Look back at the birth of the original Land Rover | How Land Rover has driven adventure and scientific exploration | GQ Editor Dylan Jones discusses inspiration with Chief Design Officer Gerry McGovern | Exploring the potential impact of electrification and connected vehicles | Tackling the 999 steep steps up to Heaven’s Gate in China
Ho-Pin Tung was born in
Ho-Pin Tung was born in the Netherlands to Chinese parents. In 2017 he became the first Chinese driver to claim victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He is also a Jaguar Racing driver in the Formula E championship THE CHALLENGE: DRIVE THE 99 TURNS OF THE ‘DRAGON ROAD’ UP TIANMEN MOUNTAIN... STEPPING IT UP The steps themselves are a relatively new construction, rather than an ancient monument, which meant that Phil Jones and his team thought it could be done. “We first sent a local colleague to the site to measure the angles and send us the data. Based on this and a selection of satellite images, we built a section of the steps at our Gaydon testing site in the UK to see how the vehicle performed on a 45-degree hill.” The team deliberately chose the P400e, which combines an 85kW electric motor and 2.0 litre engine, switching intelligently between the two modes. The electric power for example gives instant torque, which would be handy for accelerating out of the Dragon’s hairpin turns and vital for providing the necessary thrust to scale the full 999 steps. After the initial testing at Gaydon, and a period of several months to obtain the needed permissions from the local authorities to carry out the challenge, Jones flew to China to see the site first hand. “And that’s when I started to have doubts,“ he says. “When I first stood at the bottom and looked up at Heaven’s Gate, my first thought was, ‘What have I let myself in for here?’” However, Jones stuck with it and after further calculations, he returned to England, “not 100% confident of success, but sure enough to proceed.” 82
DRAGON CHALLENGE ... BEFORE TALL ORDER Before committing to the challenge, Ho-Pin asked for assurance that no damage would be caused to the site. “It’s an iconic location with strong cultural links – being Chinese, that was a very important aspect for me. Once it was cleared, we got down to practicing.” With more than a decade’s racing experience, Ho-Pin was confident he could handle the 99 turns of the Dragon. The 999 steps, on the other hand, were a different matter entirely. “The first time I attempted the 45-degree gradient at Gaydon, my heart was racing faster than a qualifying lap at Le Mans. It feels like you are going up a vertical slope – all you can see ahead is sky.” Based on initial test experience, Phil Jones felt it prudent that, with more than 400 steps at a 45-degree angle, a method of securing the vehicle in case of a problem was imperative. The answer: two safety cables would be attached at the top and the bottom of the steps with a one-way clutch, which would only kick in if the car were to start rolling backwards. With UK testing done, the team headed to China to complete its final practices on site. Despite extensive examination in Gaydon, the safety cables still had to prove themselves on the 999 steps up to Heaven’s Gate, where any issues could prove disastrous. The responsibility fell on Phil Jones to take the Range Rover Sport up a section of the steep incline for the first time. “On the first attempt, I didn’t have enough speed, but the safety lines held me perfectly.” A reassuring thought for Ho-Pin Tung as he sets off up the Dragon road on the morning of the challenge. Locals are wary of the Dragon – normally, the veteran tour bus drivers are the only ones allowed to navigate its blind turns, bordered by sheer limestone on one side and sheer drops on the other. But now, before the park opens, the road is empty and Ho-Pin is TACKLING THE 999 STEPS in his element. “For me, this part is like a street circuit. The car has a sporty feel to it and handles the corners excellently.” KNOCKING ON HEAVEN’S DOOR After 6.8 miles, he arrives at the bottom of the 999 steps up to Heaven’s Gate. Now, the real test begins. Manoeuvring the car up the first few steps is no easy task and requires precise handling. “The instant power delivery of the electric motor is perfect for this section,” Ho-Pin explains. Then, it’s a straight shot up to the top. “But there’s a lot of steering control required. The car is constantly bumping around on the steps.” At one point, all four wheels leave the ground as Ho-Pin races upward. After 22 minutes and 41 seconds, Ho-Pin reaches the top. The Range Rover Sport comes to a halt and he steps out: “I‘m overcome by a mixture of excitement and relief. The tension had been building on this challenge for several months – nobody could be 100% sure how it would turn out. I’ve never experienced 20 minutes of adrenaline like it.” LEADING TO ‘HEAVEN’S GATE’ FIND OUT MORE To see the video, please search Land Rover Dragon Challenge THE RESULT: CHALLENGE COMPLETED IN 22 MINUTES 41 SECS P400e : ASTONISHING CAPABILITY, LOWER EMISSIONS Land Rover’s new plug-in hybrid technology (PHEV) combines a conventional engine with an electric motor and a high voltage battery, reducing emissions without compromising performance. This ensures a dynamic drive, ideal for breaking records like the Dragon Challenge. The P400e powertrain’s everyday benefits, however, go far beyond this. By offering an electric range of up to 51 kilometres, both the Range Rover Sport P400e and the larger Range Rover P400e can handle most daily commutes in full electric mode. And a full charge takes as little as 7.5 hours using a domestic plug. This can even be cut to just 2.75 hours when using a public charging point. With numerous cities around the world working towards cutting emissions, this makes both vehicles ideal for everyday urban life. This applies to Amsterdam in Ho-Pin Tung’s native Netherlands, too. Here city planners and politicians are working towards making the Dutch metropole the first city in Europe to become completely emissions free by 2025. With PHEV technology already available for those seeking a greener way of getting around, that goal now seems closer than ever before. OFFICIAL EU FUEL CONSUMPTION FIGURES FOR THE RANGE ROVER SPORT P400e in mpg (l/100km): Combined 101 (2.8); CO 2 emissions (combined) g/km: 64; Official EU Test Figures. For comparison purposes only. Real world figures may differ. EV range figures are based upon production vehicle over a standardised route. Range achieved will vary dependent on vehicle and battery condition, actual route and environment and driving style. 83
Land Rover Magazine showcases stories from around the world that celebrate inner strength and the drive to go Above and Beyond.
In this issue, New Defender is put through its paces by two inspirational young adventurers as they prepare for an expedition to the South Pole. We also celebrate 50 years of Range Rover by taking a journey of discovery to Dubai. As well as looking back, we look to future as a group of visionaries explain the technologies that could change the future for all of us.