. The marathon drivers will pass through five further border crossings on the way to their final destination in the Chinese capital on 17 November.
“Berlin has always been a special point of contact between East and West“, said Christoph Köpke, CEO of DaimlerChrysler Vertriebsgesellschaft Deutschland (DCVD), while welcoming the participants to the German capital on Sunday evening. The dinner at the historic Bärensaal ballroom of the Alte Stadthaus was attended by ambassadors and diplomats from six of the nine countries, which are to be crossed during the ”E-Class Experience“, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, the Russian Federation, and Kazakhstan.

Exactly 113 kilometres after the start of the third day’s drive at “Mercedes-Benz Welt“ in Berlin, for the first time during the transcontinental tour it became clear that globalisation is further advanced in the minds of people than on the map. On the border between Germany and Poland, between the cities of Frankfurt/Oder and Slubice, border and customs officials blocked the eastward path of the E-Class saloons for the first passport checks of some participants. The passports of the Asian marathon drivers of the first leg to St. Petersburg are stamped with up to seven visas.

Procuring the various stamps and stickers grew into one of the greatest challenges during the advance organization for the ”E-Class Experience“. Four guests from Thailand and Taiwan obtained their entry permits for the Baltic States just a few hours before the start in Paris after a veritable visa marathon through three embassies, and two Russians only got the last missing papers for Latvia in the morning in Berlin. “Thailand does not have any consulates for these countries“, said Narat Tha Hla, reporter for the ”Bangkok Post“. “If the visa had not been arranged in Paris, we would have had to break off the tour in Warsaw and fly back to Bankock.“

However, the journalist and his colleague, Vijo Varghese from the daily newspaper ”The Nation“, took the risk gladly. “I enjoy every second of the tour and would have come even for a single day “, he raved. Varghese is in Europe for the first time and admires most of all the well built motorways, on which “everything runs so smoothly“.

Of course, this is not always the case. After the relaxed drive through the Berlin Autobahnring (Berlin motorway circle) and the A 12 to the German-Polish border, the road to Warsaw was frequently blocked by construction sites and innumerable trucks that advanced upon the drivers in seemingly endless convoys, leaving little room for the cars to pass safely on the two-lane sections of Nationalstraße 2. The heavy traffic is not a chance occurrence. The N2 is one of the major European East-West axes and makes up a part of the road connecting the seven countries, European Highway 30, which begins in Cork, Ireland, and winds through England, the Netherlands and Germany before crossing Poland and White Russia and reaching its final destination in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk. Around 200 kilometres to the north, the marathon drivers of the “E-Class Experience“ will be arriving in Yekaterinburg on November 1st.

The midday Stopp in Rogalin, around 20 kilometres south of Poznan, offered a relaxing contrast to the hectic traffic under the accompaniment of hearty Polish dishes. The village of 700 residents showcases a monumental palace built in the late baroque style, which was once the main seat of the Raczynski noble family and since 1990 operates as an art gallery. The French-style park on the right bank of the Warta river is home to the world’s largest collection of ancient oak trees, some of which are over 1000 years old and reach a diameter of up to nine metres.

DaimlerChrysler Automotive Polska has just turned ten and is nonetheless a big success story. In the evening, the participants in the diesel marathon from Paris to Beijing were guests of honour at the 10th anniversary celebration of the country company, housed in the futuristic Mercedes-Benz Center in Warsaw.

The night was again spent behind walls filled with history: The Le Royal Méridien Bristol Hotel, situated next to the presidential palace on King’s Walk, was built in the last century in the Art Nouveau style and is the most prestigious hotel in the Polish capital today. Founded by the famous pianist and later prime minister Ignacy Jan Paderewski, the Bristol was long considered to be the only ”Leading Hotel of the World“ in Eastern Europe.

Long Distance Drive Paris–Beijing 2006 / Day 4 A Quick Visit to Masuria

• E-Class Fleet on its way through the “green lungs of Poland“
• Fourth day’s drive over 573 kilometres to Vilnius
• Weather: Changeable with some rain, 15-17 degrees Celsius

Vilnius – Before entering the Baltic Peninsula, the E-Class fleet today crossed the so-called green lungs of Poland. The route of the long-distance drive led through the picturesque lanes and country roads in the unspoiled natural environment of the Masurian Lakeland.

