THERE were plenty of thrills – and even a few spills – when petrolheads from all over South Africa put their extreme off-road driving skills to the test at a Bathurst quarry on Saturday.
Hundreds of revved up spectators lined the steep quarry walls as 30 drivers – and a handful of remote control enthusiasts – put pedal to the metal at the popular annual 4×4 challenge.
Not even last week’s hefty fuel price increase could dampen the enthusiasm of the competitors as they drove their tricked out monster trucks up and down cliff faces suited more for mountaineering than four-wheel driving.
“It’s all about the adrenaline,” organiser Difford Keeton explained.
“Doing this is better than riding on a rollercoaster.”
Not just about raw horsepower, off-road driving competitions involve highly technical skills as teams negotiate obstacles without hitting pegs laid out across each hazard.
Standing next to his lean and mean “snot” green machine, Keeton – a local undertaker who has splashed out more than R100000 on his ride – says petrol is the least of his worries when the cheapest parts cost R1000 a pop.
With a single CV joint costing R1000 and tyres coming in at R4500, it is not hard to see why hammering your truck in extreme conditions can add up to an expensive headache – especially if you don’t know how to do it properly.
According to Keeton, his homemade ride – which took eight years to build – is fairly light on petrol compared to some of the more thirsty V8 monster trucks at the challenge.
Boasting a customised Toyota Corolla 1800 petrol engine, the vehicle Keeton has named “Warrior” boasts a state-of-the-art hydraulic suspension and dual back and front steering that makes turning tightly on death defying inclines a stroll in the park.
Tackling the cliffs with co-driver and mechanic Johan Bekker barking out instructions, Keeton says they have the perfect petrolhead relationship.
“As the driver, I am the breaker and payer, Johan is the fixer and polisher,” he chuckles. Keeton said they were impressed by the turnout of competitors who travelled from as far as Cape Town despite “tough economic times”. Although there were only a handful of competitors who travelled from afar to Bathurst, there were loads who made the short haul from East London and Port Elizabeth.
Small in stature but big in heart, the youngest competitor – 12-year-old Bradley Schreiber from East London – showed the old dogs how it is done with some precision driving.
Driving his “Lil Monster” dune buggy while his dad, Michael, gave instructions and controlled the brakes from the spare seat, the Grade 6 Hudson Park Primary pupil said he hoped to turn professional one day and try his luck competing overseas. “Driving is something we love doing together,” says Bradley.
According to Michael, extreme 4×4 competitions were a real family affair.
“We are a father and son team … we do everything together – even the mechanics.” — firstname.lastname@example.org
Article source: http://www.dispatch.co.za/4x4s-getting-down-and-dirty/