Jaco van Zyl and Gerhard Jacobs are the Bridgestone 2014 4×4 Club Challenge Champions. Driving a 50 year-old Series IIA Land Rover, the pair took overall victory for the year in an event which was halted for safety reasons after torrential rain turned the tricky obstacles into an impassable mudbath.
The series decider was held at the Doornrivier 4×4 trail near Zeerust in the North West Province on November 22. Entry was limited to the top 30 teams from the knockout rounds of the 2014 Bridgestone 4×4 Club Challenge, with ten obstacles separating them from the champion’s laurels.
The first two obstacles featured steep and rocky climbs which were so daunting that some competitors opted out altogether, and while the route to the third obstacle began as a scenic drive, it ended with an unexpectedly awkward river bed crossing.
And obstacle three turned out to be the day’s biggest surprise : Bridgestone, with the help of Action Ford Krugersdorp and Ford South Africa, had supplied a fleet of Ford Ranger 3.2TDCi 4x4s with which the teams were to compete in the next eight obstacles. This was done to level the playing field and the trick for the teams was to adapt quickly to the unfamiliar vehicles. Not surprisingly, the points tally at obstacles three, four and five was frequently zero.
Obstacle six really got tongues wagging – here the driver had to wear darkened goggles, relying solely on the co-driver’s instructions to get through. Then came more of the golf-ball-on-a-pole challenges which the organisers have favoured throughout the year. Many teams struggled to make just the right amount of contact with the poles to knock the balls off, but others methodically raked in the points.
All the effort was for naught though, because the heavens opened with many competitors still on the track and for fairness the organisers decided that only the first five obstacles would count towards the results.
With the bedraggled crews gathered for the prizegiving, the R8 000 Bridgestone South Africa Environmental Prize went to Corne van der Merwe and Freddie Siebert in a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon.
The third-placed Mercedes-Benz Gelandewagen crew, Graham Jupp and Lyn Zabel, won R10 0000 from Bridgestone, and a Gelandewagen crew was in the runner-up spot too: father and son team, Marco and Joe Marincowitz, won a R25 000 gift voucher from co-sponsor Opposite Lock.
But it was van Zyl and Jacobs in their vintage Landy who were crowned as the 2014 Bridgestone 4×4 Club Challenge Champions, wining a Conqueror off-road trailer worth R50 000. Their remarkable result included a perfect 100 points on both obstacle one and two, followed by excellent scores on the remaining obstacles in the Ford Ranger.
You can catch all the Club Challenge action on DStv’s Ignition channel – the final will be broadcast from 13th of December.