4x4 challenge draws the crowd to Tarat

Going down: A vehicle crashing down to earth after failing to negotiate an obstacle as the co-driver looks on helplessly during the East Valley (Tarat) International 4x4 competition near Serian.

THE East Valley (Tarat) International 4×4 Challenge 2012 held over the weekend at Mile 32, Jalan Kuching-Serian received a good response from the public.

Twenty-two pairs of drivers in 44 vehicles took part in the event organised by the Tarat 4x4 Off-road Trailer Club.

Each pair was made up of a driver and a co-driver, and participants came from as far as Bintulu and Indonesia to take part in this competition which was opened to all 4x4 enthusiasts from around the region.

According to competition manager Lawrence Baraw, the event was divided into three categories.

Category A was for international and professional drivers with fully modified vehicles, Category B for semi-professional drivers with semi-modified 4x4 vehicles such as those with standard winches, and Category C for amateur drivers competing in standard, unmodified 4x4 vehicles.

Lawrence said the competition attracted drivers of different ages and from different walks of life.

“Our youngest participant is 19 years old while the oldest is 65. Even though he is a busy and prominent businessman, he is still able to find time to take part in this type of event.”

Lawrence also said that the club had been active for more than 10 years and this event was to create awareness on defensive driving, foster closer ties between the club’s members and the public as well as to promote an appreciation for outdoor activities.

“One of our main aims is to promote good driving ethics and defensive driving, especially among owners of 4x4 vehicles.”

“Drivers of 4x4 vehicles should learn to be aware of their surroundings and be able to apply defensive driving skills both on the road as well as off the road,” Lawrence added.

The event, which lasted two days, drew a large crowd. More than 500 spectators attended yesterday’s event, creating a very lively atmosphere.

The hot weather did not deter curious onlookers from cheering and clapping each time a vehicle successfully made it up a steep slope.

The crowd also cheered to motivate the participants who were unable to get past an obstacle.

A young spectator from Kuching, Darrel Tiang, 17, said: “It’s really thrilling to watch the modified trucks go up the steep slopes and when a truck got stuck halfway up and appeared about to roll down the slope.”

Another spectator, James Lee, 40, who is a photographer from Kuching, said that he enjoyed watching and photographing such events.

“I hope that the organisers would continue to run such exciting outdoor activities each year as they give us an opportunity to experience something different.”

Meeks Mape, who is the event manager, said that it was necessary to restrict the number of spectators for safety reasons.

“The larger the crowd, the more difficult it is to control and therefore, we had to limit the number of public vehicles entering East Valley as well as the number of people allowed into the competition viewing area,” Meeks explained.

Showing appreciation for all the government departments involved in the competition, Meeks said: “We would like to thank Rela, the Civil Defence Department and Road Transport Department, the Royal Malaysian Police as well as the Immigration Department for providing security and emergency support.

“They have helped us tremendously and without their support, this event would not have been possible.”

Throughout the two-day event, participants took part in a competition that saw them drive through several obstacle courses. Categories A and B drivers competed in eight different stages while the amateur drivers in Category C competed in six stages.

The last two obstacles were extremely tough, involving steep muddy tracks and were only opened to modified vehicles.

Attractive prizes consisting of trophies and other goodies worth a total of RM20,000 awaited winners of each category. At press time, the names of winners were yet to be announced.

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