Peking to Paris Rally Briton killed in Siberia car crash

Emma Wilkinson
Image caption Emma Wilkinson was with her partner Peter Davies at the time of the crash

A British woman has been killed in a car crash in Siberia while taking part in the Peking to Paris Rally for vintage cars, officials have said.

Mother-of-two Emma Wilkinson, 46, from near Kettering in Northamptonshire, was killed when a Volkswagen Polo collided head-on with her 1970 Chevrolet C10 near the city of Tyumen on Wednesday.

A man and a baby in the other vehicle were also killed.

Russian police said they were investigating the incident.

Ms Wilkinson had been driving from Omsk to Tyumen on a federal highway, and was travelling with her partner and co-driver Peter Davies, when the crash happened, the Endurance Rally Association said.

The couple were driving to the next checkpoint in the rally at the time of the crash but were not taking part in a time trial, a spokeswoman said.

They were into the third week of the 33-day race.

'Head-on crash'

"The Tyumen region police reported that the incident was a head-on crash between the British driver's Chevrolet and a Volkswagen Polo. They added the Polo's passengers, a 31-year-old man and a baby, died, while a woman is in intensive care in hospital," the organisers said in a statement.

Image caption Ms Wilkinson had been driving a left-hand drive Chevrolet pick-up in the rally

Mr Davies was not seriously injured.

The spokeswoman said: "They weren't in an area where they had to do the fastest time, they were on a normal highway.

"Emma was in no hurry as the section she was driving was an easy main road and her target schedule was 30 mph."

She said the police were investigating eyewitness reports that the driver of the Polo had "fallen asleep at the wheel moments before careering across the road into the path of the oncoming Chevrolet".

"There were no skidmarks and traffic was very light," she said.

The BBC's Moscow correspondent, Daniel Sandford, said the long and poorly maintained stretch of road was notorious for car accidents and was described locally as "the road of death".

Image caption The race began on 28 May in Beijing. Ms Wilkinson is pictured here driving her Chevrolet on day 11, on the journey from Ureg Lake to the Mongolian border

The Peking (Beijing) to Paris Rally is said to be one of the toughest vintage car races in the world, covering 7,000 miles (11,000km).

Participants travel in classic cars leaving from Beijing and travelling across the Gobi Desert, through Mongolia and Russia, and then on through Europe to Paris.

The rally takes place in stages, some of which are competitive time trials.

It is the fifth time it has been held.

'Lively and popular'

Rally director Philip Young said: "Emma was a fun-loving, lively and popular member of the rally.

"In the three weeks we've been together both she and Peter proved themselves to be capable, competent and resourceful.

"Their 1970 Chevrolet C10 pick-up was a remarkable sight in the Mongolian wilderness and today our thoughts and sympathies are with Emma's family and friends, including her two brothers Robert and Mark who are also participating."

The organisers' team in Russia and the UK rally office were working with local police, the Foreign Office and the British Embassy to offer the family assistance, the organisers' statement said.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are aware of the death of a British national in Russia on 12 June.

"We stand ready to provide consular assistance to the family at this difficult time."

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