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Serious fun on wheels at the Olympics

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To be an ‘Official Sponsor of the Olympic Games’ might be every company’s lofty goal. Perhaps, but to be so privileged takes money and connections.

The Volkswagen Group is one of the firms with a firm grip to get a piece of that action.

As the official vehicle partner, VW, Audi, and Skoda together are supplying more than 3,000 cars and commercial vehicles for the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Athletes and volunteers have access to a number of different models for various tasks during the Olympics and the Paralympics.

A big investment, to be sure, but if managed intelligently, it could bring great rewards; The planning began a long time ago, the implementation started one year before the opening ceremonies .

To draw attention to their vehicles, Volkswagen had prepared three Amarok pickup trucks and started a treck through the world’s largest country with stop-overs and demonstrations in many Russian communities.

On February 7th, 2013, a crew of nine took the three trucks from Moscow to Petropavlovsk on the Kamchatka peninsula. The 16,000 km trip took 66 days and included freeways, but also terrain that no normal vehicle could conquer, such as the glacier-covered Sredinny Range.

In the process the Polar Expedition VW Amarok set a Guinness World Record for the longest off-road trip through a single country.

For that purpose, the pickup trucks were upgraded in various ways; especially the suspension was changed to long-travel, heavy-duty dampers (falsely named shock absorbers - the springs do that) and huge tires for adequate traction in deep snow and ice. The fenders had to be cut out to clear the tires.

The 2.0 liter turbo Diesel TDI engine remained untouched, for reliability, not speed. Special navigation equipment was added to keep the trucks on course.

A more “civilized” version will be offered as the Sochi Special Edition Amarok.

Anyone wishing for an even “badder” Volkswagen than the three Amaroks can opt for the VW Snowareg, the Touareg SUV with a set of tracks replacing the wheels.

Now, that looks like serious winter fun of Olympic proportions!

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