According to event organiser Gerhard Groenewald more than 180 semi-finalist teams were evaluated in the Kalahari.
"There were some very impressive competitors which made our job of choosing the 10 best teams even more difficult," he said.
Sarel van der Merwe, principal judge added: "With this year's new transparent scoring system, the choices were far easier and we could see exactly where the teams? stronger and weaker points were.
"In the end the teams that were consistent in their driving skills, special tasks and team work secured themselves a place in the final.
"The fact that only 22 points separate the top ten teams shows how close the competition was."
The top 10 teams that have been invited to participate in the 4x4 Eco-Challenge 2003 are:
1. Carel Bruwer and Japie Louw of Somerset West
2. Jaap and Annetjie Meyer of Middelburg
3. Tertius Hickman and Graham Sinclair of Johannesburg
4. David Huddy and Sally Bevington of Johannesburg
5. Christo and Jurie van Rensburg of Hartswater
6. Pieter van Wyk and Kobus van den Berg of Bloemfontein
7. Paul Gouge and Mike Bird of Empangeni
8. Deon and Theunis van Zyl of Swakopmund, Namibia
9= Steven and Shayne McIntyre of Groblersdal
9= Paul de Villiers and Hillet Roelofse of Cape Town
The teams will depart in identical Mitsubishi Colt 2.8 Tdi 4x4 double cab pickups from Klipbokkop near Worcester on August 7 and return on August 22.
After traveling up the West Coast, the convoy will travel through Namibia before crossing into Angola at Ruacana.
Before heading northwards the convoy will follow the Kunene River to where it spills into the Indian Ocean - finishing point of the 2002 Eco-Challenge.
From there the convoy will follow the Angolan coastline, travelling through spectacular areas that have seen few visitors since the end of the Border War more than a decade ago. The convoy will continue northwards to Namibe, before turning back to retrace their steps to South Africa.
The bronze whaler (copper shark) tag and release project that formed an important element of last year's Eco-Challenge along Namibia's Skeleton Coast will be continued along the Angolan coastline this year.
This project will again have the full backing of several nature conservation organisations, and will again provide valuable data about the migratory route of the bronze whaler.
This year the 4x4 Eco Challenge has even stronger support from its major sponsors: Mitsubishi Motors, Goodyear, National Luna, Safari Centre and Campmor Outdoor. It has also gained the backing of two new sponsors, DaimlerChrysler Services and Sasol.
The 4x4 Eco Challenge convoy's progress can be tracked on the www.mitsubishi-motors.co.za website, which will feature daily updates and photographs.