Around 50 kilometres from Warsaw, which the participants in the “E-Class Experience“ left at the start of their fourth day on the much travelled S8 headed northeast, Poland’s rural landscape shows its most beautiful side. As the route of the marathon drive had been mostly on motorways and main roads since Paris, to the drivers’ joy and relief, today’s drive weaved pleasantly through side roads, hamlets, and small villages. Whilst the attention of the drivers had been occupied mainly by the numerous police checks in the morning, what attracted the interest of the team now were the animals along the wayside. However, the four legged creatures –which ranged from cows and goats to dogs and innumerable roaming chickens – were totally nonplussed by their four-wheeled companions.
Around lunch time, the team reached the Masurian Lakeland on panoramic lanes and single-lane country roads that provided a surprising contrast to the large, up-to- eight-lane-wide intercity motorways. The region known as the “Green Lungs“ of Poland, comprised of over 1,600 small and large lakes, is the country’s most popular tourist destination and extends up to the Lithuanian border to the north. “I had imagined Poland as a drab and colourless place, but the green countryside around here seems to go on forever“, marvelled Donald Buffamanti, 50, who is driving one of the three E 320 BLUETEC to St. Petersburg. Since the beginning of the rally, the former consultant for Apple Computers Canada has already uploaded several hundred photographs onto his website www.autospies.com, a well-known American internet portal for high quality automobiles. ”The term once in a lifetime is frequently over used in our society, but this Mercedes-Benz Paris to Beijing Rally trip has truly been a once-in-a-lifetime event. And it's not even half over for me!!!!“ he wrote in the beginning of his last blog.

In Stare Juchy, one of the oldest towns in Masuria, the team enjoyed a romantic lunch despite the cold autumn weather interspersed with rain showers. The resort hotel Siedlisko Morena is situated on an open landing above the Łaśmiady Lake in the midst of an almost unspoiled hilly landscape formed by an end moraine from the Ice Age.

Shortly before reaching the intermediate destination, around 2200 kilometres after the start in Paris, E-Class Number 15 had the first mishap of the rally: a flat tyre. Ironically, it was the Polish team that was affected, but it was only short time before the drive could go on. The Michelin tyre professionals, who are accompanying the entire tour to Beijing, changed the defective tyre within a few minutes.
After a smooth and speedy crossing of the Lithuanian border, the diesel fleet continued its drive along the Baltic Coast during the afternoon. The drivers arrived in Vilnius towards evening. The Lithuanian capital with a population of approximately 550,000 is considered to be the architectural jewel of the Baltic States. The old city, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1994, occupies a land area of 360 hectares, ranking among the largest and best preserved old towns in Europe.

Long Distance Drive Paris–Beijing 2006 / Day 5  100,000-Kilometre Mark Reached

• Mercedes-Benz E-Classes run like clockwork
• Fifth day’s drive over 335 kilometres to Riga
• Weather: Changeable with rain showers, 12 degrees Celsius

Riga – On the way to Riga, the autumn landscape of the second Baltic state of the tour showed its most beautiful side. Just outside the Latvian metropolis, the “E-Class Experience“ reached the 100,000 mark on the European Motorway ”Via Baltica“.

Twenty minutes after leaving Vilnius today, the teams of the 36 E-classes basked in the light of their achievement, figuratively as well as literally: marvellous streams of light flooded the countryside along the straight-laced A2 with a sea of colour that quickly chased away the early morning ennui. “What a wonderful Indian Summer this is!“ marvelled Nikolaus Eickmann in admiration of the shimmering red deciduous forests along the well constructed motorway. The deputy chief editor of the influential German Internet portal “AutoBILD.de“, who records his experiences during the tour in his personal weblog every evening, had originally looked forward most of all to the grand cities along the first leg of the diesel marathon. Meanwhile, the journalist also enjoys the charming stretches of country roads running through the untouched natural environment of the Baltic States. “My car and I have become good friends since Paris“, he declared, also confessing his admiration for the 5-centimetre higher tropical undercarriage, which is standard equipment in all 36 vehicles of the fleet: ”This gives me a secure feeling that I can drive through anything.“

The Lithuanian capital of Vilnius and the Latvian capital of Riga are separated by approximately 300 kilometres. Nearly half of the route is over European Motorway 67, which connects the Baltic states of Central and Western Europe. The so-called “Via Baltica“ begins in Warsaw, runs over Suwalki, Vilnius and Riga, and finally ends after 1,300 kilometres on the banks of the Finnish Sea Basin in Talinn – the destination of tomorrow’s drive.

