The Cape-to-Cape adventure continues and the difficulties increase. The commercial stop in Istanbul and its rain-sodden, muddy terrain was just a taster of what was awaiting the male and female drivers of the Cape-to-Cape expedition. Faithful to its road map, the convoy crossed Turkey North-West to South-East, passing through Anatolia and Cappadocia. The road and its inherent traps required even greater driving expertise than the mud of Istanbul.
Crossing the Bosphorus, the Cape-to-Cape expedition laid its first wheel tracks in Asia. Heading for Anatolia, the lie of the land was increasingly hilly. To the astonishment of some of the team, Turkey proved to be a very green country where each plot of arable land is use for crops. As ever, the convoy received an extremely warm welcome, as much in the towns as in the country.
The Renault Trucks drivers discovered Turkey’s tracks after Bilecik, a fast but winding road on dry ground. The panoramic views were magnificent. The next day, Cape-to-Cape crossed the high plateaus of Anatolia towards Aksaray, a foretaste of the steppes of Asia Minor and the Caucasian mountains with volcanoes standing over vast semi-arid plains. From Aksaray the landscapes were particularly grand with a few passages getting drivers used to the vehicles’ all-terrain capacities: fords, narrow muddy tracks and substantial gradients. On the stages between Aksaray and Nevsehir, snow was always close by. It was during this stage that the expedition discovered the fantastic landscapes of Cappadocia: a succession of limestone and volcanic rock throughout the trip, with a high section at 1,770m altitude.
The second-to-last Turkish stage between Nevsehir and Iskenderun on the shores of the Mediterranean was by far the most technical. Up and down mountain passes several times on a surface made slippery by the melting snow. The Sherpas showed extreme agility and speed. Even though they are worksite vehicles, not tactical machines designed to fording, the Kerax 6 x 6s and their drivers overcame the challenge with flying colours. However, they had to learn to control their braking and avoid overheating on the long descents; the Keraxes are equipped with drum brakes, whereas the Sherpas have 4-wheel disc brakes. So, more new experiences in store trying to master the blocking of differential gears and gear shifts on the 16-gear box. The Sherpas, with their automatic Allison 6-gear box, did not face the same complexities! Cape-to-Cape is proving a real lesson in humility.
By the end of the day, the drivers were mastering all the subtleties of their vehicles. In under 48 hours they were to pass through the sand and mud coming out of Turkey and head into Syria. Another chapter in their adventure was about to begin…