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Nature throws up new challenge to 4x4

Friday, 14th May, 2010

Local competitors Tony Bright and John Clemens will be back in action in next week's Outback 4x4 Challenge Local competitors Tony Bright and John Clemens will be back in action in next week's Outback 4x4 Challenge

Australia’s toughest four-wheel-drive event revs up again next week. Pitting man and machine against the wild, the 12th Outback 4x4 Challenge will fire up next Friday, with 26 modified vehicles vying for the title of Australia’s toughest vehicle/driver combination. The local team of Tony Bright and John Clemens are back in action along with a second-time Venezuelan team and 24 other national competitors from Victoria, SA, NSWand Western Australia. Competition manager Paul Vanderhorst said the recent rain would bring some special challenges to the event. “In the mud, yes. The water coming out of the Darling will have an effect on the lagoons,” Mr Vanderhorst said. “Dry creeks will be wet and muddy and some of the water holes will be deep.” He said the event was not for the faint-hearted. “Have you ever dangled off the end of your winch cable vertically while your navigator instructs you with the recovery?
It’s awesome!” Drivers must be able to drive or winch up and down walls that are almost vertical, they must be able to drive and navigate treacherous cross country areas where there are no roads or towns for many miles, and show excellent mechanical, first aid, orienteering and general knowledge skills.
But Mr Vanderhorst said it was safe as the vehicles were built
tough. “All the vehicles are fitting out with vehicle harnesses, roll bars and all that stuff,” he said.
“Cars are built to be able to cope with a rollover. They are all
using high-tech winches and high-tech gear.
“They are built very tough. These are not your standard four-wheeldrives.” The event will begin at the racecourse with team scrutineering and vehicle checks before the cars and crews go bush bashing. Mr Vanderhorst said the course would take in three properties around Menindee and Broken Hill so that drivers encountered sand, mud and rocks. “There’s a good
diversity of terrain.” A special stage will also be held at Stephens Creek on Saturday, May 22.

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