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OPTICAL AND HEARING
8th July, 2005
Despite its image of a densely populated country, China contains some of the remotest and most difficult terrain in the world, so the obvious choice for a 25,000 km tour of the mountains and deserts of China would not be a 320 kmh supercar powered by a high sophisticated 5.7 litre V12 engine developing 402 kW.
But that is exactly was Ferrari is planning with its range topping Ferrari 612 Scagliettis when they leave Shanghai on 29th August for a grand tour of China, taking them from the crowed coast areas of Eastern China, to the deserts, including the infamous Gobi Desert of the far west of China and up into Tibet to some of the highest roads in the world.
The tour isn't, though, without precedent. Long before Ferrari was a dominant force on the race track, the legendary Italian company demonstrated its durability by competing in long distance endurance events, such as the Mille Miglia and Carrera Panamericana.
These legendary historical races demonstrated the versatility and strength of the cars of the day, but they were also much more dangerous and less well-tested than today's cars. That type of race no longer exists and to put a sophisticated, powerful car like the Ferrari 612 Scaglietti to the test nowadays requires at least 25,000 km of very tough terrain to demonstrate its strength.
In 1997 a Ferrari F355 completed a round the world trip taking in all five continents. The car was driven by 147 different journalists from the various countries it crossed and each one left his signature on the car's bodywork. 1997 was also Ferrari's 50th anniversary and the World Tour, as it was known, was staged to tell the world how very much alive and successful the company was and also to demonstrate the reliability of a model that would prove of huge strategic importance in Ferrari's development. The adventure proved an extraordinary success with the F355 leaving New York on 18th March and returning there to finish the tour after 75 days, quite literally, on the road.
For Ferrari's latest long distance adventure, the Ferrari 612 Scagliettis will first head north and then east toward Manchuria. After this they will drive south-west to Beijing and then along the Great Wall as far as Lanzhou. From there they will cover over 3,000 km at an altitude of more than 4,000 metres as far as Lhasa in Tibet before heading back west through the Gobi Desert to the ancient city of Kashi, site of Marco Polo's famous silk market.
After a further dash through the desert, the two 612 Scagliettis will drive on to Urumqi and then down through the tropical part of the country to Guangzhou. From there they will continue on through the most modern and western part of China back to Shanghai after a round trip of 25,000 kilometres. If all goes according to plan, the two 612 Scagliettis should complete their tour of China in 45 days. The Tour has received the valued support of the Chinese authorities as well as logistical support from Fiat China. It is also being staged in partnership with some of Ferrari's most faithful sponsors, including Shell (fuels and lubricants with specialist support in the toughest areas), Puma (for crew clothing), Alcoa (technical partner and builder of the 612's aluminium chassis), Pirelli (supplier of specialist tyres for the various terrains) and Saima Avandero (transportation of the cars, wheel rims and spares).
Ferrari will also be joined by a Chinese partner, Xin Yu Watch & Clock, the leading distributor of Swiss timepieces in China. Assistance and spares will be provided by four vehicles: two Fiat cars and two specially equipped Iveco trucks.
A total of 15 international journalists and 15 Chinese journalists will drive the route at different times.
The Tour starts on 29th August 2005 from Shanghai and in the main territories to be crossed the expedition members will meet with local authorities and present them with a Prancing Horse trophy as a symbolic gift.
The two 612 Scaglietti cars are in complementary colours. One will be red with a silver bonnet and the other will be silver with a red bonnet. They are modified only very minimally - they will have a larger fuel tank with petrol filters that are easily accessed for cleaning purposes, under body protectors and slightly higher suspension to cope with the more challenging terrain. Their headlights will also be protected by a metal grille and some of the air intakes will be modified to allow them to traverse water-logged areas in safety. In every other respect, however, the cars are "normal" production models with a 402 kW V12 engine and a maximum torque of 588 Nm, dry sump lubrication, a six-speed gearbox and a Transaxle transmission.
