Countdown Begins For 2006 4x4 Eco Challenge - Tire Review Magazine

Countdown Begins For 2006 4×4 Eco Challenge

(Douglasdale, South Africa/S.A. Treads) The final round of this year’s thrilling 4x4 Eco Challenge will take place in some of Africa’s most beautiful and untouched territory from Aug. 24 to Sept. 7, along the wild sandy shores and into the remote lowlands of Mozambique.

Goodyear SA, the main sponsor of the event, saw this as a unique opportunity to differentiate themselves from other manufacturers through involvement in environmental projects, eco friendly driving, promotion of responsible 4×4 activities and the demonstration of their Wrangler products in ultimate conditions – Goodyear’s Wrangler range of recreational tyres enjoys the largest original equipment (OE) fitment amongst local manufacturers in South Africa.

More than 200 entries from across the continent are currently tussling for a place in the semi-finals. This year the selection process has been combined with specialist 4×4 training, given by experienced staff at selected venues from Upington to Uganda, where ten or more teams have entered. Contestants use their own vehicles for this phase of the adventure.

The hotly contended semi-finals are already taking place in the extremes of the Kalahari dunes, where teams are fighting it out in Toyota Fortuna SUVs shod with Goodyear’s Wrangler tyres. The Wrangler range continues to impress due to its superior durability and eco-friendly footprint that according to the organizers of the event, does minimal damage to the earth. The new Wrangler AT/R, with its zigzag design, large shoulder notches and wide centre channel is said to ensure overall traction and high aquaplaning resistance. Only ten successful two-member teams will make it through to the final battle – the stuff of dreams – in wild and beautiful parts of Mozambique.

Teams from Italy and Poland have already earned their place in the final, and will return to Africa in August to compete.

Speaking with founder Gerhard Groenewald after the completion of the first round of the semi-finals, he remarked on the high standard of driving and eco knowledge displayed by the first group. Ten teams will make up this year’s quota, many of whom are veterans from past events.

“It is not uncommon to come across second or even third-timers in this event,” explained Groenewald. “The complete package we provide, which is to experience all the wonders nature has to offer in a respectful, eco-friendly manner, appeals to a growing number of environmentally aware people. We continue to remain true to our original vision which does not subscribe to tearing through the bush at breakneck speeds, but is based on providing our contestants with an Eco experience unlike anything they have ever likely been exposed to,” he said.

This year, the special projects task continues to focus on birds, plants and South African reptiles and for this reason, Marius Burger, well known herpetologist and clown who joined the 2004 and 2005 4×4 Eco Challenge, will again accompany this year’s expedition. One of the objectives of this year’s special task is to explore wild areas in remote parts of Mozambique in order to find the missing links of ancient Gondwanaland when the different continents or landmasses of the southern hemisphere were still in one piece. According to Priscilla Swart Bsc Honours Msc, professional scientist, scientists hope to find ecological links between Mozambique and the nearby island of Madagascar.

The 4×4 Eco Challenge has not only become an icon event among outdoor and nature enthusiasts, it remains committed to the original values and principles that inspired its inception. As always, the emphasis of the 4×4 Eco Challenge is on a combination of overland driving skills and concern for nature, and due to this, this pioneering event remains one of a kind.

“It was founded to promote environmental awareness, improve 4×4 driving skills, encourage responsible off-road driving and increase the pleasure all 4×4 owners can get from our magnificent environment, today and long into the future,” reiterated Groenewald.

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