By Pete Wadsworth

Motoring Journalist

Any list of the world’s most challenging roads is supposed to start with the Sichaun-Tibet Highway: travel west for a quick stop at the Nürburgring Nordschleife (with an explanation about it actually technically being a one-way toll road and not a race track) before finishing up in Bolivia at Yungas aka ‘The Road of Death’. But we’ve all seen those a hundred times before. So instead, let’s have a look at some roads that you might actually want to drive, but will still present a challenge tough enough to be worth travelling a great distance for.

TOUR DE CORSE, CORSICA, FRANCE

When it comes to challenging roads, there’s no better starting point than a stage of the World Rally Championship. And if you want the most challenging and exciting of them all, why not head to the jaw-droppingly beautiful French Mediterranean island of Corsica and take on a section of a truly notorious event that earned itself the nickname ‘The Rally of 10,000 corners’ and practically single-handedly lead to the banning of Group B?

Point your front bumper in basically any direction and you’ll find a fantastic road on Corsica, but as a starter, you could take on Agosto – Pont De Calzola: Special Stage 13 and 15 for the last running of the Tour de Corse as a round of the WRC in 2008. Tight and twisty, fast and flowing, with switchbacks and ‘greedy on the cut’ left-right flicks galore, it’s an epic stage. Just don’t try to do the 31km in the 19 minutes that Loeb managed on the rally!

If you’ve got a sat-nav, it’s a piece of cake: just get to Agosto on the west coast of the island and put ‘Pont del Calzola’ as your destination. If you haven’t, Google Maps is your friend, but it’s fairly simple and, if in doubt, just follow the tyre marks.

PIKES PEAK HIGHWAY, COLORADO, USA

Definitely one of the most famous roads in the world of motor racing and the scene of what is quite possibly the planet’s most spectacular motor sport event: The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, rather more romantically known as ‘The Race to the Clouds’.

Marginally less challenging now, in its all-tarmac guise, than it once was when the upper half (the bit with all the scary drops) was gravel, Pikes Peak is nevertheless a pretty sturdy test of your mettle and definitely not for those who have a problem with heights. YouTube is packed with videos that will – depending on your disposition – lead you to swear you’ll never set foot in Colorado in your life, or, start searching for a house near the start line immediately.  I recommend ‘Climb Dance’ – an award winning short film of Ari Vatanen’s cooler-than-the-other-side-of-the-pillow run up the hill in his monstrous 405 T16 GR.

To take on the twelve-and-a-half mile, 156 turn course (which is now hire-car friendly thanks to the tarmac from top to bottom), get to Mile Mark 7 of the 19 mile Pikes Peak Highway in El Paso County, Colorado, and follow the road to the top. Once again, don’t try to break Loeb’s record.

MOUNT FUJI TOLL ROAD, HONSHU ISLAND, JAPAN

We’ve covered Europe and the Americas, so now let’s travel east to the birthplace of drifting: Japan. There’s plenty of mountain passes or ‘Touge’ to choose from here, but we might as well go for one of the most famous spots of them all: Mount Fuji. The road you want to start with begins just outside Fujiyoshida and is called, somewhat unimaginatively, the Mt Fuji Toll Road (or sometimes, the Fuji-Subaru Line).

You’ll notice that things get twisty fast, as you climb the side of famous backdrop to the Fuji Speedway. Tear your way up to the top, stop for a bite to eat at the restaurant you’ll find at the end, then turn around and do it all again.

There’s no doubt that this road is incredible, but it’s another gateway drive; the brave explorer will be able to find many more gems around this mountain. Once you’re back down to your starting point, head towards Narusawa and check out the Corsica-esque narrow, winding roads that litter the base of the ever-impressive Mount.

IMAGES

TITLE: Luz Ardiden to Corsica – Tim Kops

Corsica coast road – Nathanial Ziering

Pikes Peak hairpin – Alan Stark

Mount Fuji from Arakura Sengen Shrine – Reginald Pentinio

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