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Pole within reach as team battles arduous conditions

(07 December 2014, Antarctica) Day 16: The most difficult terrain yet encountered on the Antarctica2 expedition has made the final stages of the mission to reach the South Pole using a Massey Ferguson MF 5610 tractor some of the most challenging yet.

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With 300km left to the Pole, seasoned members of Tractor Girl Manon Ossevoort’s support team say they have never experienced such bad travelling conditions. Although the weather has been good, with hazy yet sunny blue skies, the snow underfoot has been extremely soft, resulting in speeds as little as 4km/hr (2.5mph).

In one recent eight-hour shift the tractor faced soft, sinking conditions every few hundred metres, but the MF 5610 and its drivers proved their ability to cope with the tough going.

“By downshifting into the lowest gear, A1, and engaging the diff lock, the tractor would climb out slowly and we could make progress again,” explains Expedition Lead Guide, Matty McNair.

The fact the MF 5610’s transmission can stand up to such extreme duress is testament to its design and construction, believes Campbell Scott, Massey Ferguson Director Sales Engineering and Brand Development.

“These are conditions few farmers are ever likely to face, but the resilience of the tractor transmission shows just how well it is made, just as the resilience of the team shows what they are made of too.”

Tough for the team but goal is in sight

(3 December 2014, Antarctica) Day 12: It’s tough going for the team at the centre of the Antarctica2 expedition as they get closer to their goal of reaching the South Pole. The harsh terrain is taking its toll on the Massey Ferguson MF 5610 tractor and its drivers, but with the halfway point now behind them, both are bearing up well.

Conditions are still tough for the Antarctica2 expedition as it gets closer to its goal of reaching the South Pole.

Conditions are still tough for the Antarctica2 expedition as it gets closer to its goal of reaching the South Pole.

While the weather has continued to be favourable (temperature is now just minus 24 degrees C!), the hard-packed ice underneath the snow has little ‘give’ in it, meaning that traversing the terrain can be tiring for the drivers. There have been some fuel issues with the support trucks, caused by the bitterly cold conditions, but so far this hasn’t proved a problem for the MF 5610.

The team has now reached the Russian 83 refuel camp, where the hosts welcomed their visitors with hot soups and shots of vodka. The stop provided a chance to refuel and begin fuel pump repairs on one of the support trucks before continuing south.

As lead driver Manon Ossevoort carries with her to the South Pole the dreams of all the people she has met on her journey, those whose job it is to chart the team’s progress are busy trying to capture every key moment. This ranges from the highs of good progress to the lows of trying to make technology work in a harsh climate. Videos and photos are being taken throughout each day, before being edited and put on the relevant expedition websites . With no high-speed wifi in Antarctica, material must be transferred using the Iridium Satellite system, and a single short video clip, for example, can sometimes take half a day to upload.

www.AntarcticaTwo.com

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23 Hours Non-Stop Driving – 3364 Metre (11,036 feet) Altitude Takes its Toll On Team

(28 November 2014, Antarctica) Day 7: In their quest for the South Pole, the Antarctica2 tractor and crew were at last able  to get fully into their stride, clocking up 23 hours non-stop travel.

The MF 5610 expedition tractor making its way through the mountains.

The MF 5610 expedition tractor making its way through the mountains.

Driving in long and tiring shifts, the team completed just over 167 km yesterday before hitting an area of soft snow which made the last 10-20 km extremely slow-going. Ending the day at an elevation of 3364m (11,036 feet) and, having climbed fairly quickly from sea level, crew members are suffering bad headaches from the altitude. Due to the lack of atmospheric pressure here, the effects of altitude are amplified and, for the team, physically it feels more like 4000m. This simply adds a further layer of difficulty to the very exhausting days.

