Day 2 – 10/16/2011

Beijing - Jinan

The inhabitants of Beijing rarely experience such lovely weather – bright sunshine, clear air, a view all the way to the mountains (as long as you can look from the 45th floor of one of the city’s many skyscrapers). It would be hard to imagine a more pleasant start for the Audi Q3 Trans China Tour 2011. And the first 462 kilometers are also surprisingly stress-free. The weather on this fine Sunday has apparently calmed the traffic, too.

Pictures day 2

Emanuele Pirro’s place has always been behind the steering wheel – he has won Le Mans for Audi five times, plus a host of sports and touring car championships. For the Trans China Tour, however, he is waving the starting flag himself – here in the center of the Chinese capital Beijing. The setting is just as grand as it was yesterday evening. The white illuminated Audi Tour Terminal stands right in the middle of Beijing’s “The Place” commercial center, where 20 Audi Q3’s await their drivers and their mission. The teams are finished, the MMI navigation systems prepared. Emanuele Pirro and Michael Dick, the Board Member for Technical Development at AUDI AG, send the participants on their way along the 5,700 kilometer route.

It all begins, of course, with the hustle and bustle of the capital city – an urban metropolis that is home to more than 17 million people. Driving in this city calls for a delicate balance between careful avoidance of the swarms of cyclists and pedestrians and determined progress in competition for space in every lane of traffic. But just a few kilometers outside of the city center, the traffic eases and the cacophony of honking horns subsides somewhat. On Sundays, even the fast-paced metropolis of Beijing drops a gear, which is good for the rookies from Europe. Thanks to MMI navigation, the route seems clear – however, a misunderstanding of a direction arrow on the part of the driver, who takes a slight right instead of a right, leads to a several-kilometer detour along one of Beijing’s ring roads and intersections. 20 or 30 minutes evaporate before we arrive back at the missed turning.

The highway heading south is in excellent condition, extremely drivable and amazingly empty. The substantial tolls levied mean that at least this stretch of road has remarkably few passenger cars on it. There is, however, no shortage of heavy goods vehicles of all shapes and sizes, often with astonishing cargo and idiosyncratic road manners. One typical scenario is an unexpected lane change on the part of a low-loader that sends its barely secured cargo of trees swaying wildly. A great deal of care and eyes in the back of your head are the order of the day – and if all else fails, the powerful brakes on the Audi Q3…

Video day 2

Video is loading ...

Video herunterladen

After around two hours, the participants reach Tianjin, an important port city of more than ten million inhabitants. And now for a brief history lesson – the “Court of the Shi Family” is an impressive complex dating back to the late Qing Dynasty that encompasses more than 278 rooms. An extremely wealthy merchant family commissioned the construction of the compound for its own use. The little taster of Chinese theatre offered there is most definitely an acquired taste for European ears.

Back on the highway, the tour heads south toward Jinan, the end of the first stage on the Audi Q3 Trans China Tour 2011. The provincial capital has more than three million inhabitants and offers visitor attractions such as the Baotu Spring Park in the city center and the statues on the Thousand Buddha Mountain to the southeast of the city center. Incidentally, Emanuele Pirro very much enjoyed his day at the wheel of the Audi Q3. He loves relaxed cross-country driving – and, as a successful racing driver, he really has learned to drive with foresight and to react very quickly in an emergency.

On Monday (Chinese Time), the Trans China Tour continues on the next stage. There are 546 kilometers to be covered between Jinan and Qingdao, the city with the famous (German) beer.

Day 1