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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.”

Expedition encounters Sastrugi and solar storm

(Antarctica2 – Saturday 22 November-Monday 24 November 2014):

After the first 48 hours on the ice, ‘Tractor Girl’, Manon Ossevoort and the Antarctica2 team have had to battle their way across frozen snow waves and deal with the effects of a massive solar storm which severely hampered communications. The coming few days will see them embark on the most hazardous part of the journey as they enter the crevasse field, where the altitude will also rise dramatically.

The MF 5610 tractor is coping well with the polar environment as it makes it way ever southward.

The MF 5610 tractor is coping well with the polar environment as it makes it way ever southward.

The exciting adventure to drive a Massey Ferguson MF 5610 to the South Pole set off on Saturday evening (22 November) and immediately encountered the notorious Sastrugi – waves of  solid ice – so hard-packed that the expedition didn’t even leave a footprint. This slowed progress but, having negotiated the way through, the tractor was then able to cruise along on hard snow, travelling through breath-taking scenery at an altitude of 1688m.

In a message from the ice, the Antarctica2 team reported: “The weather has been absolutely beautiful, with no wind. All day mountains grew closer, clouds moved in and out, pulling our spirits up and down. ”

On Sunday 23 November, they covered more than 90km in ten hours in sunny conditions and at temperatures of minus 16 degrees C.

The tractor is coping well with the environment but the harsh terrain makes for demanding driving. Although well protected in the comfortable cab, which is equipped with heater and suspension, it’s still tough going for the operators – Manon Ossevoort and Nicolas Bachelet – who took turns at driving in four-hour shifts.

Manon Ossevoort, Lead Driver of the MF 5610 tractor looks out across the breath-taking scenery.

Manon Ossevoort, Lead Driver of the MF 5610 tractor looks out across the breath-taking scenery.

Monday was a planned layover day and the team busied themselves around the camp. However, (and with typical Antarctic unpredictability) there was a massive solar electrical storm at atmospheric level which badly affected communications. These atmospheric conditions are similar to those which create the incredible Aurora in northern latitudes.  Satellite phones and the Iridium satellite communications system, which delivers images and data from ice, both went down.

This didn’t stop the photographic team – Simon Foster and Sarah McNair-Landry – setting up a shoot and making the most of the beautiful scenery. This included sending a camera drone into the air for a birds-eye view of the camp.

The day’s chores complete, some of the team opted for a four-hour hike up through the glacier, taking in the amazing views of the sharp-pointed Nunatak peaks thrusting through the ice sheet.  “We all feel so privileged to be here,” was the message back to Antarctica2 HQ in the UK when the communications blackout from the solar storm finally lifted.

Look out for a further news update tomorrow (solar storms permitting) when the team will have set off on one of the most perilous parts of the journey through the tricky crevasse field.

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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Countdown Begins for Tractor Expedition to South Pole

The MF 5610 tractor set to journey to the South Pole in five weeks’ time has successfully completed stringent tests in Iceland.

Known as Antarctica2, the adventurous mission to drive a tractor to the Geographical South Pole is the dream of Manon Ossevoort, aka ‘Tractor Girl’, who will pilot the specially-prepared MF 5610 on the 2350km expedition across treacherous snow and ice. In doing so, she and her expert back-up team will echo the achievement of Sir Edmund Hillary who trekked to the South Pole using three Ferguson tractors in 1958.

MF5610_AntarcticaTrial_is_Sept14-2835_87677 (1)The Antarctica2 expedition is being organised to highlight the need for sustainable food security through the provision of accessible technologies and innovative services to allow future farmers to meet the world’s growing requirement for food.

Modified by the engineering team at AGCO’s Beauvais tractor plant, the MF 5610 completed its final testing over a two-week period in Iceland. “The tractor performed extremely well in our trials,” says Massey Ferguson Engineering Project Manager, Olivier Hembert. “It will have to endure temperatures down to minus 40 degrees centigrade, altitude of 3400 metres and tackle deep, soft snow. This kind of environment calls for straightforward, dependable engineering for which Massey Ferguson is renowned. Previous tests in Iceland and France were made to check its performance in  polar ground conditions and at very low temperatures.”

Throughout the journey, the tractor’s AgCommandTM telematics system will relay performance information back to a 24-hour support team in Beauvais. “The clock is now ticking for this long-planned project to become reality,” adds Olivier. “We are very excited about monitoring our tractor’s progress across the challenging icescape and ensuring its technical and mechanical stamina to accomplish the mission.”

Livestreaming and regular updates via a dedicated website will keep the rest of the world in touch with the adventure’s progress. The tractor and team depart Novo Base in East Antarctica around 24 November and are scheduled to arrive at the South Pole around 15 December.

Support for Antarctica2 is being provided by partners including Massey Ferguson, Trelleborg, AGCO Finance, Castrol, AGCO Parts, Fuse Technologies and Mechatrac.

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