On the terror trail


Words and pictures by Bridgestone SA.

Bridgestone 4×4 Club Challenge, Isuzu Offroad Club

Saturday, 18 May, saw more than thirty off-road vehicles tackle the daunting Moegatle 4×4 Trail during the fourth Bridgestone 4×4 Club Challenge of the year. Moegatle is no easy trail. In fact, it is known as one of South Africa’s “Terror Trails”. How would the drivers perform when pitted against this harrowing course? Conquering it would demand some true grit! As is the case with all Bridgestone 4×4 Club Challenges this year, the event was hosted by one of South Africa’s leading off-road clubs – in this case, the Isuzu Offroad Club. Although all makes and models were welcome, only Isuzu vehicles were eligible to go through to the final Bridgestone event to be held later this year.

Situated about 30 km north of Brits, Moegatle is an intimidating and challenging course; something that the Bridgestone competitors quickly realised on the day. Not only were the obstacles challenging, but merely getting to the various obstacles proved to be quite a trial! In fact, a number of competitors had their egos rather severely bruised as they struggled simply to get to the start of some of the official obstacles – even one or two recoveries were required!

And once they found themselves at the start of the obstacles, some truly tormenting challenges awaited. The worst obstacles were undoubtedly numbers five and six. Obstacle five consisted of a fairly simple axle-twister, but there was a catch: two straps had been placed in the obstacle, and competitors were asked to lift their tyres over these straps without touching them. How could this be accomplished? By making use of the articulation created by the axle-twister to lift the tyres over the straps. This was obviously not an easy task to perform, and required excellent knowledge of how a vehicle’s suspension behaves in an axle twister. Anticipating exactly when and where a tyre will lift off the ground as you make your way through an axle-twister, is tougher than it seems. Consequently, this obstacle really singled out those drivers who had an intimate knowledge of how a vehicle reacts in an obstacle.

Obstacle six consisted of a steep hill that competitors had to traverse, climbing up one side, and then down the other. Because it was so steep, drivers often struggled to see where they were going while climbing the hill, which resulted in many drivers veering too far to the right, and finding themselves stranded on a pesky ledge just off the obstacle. Although co-drivers could get out of the vehicles and assist drivers in negotiating the obstacle, this wasn’t much help, since the moment that drivers tackled the steep climb, all they could see through their windscreens was blue sky. By the time they managed to orient themselves, it was often too late. A large number of competitors had to be “assisted” to get their vehicles off the ledge.

In total, the day consisted of seven obstacles (which counted for 700 points), as well as a regularity raid that offered competitors a maximum of 300 points. What is a regularity raid? It is a GPS-based challenge that forces competitors to follow a pre-determined route with the help of clues and a GPS. A couple of small challenges are often also thrown into the mix to keep things interesting. For instance, the Isuzu Offroad Club forced competitors to stop at the house of one of the local community members and purchase a bag of firewood that could be used later during the braai. It was an excellent way to get the local community involved, and give something back. But that wasn’t all that the Isuzu Club did; they also asked every competitor to bring along a food hamper as part of their entry “fee”, and these hampers were all handed over to the community at the end of the day. Well done to the Isuzu Offroad Club, for setting such a great example!

Though there were some other vehicles in attendance on the day, the Isuzus did very well, managing to claim two of the three top spots. First place went to Dawie Volmer in an Isuzu Frontier, who won a R10 000 voucher for Bridgestone tyres. Second place went to Werner Schaap in his Jeep. He won a set of Light Force lights sponsored by Opposite Lock. Third place went to Jaco Volmer, also in a Frontier. He walked away with a hand winch, also sponsored by Opposite Lock. Fourth place went to Johan Terblanche in his Isuzu KB280. Since only Isuzus were eligible to go through to the final event, Johan Terblanche was the third and final competitor to secure a place in the Bridgestone 4×4 Club Challenge final…

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