The three-Cayenne team that comprises Team North America will be manned by drivers and co-drivers who are no strangers to the concept of endurance racing, both on road and off. From the desolate Baja Desert, to the high banks and long nights of Daytona International Speedway, to the dark treacherous woods and rutted back roads of Pro Rally, to the thin air and unforgiving turns that make up the Pikes Peak Hill Climb, the members of the team understand the questions and the dangers that await them.
Beginning August 3rd in Moscow, the three Porsche Cayennes SUVs will set out on the 4,412-mile (7,100-km) route that traverses the Ural Mountains, races up the jagged peaks of the Altai Mountains, continues across the barren plains of Mongolia and then sprints through the unforgiving Gobi Desert, before it reaches the finish line on August 17th in Ulaanbaatar, the capitol of Mongolia.
Despite the trials that lay ahead of them, every member of Team North America is looking forward to the event.
While there are other longer rallies in the world, there are few that combine the distances and the brutal conditions Team North America will experience. “The last marathon rally I ran was a 10,000-mile event,” offered Zwart, veteran of both on and off-road rallies, races and hillclimbs. “Although the Transsyberia is not as long, it will be much more difficult due to the harsh terrain. I’m sure we’ll see every type of driving condition and situation possible on the tortuous route, which will make for a truly amazing trip.”
Kees Nierop, driver of the Canada 1 entry, and winner of numerous long distance races, including the 12 Hours of Sebring, knows all about endurance racing and anticipates the uniqueness the Transsyberia Rallye provides. “On the racing side, I know the key to success will be teamwork,” said Nierop, who will share the entry with Canadian journalist Laurance Yap.
Joined by the USA 1 entry of famed rally and off-road driver Rod Millen and navigator Richard Kelsey, Team North America will be nearly self-contained for the 15-day adventure. With the exception of food, they must carefully pack all their needed supplies in the cargo area of their Cayennes. This includes the equipment necessary for eight nights camping out in the wilds of Mongolia.
Making their debut in the Transsyberia Rallye, the Cayennes fielded by Team North America are all-new 2008 Porsche Cayenne S Transsyberia models specially built and prepared by Porsche for long-distance rallies. They have been modified primarily to meet required safety regulations (roll cages and padding; additional safety belts, etc) and to enhance off-road durability (skid plates; auxiliary lighting, etc). The mechanical components of these specially prepared Cayennes remain unchanged including their new 4.8-liter, 385 horsepower direct injection engines.