10,000 INTO 18 DOES GO
Over ten thousand competitors, from every corner of the world, applied to become a competitor in the Land Rover G4 Challenge. On Friday 3rd February, in harsh sub-zero conditions at Eastnor Castle in Herefordshire, England, 18 men and women from countries as diverse as Brazil and Taiwan, the UK and Costa Rica achieved the goal of a lifetime; to represent their countries in the ultimate global adventure.
Fifty-four finalists, three from each of the 18 nations, have spent the last week being tested to the limits of physical and mental endurance in a bid to win a place on the month-long Land Rover G4 Challenge. The event begins in Bangkok, Thailand on April 23, traverses Laos for 10 days before relocating 10,000 miles away to Rio de Janeiro for the 2-week South American stage in Brazil and Bolivia.
The Land Rover G4 Challenge is a tough mix of the most demanding 4×4 driving on the planet and a series of exacting adventure sports, which will be scored together to determine the overall winner. The prize at the end of four weeks of the global adventure is a brand new Range Rover.
Scored on points for each task, the runner-up from each country will be a reserve for their country in case of injury or illness.
The results were incredibly close amongst many finalists. Only in the last few hours of selections were the winners from some countries decided.
The level of sporting and driving excellence in the first Land Rover G4 Challenge in 2003 was remarkable. Yet Event Director Niki Davies believes the standard of finalists gathered at Eastnor Castle for the 2006 International Selections has been even higher; this was proven by the fact that even some of the established adventure racers amongst the finalists failed to win a place on the Challenge.“The level of competition this week has been breathtaking,” surmised Davies. “The fitness of the competitors, their driving skills, their ability to cope with the extreme cold and endless days (awaking at 4am and sometimes only getting to their tents at midnight), their initiative and, above all their boundless humour and team spirit makes me believe that the event itself will be a close-fought competition with an immense sense of camaraderie. I can’t wait for the start.”
In addition to driving, the competitors were put through a variety of hellish individual and physical tasks, designed to test strength, initiative, endurance and lateral thinking. The tasks included rafting a Land Rover across an icy lake, spinning a 200 kg log triangle about its axis, mountain biking at breakneck speed through slippery forests and zip-wiring off the castle battlements. Lastly there was a head-to-head final over a series of obstacles.
This final task also determined the starting order for the first event in Bangkok.
“Every muscle in my body and every part of my brain has been tested by these challenges this week,” said Pablo Burattini, who will represent Argentina in the Land Rover G4 Challenge. “They could not have come up with more difficult and different ways to test us. It has been fantastic.”