China’s Tianmen road is world renowned for its beautiful scenery and 99 bends so it comes as little surprise that a number of automakers have attempted to set a record on the twisting mountain course.
The latest company to do so was Jaguar Land Rover which brought its latest Range Rover Sport SVR. While an SUV sounds like an unusual choice, the SVR isn’t your typical model as it features a supercharged 5.0-liter V8 engine that develops 575 PS (422 kW) and 700 Nm (516 lb-ft) of torque. It is connected to an eight-speed automatic transmission and an all-wheel drive system which enables the model to accelerate from 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) in 4.5 seconds and onto a top speed of 280 km/h (174 mph).
Those numbers are nothing to sneeze at but the fastest vehicle to tackle the Tianmen road was a Ferrari 458 Italia which set a time of 10 minutes 31 seconds in 2016. The SVR needed every advanage it could get so Land Rover enlisted Panasonic Jaguar Racing driver Ho-Pin Tung to attempt to set a new record. Tung was successful as he set an unofficial time of 9 minutes 51 seconds with an average speed of 68.8 km/h (42.8 mph). This sounds relatively slow until you remember there are 99 turns over the uphill course which spans 11.3 km (7 miles).
According to Tung, “I am used to the high speeds of racing but these 99 turns were something unique. Maintaining concentration was the biggest challenge as the road twists and turns constantly, with huge drop-offs to the side.”