The Longest Drive

  • April 30, 2015

The current record holder for the overland dash between Cape Agulhas (South Africa) and The North Cape in Norway is held by a team who completed the challenge in a 1984 GMC suburban diesel truck and covered 12531 miles in 28 days, 13 hours and 10 minutes. Thereby setting the record.


Known as the African-Arctic challenge, in 1984 they traversed vast trackless deserts in Africa and deep frozen areas in the cold north crossing over 20 borders and escaping an ambush in Kenya as well as various other difficulties and beurocracies in their epic journey.

The Longest Drive team consists of Sebastian Bierhalter (Germany) who's day job is a Car technician, Michael Griffith (RSA) an ‘adventurer’ who has taken part in several Paris-Dakar rallies, and Jan Kalmar (Denmark) an advanced driving instructor. They are planning to try and break the current record, thereby becoming the fastest drivers from the Southern most point of Africa to the northern most point of Europe by car. 

“The North to South Challenge”  began on the 2nd May 2015 from the top of Norway, and will end at the bottom of Africa with a little detour via London and Cape Town along the way.

Going via London and Cape Town enables the team to target two world records rather than just the one.  The first record is from the northernmost point in Europe, North Cape, to the southernmost tip of Africa, Cape Agulhas. The second is the famous historic London-Capetown enduro rally. The first record was set in November 2014 and stands at 21 days and 16 hours. The second record was set in April 2013 at 10 days and 3 hours. It is a 24 hour detour to go via London but will enable the team to claim two records at the same time, should they succeed.

The car and team will travel over 20000km and visit 23 countries in one trip. Starting in Norway, then crossing Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Belgium, France, Great Britain, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Republic of South Africa.

How have they prepared for this?

The crew has planned for this project over the last couple of years. In 2011 and 2012 they crossed the globe along the 48th latitude in two separate legs (Europe-Asia and Canada).  As a “little walk in the park”, the team also drove around Australia on Highway #1, 15000 km in less than six days, so the team will know what to expect and are ready and rearing to go.

How will they drive so far and in such a short time?

The team aim to drive as efficiently as possible with the minimum amounts of stops and minimise the amount of time out of the car. This is the basis for achieving the shortest driving time while adhering strictly to local traffic rules along the way 

Jan Kalmar explains,“As the average speed drops dramatically when standing still, we are not planning any stops when we are underway – apart from refuelling. We have to live in the car for the 11-12 days we expect the 20.000km trip to take. The clock is ticking from the moment we leave Nordcape until we arrive in Cape Agulhas. Of course we will be exhausted but we will have a lot of experiences and hopefully two world records!”

But what is the point of all this?

Besides supporting charities, the Team wants to prove that it is possible to get in a modern car, albeit modified for long-distance driving, and drive 20000km without letting the engine get cold. The car – a Porsche Cayenne Diesel has been specially modified for long distance driving with extra large fuel tanks and a place to sleep as the main modifications.

The Longest Drive has always supported charities and for this project they have teamed up with “Farm Africa” which is a London-based charity helping local people in Africa improve their farming techniques, rather than sending food as aid.

The car will have a YB tracker installed before leaving on their epic journey. It will transmit several items of data including gps position, speed and direction to name a few. This means the team's families, friends and support team will be able to monitor their progress via our tracking map, even when they are in some of the most inhospitable places in the world.

For more information on this epic adventure please visit the longest drive website

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