Crossing Kazakhstan in the new VW Touareg

Rainer is an addict. A driving addict. A rare breed of German addicted to driving very, very long distances. So much so, for the last decade, he’s spent a third of the year – every year – away from his family and friends competitively driving around the planet, ticking off 114 countries in the process. It doesn’t matter if it’s up, down, across or round and round, he’s trekked every which way he can to try and get another stamp in his passport and a Guinness World Record. It started in 1988, six weeks after getting his driving licence when he drove through Algeria as a student.

Two years later, he took a Land Cruiser across Africa before embarking on his first round-the-world tour aged 25 in a UK-registered Landie 110. Wanting more, he then approached sponsors and took his long-distance drives into the commercial realm. With financial support, he’s gone on to set a world altitude record, driven around the world on natural gas, set Carrera Panamericana records, driven from Melbourne to St Petersburg in 17-and-a-bit days, from Moscow across the brutal, unforgiving wilderness and 27-metre snowbanks to Kamchatka (in 60 days) and from Norway to South Africa and back.