Some 30 years after the Dakar 959 traversed Africa’s toughest terrain, Porsche has developed two experimental prototype 992-generation 911s and challenged them to climb the world’s highest volcano.
Ojos del Salado in Chile has a peak altitude of 22,614ft – an extreme challenge for the cars, which are rumoured to be the starting point for a new Dakar.
Though based on a standard 992 Carrera, the prototype is anything but ordinary. Huge off-road tyres, linked by the brilliantly named ‘Porsche Warp-Connecter’, give constant wheel drive in addition to underbody fibre armour protection, roll cages and portal axles that achieve 350mm ground clearance. Two distinct custom liveries, based on the colour scheme of Porsche’s 963 LMDh race car and another striking 911-themed livery created by the Weissach styling team, add to this.
With temperatures as low as -30C across the volcanic ice fields and just 50% oxygen levels, driving conditions here are less than ideal. But Le Mans winner and adventurer Romain Dumas drove one of the cars to reach an altitude of almost 20,000ft until walls of ice and snow eventually meant they could go no further.
‘We’re really proud of what the car and the team are capable of first time out,’ said Dumas. ‘This was a truly memorable and special moment in a place that’s both beautiful and brutal at the same time – I guess the only machines anywhere in the world higher than us today were aircraft!’