A production Range Rover Sport has reportedly set the fastest record time for a land vehicle in crossing what is described as "one of the harshest and most challenging desert environments on the planet."
According to Land Rover, the 650,000sq-km Empty Quarter--which covers parts of Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen--is the largest sand desert in the world and second largest desert after the Sahara. With daytime temperatures exceeding 50 degrees Celsius, no reliable water sources and the ever-shifting terrain, the area supposedly is a true test for both man and machine.
To conquer it, Land Rover provided 10-year Dakar Rally veteran Moi Torrallardona with a 503hp, 5.0-liter V8 supercharged Range Rover Sport. Equipped with standard tires, the only modification reportedly done to the vehicle was the addition of an underbody protection plate.
Setting off from Wadi Adda Wasir in Saudi Arabia on November 3, the journey across the Empty Quarter to the border of the United Arab Emirates took 10 hours and 22 minutes at an average speed of 81.87kph to cover the 849km route.
"The challenge of the desert is like nothing else," said Torrallardona. "It is a brutal, unforgiving and sometimes deadly environment. Desert driving requires a unique combination of speed, finesse and technical skill. It is crucial that you tackle the dunes with precision. Knowing the right time to go full-throttle and the right time to slow down, takes experience and clear judgment. This unique way of driving requires a vehicle that has the same skill set--it must be both incredibly fast but also agile, responsive and well-planted. The Range Rover Sport is exactly that. It is massively capable and is truly the best tool for conquering the desert."
The Empty Quarter crossing is the second challenge the Range Rover Sport has completed in recent months, following its record hill climb for a production SUV at Pikes Peak back in June.