FOLLOWING IN MARCO POLO'S FOOTSTEPS
From Jakarta to Rome, a mission to promote Indonesian culture and products along the route taken by the famous Venetian explorer. An incomparable test for AWD GT Radial Savero tyres mounted on the four Toyotas taking part in the adventure
Countless practical and experimental tests are carried out on tyres in the manufacturers’ laboratories or on circuits throughout the world. But there can be no doubt that the real test bench is the daily practical use that subjects them to weather, stress and the roughness of normal roads. Even more so if the tyres in question are for mixed on- and off-road use, like the range of GT Radial’s AWD tyres that were used in last autumn’s gruelling marathon that took four Toyotas along the ancient silk road in the reverse direction from Indonesia to Italy.
The Silk Road was the territory of the Fastron Europe-Asia Expedition: a team composed of thirteen intrepid Indonesians was welcomed by the Jakarta authorities on 17 August – Indonesia’s Independence Day – and officially set off on this long and hazardous itinerary on 28 August. The mission was sponsored by the Indonesian government to promote culture, products and business in the Southeast Asian country. Toyota headquarters in Indonesia provided the four exceptional Fortuner SUVs with four-cylinder, 2.7 litre, 160 HP petrol engines (vehicles made in Indonesia based on the Hi-Lux pickup and not officially imported in Europe) and specific equipment, including a profile raised by 2 inches, reinforced suspension, strong roof racks, mechanical protection devices and a Warn 9.5 winch on the front to get them out of worst-case predicaments.
Together with Fastron, the Indonesian manufacturer of lubricants for high-performance engines, the other partner of the event was Gajah Tunggal, the country’s largest tyre manufacturer which equipped the vehicles with the 265/75 R17GT Radial Savero A/T Plus. Savero A/T has a mixed profile that’s suitable for long journeys on surfaced and off-road terrain and would complete the 27,000 and more kilometres without damage or punctures, despite the rigours of the Himalayas and the dirt tracks of the former Soviet republics. The success of the event was emphasized by company chairman Christopher Chan: “Because Gajah Tunggal is based in Indonesia and is the biggest tyre manufacturer in southeast Asia, we were pleased to support a project that not only promotes tourism and the artistic beauties of Indonesia, but also lets the world know about the quality of the products made here, including GT Radial tyres. Our tyres have demonstrated that they perform well in all driving conditions and I am pleased that the drivers of the Toyota SUVs felt immediately that the tyres were safe and reliable”.
Sixteen countries in three and a half months, starting from Indonesia and crossing Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, China, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Austria to reach Venice by the official date of 16 December. A mission with Team Leader Bucek Deep that was followed by Indonesia’s Metro TV and met by a “GT Radial Welcome Day” in Carpenedolo (BS), the headquarters of Magri Gomme SpA, GT Radial distributors in Italy since 1995. At the important appointment with the teams were William Gozali, general manager and sales export manager of Gajah Tunggal, Corrado Moglia, marketing director Europe for GT, and Miquel Staal of the PR & Communication office at GT Indonesia. Magri Gomme chairman Luigi Magri took the opportunity to present his organization to the Indonesian delegation. The entire sales force, forty agents and five area managers gave the expedition team a warm welcome on the penultimate stage of the mission that had begun four months earlier.
On 20 December they were welcomed at the Indonesian embassy in Rome by national and Italian authorities for the end of the 100% “Made in Indonesia” adventure!