AROUND THE­WORLD IN A PORSCHE 928

Words: Robb Pritchard Pho­tog­ra­phy: Philippe De­la­porte You may recog­nise this 928 from a pre­vi­ous en­durance ad­ven­ture. Now the fa­ther and son team are back for a round the world trip start­ing in Paris and fin­ish­ing in Amer­ica. Here’s part one of the epic t

911 Porsche World - - This Month -

Well, if you’re go­ing to do it, do it in style. Part one and our in­trepid pi­lot’s drive from Paris to Tokyo

Five years ago French­man Philippe De­la­porte made him­self part of the Porsche leg­end, by driv­ing to Iran, Kaza­khstan and Uzbek­istan in his (as out­ra­geous as it sounds) ex­pe­di­tion­pre­pared 1989 928 S4 with Bau­douin, one of his sons. A few years later he was sit­ting with his other son Thibault look­ing at maps to see where the long­est and most in­ter­est­ing Tar­mac road from Paris led. The re­cently fully as­phalted Trans-siberian high­way from Moscow through the world's largest coun­try now makes it pos­si­ble to reach Vladi­vos­tok in the far east in a 'nor­mal' car. But just a ferry ride fur­ther was Ja­pan… Well, why not? Paris to Tokyo by Porsche had a nice ring to it.

But Bau­douin, who'd ac­com­pa­nied his fa­ther on the pre­vi­ous big trip in the car to Iran, joined the con­ver­sa­tion and sug­gested that in­stead of ship­ping it back from the land of the ris­ing sun why not go on to the west coast of Amer­ica so that he could join his fa­ther and drive across the States. Around the world by Porsche had an even bet­ter ring, don't you think?

De­spite hav­ing such an ex­tra­or­di­nary idea Philippe has a pretty nor­mal job so the main is­sue for the project was bud­get and to keep it to a min­i­mum he needed to make plans. Lots of plans. Also, a firm be­liever in pre-emp­tive main­te­nance, he sent the car to a friend's garage to have a ma­jor re­fur­bish­ment, as it al­ready had well over 100,000km on the clock. From the pre­vi­ous

Around the world by Porsche had an even bet­ter ring

trip the car was al­ready fit­ted with a Koni lift spring and shock set-up, un­der body bash plates, pro­tected lights and all the GPS sys­tems and charg­ing sock­ets they needed. But with so many kilo­me­tres of driv­ing to come in what is ba­si­cally a clas­sic Porsche a lot of parts were changed. the whole steer­ing sys­tem was re­newed, as well as all the ball joints, en­gine pe­riph­er­als, drive­shafts and bear­ings. It was very im­por­tant to have a re­li­able car as they were go­ing to at­tempt the whole global cir­cum­nav­i­ga­tion with­out any sup­port at all!

At the ad­vice of a friend with lots of ex­pe­ri­ence in rally-raids, who didn't like the spare wheel mounted on the roof, they had a roll hoop fit­ted be­hind the seats to pro­tect them in the ad­vent of a rollover. A fresh set of Pirelli M/SS were fit­ted, the front spare mounted in the back and the big­ger rear one on the roof, and in May they were ready for the big send off at the Place de Con­corde in the cen­tre of Paris. Well, al­most. The day be­fore the oil pres­sure light came on as a re­sult of the oil-cooler in the ra­di­a­tor fail­ing. The only new re­place­ment they could find at such short no­tice set them back 1200 eu­ros be­fore they'd even got to the start.

“The first few days on a big trip are al­ways ner­vous,” Philippe ex­plains. “There is no test drive you can do for a round-the-world trip and the bro­ken

There’s no test drive you can do for a round the world trip

and their days were dic­tated by the dis­tance be­tween the cities they could stay in rather than how long they wanted to drive. Try­ing to cover 900km a day they flew though such for­eign sound­ing places as Nizny Nov­gorod, Kazan, Ufa and though the low hills of the Urals into Siberia. Then to Omsk, Novosi­birsk and Irkutsk and a de­tour to Lake Baikal which, as the largest body of fresh wa­ter, is a nat­u­ral won­der of the world and couldn't be missed. But nearby dis­as­ter struck when they hit a huge un­marked speed-bump at full tilt. It was such a hard hit that the car went air­borne and died af­ter the very heavy land­ing. Through a process of trial and er­ror with their me­chanic on the phone they man­aged to trace the prob­lem back to the fuel pump again, which ap­par­ently doesn't like hard knocks. For­tu­nately, they'd since wired the orig­i­nal pump up back­wards to blow out the Pol­ish mess, so swapped it on the road­side and a cou­ple of hours later were able to carry on.

