Three Durbanites qualify for 2014 Ranger Odyssey

2014-08-30 00:00

OVER 8 000 people who enlisted for the 2014 Ranger Odyssey were finally whittled down to 17 finalists during a bitterly cold boot camp last week.

One contestant each from Mozambique, Angola and Nigeria will next join these 17 South Africans to make up 20 drivers for the 2 500-km-long Ford Ranger Odyssey 2014.

Three KZN contestants made the cut, all three from Durban. They are ­Sarah Jo Gengiah, Zaheer Seedat and Christopher Sadler. As Maputo is as close as Jo’burg from Durban, Wheels also claims Lwana Lopes from Mozambique for KZN to support.

The 20 contestants will be paired up randomly and compete as a team for the ultimate prize — the opportunity to each drive a Ranger Odyssey for a year, and R5 000 for fuel per month.

The Ranger Odyssey 2014 runs from September 7 to 19. Some of the main highlights include the notoriously difficult Van Zyl’s Pass, Epupa Falls and the Purros Loop, famous for its desert lions and elephants.

The odyssey will also take the contestants through north-western Namibia’s rugged Kaokaland, where the maintenance and preparation training they received during the past week’s Boot Camp will play a crucial part.

The 17 finalists were selected from 40 contestants at De Rust, Ford’s 4x4 training centre at Hartbeespoort Dam, having been chosen from over 8 000 online entries and more than 1 600 candidates that completed the final phase of the entry process.

The bootcamp started with comprehensive theoretical training on 4x4 driving and vehicle recovery techniques, followed by their first outings in 10 identical Ford Ranger 3.2 XLT Double Cab 4x4 Automatics on the steep 25 and 33 degree gradients.

Following a chilly night under the stars, day two began with a hike to the base camp and a session of convoy driving. Then it was straight into a punishing trail run with a series of challenging obstacles that required a high level of teamwork, mental endurance and communication. The most arduous task for the off-road novices was the teeth-clenching 4x4 trail that often had just two wheels of the Rangers touching.

• More information on the Ranger Odyssey on www,rangerodyssey.com, or facebook.com/FordSouthAfrica or on Twitter @FordSouthAfrica.

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