Northern Territory, Australian - Big SUVs have been known to pull aircraft, and even railway trains, but this pull has raised the bar in terms of both the length of the vehicle being pulled and the distance of the pull.
Australia is home to the world’s longest road vehicles - and the world’s longest stretches of open road - so it was the ideal venue for the world’s longest, heaviest, furthest truck pull.
Road trains with up to four trailers and an overall length of 53.5 metres are actually legal in Australia’s vast Outback regions, hauling fuel, bulk cargo and livestock between remote rural communities - but for the Australian launch of the 2018 Discovery, Land Rover got a lot more ambitious than that.
They persuaded the authorities to close a 16 kilometre section of the Lasseter Highway to traffic and lined up no less than seven trailers loaded with 10 tons of ballast, making a road train almost 100 metres long and close to 100 tons in weight. On the front they added a 12-ton tractor unit - not to pull the train, but because they would need its hydraulic brakes to stop it!
That brought the length of the rig up to 100 metres and its all-up weight to 110 tons - all of which was then hooked up to a factory-fitted tow bar on the back of a standard Discovery Td6 with a three-litre Turbodiesel V6 rated for 190kW and 600NM, eight-speed auto transmission and four-wheel drive.
Driving road trains is not for amateurs, so they called in John Bilato, managing director of haulage specialist G&S Transport, for the pull. He didn’t think the Discovery could do it, so he was really impressed when it not only pulled away but also changed up (relatively) smoothly through the gears, taking the rig up to 44km/h at one point during the 16 kilometre pull.
Land Rover product engineer Quentin Spottiswoode explained that the weight of the road train was not the major obstacle to a successful pull.
“Pulling a rig and seven trailers,” he said, “overcoming the rolling resistance of so many axles was the big problem.”