After failing to finish last year’s gruelling 7,100 km Transsyberia Rally, Australian duo Paul Watson and David Morley are teaming up again for another crack at this year’s international off-road marathon in their specially prepared Porsche Cayenne.
The Aussie entry crashed out of last year’s two-week enduro with Watson suffering a broken back and Morley hitching a lift to the finish line in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar.
“Last year we promised to either out-drive the other 32 teams, or sabotage their cars or set fire to their tents; anything in order to win basically – and we ended up with egg on our face and Watto (Watson) suffering the indignity of a wheelchair ride onto a Qantas jumbo,” quipped Morley.
“So the choice for this year was simple: Either stay at home and throw stones at the cat wondering what might have been, or tackle this bugger of an event again with Watto and try to make it to the end in one piece and in the one car.
“We’ve got unfinished business as far as I’m concerned.”
Last year’s event was won by experienced off-road racer Rod Millen, with specially prepared Cayenne S Transsyberia cars taking the top three positions.
Watson and Morley will drive one of more than 20 bespoke Porsche SUVs entered for the 2008 race. A field of at least 30 cars from 13 nations is expected to start the off-road challenge which begins in Moscow on July 11 and again finishes in Ulaanbaatar on July 25.
The Australian pair has a huge amount of competition and off-road experience, but said nothing can prepare you for the gruelling nature of this event.
“You can do all the training, car preparation and planning you like, but nothing prepares you for driving across what at times looks like a lunar landscape with nobody within hundreds of kilometres,” notes Morley.
“It’s you, a navigation system and an SUV trying to get to an end point through mud bogs that would stop a tank, water crossings that would make trout nervous and boulders sharp enough to splice coconuts. And you’re doing this continually for a fortnight. It’s utter foolishness and that’s precisely why we’re doing it again.”
The special Cayenne S Transsyberia models have been further improved for the 2008 race. Although the 4.8-litre V8 engine is standard, there are numerous modifications to maximise safety and improve off-road capability. These include revised sump guards, rally-spec shock absorbers, Porsche’s acclaimed PDCC active anti-roll bars, latest generation off-road racing tyres (which also increase ground clearance) and improvements to the Porsche Traction Management (PTM) all-wheel drive software.
The array of safety and special rally raid equipment comprises, amongst other things: safety cage, racing bucket seats, six-point harnesses, trip computer, fire extinguishers, sand ladders, spare wheels, toolkit, winch and driving lights.
Maximum power of the Cayenne S Transsyberia is 283 kW with peak torque of 500 Nm. Drive is through Porsche’s Tiptronic S six-speed automatic transmission albeit with a shorter final drive ratio and optimised software for improved off-road performance.
“If we go out there and try to be fastest from the outset, it will end in tears again,” says Morley.
“But if we drive to survive, then chances are we will finish, and I reckon we’d have to be a chance for a Top Five spot. A certain bloke called Rod Millen took this approach last year and he won the thing. So I reckon there’s a lesson to be learnt there.”
More information on the 2008 Transsyberia Rally, along with daily updates during the event, can be obtained from the official website: http://www.transsyberia-rallye.de Porsche Cars Australia will also provide regular updates on Team Oz’s progress.
For Further Information
Paul Ellis: Public Relations Manager
Ph: 03 9473 0926 or 04 22 00 77 08