Words and pictures by Alan Goodway (on behalf of Bridgestone SA)
The 2012 Bridgestone 4×4 Fundi Challenge was officially launched at a gathering held towards the end of March at the Bridgestone SA Head Office in Isando. The 60 competing teams for this year’s event arrived to finalise their registrations and get the low-down from Bridgestone as to the specifics of the season. Judging by the expressions, excitement and buzz in the auditorium, this is going to be one heck of a season.
Tony Burns, Bridgestone SA’s marketing manager, thanked all present for the great response to this year’s competition and introduced the dignitaries and sponsors in attendance. Tony reiterated the fact that this is the seventh season of this event, and believes that every year it just gets better. This year, with new leader and organiser Daniel Barbosa, Bridgestone is promising another thrilling season.
The essence of the event is returning to family-orientated 4×4-ing with a healthy respect for nature. Next up, Daniel introduced himself as the new kid on the block. He then took the competitors through a presentation on the mechanics of the event for 2012, with many a jibe and a chirp coming from the floor. The Bridgestone 4×4 Fundis are a great bunch of people, who enjoy life to the fullest, and their gusto for this event is always quite evident.
Many new faces and teams are participating this year, alongside the old stalwarts who are back for more. This year the 4×4 Offroad Adventure Club, the Mercedes Benz G-Xtreme Club and the Isuzu Offroad Club form the backbone of long-standing competitors. Out with the old and in with the new – this year sees the return for the second time of a huge 4×4 Community Forum Club team, a large contingent from the Suzuki 4×4 Club and a large contingent of privateers. As the competition is based on clubs, an impromptu reorganisation of entries was done, to form organised groups representing teams, so as to conform to the spirit of the competition.
Bridgestone SA also secured Bushtec sponsorship of tents to the value of R50 000 across the heats for the winners, and Tuff Stuff Insurance has sponsored prizes to the value of R15 000 for the heats. But wait, that’s not all…
Bridgestone has created a Bridgestone Club Award for the best performing club during the season, with a sponsorship of R60 000 worth of tyres to the well-deserving team. Finally, Tuff Stuff have sponsored the new Environmental Award prize to the tune of R20 000 cash! Th is one is going to be a real humdinger, as Bridgestone bring in an environmental awareness ‘inner competition’, rewarding the most environmentally aware team during the year.
So, we have a fantastic mix of awesome sponsors, huge prizes and ever-keen competitors. What makes the 2012 edition particularly diffi cult to predict is the introduction of Daniel Barbosa as organiser – who knows what he has up his sleeve. So far we have the introduction of the environmentally-friendly concept and prize, the introduction of events on eco-sensitive 4×4 trails, and also the introduction of more than half a fi eld of new teams! It’s gonna be a blockbuster of note!
As usual, SA4x4 will be the publication to keep an eye on for regular updates on the 2012 Bridgestone 4×4 Fundi Challenge, and Bridgestone have secured the SuperSport slots again, so look out for coverage of the event on TV.