Words and pictures by Bridgestone SA.
The penultimate round of the 2013 Bridgestone 4×4 Club Challenge turned out to be a case of lost and found, as the competitors had to deal with a challenging regularity raid format.
But not even this test could prepare the 30 top crews of 2013 for the final round – there were some big, big surprises waiting for them!
Early on a Saturday morning in October last year, the Leriba Hotel and Spa in Centurion was buzzing. Four-wheel drives of all shapes and sizes were gathered en masse in the hotel’s parking area. The occasion was the 4×4 Off-Road Adventure Club’s round of the 2013 Bridgestone 4×4 Club Challenge, to be run in the popular regularity-raid format.
In this test, the teams are handed route schedules, GPS waypoints – and a list of tasks they must complete along the way. These might vary from taking a photograph of a bird, to changing a spare wheel, to trying to find a way through some rocky 4×4 obstacles. The format offers a welcome respite from the traditional technical 4×4 tests in which competitors have to negotiate obstacles while avoiding those irritating poles.
After the admin process had been completed, the event got underway just after 07h00. And it was soon clear that it could very well be a long, long day for some teams!
And as it turned out, it was. One team decided to call it quits when they ended up in Soshanguve, instead of Bronkhorstspruit. Other teams got so lost in the Kungwini koppies on their way to the finishing line that they did the same 4×4 obstacles more than once! In the end, though, most of the teams made it to the finishing line at the Kungwini 4×4 trail’s boma.
After a long day of calculator-ing, GPS-ing and… well, in-car discussions, it was Marius and Wynand Schoeman in a Toyota Prado that proved to be the cream of the reg raid crop. They won a R10 000 tyre voucher from Bridgestone SA. In second place were Thomas and Quinton Wakeford in a Toyota Land Cruiser, and they bagged a set of Light Force spotlights, courtesy of Opposite Lock. Third place belonged to Doron Flam and Shai Pinchas, in another Toyota Prado. This team won a hand winch from Opposite Lock.
But if the regularity raid had proved to be a tough challenge, nothing could really prepare the top 30 4×4 club challenge teams for the final event a few weeks later. It was based at the Gerotek vehicle-testing facility near Pretoria, and a big surprise was in store for the 30 teams.
Daniel Barbosa from Bridgestone SA announced that the competitors would be given “control 4x4s” to drive on all the obstacles. So, it all boiled down to driver skill and the crew’s ability to adapt to a 4×4 they’d never driven before. You can imagine some of the surprised faces, especially those who normally have the luxury of three locking differentials in their own 4×4!
The reason for this innovative new element, Barbosa explained, was that rhetorical, mirror-mirror-on-the-wall question: Which brand of 4×4 is the one that can give its driver a spectacular advantage on a tough 4×4 test?