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Bridgestone 4×4 Fundi Challenge Round 3

29 June 2012

David ft. Goliath

by Danie Botha

What kind of 4×4 do you need when the going gets really tough? Well, if you are competing in the very technical and tough third round of the 2012 Bridgestone Fundi Challenge, it seems you need a… Suzuki Jimny 1.3!

Yes sirree, that’s right: A tiny 1,3-litre Japanese 4×4.

Riaan Goede and Marius van Niekerk, driving a beefed up Jimny, won the third round of the tougher-than-ever Bridgestone Fundi 4×4 Challenge. And in doing so the little Suzie kicked sand in the eyes of a hard-core armada of 4×4 machines.

The showdown, and the challengers:
Held at the challenging Riverside 4×4 Trail near Steynsrus in the Free State, the event kicked off at 7am on a Saturday morning, with the temperature hovering around the -5 degrees Celsius mark.

Bridgestone’s Daniel Barbosa had promised the 55 Fundi teams a real challenge for 2012 – and his grandiose plan of greater challenges than ever before culminated here in the Free State in eight extremely tricky and technical driving tests.

It was soon clear than even the normally unstoppable fleet of Mercedes-Benz Gelandewagens was losing points all over the show. Never mind the bigger-sized Range Rovers and Land Rover Discos – the crews of these vehicles battled to score any points, never mind full marks on any one obstacle!

However, the vehicles that killed off the most penalty poles on this event were most certainly the two Volkswagen Syncro busses of Stuart Stirling and Paul Hoogstad, and Dean and Alan Levin. These big machines battled on regardless though, and provided a number of “Oh dear! That bus is going to roll!” moments. Amazingly, both Syncros managed to stay on all fours.

And to the victor go the spoils:
In the end the small Suzuki – which does feature aftermarket upgrades such as suspension and a front differential lock – of Goede and van Niekerk won the event with a surprisingly low score of 49,46%. The Suzuki was followed by a barrage of those super-duper Merc G-Wagons, and the short-wheel base Jeep Wrangler of Stefan and Tristen Wintershoven.

Life at the top of the overall leader board, after three rounds, is tough though – just two points cover the top three crews. Behind the Jimny follows the V8 petrol-powered Mercedes-Benz Gelandewagen of Graham Jupp and Bruce Hains, and the diesel Gelandewagen of defending champions Marco and Joe Marinkowitz.

Eye on the next prize:
So, this battle is far from won or lost, even though the proverbial David got one over the bigger, way more powerful Goliaths for a change. Indeed, there are a number of crews in a variety of 4x4s than can still win this challenge overall. Let the games… continue!

The Fundi gets “series”
The 2012 Bridgestone 4×4 Fundi Challenge will be broadcast on DStv’s Ignition channel(channel 265), from October. The six-part series will kick off on 6 October, and the show will be repeated several times during the weekend, with a prime slot of 20:30 on the Saturday night.

The Bridgestone 4×4 Fundi Challenge is co-sponsored byTUFFSTUFF, the original 4×4 lifestyle insurance product specialist, together with Conqueror off-road trailers, Bushtec and Opposite Lock.

Check out our Facebook page to see a short video of the weekend’s action!