Much softer ground conditions with areas of deep snow are a stark contrast to the hard-packed sastrugi ice-waves of previous days. In these conditions, focused driving skills are essential. At one point towards the end of a gruelling 15-hour shift for Lead Mechanic, Nicolas Bachelet, the tractor sank up to its belly and had to be dug out. Lead Driver, Manon Ossevoort spent the last section of her shift also negotiating the deep snow. Every 100 metres or so the tractor hit a soft patch and had to be repeatedly switched from forward to reverse to extricate itself.

Such were the demands of the day, the whole team fell into bed leaving only Expedition Lead Guide Matty McNair to file the day’s report back to base. Antarctica2 is testing man and machine to the limits.

www.AntarcticaTwo.com

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Massey Ferguson Tractor is Fully-Equipped for Antarctica2 Challenge

The Massey Ferguson MF 5610 Dyna-4 tractor which is to provide the power for the Antarctica2 expedition to the South Pole is all set for its extraordinary journey.

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To be driven primarily by ‘Tractor Girl’, Manon Ossevoort, backed by a team of engineers and other support staff, the MF 5610 has been chosen from the Massey Ferguson range for a number of key reasons, says Campbell Scott, Massey Ferguson Director Sales Engineering and Brand Development.

“We wanted to provide the Antarctica2 organisers with a current production tractor, and a machine from the Massey Ferguson 5600 series made sense as it is light, manoeuvrable and compact, yet has the same size of cab as that used on larger MF 6600 and MF 7600 tractors,” he explains.

“At 110hp, the MF 5610 is the most powerful three-cylinder tractor ever offered by Massey Ferguson, and one of the reasons we selected this particular model is to illustrate our confidence in higher-horsepower tractors with such engines. The tractor  being used is a standard machine available to farmers around the world, but some  special preparations have been necessary for its trip.

“Three key issues created by the harsh climate and conditions of Antarctica have driven our tractor preparation programme – the low temperatures, the terrain and the altitude,” explains Campbell.

For the full article, please click here

www.AntarcticaTwo.com

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Antarctica2 expedition sets off for South Pole challenge

(19.55 CET, 22 November 2014, Novo Runway, Antarctica): After three years’ meticulous planning and preparation, the exciting Antarctica2 tractor expedition departed into the vast icescape today for its 5000 km journey to the South Pole and back.

In buoyant mood and excited about the challenges ahead, the multi-national team left for this modern-day polar adventure with their red Massey Ferguson MF 5610 tractor forging a path across the snow. Following a period of storms and a wind chill factor down to minus 50 degrees C, the weather conditions for departure were good, and clear skies made for the perfect start to the expedition.

The exciting tractor expedition departed into the vast icescape for its 5000 km journey.

The exciting tractor expedition departed into the vast icescape for its 5000 km journey.

For ‘Tractor Girl’, Manon Ossevoort, it is the beginning of a dream come true as she realises her long-held ambition to take a tractor to ‘the end of the world.’

“It seemed like such an impossibly big dream but it’s all falling into place – now it’s mission possible!” said 38-year-old  Manon, Expedition Ambassador and Lead Driver. “I’m like a child on Christmas morning – full of excitement and anticipation.”

“As tractor supplier to the expedition, we are thrilled to see the team finally depart on this once-in-a-lifetime challenge,” remarks Campbell Scott, Massey Ferguson Director Sales Engineering and Brand Development. “It’s a bold mission and promises to be a fascinating story of strength, endurance and team work. Our MF 5610 is ready to face the extreme elements and repeat the achievement of our TE20 tractors which took explorer Sir Edmund Hillary to the South Pole in 1958.”

In a message to the Antarctica2 team congratulating them on  their departure, Campbell  said: “The hopes and aspirations of the entire worldwide family of our famous red brand, together with the pride, skill, legacy and vision inherited from our founders ride with you as you travel. We wish you a safe  journey.”

The expedition team will be up against temperatures as low as minus 50 degrees C, altitude up to 3400m, with both soft snow and hard-packed ice underfoot. Along the way, they can expect to face strong winds, raging blizzards and whiteouts. Depending on conditions, the expedition is scheduled to reach the Geographical South Pole sometime in early December.

www.AntarcticaTwo.com
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