Bridgestone’s 4×4 Club Challenge has marked the penultimate event of 2013 with a thriller of a contest hosted by the Land Rover Owners Club of SA.
The event, held at Leeuwenkloof Environmental 4×4 facility near Hartbeespoort Dam, saw more than 30 Landies line up to compete, with new and old Defenders, Discoverys and even an old Range Rover. And while the day may have belonged to the best 4x4xfar, pragmatism was in good supply: several Land Rover Recovery Vehicles (also known as Toyotas) lurked nearby to retrieve competitors who had become impossibly stuck.
Typical 4×4 Club Challenge events have up to ten obstacles, but the LROC route had only three, divided into sections, each of which was marked as if it was a normal Club Challenge obstacle. In another deviation from standard practice, competitors were also allowed to stop in the obstacles without incurring a penalty.
The first set of gates covered a steep climb, followed by an even steeper decline. Most of the crews did well here, but then ran into trouble with the points-sapping white poles and gates.
The next “obstacle” was a novel one: the drivers had to select low-range, get their vehicle moving at idling speed, then jump out and steer the vehicle through a series of gates through the open driver’s window, while walking (or jogging!) next to the Landy. It proved to be quite an interesting exercise, but it was the last section of gates that provided the day’s best entertainment.
This involved a steep, slippery climb, a corner or two, and a few trees and gates to negotiate along the way. For the more experienced crews it was a good challenge, but the novices felt the heat. An early casualty was a Discovery IV who driver chose a line and tactics that took him into a tree. And a novice in a Defender got into such a pickle at the first turn that it took an hour and and three of the aforementioned Toyotas to extract the vehicle from the obstacle.
This was the chief marshal’s cue to to bring down the curtain on the event. With a few more inexperienced drivers due to tackle this climb, he felt it was better to quit before someone got hurt.
So that was that, and it was time to tally the scores. In third place, and winning a hand winch from Opposite Lock, was Warren Vos in a shorty Defender V8. In second place was Adriaan Aucamp – with a broken leg no less – in his Range Rover called Rachel. Aucamp won a set of Light Force spotlights, also from Opposite Lock.
The champion of the day though was Alex van der Horst in a Defender 90, who outdrove, outsmarted and out-4×4-ed the rest of the Landy clan. For his trouble Alex bagged a R10 000 gift voucher from Bridgestone South Africa.
The R2 000 environmental prize went to Wian Smith, also in a Defender.