The “Mazda Route3 – Hiroshima to Frankfurt Challenger Tour 2013” has safely reached Moscow after some 12,500km and 23 gruelling days on the road. Proving to be extremely reliable and robust, all eight of the all-new Mazda3s taking part in the expedition are holding up superbly. Right on schedule, the hatchbacks continue their journey westwards today.

Recent highlights included a stop at Russia’s largest power plant and driving a section of the Chuysky Tract, one of the world’s oldest roads. Tour participants took a break at Chany Lake, a large body of freshwater that locals claim is home to a man-eating sea monster.

Further west, the Mazda3 teams visited the Kungur Ice Caves, with its sprawling caverns and bizarre ice formations. Crossing the Ural Mountains from Asia into Europe, they stopped at two of Russia’s most famous kremlins – in Kazan and Nizhny Novgorod – before arriving on Saturday evening in the Russian capital. There they joined in the Festival of Speed, Russia’s answer to the GoodWood Festival in England. And the Mazda Route3 convoy stole the show at this year’s motor sport event, if not on the track then certainly in the hearts of the 10,000-strong crowd at Moscow’s Luzhniki sports complex. It was reminiscent of the warm reception for tour group participants and cars at parties along the way hosted by local Mazda3 clubs.

All things considered, the new Mazda3s have held up extremely well after crossing most of Russia over often crumbling or unpaved roads with dangerous potholes and numerous tire blowouts. Even a bout with contaminated petrol and a watermelon-sized rock couldn’t stop car number seven.

The last group of participants hit the road today for the seventh tour leg, which will take them the final 2,500km via three European capitals – Minsk, Warsaw and Berlin – to the Frankfurt Motor Show, where four of the eight cars will be on display.

“The two things I find most remarkable about this journey are firstly how well the cars are performing under conditions that have been worse than anyone was expecting, and also how welcoming the people have been,” said Jerome de Haan, Director PR at Mazda Motor Europe. “Everywhere the Mazda3 teams go, people smile and wave and sometimes even applaud. The Mazda3s are a real attraction.” About Mazda Route3 Halfway around the world from the factory in Japan to the 2013 International Motor Show (IAA) in Germany: The 15,000km “Mazda Route3 – Hiroshima to Frankfurt Challenger Tour 2013” is Mazda’s convention-defying live demonstration of its all-new Mazda3. It’s the third time Mazda models have taken such an extreme test drive after similar expeditions in 1977 and 1990. This time around, eight of the company’s new-generation hatchbacks, driven by rotating teams of journalists, bloggers and Mazda enthusiasts from Europe and beyond, are crossing nine time zones on unpredictable roads through breathtaking landscapes and vibrant cultural diversity. The overland portion of the trip is split into seven stages traversing Russia, Belarus and Poland. The progress of the Mazda Route3 convoy, which is slated to arrive in Frankfurt on 7 September, can be followed online at www.mazdaroute3.eu or via Twitter at #mazdaroute3.