Yes! We did it! We have overcome almost 23,000 kilometers from Melbourne to St. Petersburg, and arrived at the Palace Square on Monday evening. We were met by Pavel Belov, vice-chairman of the Committee for Physical Culture and Sports of the Government of St. Petersburg, which stopped the timer Tag Heuer, installed in our car.
So we did it for 17 days, 18 hours and 49 minutes, there's a new record! But it could be faster and, if not for our delay, for which we could not influence - we played two of the three days late. Thanks to the team, thanks to all sponsors who supported us and made it possible for such a complicated tour. And until we meet again - in front of another record! [...]
On the border with Russia we had to stay longer than usual - at the Kazakh border guards had a problem with the database on the server and so they passed cars very slow. But we have given all the forces in China and Kazakhstan, to have time to get to St. Petersburg for 17 days! In addition to all customs officers inspect a very long time our Touareg, and a passport Marius was left blank pages - the question arose where to put the stamp.
But we were able to make a dash finish, showing great team spirit - thanks to Marius for the dedicated night shifts to China, Kazakhstan and Russia, in the morning we were near the city of Cheboksary! To Moscow was less than 700 kilometers, and then we waited for the final march to St. Petersburg. It seems that we again had chances to stop the Tag [...]
Before passing the customs of Kazakhstan we had to wash the Volkswagen Touareg, which sported a brutal "tan", purchased on the roads of Laos. Of course, we were a little sorry for - because in this way resembled the Touareg racing cars for the rally-raids! But it was necessary not only for customs, but also to our sponsors. We crossed the border quickly - in just one hour. And it was a great success - if we drove too long to arrive, it would have lost 14 hours, waiting until the morning!
But now we don’t think about it - the border between Kazakhstan and Russia is working 24 hours! So the task was very clear - we go to St. Petersburg as quickly as possible and without unnecessary stops. At first this seemed an impossible task - the roads were not very good, we could hardly [...]
We have arrived to Chinese border absolutely exhausted – roads of Laos were very hard, especially at night. But we knew that in China we can drive fast because of excellent highways. At the border our team got fourth member – Chinese guide! It is necessary to drive here by foreigners at foreign car. But it was not a problem, because we left one broken tire in Thailand and had enough space for our bags. Also we got temporary Chinese driver’s license and number plates.
And this guide did not disturb us and let us go as fast as we wanted. Why? Because in China nobody watch for traffic! You can almost all – drive 200 kph, overtake from the right side. Chinese drivers don’t care about all and they drive very bad – they don’t use side mirrors, can overtake slow truck and change the lane [...]
Laos – it is another big challenge for us. We came relaxed from Malaysia and Thailand because of highways where we could drive with high average speed. But in Laos we remember Java and Sumatra! Ok, in the beginning there were asphalt roads with good surface, but just one hundred kilometers after we had rough gravel and potholes. And rain all the way!
Rain could be a main problem – we got bad news about road situation. Laos is the mountain country and there are not so much roads – to China it is only one way. And this road was blocked because rain felt down for few days caused mud avalanches. Fortunately, people from Laos road service have done good work and we could pass through! Moreover, we have arrived at Chinese border even 4 hours earlier that we expect, despite very hard [...]
There are very good roads in Thailand – two-lane highways has smooth surface and you don’t have to pay for using them! But you have to pay to road police if you drive fast. Most of drivers in Thailand don’t care about speed limits – they can drive 130-140 kph when the limit is 90! Normally we don’t like to go too fast but now we must catch time that we lost because of broken radiator in East Timor and problem with the ferry in Indonesia.
So we have driven 130. But it couldn’t continue through all Thailand – today we have stopped by road police. Not only we – they used cones to slow down traffic and officer checked license plates of each car. No speeding – ok, you can go. Driven too fast? Come to policeman. He looked like Robocop! “Driver’s licence, please!”. We thought that it will [...]
Another good news – car has arrived to Malakka at 7 am! But we had to wait until 10 am because it was delay with crane. Fortunately, crane operator was quite professional. He heads deloading process and did it very good. But we had another problem – low battery. The reason was our shortage of time yesterday – we had only half an hour to leave the car at Malakka port and went to speed ferry. So we forgot to switch off power convertors in the car. No problem – we just connected wires from another car and our engine has started again!
We left Malakka at 1 pm and crossed Malaysia very fast despite the… tire puncture! How we got it on highway with very good surface? Sidewall of tire was a little bit damaged by the loading rope and blowed off at high speed curve. Don’t worry – Marius [...]
