Always aiming to push the boundaries and constantly striving to reach its limits, Range Rover set out to tackle another test of performance and endurance in its latest challenge.
A standard production Sport model was sent out to the harsh climates and landscape of the middle east, in order to tackle the route from Wadi Adda Wasir in Saudi Arabia to the border of the United Arab Emirates.
Known as the ‘Empty Quarter’ the desert environment is widely regarded as one of the harshest and most challenging landscapes on the planet. The Range Rover’s mission – to conquer the 800km crossing in record time for a land vehicle.
Left in the capable hands of veteran off-road racer Moi Torrallardona, who has over a decade of experience driving in the Dakar rally, the Range Rover set out on its dawn to dusk adventure. Despite having cut his teeth in the challenging France to Senegal trial, nothing could have truly prepared Torrallardona for what was about to unfold in front of him.
Otherwise known as Rub’ al Khali, the Empty Quarter is the largest sand desert in the world and comes second to the Sahara for the title of the globe’s biggest desert.
The Range Rover Sport and Torrallardona had to compete against temperatures soaring to about 50 degrees Celsius and an ever-shifting terrain. The environment has little water and is extremely hostile. In all his life, the Spanish racing driver had never experienced anything like it.
“The challenge of the desert is like nothing else, it is a brutal, unforgiving and sometimes deadly environment,” the 47-year-old said. “Desert driving requires a unique combination of speed, finesse and technical skill. It is crucial that you tackle the dunes with precision.
“Knowing the right time to go full throttle and the right time to slow down, takes experience and clear judgement. This unique way of driving requires a vehicle which has the same skillset – it must be both incredibly fast but also agile, responsive and well planted.”
Luckily for Torrallardona, the Range Rover Sport offered exactly that, providing what he described as a “massively capable” vehicle for conquering the desert.
Negotiating vast sand flats, soft dunes and epic canyons, the Range Rover prevailed in a time of ten hours and 22 minutes. The man behind the wheel had to negotiate his own route through the desert, requiring an even greater level of skill and driving ingenuity.
Throughout the journey, the 510PS 5.0-litre supercharged V8 petrol engine was able to sustain an average speed of 51.87mph and crossed a total distance of 849km.
Before the test, the car didn’t undergo any performance modifications. The model ran on standard performance tyres but did feature an underbody protection plate to safeguard against sand and other debris.
The Empty Quarter crossing saw the Range Rover span four countries, including Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
According to Land Rover, the model keeps the manufacturer’s standard all-terrain capability, nut offers customers a bulky and burly exterior, enough to tackle any environment.