An Italian racing driver set a record time on China's "Miracle Road."
The Tongtien Road in China might just be the single most tortuous stretch of asphalt in the world.
Otherwise known as the “Miracle Road," it’s strewn across a forested mountainside, apparently going nowhere in particular. At 6.8 miles (10.9 kilometres) it’s not that long, but no less than 99 corners - most of them hairpins - are packed into that length, and it climbs more than 3,600 feet (1,100 meters). In its way, it’s every bit as challenging as Pikes Peak.
And Italian racing driver Fabio Barone has conquered the mountain, setting a record time in his modified Ferrari 458 Italia. At a hillclimb event last week, Barone blasted up the road in 10 minutes, 31 seconds - an average speed of 39 miles per hour (63 kilometres per hour).
Think that sounds a bit slow? Think Barone looks a bit timid in the video? Consider that he had to tackle a corner every 120 yards (100 metres) or so, on a road with a terrible surface and endless drops off the knife-edge shoulder. This was a seriously brave bit of driving. As Barone crosses the line he lets out a big cheer, seemingly out of relief more than anything else.
Officially known as the Tianmenshan Mountain Road and located in the Tianmen Mountain National Park in Hunan Province, construction of the road started in 1998 and took eight years to complete. Its peak sits some 4,300 feet (1,300 metres) above sea level.
Barone has form in setting records on challenging roads, going fastest on the Transfagarasan Highway last year, a feat recognized by Guinness World Records. His Ferrari features upgraded suspension and brakes, plus various carbon fibre elements that strip 200 pounds (90 kilograms) from its weight.
Barone described his race up the Miracle Road as the most difficult challenge of his driving career.