This morning our boat has arrived to port of Dumai – and it is a great news! But it was a little bit scaring moment when we saw it. It was a wood boat only 30 meters long with old diesel engine and crew looked like smugglers. How old it is? I think it produced in 16th century but this boat was only 10 years old. I couldn’t believe in it! But we had no more options to deliver our Touareg to Malakka. As you already know our first option had a complete engine breakdown. We would sail by this boat because it is adventure and it is better to stay with car. Unfortunately, it was not possible to have passengers on cargo ship.
So we got 3 tickets to speed passenger ferry from Dumai to Malakka – at 11 am we left Indonesia and just after 2,5 hours crossed 150-kilometer long Malakka Strait. [...]
We arrived at Dumai, last Indonesian city on our route, at 8 am on Sunday. But we had unpleasant surprise – bad weather! Fog, high waves and storm at Malakka strait have caused a delay of our departure to Malaysia until midday. But we not sailed today! The reason was not experienced captain of our ferry – first he has never been before at Dumai and missed the port. Then he made a mistake with the documents and finally the engine of this ship was broken. Three problems just with one ferry! We talked since 6 months with ferry operator about this charter cruise and then have such a disasterious ferry and captain!
We have tried to find another way to Malakka this evening, but now is the Ramadan month and 88% of Indonesian population are muslims. So we do not have any chances to leave [...]
Yes, we knew that Sumatra is the hardest part of our World Record tour. But we could not imagine that this would be a nightmare! We completed 1400 kilometers in 28 hours –average speed was only 50 kph. Well, the road to Palembang was quite good and we have not lost too much time in this big city – there we had a final refueling at Pertamina gas station. Just about 2 hours in total because of traffic jams. But for last 300 kilometers roads were awful! Large potholes and in some places there were no asphalt – just gravel with huge pits, so we had to reduce the speed to minimal.
Fortunately, we had no punctures and save the suspension. But we are very tired! Moreover, due to error in navigation system (map does not contains some new roads at Sumatra), we made a detour about 100 [...]
Do you know Java is most populated island in the world? 125 million people live here! And Java is well-industrialized. That means a lot of truck – it is a biggest problem of these roads. Yes, there are two-lane highways everywhere, but trucks are constantly trying to overtake each other. And we had to wait for the finish of these “truck races”, spending a lot of time. It is the reason, why we drove 1100-kilometers way to Jakarta almost 32 hours!
Fortunately, the last 100 kilometers to Jakarta we drove through excellent toll road. And, what a surprise, we had police escort there! Two cars with sirens – one ahead of us and one behind, and two motorbikes. It looked like we are government delegation of another country. So we quickly got the Jakarta and Volkswagen dealership despite the [...]
We arrived to Sumbawa at 4 pm in Wednesday and drove directly to internet-café in Bima. Thanks to Candra Rusly, owner of this café, who uploaded our video about the start of World Record tour – check it on this website! We were closed to Pototano, when at 10 pm had tire puncture on gravel road. But do not worry – we replaced it only in 15 minutes and arrived to port just in time. Next stop – Lombok island.
Lombok is small island – just 143 kilometers long road from east to west part. After two hours we already loaded in another ferry. Four hours to rest and we arrived to Bali, very popular touristic island of Indonesia. Bali is very beautiful – a lot of temples, nice houses, good roads. Unfortunately we are here not to swim in Indian ocean. So, goobye, Bali! We crossed three islands [...]
What is Flores island? For us it is about 730 kilometers to go. But Rainer had a plan to cross Flores in 24 hours. Do you think it is too much? No! And the main reason is the roads. Very tricky mountain roads with a lot of traffic and roadworks, no straights longer than 200 meters! We already wrote about the same problems on Timor island, but forget it and believe us – Flores is much more difficult and hard part of World Record tour in compare to Timor and Australia.
We crossed Flores in 17 hours without any problems – thanks to new brake sets, that was changed in Melbourne before we start. Brakes are very important in Flores if you want to drive fast enough. And even repaired radiator did not leak! So we had 7 extra hours to rest until ferry departure to Sumbawa island. Thanks to [...]
As you already know we lost all chances to get the regular ferry in Kupang on Sunday because we had a problem with the radiator of our car. And it was a big challenge to find a ferry which could deliver our team to Larantuka port on Flores island without losing too much time. But Rainer did it – he offered a charter ferry! Yes, it was really expensive but we had no other choice to come to Flores without another time losses. We cannot wait 3 days for next ferry to Flores because it is a World Record tour!
