The Range Rover Sport may not be Heaven-Sent, but it can say it has now ascended to Heaven’s Gate.
The new Range Rover Sport recently negotiated China’s Tianmen Mountain Road — a 1,518.6-meter mountain that can be climbed using a 11.3-km 99-turn 2-lane road, with may of those turns switchbacks — then finished it off with a climb up the 999-step 45-degree stairway to one of China’s natural formations — a rock natural archway called Heaven’s Gate.
From the foot of the mountain to the top of the clouds, the entire drive took a cumulative 21 minutes and 47 seconds.
The new performance luxury SUV became the first vehicle to climb the fabled stairway to Heaven. It was piloted by Tung Ho-Pin, the Netherlands-born Chinese racer who currently races in the FIA World Endurance Championship for Jackie Chan DC Racing.
“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,” said Tung of his drive.
The drive was dubbed the Dragon Challenge, the latest in a series of adventure drives with the latest Range Rover, which also included a record-setting run up Pikes Peak, a record crossing of the Rub' al Khali (the world’s largest sand desert) in the Arabian Peninsula, and a descent on the InfernoMürren downhill course Mürren, Switzerland (a 14.9-km ski run with a drop of 2,170 metres, which every year hosts the largest amateur downhill race in the world)..
“This was the hardest Range Rover Sport challenge I’ve ever been involved with because, until we reached the top, we couldn’t categorically say we would succeed,” said Phil Jones, Land Rover Experience expert. “By making it to the summit, we’ve proven the phenomenal capability of the Range Rover Sport like never before – with a genuine world first.”