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Underdogs rule at 4x4 Challenge

2013-04-19 08:21

COMING FROM BEHIND: Many thought the Nissan Patrols would be successful at the 4x4 club challenge, however it was a "day of the underdogs". Image: Motorpics

The third Bridgestone 4x4 Club Challenge of 2013 saw some unexpected results and was described as “the day of the underdogs”.

Daniel Barbosa, series organiser, said: “With the event being hosted by the Nissan 4x4 Club, most people were expecting the mighty Nissan Patrols to march up to the podium, but there were some surprises in store.”

TIGHT TURN, STEEP CLIMB

Perhaps recollections of the dominance of the Mercedes Gelandewagens in round two of the Bridgestone 4x4 Club Challenge series had erased the memories of how the diminutive Suzuki Jimnys locked out the podium in the opening round.

Once competitors got past the mandatory pre-start safety quiz, the opening obstacle presented a tight turn followed by a steep climb. As one competitor after the other lost points by touching the closely-spaced trail poles with their bull bars and side mirrors, it became clear that this competition wasn’t going to be easy.

Obstacle two was a long, reasonably flat climb up a hill, but again the poles made things difficult, as the crews struggled through a couple of axle twists.

NASTY SURPRISES

Obstacles three and four were both downhill slogs, the first of which held a nasty surprise – the driver had to be blindfolded and then reverse to within ten centimetres of one of the trail poles. The next obstacle was a tight series of gates that couldn’t be traversed without touching the poles, and the top-scoring drivers were those that picked the route which involved deliberate contact with just a couple of selected poles, rather than accidental contact with several.

The final obstacle was a ravine where crews had to traverse a steep side-slope with several trail poles. Quite a few drivers managed to make it through without sacrificing any points to this obstacle.

With the obstacles complete, many Patrols walked away with the laurels. Deon and Henriette Delport in their Pathfinder took third place with Schalk and Heino Grobler in their Hardbody came in second.

First place went to Wimpie Olivier and Jaco van Zyl in a three-litre diesel Hardbody.

So how was it possible that the Patrol was outshined by its smaller brethren? Barbosa said: “The obstacles were simply too tight for the Patrol. It's a very competent off-roader, but on the kind of course we had here today, its bulk counted against it.”

The winners of previous rounds of the Bridgestone 4x4 Challenge will advance to the final which takes place on November 16 and 17, 2013.

However, the next round of the Challenge will be hosted by the Isuzu Offroad Club on May 18, 2013.
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