Rainer and team cover ground in South America

And they’re off! Rainer and team cover serious ground in South America  It takes more than snow to stop driver extraordinaire Rainer Zietlow and his team. While it’s true that severe weather conditions delayed the kickoff of the TDI-Panamericana Challenge , the crew is now on the road and giving the odometer on their Volkswagen Touareg TDI Clean Diesel quite the workout.

Here’s the latest from Rainer:

Days 1-3, July 2nd to 4th, Northern Chile
With the snowstorm passed, we were finally ready to go. We realized that our decision to wait was a good one, as much of the area was covered with ice and snow. We were super excited to start because we prepared a lot for this trip. We left Ushuaia at 4am after a brief farewell from the Mayor of Ushuaia, who gave us an official medallion to present to the Mayor of Deadhorse, Alaska, the final stop on our Panamericana tour. After a quick ferry ride, we arrived at the Argentinean mainland, where we saw the sun for the first time in a week. When we got into the Touareg again, it dawned on us that this will be our home for the next two weeks.
The first night of a journey can be very challenging, but despite our concerns, the night went well. We successfully crossed into Chile thanks to Kuehne & Nagel’s logistical arrangements at the border. Crossing the country was relatively easy thanks to Chile’s excellent infrastructure. We also got lucky with favorable weather on the Paso Los Libertadores, an area we had dreaded due to last week’s snowstorms. In northern Chile, we had a brief delay due to a sandstorm, which made it impossible to drive.
- Rainer

Be sure to check back Friday, July 8th for his next update from the Pan-American Highway. And remember: you can follow Rainer’s adventures online at www.tdi-panamericana.com, where you’ll find a map and live streaming video to show the Touareg’s real-time progress on the route, as well as photos and videos documenting the journey from start to finish.

Got a question for Rainer and his team? Post it in the comments.

Rainer’s team is driving a 2011 Volkswagen Touareg TDI Clean Diesel. The Touareg’s 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 TDI® Clean Diesel engine and 4MOTION® all wheel drive (AWD) system deliver the performance and durability required to tackle the many twists and turns of the Pan-American Highway. The engine provides an impressive maximum torque of 406 lbs.-ft. at 1,750 to 2,250 rpm while producing 225 horsepower at 3,500 to 4,000 rpm.

In order to account for the demands of the TDI-Panamericana Endurance Challenge, Rainer’s Touareg has been modified to include:

  • Innovative Inmarsat satellite technology for live communication, even in the most remote areas
  • The largest tires that fit the Touareg to better address bumpy roads throughout South America
  • An additional 300-liter fuel tank to extend the distance the vehicle can travel between refueling