THE ULTIMATE CONTESTANT? The Ford Ranger serves as the platform for the 2015 Ranger Odyssey experience. Image:Quickpic
• Top 20 finalists chosen
• Put to test at four-day Karoo boot camp
• 12-day adventure in Namibia awaits
PRETORIA - Prince Albert in the Karoo was the scene of a four-day boot camp from 18 to 21 June. which led to the selection of the top twenty contestants for the 2015 Ford Ranger Odyssey in Namibia.
38 contestants, chosen from thousands of online entries, made their way to the start of boot camp. The group comprised 29 South Africans along with four entrants from Nigeria, two each from Mozambique and Ivory Coast, and one from Angola.
4x4 OBSTACLE COURSE
The programme commenced with in-depth instruction on the theoretical aspects of the Ford Ranger and 4x4 driving in general, with special attention paid to of vehicle recovery techniques (we wonder why?). The team then had to haul their luggage by foot to the overnight campsite around 2.5km away, then set up tents for the chilly mid-winter nights.
On Friday (June 19) the contestants had their first opportunity to take the Ranger off-road. A series of challenging 4x4 obstacles were laid out in the dry bed of the Gamka River around 12km north of Prince Albert. For the majority of the group, it was their first off-road excursion.
The instructors took the contestants through the full regime of winching, operating a high-lift jack and using scissors lifts and recovery ropes to extricate a stranded vehicle.
Day three was all about the regime of safe convoy driving, and the contestants took turns behind the wheel as the 17-vehicle fleet traversed the breath-taking Swartberg Pass, headed through Groenkloof to Calitzdorp and worked its way through the scenic Seweweekspoort Pass.
Throughout boot Camp the contestants were scored and rated daily on a variety of aspects, including: overall attitude and group interaction, grasp of practical and theoretical elements of 4x4 training, communication and leadership skills.
As the final day came to an end the names of the semi-finalists were revealed and Ford are adamant these contestants are indeed tough enough, have the right level of endurance and the ideal disposition for the challenging 12-day adventure which sets off for Namibia on 23 July.
Tracey Delate, general marketing manager for Ford SA said: "The Boot Camp action was intense, but we had a great group of contestants and everyone gave it their all, enjoyed themselves and learned a lot over the four days.
"The 20 finalists chosen for Namibia represent a fantastic mix of individuals that bring a superb level of energy, enthusiasm, camaraderie and a desire for adventure to this event. We look forward to setting off for Namibia in July with them for this truly life-changing experience."
Here are the names of all the finalists:
Throughout the Ranger Odyssey, from boot camp all the way through to the end of the main event in Namibia, fans can enter the 'Back Seat Driver' competition hosted on the Ranger Odyssey website. Check out Ford's 'Back Seat Driver' competition.
SPAGHETTI GRAVEL: The Ranger Odyssey convoy navigate the twisty Swartberg pass which showcases the raw and breath-taking views of the Swartberg. Image: Ford South Africa