Roger Pearce is now 14 days into the MG Expedition from AA Kyalami to Silverstone in the UK and faces the ultimate test today, which will determine whether or not his 1973 MGB GT can survive what he regards to be the toughest section of his 15 000-kilometer route through Africa, the Middle East and Europe.
It was all plain sailing from when he left AA Kyalami in the early hours of June 9 until he reached Nairobi in Kenya and had to strip the cylinder head to have the valve seats repaired due to damage caused by using the incorrect fuel.
What followed was a journey from Nairobi to the Ethiopian border that he would rather forget. Once paved roads had deteriorated into a potholed landscape resembling bomb craters, which destroyed two tyres. Fortunately the MGB GT is equipped with a diff lock and he was able to traverse a long, muddy section, where dozens of vehicles had been stuck for over a week, without any problems.
“Road conditions are so appalling that the MGB GT is taking a pounding and I am concerned that it might not complete the journey into Egypt where conditions will improve dramatically,” said Pearce. “There are rocks everywhere and I wouldn’t even consider staging an off road race over such extreme terrain in South Africa.”
Once in Addis Abba, Ethiopia he was able to take a well-earned break and attend a soccer match and cocktail function as the guest of the South African Embassy and yesterday he resumed his trek and reached Gonder near the Sudanese border.
“I’ll be tackling the next leg in broad daylight because I am now entering bandit country where many Trans-African travellers have been attacked in the past with some even losing their lives,” said Pearce. “I’ll try and join a convoy but have found them to be more of a hindrance than an aid.”
“My aim is to reach Khartoum in the Sudan, where the White Nile and Blue Nile meet, by sunset and then consider my next option because I have been advised that no visas will be issued for Syria, which means I have to reroute via Libya and Tunisia or put the MGB on a ferry to Greece once I reach Egypt.”
Pearce has had a warm reception wherever he has been so far and has enjoyed some luxury accommodations as well as some rather dubious shack-style establishments parading as 4-star hotels in Northern Kenya and Ethiopia.