On July 13, after 11 days, 17 hours and 22 minutes of non-stop driving, renowned adventurer and off-road driver Rainer Zietlow and his team set a new world record certified by Tüv Nord Mobility for driving the length of the Pan-American Highway as they crossed the road’s end in Deadhorse, Alaska. The TDI-Panamericana Endurance Challenge team covered 14 countries and nearly 16,000 miles in a 2011 Volkswagen Touareg TDI® Clean Diesel SUV. Their journey to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the Pan-American Highway’s establishment breaks the previous record by more than three days.
“Our adrenaline is still pumping after setting the new world record on the Pan-American Highway,” said Rainer Zietlow, manager of the German car event agency, Challenge4 GmbH, after finishing the Challenge. “We were able to overcome every weather challenge along the way, and our fueling and transportation stops ran like clockwork. Thanks to our sponsors, we were outfitted with a vehicle that could handle the demanding driving schedule and challenging conditions, and had amazing technical and driver support along the way.”
Zietlow and his German teammates, Carlos Fernandez and Marius Biela, started their journey on July 2 at the southern-most tip of Argentina where the Pan-American Highway begins. They traveled through 14 countries – Argentina, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, the United States and Canada – and through challenging conditions ranging from a blinding sandstorm in Chile to muddy roads in northern Alaska. The team drove day and night, taking five-hour driving shifts throughout the trip. The TDI-Panamericana Endurance Challenge website, www.tdi-panamericana.com, shared the team’s experiences through blog posts and videos and tracked their progress using a live map.
This world record journey was also one of goodwill. Zietlow will donate 10 Euro cents for each kilometer that was driven this trip to two villages in Latin America managed by Plan International, a charity organization that works in 48 developing countries to promote children’s rights and lift millions of children out of poverty.
Zietlow chose the Touareg TDI® Clean Diesel for its durability, high-performance and long-range fuel efficiency. Its turbocharged 3.0L V6 TDI® engine delivers 225 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque and is designed to perform on rugged terrain and mixed road surfaces at varying altitudes. The clean diesel Touareg consumes 30 percent less fuel and produces up to 25 percent lower CO2 emissions than comparable gasoline vehicles.
“Volkswagen congratulates the Challenge4 Team on their success,” said Rainer Michel, vice president of product marketing, Volkswagen of America. “We knew that the Volkswagen Touareg TDI® Clean Diesel SUV could be pushed to unimaginable limits. The completion of the TDI-Panamericana Endurance Challenge in record-setting time demonstrates the vehicle’s durability, reliability, comfort and fuel-efficiency. This is a great vehicle for adventurers, driving enthusiasts and families alike.”
From August 1 through August 30, Zietlow will drive the record-setting Touareg to Volkswagen dealerships across the nation where interested public can watch a movie about his journey and look inside the vehicle. To see the tour schedule, please visit www.tdi-panamericana.com.
In addition to Volkswagen, a number of other major sponsors supported the Challenge, including 3M, Allianz, Bosch, Castrol, Continental Tire, ESL, Exide Technologies, Federal Mogul, Getac, Inmarsat, Kruse, Kuehne + Nagel, PIAA, Sonax, Tag Heuer and Volkswagen Credit.