Bridgestone South Africa

Bridgestone 4x4 crews sweat at Lichtenburg

Sep 17, 2015

When a marshal at a 4x4 event views an obstacle and declares that the event organiser has 'lost his mind', then you know it's going to be a tough day for the competitors. And that's how it turned out at Round Eight of the Bridgestone 4x4 Club Challenge, held on September 12 at the Lichtenburg 4x4 Track.

Even after route master, Sakkie Coetzee, demonstrated to the incredulous marshal that the obstacle in question could definitely be conquered, the 33 remaining teams in the Challenge were never in doubt as to what awaited them on the rocky mine dumps.

The winner was going to be the driver who could maintain momentum over the rutted surface, while still staying on the best line for each obstacle. Even though the track has traditionally suited the more powerful Jeep Wranglers and TJs, it was a tiny Suzuki SJ413 that not only won the short wheelbase class, but beat all the bigger guns too. The father and son team of Danie and Daniel Tait dropped just 35 points over the ten obstacles, ending with a final score of 940 points out of 1000 after taking an additional 25-point penalty for the vehicle's front locking differential.

Tait senior said the secret was tyre pressures. "After the first few obstacles I dropped the pressures down to 0.4 bars," he explained. "This seemed to do the trick on the slippery rocks, and the small size of the 1.3-litre Suzuki also helped to make all those tight turns," he added. "And we just had to find the ‘Sakkie lines' through the obstacles - he hides them very well!" chuckled Tait, referring to route master Coetzee's fiendishly difficult course.

Meanwhile in the long-wheel base class, 2014 4x4 Club Challenge Champion, Danny Daniels, and co-driver, Rob Wallace, managed to accumulate a very commendable 805 points on a track that suited the smaller vehicles. Their Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD had plenty of horsepower but, like all the bigger 4x4s, battled to get through the route's tight turns without hitting the ever-present marking poles.

"It was a tough day," said the reigning champion. "Sakkie really makes you think about your lines, and then you think some more."

With only two rounds of the Challenge remaining, the race for the overall victory is now really hotting up. The next round will take place on 31 October at the Moegatle 4x4 trail near Brits in the North-West province.

"Judging by Sakkie's tracks so far, it promises to be a humdinger," said Bridgestone South Africa's Guthrie Blaine. "I'm sure there are a few competitors who are already starting to worry about the Moegatle obstacles!"

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Bridgestone South Africa

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