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China-Mongolia: Porsche Cayenne wins Marathonrally in China.

21,300 kilometers, six spare tires, two men, one car, zero mishaps. This is the recipe from which victories are made - and this is what happened at the China Mongolia International Rally Raid 2009, a marathon rally from Eren Hot, near the Great Wall of China, to the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar. 1700 kilometers through extremely difficult terrain had to be mastered in six daily stages.

In the end, the only non-Asian team held the cup: after 25 hours and 40 minutes the German off-road legend Richard Schalber, organizer of the Transsyberia Rally 2007 and 2008, and his co-driver Michael Zerwer crossed the finish-line in a Porsche Cayenne - one hour and two minutes ahead of the first of the 24 pursuers.

Before the start, the Team Rebel-Schalber however had to already deal with their very own rally: "The invitation of the Mongolian Automobile- and Motorsport Federation arrived only three weeks before the start of the rally - much too short notice to have our car brought to China", said Schalber. It was spontaneously decided that they would drive the Porsche Cayenne by themselves from Bavaria to ´The Middle Kingdom´ - on board minimal equipment consisting of a tent, sleeping bags, spare tires and the necessary tools. 9800 kilometers and twelve days later, the SUV from Stuttgart was ready at the starting line. "And without the slightest technical problem", Schalber added. "Even though the car has already been through two entire Transsyberia Rallies!"

The entry into China wasn’t quite so unproblematic: the processing at the border took hours - including a test for the swine flu. Finally nothing else stood in the way of the big off-road adventure - opened by an imposing kick-off ceremony.

Schalber was particularly impressed by the choice of the stretch: "From the Gobi Dessert to the 4000-meter-high passes of the Altai Mountains, everything was there." The terrain was absolutely comparable with the Transsyberia Rally. There were some fundamental differences though: "The organization was limited to time measurement and checkpoints. You’d be searching for technical or medical support in vain."

The participants’ provisions were just as minimalistic: "We had meat soup and rice three times a day. So that we’d know the ingredients were fresh, a goat and a lamb greeted us at every yurt camp. Alive of course." The vodka helped the German stomachs to digest the Mongolian fare including Airag, the national beverage made of fermented mare’s milk, with no further harm.

Schalber wasn’t just surprised at the enormous friendliness and candor of the Chinese and the Mongolians, but at their driving style: "They turned on the heat from the get-go with their Russian and Japanese four-by-fours. But while they had to replace a piston or disassemble a carburetor every evening, we simply had to give the inside of the Porsche Cayenne a wipe. With that, our preparation for the next day was done."

The biggest challenge, except for the demanding navigation, was the necessity to bring the car across the finish-line without much damage. "After all, we still had the journey home of about 9000 kilometers ahead of us - including the crossing of Russia", Schalber explained. His formula for success: "Human being and machine have to be a unity. Endurance, dependability and team spirit are what counts at such a rally. If you heed that, you’ll experience an unrivaled adventure."

30 days and 21,300 kilometers after the departure, the Porsche Cayenne has arrived back in Bad Hindelang in Bavaria. He won’t be able to treat himself to a long respite though. Schalber is making plans for the future: "There’s going to be a rally in Mongolia in the winter, with ice, snow and temperatures of up to minus 45 degrees. I want to do it." Additional participants are welcome by the way. Those interested should contact

2009/09/27 | 19:41 CET | Editor: MR/HS/S.Mickan

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