Bridgestone’s all-new 4x4 Club Challenge got off to a sprightly start this weekend with the Suzuki Auto Club hosting the first round. Bridgestone’’s Daniel Barbosa said the event was a great start for the year. “Round One was exactly the kind of exciting opening event we needed to give the 2013 series momentum.” he commented afterwards. Based at the Leeuwenkloof farm near Hartbeespoort Dam, the competition saw 30 Suzuki 4x4s of all shapes and sizes tackle nine challenges of varying degrees of difficulty.
This included a treasure hunt, some medium grade 4x4 tests, a “blind driving test” where the co-driver had to guide the blindfolded driver through an obstacle, as well as some hair-raising obstacles that separated the men from the boys.
The top step of the podium – and a R10000 tyre voucher from Bridgestone – went to the team of Flip Kotze and Herman Steyn in their “FlipenAwesome” Suzuki Jimny 1.3. Their victory was no flash in the pan – they are an experienced team who were former Bridgestone Fundi Challenge frontrunners.
In second place was a Grand Vitara which had elbowed past the field of smaller Jimnys. Steven Grieve and Saleem Barmania demonstrated that their Grand Vitara 2.4 may be bigger, but was no less capable than the nippy little Jimny. For their trouble the team bagged a set of Light Force spotlights from Opposite Lock, valued at R4000.
Flying the flag for the older Suzukis were Danie Tait and Liaan Fourie, in their vintage Suzuki SJ Samurai, called Mongoose. The team beat a raft of more modern hardware to claim third position. They also won a hand winch, sponsored by Opposite Lock.
Suzuki Jimny crew Brett Bailey and Natalie Shephard was awarded the R2000 environmental award. This prize goes to the team who drives in the most environmentally considerate fashion on the day.
The top three finishers have now earned a spot in the Bridgestone Club Challenge Final in November, where they will compete against the top crews of all the major 4x4 clubs in South Africa for some astounding prizes.
The overall winners will take home a Conqueror Courage off-road trailer valued at R50000, while the second-placed crew will win a fully-adjustable Tough Dog suspension system from Opposite Lock, valued at R20000.
“This format seems like it is going to be very successful,” said Barbosa, “The atmosphere during the event was festive and relaxed. Everyone was having a great time.”
The Suzuki Auto Club’s chairperson, Monty Montgomery, agreed: “It truly was a great off-road event.” he said simply.
The next event on the Bridgestone 4x4 Club Challenge calendar will be hosted by the Mercedes-Benz SA G-Xtreme Club on 16 March. An 11-part television series, documenting each event, will be screened later this year on DStv’s Ignition channel.