Bridgestone South Africa

Eliminations begin in Bridgestone 4x4 Challenge

Jul 21, 2015

"Now the real boxing match starts. " These were the words from Sakkie Coetzee, the Bridgestone 4x4 Club Challenge's official route master, during the driver's briefing for the first of the elimination rounds of the Challenge at the Hobby Park 4x4 track in Krugersdorp.

Coetzee's assessment of the challenges awaiting the 60 teams which had made it through the four qualifier rounds of the Challenge earlier in 2015 was not unexpected, but it was the obstacles themselves that caused the biggest shock, and the casualties varied from mechanical to psychological.

One team threw in the towel after suffering a broken side-shaft early in the event, and two drivers, upon inspecting obstacle six, promptly withdrew from the competition, declaring that their vehicles would never get through it in one piece.

However, the top contenders were not deterred, and steadily accumulated points over the ten obstacles. Where the qualifier rounds tended to emphasize squeezing through tight gates, the focus for the first elimination round shifted to choosing the correct line, maintaining momentum and use of technical aids like locking differentials.

A new handicap system was also implemented, with penalties based on ground clearance, wheelbase and front locking differentials. With the playing field leveled between the various sizes and makes of 4x4s, it was time for the crews to put their capabilities on display.

After a tough day, the prize giving saw two of the capable and nimble Suzuki Jimnys on the podium in an outcome that was so close-run that the top three finishers were covered by a spread of just 15 points

Third place went to Peter Gundlach and Willem Marais, with their Jimny taking them to a score of 800 points. Second belonged to another Jimny - Ivan Lerm and Steven Grieve did an outstanding job to notch up their 805-point score.

But it was Werner and Arno Schaap who stood atop the podium: the father and son team overcame the Jimnys in their Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, scoring 815 points.

Their victory earned them 50 Championship points, which they take to the next elimination round. The second- and third-placed teams earned 49 and 48 points respectively, while the lower-placed finishers score from 47 points downwards according to their finishing position. All Championship points earned in the Elimination rounds are accumulated and count towards the overall Challenge.

The last six teams on the points table after each round will face a '4x4 drive off' in a final showdown to decide who stays and who gets eliminated from the competition altogether. There were no eliminations in this first round though, giving everyone a second shot now that they are familiar with the scoring system.

"Some of the teams were hit hard by the new penalty system, losing up to 120 points in penalties. But it has leveled the playing field and gives the vehicles with fewer modifications a better chance," said Bridgestone South Africa's Guthrie Blaine. "In the end though, the driver still has to deliver the goods, no matter the vehicle." =============================== strlen:3591
Bridgestone South Africa

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