This week, a team of three drivers will set out to tackle a 23,000 km (14,291 mile) drive from Melbourne, Australia to its sister city of St Petersburg in Russia. The Challenge4 crew will be attempting to set a world record time of 16 days by driving their Volkswagen Touareg TDI in five-hour shifts for 24 hours a day. Carrying enough provisions for the entire trip, the only time the vehicle will be at standstill will be when refueling or when being transported across water.

The Challenge4 team is led by adventurer Rainer Zietlow, who will be accompanied by a Vlaimir Gagarin from Russia and Marius Biela from Germany. Zietlow already has a number of world records under his belt, including an altitude record for vehicles set in 2005 (and since bettered) and most recently, a record of 11 days and 17 hours to drive the Panamericana road from Argentina to Alaska. The latter was achieved in the same Touareg in which he will be attempting this latest record.

The Touareg is powered by a turbo-charged 3-liter V6 TDI engine delivering 180 kW at 4,000 rpm, with a maximum torque of 550 Nm at 2,000 rpm. The vehicle is standard apart from being equipped with larger tires, heavy-duty suspension and an enlarged fuel tank that increases the vehicle’s range to 2,500 km (1,553 miles). These upgrades are designed to help it cope with the varied terrain and climatic conditions it is sure to encounter on the trip that will see it driven through the Australian desert, the rainforests of Sumatra and Java, the Himalaya Passes and the Kazakh Veldt.

The world record attempt will take the Challenge4 team through Australia, East Timor, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, China, Kazakhstan and Russia. They will also carry a letter from the mayor of Melbourne to the mayor of St Petersburg, the two cities being sister cities since 1989. Melbourne and St Petersburg are also respectively the southernmost and northernmost cities with more than one million residents.

The Challenge4 team will depart from Melbourne’s Town Hall on July 26th (local time) with the hopes of reaching St Petersburg 16 days later. Zietlow will also donate 10 Euro cents for each kilometer driven to Plan International - if the team makes it the whole way, that’s a total of 2,300 euro (approx. US$2,790).

The video below shows the (rough) route the team will be following.

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