A cold, mid-winter August afternoon outside Rola Jeep in Somerset West (part sponsor of the challenge) – greeted folk who were hugging boerewors rolls and their valuable goodie bags filled with caffeine-rich energy drinks, water, food and supplies. Dressed up in crazy outfits like the Ninja Turtles (to represent their teams and the grueling evening which lay ahead), is what signalled the start of the Coopertires Night Challenge 2017. This year saw the 14th consecutive challenge take place with 2017 being the third annual event in a row sponsored by Coopertires Africa.
An extremely well-organised, 4×4-friendly (any vehicle brand welcome to enter) challenge which serves as a platform to “unite” fellow 4×4 enthusiasts where they may hone their existing skills as well as learn and share with one another, new ideas, thoughts and strategies about this much-loved sport.
Up for grabs was a grand R10 000 cash prize offer proudly sponsored by Coopertires Africa. But apart from this great prize, 4×4 (and even a 2×4 Renault Sandero) enthusiasts came from far and wide to test their vehicles as well as their own personal motoring skills – coupled with exhilarating technical challenges and obstacles which the organisers of this increasingly popular annual event had lined up for them. Teams scored points from partaking in the various challenges and obstacles put forward, which, when added together with their arrival times at the end, determined their final positions in this 4×4 endurance-challenge.
Lead organiser – Karsten Vincent (a passionate 4×4 enthusiast), waved the green flag and back into the cabioles went the Sodoku brain-teasers and instead, out came the Garmins, calculators, pencils and cameras. It was 19h00 and this 2017, night-orientated challenge suddenly sprang to life, driving contestants 460km off and partly on the beaten track to quaint places in the Western Cape which many a South African has not yet discovered.
One such place being Grabouw, which lies foothill in the Elgin Valley between the Hottentots Holland and Groenlandberg Mountains in the Kogelberg Biosphere in the Overberg region. Grabouw is home to the Elgin Grabouw Country Club and Grabouw 4×4 route, which formed a part of the final stage of this thrilling endurance challenge. When day had long since turned into night, Willie Landman – manager of the Grade 3 Grabouw 4×4 route, joined forces with the alert and very well-informed marshals to ensure that everyone stayed on track, be it through means of reassuring words or spot breathalyser tests. Ultimately, ensuring that everyone reached their goals and the finish line safely.
Among those valuables received inside the goodie bags sponsored by Outdoor Warehouse, were treats which gave the drivers much needed bursts of energy throughout the night as they battled on and fought off any signs of fatigue.
The constant bait of strategic thinking started ending when the first team arrived at the finish line, just in time to watch the beautiful sunrise over the Eikenhof Dam the following morning. At the same time announcing the winners of the 2017 Coopertires Night Challenge.
Boetie Victor and his co-driver Mark Van Zyl finished off in 1st place with 2 000 points in their Land Rover Defender (cough) and were soon followed by Rory Van Zyl and his co-driver Brian Van Zyl with 1 195 points in their Land Rover Discovery. With a “voet in die hoek”, in 3rd place were husband and wife team – Leon and Monique Engelbrecht with a total of 1 140 points in their Toyota Prado.
Weary and tired, contestants were welcomed home by the organisers at the bar and restaurant of Elgin Grabouw Country Club where a much-needed hearty, country style breakfast was served. Followed by a celebration of praising speeches, awarding of prizes to winners and a frenzy of handshakes and shoulder-bumps coupled with heart-warming cheers of laughter.
For more information on the Coopertires Night Challenge, please CLICK HERE
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