5 November 2013

Range Rover Sport sets desert record

The Range Rover Sport has set the fastest recorded time for a land vehicle crossing of one of the harshest and most challenging desert environments on the planet, writes Trish Whelan.

The Empty Quarter - or Rub' al Khali - is the largest sand desert in the world and the second largest desert after the Sahara. Day time temperatures can exceed 50 degrees C. The ever-shifting terrain provides a true test for man and machine.

The drive team completed the journey from Wadi Adda Wasir in Saudi Arabia to the border of the United Arab Emirates in 10 hours and 22 minutes. Their average speed was 51.87mph (that's 81.87km/h), and they covered a distance of 849kms. The route was dictated by the conditions on the ground.

The vehicle used was a standard production new Range Rover Sport with a 510hp, 5.0-litre supercharged V8 petrol engine, running on standard tyres. The only change was the fitment of an underbody protection plate.

The vehicle was driven by Land Rover driver Moi Torrallardona, a 47 year-old Spanish off-road racer who has competed in the Dakar Rally for ten years, with a best finish of 6th overall.

He said "The challenge of the desert is like nothing else, brutal, unforgiving and sometimes deadly. Desert driving requires a unique combination of speed, finesse and technical skill. It is crucial that you tackle sand dunes with precision - knowing the right time to go full throttle and the right time to slow down." He said a vehicle has to have the same skillset - it must be both incredible fast but also agile, responsive and well planted. "The Range Rover is exactly that, the best tool for conquering the desert."

The team met with a constantly challenging landscape including vast sand flats, soft dunes and epic canyons. They had set off at first light on 3 November and finished as the sun was setting.