Massey Ferguson has celebrated the launch of an ambitious mission to drive a tractor to the Geographical South Pole, the fulfilment of a dream for a Dutch theatre maker that also aims to inspire others to dare to dream.
Antarctica2 follows in the footsteps of Sir Edmund Hillary, who drove a specially adapted Ferguson TE20 to the South Pole in 1958.
But the 2014 mission, which departs Cape Town on 15th November for the 2350km journey, has enlisted the help of leading industry partners to take a wheeled tractor to Antarctica for the first time.
The MF 5610, modified by the engineering team at AGCO’s Beauvais tractor plant, will be driven by Manon Ossevoort, better known as Tractor Girl, who has already driven a tractor from her childhood home in the Netherlands to South Africa.
“It was my dream to drive a tractor to the end of the world, and I was inspired by Sir Edmund Hillary’s mission,” Manon explains, “I found that along the way my journey inspired other people to talk about their own dreams, so I set about collecting these dreams with the goal of taking them to the South Pole with me.”
When her original mission – which was undertaken largely with only local support – ended with Manon unable to make the final leg to Antarctica, she remained convinced that she had to finish it. She approached Massey Ferguson via its distributor in Holland, Mechatrac, and was assured of the company’s commitment to help her follow her dreams.
Support for Antarctica2 will be provided by partners including Massey Ferguson, Trelleborg, Castrol, AGCO Finance, AGCO Parts and Fuse Technologies. There are still opportunities for additional partners to join this exciting project, which will reach a global audience.
Richard Markwell, Vice President and Managing Director of Massey Ferguson EAME, who handed over the keys to the MF 5600 to Manon in a special ceremony at Beauvais, said: “I congratulate our Engineering Project Manager Olivier Hembert and his team, who worked in their spare time, along with AGCO Power in Finland, to adapt the tractor for conditions that are probably the toughest in the world.”
“As John F Kennedy said about the mission to the moon in 1962 – ‘We choose to do these things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.’ This is Massey Ferguson, wanting to take on a challenge and work in the spirit to achieve not only easy things, but challenging things. On behalf of AGCO and the full team of sponsors, I wish Manon and her straightforward, dependable MF 5610 a safe and exciting journey to the South Pole.”
Expedition specialists Arctic Trucks will provide guidance and safety support with the help of two Toyota four- and six-wheel drive pick-up trucks, and has worked closely with Trelleborg and Massey Ferguson to develop tyre technology for the mission.
Gudmundur Gudjonsson, Arctic Trucks Project Manager for Antarctica explains: “Tyres are more efficient than tracks in this kind of expedition, being capable of higher forward speeds and using less fuel. They also provide suspension, which is beneficial to the environment as well as the vehicle and the driver.”
Under Arctic Trucks guidance, MF 5600 tractors have undergone extensive cold weather testing, while the expedition team has received polar training, including guidance from seasoned polar explorers Matty McNair and her daughter Sarah McNair-Landry who will be key team members for Antarctica2.
A technical support specialist and former Massey Ferguson photographic specialist Simon Foster complete the team.
The expedition will call on not only the straightforward and dependable engineering of the MF 5610 to endure temperatures down to minus 40deg centigrade, altitude of 3400m and deep, soft snow, but also AGCO’s impressive parts and technical capability.
Up to 1000kg of parts will be carried on the mission, a twice daily maintenance regime adhered to, and the AgcommandTM telematics system will relay performance information back to a 24 hour support team in Beauvais.
The latest broadcast and social media technology will also be employed – in stark contrast to when Sir Edmund Hillary’s arrival at the South Pole was marked by a telegram of thanks to Harry Ferguson. Livestreaming and regular updates via a dedicated website will keep the rest of the world in touch with the mission’s progress.
When the MF 5610, with its Tractor Girl and her cargo of dreams onboard, arrives at the South Pole around 7th December, it will be a testimony to the work of all the partners in the Antarctica2 project and their tireless commitment to its message – #BelieveInIt