After a quick passing of the Latvian border, the teams took a small detour to Rundale castle in the late afternoon. The lonely castle near the town of Bauska is known as one of the most impressive Baroque and Rococo buildings in the country and is a popular day trip destination of Latvian school classes. However, today, the curious children showed significantly greater interest in the shiny cars than in the history of their homeland.

As the international teams searched in vain for larger towns during the last stretch to Riga, AutoBILD.de photographer Christian Köster described the seemingly infinite vastness with one sentence: ”Look, there is nothing!“ Almost without noticing the drivers finally arrived at an highlight of the tour: Shortly before Riga the fleet passed the 100,000 kilometre mark on its way to Beijing. Overall, the group will run up around 490,000 kilometres. The Mercedes-Benz technicians did not report any special events: All 36 E-Classes are running with the reliability of a Swiss watch.
The teams arrived in the Latvian capital in the early afternoon. For the first time since Paris, they had the opportunity to do some extensive sightseeing. Riga is not only a political and cultural centre in Latvia but with its population of 730,000 also the largest city in the Baltic region. Every third resident of the country lives here. Today, the “Paris of the North“ is most well known for its wonderful jugendstil architecture, in which entire quarters of the city were built at the turn of the century: This historic old town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997.

Long-distance drive Paris–Peking 2006 / Day 6  Seaside Moments on the Baltic Coast

• Scenic trip north to the Gulf of Finland
• Sixth day’s stage over 311 kilometres
• Weather: cloudy, 8.5 degrees Celsius

Tallinn – The “E-Class Experience” reached the Baltic Sea just a few kilometres after crossing the Estonian border. Before arriving at the day’s final destination in Tallinn, the stage followed the Gulf of Riga for much of the route, offering a series of breathtaking views of the sea. It was only the chilly temperatures that deterred some of the participants from taking a spontaneous dip in the cold waves.
Today, the E-Class long-distance drive arrived in Tallinn, the sixth of seven countries en route from Paris to the final destination for the first stage in St. Petersburg. The teams left the Lithuanian capital Riga at around 8.30 a.m., and continued along the “Via Baltica” in a northerly direction. Idyllic lakes, tidy wooden cabins built in the Scandinavian style, and colorful mixed deciduous forests were the principal features of the roughly 100-kilometer stage as far as the Estonian border. The trip took until the early afternoon, because the speed limit here is 110 km/h, and checks are frequent. In many of the cars, the conversation turned to the experiences of the previous evening in the Lithuanian capital. Many participants were pleasantly surprised, both by the lively atmosphere in the city and by the open and friendly nature of the inhabitants. Iris Zimmermanns from the Ebay Team mentions one of the things that struck her most: “I was astonished at how many people there could speak really good English.”

Another person whose ideas about countries in eastern Europe have changed during the trip is Javier Reynagas: “My head was still full of the old images from magazines and television, where there were only gray buildings and sad-looking people. And now all I see around me are happy faces!” The 40-year-old journalist writes for the Mexican daily El Economista, and is the driver of the only E-Class with special Mercedes-Benz Guard protection as far as St. Petersburg. This model features bulletproof windows, with splinter protection on the vehicle floor, and is carrying a particularly valuable cargo to Peking: in the trunk, there are three magnums of champagne, which will be cracked open in three weeks’ time to celebrate the end of this diesel marathon. “After around 14,000 kilometers, the bubbly will taste all the better,” reckons co-pilot Friedrich Rubländer, head of the DaimlerChrysler Service Group GSP (Global Service and Products).