Be­cause they were so close to Mon­go­lia they de­cided to visit this spe­cial coun­try and got the req­ui­site visas in Ulan-ude, a city which holds the ac­co­lade of hav­ing the world's largest horse statue. Stay­ing in a yurt and look­ing up at the stars out on the Mon­gol steppe was a high­light of the whole trip, but try­ing to get back into Rus­sia again was a def­i­nite low point. Ap­par­ently they'd bought a tran­sit visa so the bor­der guard re­fused to let them back out over the same cross­ing they'd en­tered through. It seemed a triv­ial pa­per­work prob­lem but the guards were adamant that Philippe needed to go all the way back to Ulan­baatar and work some­thing out with the im­mi­gra­tion of­fice there. Not keen on an ex­tra 400km round trip on an ex­tremely bad road Philippe

of near con­stant re­pair. Tem­per­a­tures in the win­ter reg­u­larly get down to -50C which is low enough to crack the bi­tu­men, so many parts are in re­ally bad con­di­tion and in many places there are long stretches of rough gravel where it's be­ing re­con­structed, so in this sec­tion it was pretty slow go­ing. “Noth­ing that the Porsche couldn't han­dle, though. The drunk truck drivers were more of a con­cern and needed close at­ten­tion while over­tak­ing.

And fi­nally they made it to Vladi­vos­tok where they were shown around by a friendly lo­cal and had the car thor­oughly dis­in­fected for its trip over to Ja­pan. A cou­ple of days re­lax­ing in the cabin out at sea with the coast of North Korea on the hori­zon was a nice change of scenery and, once through cus­toms in Sakaim­i­nato, where a fright­en­ingly metic­u­lous cus­toms of­fi­cer took seven hours to check ev­ery let­ter on dozens of pre­vi­ously trans­lated doc­u­ments, they drove straight on to Hiroshima. Here they were greeted as celebri­ties by the amazed staff in the Porsche deal­er­ship. “They asked us if there was any­thing they could do for us and prob­a­bly would have done ab­so­lutely any­thing, but all we asked was for them to put the car on the lift for us so we could change the oil. That day was also Thibault's 30th birth­day, which was a nice ex­pe­ri­ence.”

A few days ex­plor­ing the foothills of Mount Fuji, a visit to the neon lit me­trop­o­lis of Tokyo, which was a stark and strik­ing con­trast to the wilder­ness of Rus­sia, and back to the port in Nagoya. Af­ter 50 days, 16,350km and 2125-litres of fuel it was the end of the first part of the trip. “It was amaz­ing to drive the car in Ja­pan. We knew it was the end of the first part of the trip so we could com­pletely re­lax and re­flect on just what we've seen and how much the view through the wind­screen had changed while we were sit­ting in the same seats. And what an in­cred­i­ble fa­ther-son ex­pe­ri­ence it was!”

Af­ter weeks of driv­ing un­aided through Rus­sia the trip through Amer­ica should have been the easy part, but it turned out to be far from it. And they were al­most about to lose the Porsche. You can read all about that next month... PW

They were greeted as celebs by the amazed staff in the deal­er­ship

AROUND THE WORLD 928

AROUND THE­WORLD 928 Philippe De­la­porte (right) and son Bau­douin pose with 928 out­side St Peters­burg Porsche deal­er­ship

Trans-siberian high­way makes travers­ing Rus­sia a re­al­is­tic prospect

AROUND THE­WORLD Some roads left a lit­tle to be de­sired. In fact they were still be­ing built, but were open any­way!

Be­low: Ar­riv­ing at Vladi­vos­tok where the 928 is thor­oughly dis­in­fected be­fore board­ing the ferry to Ja­pan

Con­trast­ing modes of trans­port in Tokyo. We wouldn’t fancy trav­el­ling around the world in a rick­shaw... A 928, how­ever, is a dif­fer­ent propo­si­tion

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