Skip to content

Syd Stelvio, Peking to Paris 24 | Day 28 – Sivas to Ankara – 521km

Syd Stelvio, Peking to Paris 24 | Day 28 – Sivas to Ankara – 521km

There was another piece of deception by the curtains this morning, as I threw them open wide to find that I was looking out onto farmland and hills reminiscent of the Downs, and of home. Just for a second, I was back in the place that is dearest to my heart, a place that is now within sight, as we began this morning knowing there were only ten days until Paris. Ten days to nurse the cars, or ten days to hold good a lead. Ten days, not much at all in the scheme of things, but ten days in which an awful lot could happen.

In fact, we will be in France within the week, which feels incredible to say, since it only feels like yesterday that we were packing our camping things away in Kazakhstan for the final time. Since then, the days have flown along at a pace, and I daresay that all of us were ready to get back out on the road this morning, with the promise of an inner-city hotel to luxuriate in this evening and forget that our breakfast this morning consisted of Chicken Nuggets and Chips.

The day had been due to have a pair of regularities, but sadly the road that was to be used for the first had deteriorated beyond belief since it was last recced, and so a gentle run out across the hills sufficed as the morning’s entertainment. It was a beautiful morning, a lovely day for driving and with no real pressure it was a delight to take in the rolling farmland and fields golden with wheat. The roadside was flanked with purple Thistles, bright yellow Spurge and clumps of Dog Rose, as we passed from hillside to village and back again, as well as driving through a stunning canyon and alongside a river that was teeming with the chatter of Bullfrogs.

For a second, we could all have forgotten that we were on a rally, ignorant to the need to be anywhere or do anything. But if ignorance is bliss, then wipe the smile from my face, as this rally isn’t done just yet. Inevitably we joined the highway for a bit, and a stop at a time control and a café that served a delightful Turkish Coffee, if your tastebuds are broken.

The miles ticked by as we all zeroed in on the days only regularity, which was a tricky gravel hill-climb, which in the blazing afternoon sun was causing many a car to suffer from overheating and vapour lock, although everyone at the sharp end of the table seemed to escape without issue and indeed amongst the top ten there was very little movement, save for John Henderson and Lui Maclennan leapfrogging Katarina Kyvalova and Jon Minshaw into 7th in category.

From here there were a series of increasingly spectacular descents, so many in fact it was quite unbelievable just how high we had climbed. These dropped through more golden fields of wheat and then rock gorges, with formations that would have been familiar to our New Zealand crews. The final descent was the most spectacular, revealing views for miles to the valley floor far below, and a panoramic vista that exposed the weather systems that were moving into the area.

These were dramatic, with heavy rain and huge electrical storms that lit up the now darkened skies. It was tremendous, although this sentiment was perhaps not shared by the crews in the open top cars, who were getting soaked. It cleared the air though, after a hot and sweaty day in the saddle, and, with the traffic experienced on the way into Ankara the slightly cooler conditions were welcome.

It had certainly been a breathtaking day outside of the window, but in the cockpit, there hadn’t been too many dramas, save for the overheating and vapour lock problems. The Sweeps had enjoyed a quieter day, with a broken clutch lever for car 22, the Chevy Roadster crewed by Peter Zernial and Kai Fleck, and some brake problems to sort on the big Roller of Nigel Keen, presumably a problem caused by them not being used enough!

Tomorrow, we head to Istanbul, on a 480km route that includes two regularities and a test and with that much competition on the cards, we may see a change in the lead, with the top two cars still, after all this time, separated by less than a minute.


We use cookies to give you the best experience of using this website. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies. Please read our Cookie Policy for more information.