Words by Andrew Middleton, image by Bridgestone
SA4x4’s Andrew Middleton takes on the Bridgestone 4×4 Club Challenge – in a Suzuki Jimny
The Bridgestone 4×4 Club Challenge held at the Leeuwenkloof 4×4 Centre (near Hartbeespoort Dam) isn’t won by those with the most money, the most kitted 4×4 or the most powerful engine; it’s won by those with skill. Unfortunately, the importance of skill already counted me out of the top ten. All vehicles are welcome at the four Bridgestone Challenge qualifying rounds, although emphasis is placed on keeping the competition fair. The obstacles are tight, the track is extremely technical, and large, long bakkies may suffer somewhat.
With regard to vehicle choice, a modified Jeep Rubicon may arguably be the most capable 4×4 out there, but 37-inch tyres and a wide track won’t do it any favours in tighter sections where it will crush marker poles, or lack the necessary turning radius. That being said, although our standard Jimny was as manoeuvrable as they come, the lack of ground clearance and locking differentials were severe drawbacks on the loose, rocky, hill climbs. Those who choose to disconnect their sway bars, add lift kits and modify engines are happily accepted in the qualifying rounds (of which this particular round was the second last); but, come the event proper, penalties are enforced to level the playing fields.
Points work like this: you start with zero and gain points by completing obstacles without fault. For example, five points would be lost for stopping during an obstacle, twenty-five points would be lost for hitting a pole, and failing to complete an obstacle would mean a score of zero points.
To read this article in full, buy this issue from selected stores or you can also subscribe here.