It had all the ingredients of a soap opera – drama, extreme challenges, suspense, and bucket loads of action. This was the sixth round of the 2013 Bridgestone Club Challenge, hosted by the McCarthy 4×4 Club.
The course consisted of 10 obstacles, all based at the Rhino Park 4×4 track, east of Pretoria. As usual, the organisers and marshals – encouraged by Bridgestone’s 4×4 liaison person, Daniel Barbosa – created some really tough tests.
The Club Challenge format has resulted in a number of new teams joining the action. For many, especially those teams who have never competed in an off-road event before, it was daunting, but also extremely helpful.
“I have learned so much about my bakkie and 4×4 driving in a very short space of time… and I still have six obstacles to go! By the time I’m finished I’ll know everything there is to know about 4×4-ing,” joked one of the newcomers.
The first of the 40 teams tackled the daunting track just after 8am. However, on this first obstacle, it was soon clear that scoring any points would be a tough ask. After four competitors had ‘completed’ this obstacle, the top score was 15 points of a possible 100!
Obstacle two was more of the same: a tight and technical challenge, with very little margin for error. A perfect score of 100 was again a pipe dream. Instead the competitors were forced into containing their losses.
The rest of the day’s obstacles continued to dish out the rough stuff: tight, technical and lean on the points. Obstacle six though, stood out as a particularly challenging challenge. Here the teams had to first scale a steep ascent with a sharp crest. Then followed a steep and rutted descent where wheels lifted in the air, rounded off with a seemingly impossible tight turn through a donga at the bottom, and a small climb through a gate to finish.
All the competitors received a safety briefing first, with the marshals ready to assist. In the end, everyone made it through, even though there were certainly a few nervous yelps inside the cabins as the wheels departed with terra firma at a rather uncomfortable angle!
Finally it was time to tally the scores, with most not willing to bet who the winners might be. Everyone had had a tough time on this track, losing bags of points.
But when all was said and done, third place, and a hand winch from Opposite Lock, went to Mitch Viljoen and Letisha du Toit, in a near-standard Suzuki Jimny (63.18%). Second place overall belonged to another Suzuki Jimny – the suped-up Zukzilla, piloted by Raymond and Anel Martin (with an overall percentage of 67.73%). The second-placed crew won a set of Light Force Spotlights, also courtesy of Opposite Lock.
But it was the Jeep Grand Cherokee of Danny Daniels and Tjaart Scheepers that took top honours – they scored an outstanding 73.18%, enough to scoop the first prize of a R10 000 tyre voucher from sponsor Bridgestone SA.
The top three crews also earned their entry tickets for the 2013 Bridgestone Club Challenge Final. It will certainly be a while before they forget how hard they had to sweat for their places!