TransSyberia Rally: Porsche North America pre-race notes
PORSCHE'S U. S. CANADIAN TEAMS GET READY FOR TOMORROW'S ROLL OFF IN MOSCOW'S RED SQUARE AS THEY TACKLE THE WORLD'S TOUGHEST RALLY 2008 edition of the grueling TransSyberia Rally promises to be the most hotly contested yet ATLANTA, July 10, 2008 ...
PORSCHE'S U. S. CANADIAN TEAMS GET READY FOR TOMORROW'S ROLL OFF IN MOSCOW'S RED SQUARE AS THEY TACKLE THE WORLD'S TOUGHEST RALLY
2008 edition of the grueling TransSyberia Rally promises to be the most hotly contested yet
ATLANTA, July 10, 2008 --- When the Mayor of Moscow lowers the flag of the Russian Federation tomorrow in Moscow's historic Red Square, it will mark the start of this year's edition of what is rapidly becoming one of the world's premiere motorsports endurance challenges, the 4,347-mile TransSyberia Rally, which will run from the cosmopolitan confines of Moscow to the untamed wilds of Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia.
In all, 31 vehicles will start what last year's winner Rod Millen called "the toughest thing I'd ever done." The teams represent countries from all four corners of the globe and 6 of the 7continents - North America, South America, Asia, Africa, Europe and Australia.
The U.S. team of Ryan Millen and Colin Godby are joined by Canadian team returnees Kees Nierop and Laurance Yap, to form North America's formidable challenge.
"We have been waiting all year for this day to arrive," said Nierop, winner of the Sebring 12 Hours of Endurance and multi-time competitor at both the Le Mans and Daytona 24 Hour races. "After we crashed out last year, Laurance and I both knew we had to come back and settle the score with this rally. It is personal now," he added.
"I can tell you that most of my family and friends think I am insane for wanting to face this challenge again," added Yap, an award-winning journalist and photographer. "But once you have tasted the TransSyberia, it becomes something you just have to conquer."
The vehicles both teams will use, two 2008 Porsche Cayenne S TransSyberias, are also returnees, having competed in last year's rally. Except for some minor maintenance and some safety, suspension and tire up-grades, the vehicles are as they were when they were loaded on flat bed railcars in Mongolia after last year's rally.
"All they really needed was a good washing," observed Nierop. "Last year, despite the beating they took, there was not a single reported failure, of any component, in 4700-plus miles. Now that's saying something," he added.
The American duo, new to the competition this year, also has something to prove - Ryan's father Rod Millen, was last year's winner in the very same car he will drive in the rally.
"I don't feel any pressure to win, other than what we are putting on ourselves," said the younger Millen. "But as far as me and Colin are concerned, we are gunning for a victory, no question about it. We want to bring the TransSyberia title back with us to the States."
Co-driver Godby, a veteran of several runs in the Baja and Taupo 1000's alongside Ryan Millen says both teams are focused and are working together to make sure one of them takes the rally. "Laurance and I have been working hard to prepare for the rally. As their experience last year proved, you don't have to be too far off your mark for disaster to strike."
Last year, the Canadian team had run as high as second in the rally, only to have the ground literally pull out from under them when their GPS system told them they should be mere yards to the left from where they should have been.
"The accident was pretty spectacular," offered Yap. "The in-car footage we shot is still a really big hit on YouTube!"
With the cancellation of the Paris-Dakar Rally, the TransSyberia Rally has become the most physically grueling and mechanically challenging competition of the year. This year's route will traverse Russia's Ural Mountains, wind through the forests of Siberia, then head up and over the Altai Mountains and continue across the barren Mongolian plains and on through the brutal heat of the unforgiving Gobi Desert, prior to reaching the finish line in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia.
Once the TransSyberia Rally begins, both Porsche Cars North America and Porsche Cars Canada will be providing daily updates of the status of the two North American teams via the Internet.
Transsyberia Rally: Porsche leg two summary
TransSyberia Rally: Armin Schwarz leg one summary