Longestdrive came through!
At noon on Thursday 12th March the Longestdrive completed an epic feat by driving round Australia on (nearly) the entire Highway #1 – a road trip which is 13961km in just 5 days 18 hours 13 min and 13 sec.
Since leaving the technical base at Porsche Centre Sydney South last Thursday evening, they have encountered closed roads (hence a forced deviation from Highway #1) – ‘meetings’ with kangaroos and other problems associated with long distance driving.
It would appear that the whole ‘Big Loop’ challenge has been beset with problems since Will Schryver and Jan Kalmar arrived in Sydney from their European base. Upon arrival they learnt that the third person completing the three man crew, would not be able to join them on medical grounds. It was also worrying that the car was not available from the local importation authorities.
Delays in shipping meant that the custom built Porsche Cayenne had arrived late in Sydney, forcing a very tight timetable for preparation. This timetable was squeezed further as the vehicle could not be released from quarantine due to very strict rules regarding foreign cars entering Australia.
Luckily the car was released at the very last minute and went straight to Porsche for technical inspection. The technicians found a couple of unexpected issues, which could be fixed quite easily.
But still there was no third driver. The word went out that Will and Jan were looking for a rather impulsive person, who with only with four hours’ notice was willing to spend nearly a week in a car with two complete strangers – driving 24 hours a day. To their great surprise, Jan learnt that the chief technician on their car, Peter Thompson, was up for it. The trip was suddenly happening and after a brief evening meal, they were on their way!
Luckily the first 24 hours were rather uneventful, enabling them to settle into a routine. When they entered the outback, they felt the full force of nature and ended up in a mud pool and were stuck there for 5 hours. A huge rain storm had closed Highway #1, thus forcing the crew on a 400 km detour further delaying progress. The race was now on to regain the nearly twelve hours they lost by the effects of the storm. Later on they were hit twice by kangaroos – luckily the Porsche stood up to the impact, which is more than can be said about the poor animals. We had been warned about that form of wildlife beforehand and had taken appropriate action when preparing the car for Australia.
Supporters from all over the world have been able to communicate with the crew via social media: Facebook, Twitter and via a special ‘news’ site with videos from the car. A live satellite tracker was following the car as it was winding its way towards the goal in Sydney.
The last couple of days have been tough – a real test of endurance but the many messages of encouragement have proved invaluable for the crew – spurring them on when spirits have been flagging. Thanks to all for that.
The car ran faultlessly for the entire journey – needing only a 2 litres of engine oil as a top up. This is a testament to skills and knowledge of the engineers at Porsche AG. We didn’t suffer a single puncture nor a stone chip.
Jan Kalmar: “This is a fantastic achievement – driving around this continent with so many different environments and without stopping or resting. The car didn’t miss a beat, but the weather in the Northern Territory did create some big challenges for us, but that’s why we do these things. We were a real team working together to overcome the problems. The driving stints were long and at night required very high levels of concentration in trying to avoid colliding with the wildlife. “
After the ‘Big Loop’ the car and crew will return to Europe, where the preparations for the “North to South” project are under way. This new challenge involves driving from Northern Norway to the South Cape in South Africa passing London and Cape Town en route. There are 2 separate world records we want to challenge: North Cape – South Cape established in 1979 and the London-Cape Town, which is less than 1 year old. We are planning to do this in about three month’s time – so stay tuned!
Perhaps other people who are as ‘crazy’ as we are (or even crazier!) would one day try the same challenges we have undertaken and beat us!!! Now that would be something we would be keen to hear about!
The challenge has only been possible with the generous support of:
CARS –worldwide relocation service who are responsible for all logistical issues and permits needed.
And special ‘thank you’ goes to Porsche Australia for supporting this test of man and machine via their excellent Porsche Centre Sidney South. They all did a perfect job in getting the car ready in time.