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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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Antarctica2 Tractor Expedition Now Halfway to South Pole!

(2 December 2014, Antarctica. Latitude: 80 degrees South) Day 11: The Antarctica2 expedition to take an MF 5610 tractor 5000 km from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole and back has reached the first major milestone and is now halfway to the Pole.

The Antarctica2 team arrived at the halfway point to the South Pole on 2nd December 2014

The Antarctica2 team arrived at the halfway point to the South Pole on 2nd December 2014

It has been an exceptionally tough trip. In the 11 days it took to reach this 1250 km milestone, the Massey Ferguson tractor and team have had to tackle dangerous crevasse fields, steep climbs, sastrugi (solid ice-waves as much as metre high), soft snow and temperatures as low as minus 56 degrees C with wind chill. The tractor and crew have taken a real pounding in the hostile conditions. However, both are proving highly resilient and rising to the extreme challenges of life on the ice.

On reaching the 1250 km mark, Lead Driver, ‘Tractor Girl’, Manon Ossevoort,  said: “The journey to the halfway point has been hard, much harder than I expected so I am very relieved to reach this stage. Driving conditions have been really difficult but the MF 5610 tractor and the whole team have coped magnificently. The tractor has been strong, steady and sure, and it’s incredible to know that every hour we drive,  we are closer to the Geographical South Pole.”

To mark the halfway milestone, team members rewarded themselves with a chicken curry dinner and a celebratory drink! They are now heading towards the Pole at full speed.

Antarctica2 seeks to emulate the achievement of Sir Edmund Hillary who led the first mechanised expedition to the South Pole in 1958 using Ferguson TE20 tractors.

Campbell Scott, Massey Ferguson Director Sales Engineering and Brand Development commented: “As tractor supplier to the expedition, we have been enthralled by the daily updates from the ice. We always knew it was going to be a big challenge for both the MF 5610 tractor and the team. Hearing the reports coming back, we now fully understand why this is ‘the toughest journey on Earth’. We applaud their strength and determination. At the same time, we can imagine the brave souls of Sir Edmund Hillary and his party battling the elements in their trusty Ferguson TE20 tractors all those years ago. The hearts of the whole Massey Ferguson team back at base are with the intrepid 2014 Antarctica2 travellers as they make their way steadily towards their goal.”

www.AntarcticaTwo.com

#BELIEVEINIT

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
#BELIEVEINIT

Antarctica2 Lead Tractor Driver shares her dream on brink of expedition departure

As the world waits in anticipation for the imminent departure of the Antarctica2 expedition to drive a Massey Ferguson tractor to the South Pole, Lead Driver Manon Ossevoort is looking forward to the trip.

“Driving the tractor through the endless white vastness of Antarctica is going to be so surreal,” she says.

Antarctica2 Expedition Ambassador and Lead Driver, Manon Ossevoort is about to fulfil her dream of taking a tractor to the South Pole.

Antarctica2 Expedition Ambassador and Lead Driver, Manon Ossevoort is about to fulfil her dream of taking a tractor to the South Pole.

“When I first learnt to drive a tractor, I was immediately taken with the symbols of the tortoise and the hare which are used as icons on the dashboard to denote low and high gear ranges. That fitted perfectly with my story concept of fulfilling a dream slowly but surely.”

“The MF 5610 is a great machine – small, compact, manoeuvrable and lightweight. It’s been really well prepared by the Massey Ferguson engineers and the other partners supporting Antarctica2. I hope it’s going to keep me nice and warm!”

“We’ve done lots of tests both in the lab and in the field– all with the very best people. It’s been amazing to see the tractor perform, especially during our expedition trial in Iceland.”

“When I found out about the first mechanised trek to the South Pole achieved by Sir Edmund Hillary and his Ferguson TE20 in 1958, the story really inspired me to keep believing in the possibilities of my endeavour.  So with all that heritage, I always knew it would be really appropriate for me to be driving a modern-day Massey Ferguson tractor. I feel privileged to be doing so.”

“The whole project is about trust and is a big leap of faith for all parties. But we all took that leap, and now we are about to set off. I will give my all to continue this celebration and share our tales of adventure as we cross the ice.”

Depending on weather conditions, Antarctica2 is scheduled to leave some time this weekend (22/23 November).

www.AntarcticaTwo.com

#BELIEVEINIT

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