• The Range Rover Sport Seriously Climbed Heaven’s Gate

This stunt was not for the weak-of-heart

The Land Rover Range Rover Sport has already established itself as a do-it-all SUV that can tackle the roughest of terrains. Still, the folks over at Land Rover probably didn’t feel too confident about adding its ability to conquer China’s daunting Dragon Road in Tianmen Mountain in any one of the SUV’s brochures. Nobody’s done the challenge before because it’s thought to be impossible. The road itself is notorious for its 99 turns, but if that isn’t enough, it culminates with a 999-step, 45-degree angle concrete staircase that leads to the absolutely mesmerizing Heaven’s Gate rock formation. Eager to prove everyone wrong, Land Rover went to China to see if it could make history. Well, it was either that or disaster. Either way, it made for quite the stunt.

To achieve the impossible feat, Land Rover tapped Panasonic Jaguar Racing driver Ho-Pin Tung to sit behind the wheel of the Range Rover Sport and drive it up the perilous seven-mile Tianmen Mountain Road. The SUV was also outfitted with reinforced tires in order to withstand the punishment they were going to take, not only on the mountain road but also on that uphill ascent up the 999 steps that led to Heaven’s Gate. If the stunt itself wasn’t dangerous enough on the surface, Tung also had to deal with the distinction of being the first person to ever climb up the steps that led to Heaven’s Gate in a car. It certainly didn’t help that the steep incline meant that the smallest of errors would’ve sent Tung and the SUV crashing down the steps with a high probability that the SUV would turn into a heap of metal once it reached the base.

Then again, Land Rover wouldn’t perform this stunt if it didn’t think it would accomplish it. Against all odds, Tung managed to complete the mission, driving the car up the perilous mountain road and up the 999-step staircase in 20 minutes and 47 seconds. More importantly, it achieved the feat without any incident, turning it into a record run in the process because nobody’s ever done it before. It’s hard to imagine any automaker trying to make a run at Land Rover’s time given how dangerous the stunt was. If you don’t believe it, consider listening to Tung’s reaction when he completed the stunt. ”I’ve experienced Formula E, Formula 1 and won at the 24 Hours of Le Mans but this was, without doubt, one of the most demanding driving challenges I’ve ever faced,” he said. Hard to argue with the man.


Land Rover Range Rover

The Range Rover Sport Seriously Climbed Heaven's Gate
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Kirby Garlitos
Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read full bio
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