Towards midday, only a few minutes after crossing the Estonian border, the E-Class “column” arrived on the Gulf of Riga coast. In the north, this huge bay, with an area of approximately 18,000 square kilometers, is partially separated from the rest of the Baltic by Estonia’s largest island, Saaremaa. On the way to Tallinn, the drivers enjoyed a series of breathtaking views of the sea. Some participants took a side-trip directly to the water’s edge, passing concrete tower blocks built in the old communist architectural style. The only thing that prevented some of the more daring members of the team celebrating their arrival on the coast with a spontaneous dip were the chilly outdoor temperatures of under nine degrees Celsius.

A short time later, the column arrived at the most northeasterly point of the once mighty Hansa Federation: the Estonian capital, Tallinn, just 90 minutes by ferry from the Finnish capital Helsinki, and a city with a long and turbulent history. Over the years, it has borne the marks of periods under Danish, German, Swedish, and Russian rule.

Since its declaration of independence in 1991, there has been a flurry of progressive changes throughout Estonia. Citizens can pay parking fees with their mobile phones, or vote for their members of parliament with a click of the mouse, and cabinet meetings can be held in a networked computer system (e-government) – in short, this small Baltic state has become a global pioneer in the field of information technology. It comes as no surprise, therefore, to learn that Skype, the relative newcomer company that offers free telephony services on the Internet using its software of the same name, has based its development center in Tallinn.

Long Distance Drive Paris–Beijing 2006 / Day 7 
Diesel Fleet Finishes First Leg with Flying Colours

• The “E-Class Experience“ fleet crosses the border into Russia
• Seventh day’s drive over 387 kilometres to St. Petersburg
• Weather: Changeable with rain showers, 8-12 degrees Celsius

St. Petersburg – The E-Class marathon arrived in St. Petersburg this afternoon. At the end of the first of five legs on the way to Beijing most drivers gave their car keys over to the next group of participants – and departed from the unique automobile adventure with a touch of sadness.

The E-Class fleet headed for Russia at 7:15 a.m. this morning accompanied by the sound of pouring rain. To avoid losing much time in the lengthy customs and border formalities, the 36 vehicles drove the approximately 220 kilometre route from the Estonia capital of Tallinn to the city of Narva in fleet formation. The residents of Estonia’s third largest city watched with amazement as the 400 meter car convoy crawled through the city centre toward the border. The drivers had to turn away friendly invitations by pedestrians equipped with bottles of Russian vodka, not solely due to the time constraints: alcohol consumption is absolutely forbidden during the drive.

In the city of Narva, the river carrying the same name demarcates the natural border with Russia. The 50 metre-long no man’s land “between countries“ is situated on a spot where the river is flanked by two fortresses on each side – the Estonian Hermannsburg fortress on the western bank and the Russian fortress Ivangorod on the eastern bank. During the six-hour wait at the border the teams could enjoy the beautiful view at their leisure. The rain stopped for the first time that day, leaving the city and river much more inviting even without heavy alcohol.

After the border crossing the drivers had ample opportunities to test the driving characteristics of their diesel saloons on extremely bad roads full of potholes. Finally, the E-Class long distance drive reached the end of the fist leg in St. Petersburg. Since the start in Paris seven days ago, the teams have covered a total of around 3,550 kilometres, or the longest distance between the French capital and Beijing. In the process they not only learned about foreign countries and cultures, but could also personally convince themselves of the vehicles’ reliability over this vast distance.

The Baltic States were seen as the high point of the tour by many of the 80 participants, who had never visited the region before. “These countries are just as I had hoped: romantic and totally surprising. What I liked the most was the route from Vilnius to Riga, where one was suddenly immersed in completely different size dimensions. The vast landscape on each side of the road seemed to go on forever. And then there was this fantastic light“, mused Laurant Caillant, editor of the French magazine “Demeures & Chateaux“.

Upon their arrival in the former tsarist capital of St. Petersburg the teams will meet the second group of participants at a gala dinner this evening, where they are certain to give over their car keys with a portion of sadness. The second group will then steer the vehicles across a distance of 2708 kilometres over the Ural Mountains to Yekaterinburg beginning tomorrow morning.