In addition to the journalists, a photographer and video camera operator, there will also be nine other expedition members who will provide technical, logistical and linguistic assistance.
En route, the cars will stop off at the 10 Ferrari dealerships now up and running in China, at Yanzhou where Pirelli has signed a joint-venture contract aimed at starting the manufacturing of tyres, at several of the major Shell service stations, and at Fiat's Chinese base at Nanjing.
Ferrari in China
Ferrari first arrived in China in 1993 through an importer but is now present with a joint venture, Ferrari Maserati Cars International Trading, which was launched in October 2004. Ferrari holds a majority share in the company with its partners Poly Technologies and Wo Kee Hong. Ferrari Maserati Cars International Trading is the exclusive importer of Ferrari and Maserati cars in China and manages the marketing, sales to dealerships, spares, accessories and technical assistance activities of both marques in the country.
The local staff are trained directly by the factory to guarantee our Chinese clients a quality service in line with Ferrari and Maserati's high standards. Ferrari considers China to be a market of great strategic importance. In fact, since the joint venture was launched, a total of 42 Prancing Horse cars have been sold. The Chinese market is expected to become Ferrari's fifth or sixth largest world market in terms of numbers of cars sold over the next two or three years alone.
The Ferrari 612 Scaglietti
The 612 Scaglietti is the result of an avant-garde design that continues Ferrari's long 2+2 tradition, combining a cabin capable of accommodating four occupants in comfort with blistering Ferrari sports car performance.
The 612 Scaglietti is the very first ever Ferrari 12-cylinder to boast both an all-aluminium space frame chassis and body. The result of cutting-edge production and assembly techniques, the new car's all-aluminium construction reduces its weight by 40 per cent and gives it excellent torsional rigidity. In addition to this, the 612 Scaglietti's near-perfect weight distribution (46 per cent front and 54 per cent rear) means that it offers both the high performance driving of a rear-engined car and the roomy versatility of a front-engined layout.
The CST electronic stability and traction control system enhances the 612 Scaglietti's dynamic handling even further. This is the first time the system has been used in a Ferrari and it guarantees optimal performance in tandem with complete safety. Its imposing 65° V12 engine was developed using Ferrari's most advanced racing technologies and punches out a maximum of 402 kW at 7,250 rpm.
The Pininfarina-designed 612 Scaglietti was named in honour of Sergio Scaglietti, the legendary Modenese coachbuilder who designed some of the most beautiful cars to come out of Maranello in the early years of Enzo Ferrari's career.
The route and main stages
The route begins and ends in Shanghai and is divided into 11 main stages (see map) which will also act as the crew changeover points. The first stage sees the expedition leave Shanghai bound for Beijing, a 3,000-kilometre, seven-day journey away. En route it will take in the city of Shenyang at the very north-eastern tip of China near the border with Mongolia.
The second major stage takes the cars along the Great Wall of China from Beijing to Lanzhou, a 2,100 km dash over four days. At Lanzhou, the cars begin their descent into south-western China which will culminate in a very tough stretch at altitudes of over 4,000 metres and take them into the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, after a seven-day drive, on 19th of September. From there the expedition will retrace its steps as far as Goldmud where it will turn north-west, stopping off at the northern most tip of the route in the city of Urumqi, over 2,700 km from Lhasa.
Next the cars head for Kashi, home to one of the most famous silk markets encountered by Marco Polo on his travellers. This time the leg will be a "mere" 1,400 km, to be covered in three days.
From Kashi the expedition turns back towards the east bound for Jiayuguan, 2,500 km away, which it will reach in six days. From there the cars will drive down to the south-east coast through to the major city of Chongqing (2,000 km to be covered in six days) and then on to Guangzhou (Canton), a further 2,000 km away. After this they begin the home run, via Wenzhou (1,500 km from Canton), back to Shanghai, where they are expected to arrive on the evening of 29th October.