Jeeps are in that class of off-road vehicles which will crawl over just about anything you point them at. The recent Bridgestone 4×4 Club Challenge, hosted by the Jeep Club SA, gave a large number of Jeep owners a chance to prove this theory while fighting for podium positions and a place in the 4×4 Club Challenge finals, coming up in November.
The event – round eight of the 2013 Bridgestone 4×4 Club Challenge – was held at the Hobby Park complex on the West Rand and formed part of a long-weekend-long Jeep Jamboree event at the same venue. Those who were expecting to compete under mild spring conditions got a nudge in the ribcage from Mother Nature on a day which turned out to be cold and windy.
Almost 40 Jeep teams lined up to tackle the ten obstacles on offer. Obstacle one proved to be an early challenge – several axle twisters were followed by a tight turn, a steep descent at an angle, and narrow gate to negotiate. While the more experienced crews planned their routes, the rookies had a tougher time of it, incurring many penalties.
Obstacle two was a real challenge and led to strained relations between driver and co-driver in some cases. The competitors had to negotiate a number of garages and reverse up steep slopes while the co-driver shouted directions.
Obstacle three was a water crossing which looked daunting but proved easy to handle. Obstacle four had the competitors in a pickle though – only one Jeep would score full marks this challenge which entailed reversing up a steep slope with strategically placed ice packs that caused wheels to slip. At the top of the incline the Jeeps had to tap a pole with their rear bumpers – not too softly, but also not too hard.
Obstacle five was a steep and rutted climb while the sixth obstacle was a tough descent. Obstacles seven, eight and nine were more of the same: narrow gates and tight turns, not to mention more rocks and steep inclines and declines.
But it was obstacle 10 that will probably endure the longest in the memories of the rookies. Here the driver was blindfolded, and the co-driver had to navigate the driver down a steep decline, through some water, and up and over a steep exit point. There were a few scary moments, and more than a few nervous yelps from drivers and co-drivers alike, but in the end all the teams made it through unscathed.
When the day of close calls was over, the scores were added up and in third place, winning a hand winch from Opposite Lock, were Jimmy Olds and Bertus Badenhorst in a Wrangler Rubicon. Second place also went to a Rubicon, that of Rudolph and Ria Wolmarans, who won a set of Light Force spotlights from Opposite Lock.
And it was a Wrangler Rubicon that took first place too, in the hands of seasoned competitors Werner and Armand Schaap. In giving the Rubicon its clean sweep of the podium, the team won a R10 000 tyre voucher from Bridgestone South Africa, and booked a place in November’s 4×4 Club Challenge Finals