ROD MILLEN AND RICHARD KELSEY BRING AMERICANS VICTORY FOR PORSCHE® CAYENNE® IN MONGOLIA
ATLANTA -- August 17 -- Driving their Team North America Porsche Cayenne S Transsyberia, Rod Millen and Richard Kelsey outlasted a field of 39 vehicles over more than two weeks and 4,400 miles to score a 17-minute win in 2007 Transsyberia Rallye, one of the world's toughest off-road marathons.
After a two-week drive from Moscow to Ulan Bator, Mongolia, (the same distance from Alaska to the Panama Canal) Rod Millen and co-driver Richard Kelsey -- both New Zealand-born rallyists now living in the United States, reached the finish in the capital of Mongolia earlier today, and the challenge for both man and machine impressed the veteran rallyist.
Millen, a resident of Tustin, Calif., said, "That was the biggest motorsport challenge of my life. In these two weeks we all made mistakes, both the drivers and the navigators alike. Richard and I were simply the ones to make the least number of errors. The keys to success at such an unbelievably hard marathon are experience and caution. We knew where we had to drive slowly and where we could drive the Cayenne to its limit. The Cayenne handled and performed impressively on the quick sections. And off-road, the Porsche constantly surprised me with it capabilities."
With no pace notes or pre-running practice, Millen pointed out that co-driver Kelsey played a vital role in the victory.
"We spent the better part of the first two weeks learning the vehicle and being cautious about the conditions, and then turned it on the last couple of days. Richard set the pace, pulling me back when I was trying to go too fast, and forcing me to be patient when the terrain was rough."
It was also the first time Millen had rallied in a luxury vehicle, and said that being comfortable and not taking a pounding during the event made a big difference.
"Having run endurance rallies and off-road races like the Baja 1000 and the Rally of Malaysia, I can tell you that being strapped in a racing seat with a car that has a hard suspension makes your insides rattle. This Cayenne was so comfortable that Richard and I did not take a beating, yet so durable that the vehicle is in perfect shape today at the finish. There is no question that we could start another two-week rally today with the same Cayenne," said Millen.
Porsche Cayenne S Transsyberia competitors also placed second and third. Second was Italy's 1 team with Antonio Tognana and Carlo Cassina, while the Quatar team with Adel Abdulla and Norbert Lutteri reached the finish to claim third, 23 minutes behind the winner. In fact, seven of the top 10 finishers were driving the special edition Porsche Cayenne S.
Making their debut in the Transsyberia Rallye, the all-new 2008 Porsche Cayenne S Transsyberia models are 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.
The other North American team still running at the finish was the Jeff Zwart/Paul Dallenbach Porsche Cayenne S Transsyberia, which finished 11th after dropping as low as 22nd place after an early mishap at one of the water crossings. The Canadian team of Kees Nierop and Laurance Yap had a crash earlier in the week and were unable to continue.
Rod Millen moved to the United States in the mid-'70s winning five SCCA National rally titles as well as the FIA Asia-Pacific rally championship. He is perhaps better known for his Baja off-road titles, his Pikes Peak wins, and Mickey Thompson Entertainment Group stadium championships. He even has a sports car endurance victory -- the GTU title at the 1989 24 Hours of Daytona -- to his credit.
Over the course of the rally, four different teams were in the lead. Establishing themselves at the front of the field on the first leg through Russia, over the Urals and into Siberia were the ex-European rally champion Armin Schwarz (Austria) with his co-driver Oliver Hilger (Germany). Up until day nine the duo retained the lead with their Cayenne S Transsyberia. However, three punctures on the first leg in Mongolia cost the Germany 1 team its top position. On the 13th leg an accident put a stop to their charge. A British Toyota Landcrusier took over first place for the next two days until they became bogged down in a mud hole.
Dr. Erik Brandenburg and his co-driver Stefan Preuss (both Germany) promptly moved into the lead with their self-rebuilt 911 Carrera from 1975. With this car, a 2,200-pound rear wheel drive 911, they dominated the 177-mile stage 12 from Altai to Bayankhor in Mongolia, but lost positions over the course of the following day due to deep water crossings to finish ninth.
Final results (top ten):
1. Rod Millen/Richard Kelsey, Porsche Cayenne S Transsyberia, 13:42.28.59 hours
2. Antonio Tognana/Carlo Cassina, Porsche Cayenne S Transsyberia, 17.19.48 mins behind
3. Adel Abdulla/Norbert Lutteri, Porsche Cayenne S Transsyberia, 23.14.42 mins behind
4. Lars Kern/Daniel van Kann, Suzuki Grand Vitara, 1:12.23.44 hours behind
5. Pau Soler/Laia Peinado, Porsche Cayenne S Transsyberia, 1:19.21.80 hrs
6. Simon Garnham/Matt Garnham, Toyota Landcruiser, 1:44.10.14 hrs
7. Rene Metge/Silvain Reisser, Porsche Cayenne S Transsyberia, 2:15.23.80 hrs
8. Oliver Schmidt/Thomas Konig, Porsche Cayenne S Transsyberia, 2:39.32.85 hrs
9. Dr. Erik Brandenburg/Stefan Preuß, Porsche Carrera, 2:42.26.33 hrs
10. Karim Al-Azhari/Blair Cole, Porsche Cayenne S Transsyberia, 3:25.05.88 hrs
Complete, official results are posted on the official rally web site, www.transsyberia-rallye.com.
-credit: porsche north america