Ferrari 15,000 Red Miles | Part Two

Tour of China

Ferrari 612

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 540 hp 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 renowned 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 and glorious 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% and gives it excellent torsional rigidity. In addition to this, the 612 Scaglietti’s near-perfect weight distribution (46% front and 54% 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 540 hp at 7,250 rpm.

The Pininfarina-designed 612 Scaglietti was named in honour of Sergio Scaglietti, the legendary Modenese coachbuilder who created some of the most beautiful cars to come out of Maranello in the early years of Enzo Ferrari’s extraordinary reign.

The route and main stages

The route begins and ends in Shanghai and is divided into 11 main stages (see attached 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 m 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 northernmost 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 October 29th.

continues... | Part Three
Published 17 July 2005 Melanie Carter

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