Bridgestone South Africa

Drama on final Bridgestone 4x4 qualifier

May 30, 2015

Almost 50 teams lined for the start at the Leeuwenkloof 4x4 venue which played host to the last of the four qualifying rounds of this year's Bridgestone 4x4 Club Challenge.

With most of the spots already filled for the elimination rounds - the first of which is on June 27 at the Hobby Park 4x4 track in Krugersdorp - the competition on the final qualifier near Hartbeespoort Dam was intense.

The track was extremely dry and dusty, and the teams toiled in the slippery gravel. The steep climb at Obstacle Three was the undoing of many competitors, but not Karina Jacobson and Anja Eder, in their Jeep Wrangler. The two young ladies, driving in their first 4x4 competition, took on the challenge and scored 75 points, making it all the way to the top. "That was so scary!" said Karina later. "When we got to the top I just sat there, unable to speak, shaking like a leaf!" Track designer, Sakkie Coetzee, was so impressed by the team's bravery and driving skills that he awarded them with the prized Bridgestone tyre voucher worth R10 000.

There was further drama at Obstacle Three when the Suzuki Jimny team of Gerrie van Eeden and co-pilot Charles Thompson achieved the summit, only to be told they'd knocked two golf balls off the marker poles on the way up. When they protested that the Jimny was too narrow to have touched them, they were crestfallen to hear that it was not the vehicle which knocked off the golf balls, but gravel and stones from its spinning wheels!

Later on, at Obstacle Six, two Nissans became stuck, one extremely so. After it was finally recovered, the organisers hoped that there would be no further hiccups, but they hadn't reckoned on the fearsome Obstacle Nine with its steep climb and powdery surface - Robert and Dustin Hale, in an Isuzu Trooper V6, bent a wheel rim against a large boulder during their speedy ascent, delaying proceedings slightly while they changed wheels.

In the end though, it was a full podium lock-out for the pint-size Suzuki Jimnys, the narrow gates on the course suiting the smaller 4x4s. Third place went to Henry and Adele Barnes, who won a set of LED work lights, courtesy of Opposite Lock. Raymond and Anel Martin bagged second and a Mean Green recovery kit, also with the compliments of Opposite Lock.

But the winner was the team of Pieter Smit and Gert van Niekerk, scoring 850 out of a possible 900 points, and winning a R10 000 tyre voucher from series sponsor Bridgestone South Africa.

Next up are the six elimination rounds - at each one, five of the 60 qualifying teams will be eliminated until the Bridgestone Club Challenge Final in November, where the 30 remaining teams will compete for top honours.

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Bridgestone South Africa

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