Don’t think that was wood boat with 10 horsepower engine. No! It was big ferry made of steel with capacity of 30 cars and 16 people crew. Imagine – all this just only for our team and car! So, we had very comfortable 16 hours travel from Kupang to Larantuka. Like a sea cruise! [...]
Second attempt for crossing East Timor has been successful. We started from Dili at 5.15 am and after 3 hours we already came to the border with Indonesia. It looked strange – more like a farm not a national border. Small wood houses, goats and hens around and just one officer who played billiard alone. We crossed it very fast and… had to wait 20 minutes until Indonesian border opened. Why? It is because Indonesia is in another timezone.
Roads in Indonesia are much better than in East Timor, but they are very tricky - typical mountain roads with thousands of curves. Left-right-lift-right-up and down – like special stages for the rally! But we don’t have a racing car and there is a lot of traffic. Overtaking is a problem, because we have a left-hand drive car. That’s why we came to [...]
Our plans to reach Kupang until 4 pm did not realize. We have completed only 30 kilometers after Dili because of cooling system problem. Just imagine small bridge, speed is only 15 km/h – we used it to make short video. Suddenly we saw steam from under the bonnet and stopped immediately. Overheating? No, temperature was ok. But cooling liquid was leaking to the ground. We tried to find the reason of that leak and lost about 2 hours because it is really hard to get access to radiator in Touareg. It is fantastic, but we met ex-president of East Timor while tried to repair the car – he drove buggy and asked us do we need some help.
Likely, we already had very good mechanic – Mel came from Dili to help us. We remove intake pipes and fan to see radiator. And we saw the hole, but not on [...]
We have arrived to East Timor! As you know we used the plane to fly across Timor Sea, and it was Antonov-12 produced in 1970. But the plane was very beautiful – it has same livery like our Volkswagen Touareg! And the Ukrainian crew did this flight very comfortable – we had just fast loading, fantastic landing in Dili despite the short runway and no delays in airport. Thank you, guys! You are very professional.
So at 7.15 am we started from Dili to the border with Indonesia. And we had no time to lose, the reason is our ferry – it departures from Kupang at 4 pm. And East Timor is not Australia. Here are no highways, narrow roads with awful surface and a lot of deep potholes. The road traffic is crazy - motorbikes, trucks, small buses full of people, pigs, goats, dogs… East Timor is [...]
The first step is done! We have cross Australia completed almost 4 thousands kilometers in 36 hours. Roads were perfect – good surface, almost no traffic and speed limit at outback is 130 km/h, so we could drive fast. But at nights it was not easy. And the reason is not about sleeping by the wheel. Kangaroos are the biggest problem at nights – a lot of these funny animals are just sitting on the road and you never know to which side it will be jump! So we had to be very concentrate at nights. And just thanks to our additional headlights – we did not hit kangaroos or any other animals.
So we are in Darwin now waiting for our plane. Yes, we use it to cross Timor Sea! We will fly to Dili, it is in the East Timor, just small country on Timor Island. And it will be Antonov-12, old [...]
We have started our World Record drive at the morning. Councillor of Melbourne Ken Ong came to historical Town Hall and pushed the button on our Tag Heuer stopwatch. It was so exciting moment! And now the race is on! It was raining in Melbourne when we left it, but we hope it is a good sign to our long trip. We lost just 20 minutes in traffic jam and now we are on the highway to the North of Australia. Next stop is Darwin, biggest city of the Northern Territory. We have about 4 thousand kilometers to it – more than 40 hours of driving through Australian outback with a lot of trucks and kangaroos. Fuel tank is full, the team is in good mood – so we are looking forward to set the new World Record. And Marius has promised to do some impressive shots. Stay tuned! [...]
Today there was a press-conference in the historical Town Hall in Melbourne where we were glad to meet councilor Ken Ong, all the sponsors of this World Record tour and the journalists of local magazines. Rainer Zietlow showed them our video of the Australian part of the Scout tour which now is available on this website under the video section. Rainer told all the details about our outstanding route from Melbourne to Saint-Petersburg also. After that Ken Ong gave to Rainer greetings letter to government of Saint-Petersburg which we will proudly deliver. Tomorrow we will start our World Record Tour start at 10 am. So now we have to refuel the car, pack all our belongings and equipment and get good sleep before we say goodbye to Melbourne. [...]