The new Range Rover Sport has set a world record for crossing The Empty Quarter – or Rub’ al Khali – in Saudi Arabia, posting a time of 10 hours and 22 minutes across 849km of searing desert.
One of the harshest and most challenging stretches of desert in the world, the Sport made the trip on November 3 at an average speed of 81.87km/h in sweltering conditions that exceeded 50C.
The Sport that conquered the desert trek was a standard production model with the 375kW 5.0-litre supercharged V8 petrol engine. The SUV ran on standard tyres and the only modification was an underbody protection plate.
First released in 2005, the Sport’s latest iteration exploits Land Rover’s new lightweight suspension system and innovative dynamic chassis technologies, which coupled with its aluminium architecture achieves a weight saving of more than 420kg over it predecessor.
At the helm was 47-year-old Spanish off-road racer Moi Tarrallardona, who has competed in the Dakar Rally for the past 10 years with a best finish of 6th place. Tarrallardona said his team encountered sand flats, soft dunes, canyons and other desert hazards along the way.
“The challenge of the desert is like nothing else, it is a brutal, unforgiving and sometimes deadly environment,” he said. “Desert driving requires a unique combination of speed, finesse and technical skill. It is crucial that you tackle the dunes with precision.
“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. The Range Rover Sport is exactly that. It is massively capable and is truly the best tool for conquering the desert.”