Day 11 – 10/25/2011

Shenzhen – Guangzhou

This Tuesday marks a fresh start, the first day for the third group of participants. And there can be no better introduction to an Asian adventure than a tour through Hong Kong. This afternoon, the group crosses the border to the Chinese mainland and the starting flag is waved at the Audi Tour Terminal in Shenzhen. The first stage lies ahead – a short one to Guangzhou.

Pictures day 11

This morning, Hong Kong shows that it has more to it than the glass facades and commercial bustle, than the huge apartment blocks and banking centers. Hong Kong is also a green city, with nature conservation areas, with sandy beaches and leisure areas as good as any offered by vacation destinations. But, as lovely as the tour through the unknown side may be, one is happy to return to the heart of the city, to Central or to Tsim Sha Tsui, where the city is on the move 24 hours a day. Ultimately, this is its special allure.

A new group of participants embarks today on the great Chinese adventure with the Audi Q3. The men and women come from Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Japan, Korea and Poland - a truly international group, most with little or no experience of China. That will certainly change over the next few days.

The starting point for the third wave is the Tour Terminal at the concert hall in neighboring Shenzhen. Three decades ago still a small farming village, Shenzhen now has around 14 million inhabitants. It may actually be even more, nobody really knows. Shenzhen is therefore a brand new city. Most of its buildings, and they are nearly always enormous, are less than ten years old.

Dindo Capello waves the starting flag today and sends the 20 Audi Q3s on their way. The Italian from Piemont had already reserved one of the cars for himself. Capello has been an Audi works driver since 1994 and has already won three victories for the brand with the four rings on the legendary asphalt of Le Mans, earning a place for his name on the list of eternal greats. He is also no stranger to China. Capello has already competed in several sports car races on the track in Zhuhai. However, until now, he had no experience of normal everyday road traffic in this country. He enjoys his first drive.

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The fast Italian had already reached his verdict after the 132 kilometers of today’s stage, “It’s not so very different from life on the race track. Everybody fights with everybody else. There is a battle for each position.” Like his racing colleagues, Capello takes to it right away. And the somewhat more hesitant drivers from the West have a couple more days to get used to it.

Today’s route takes us along the highway, past Shenzhen International Airport and through the densely populated estuary area of the 177-kilometer long Pearl River. For visitors, it is not easy to recognize city boundaries. The gigantic residential areas have grown increasingly close together over recent years. With the booming special economic zones of Shenzhen (near Hong Kong) and Zhuhai (near Macao), as well as the major cities of Guangzhou, Dongguan and Foshan, the region is one of the most active commercial areas in China.

The Audi Q3 Trans China Tour is rolling here through the largest workbench in the global electronics industry. It is not just Chinese branded products that come from this region - most Western brands from every price class are built here, too. Long rows of nondescript factory halls to the left and right of the route bear testimony to the productivity of this region.

The provincial capital of Guangzhou is also known in the West as Canton. More than three million people (and perhaps more) live in it s central area. A subway system that opened in 1999 and consistent efforts to enforce rudimentary traffic regulations help to protect this city from total traffic collapse. The cars of the Trans China Tour have no problem finding their destination thanks to the precise directions provided by their MMI navigation systems. The arrival of darkness adds a certain spice to the whole road traffic experience – the many and completely unilluminated pedestrians, cyclists and moped riders demand full concentration. Even heavy goods vehicles on the highway are happy to travel without light.

Tomorrow, the tour continues on its way, hopefully in beautiful weather. A few off-road stretches are planned, with the ultimate destination being the city of Zhaoquing.

Day 11

Day 1