Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Suzuki Extreme 4WD Challenge

 A fair bit off topic but hey it's got Suzuki in the title...

A couple of weekends ago Colin and I popped over to Turakina to check out the Suzuki Extreme 4WD Challenge - any excuse to see some V8's being gouged on eh?

I last went to something like this as a teenager and back then the vehicles were generally modified Suzuki's, Land Rovers and Land Cruisers.  Yeah, some of them might have had a bit more horsepower under the hood than standard and some big tyres but they were nothing like what we have now.  Also, the trials were not as extreme but did often included a bog/swamp that the vehicles often ended up getting dragged out of...

While there are different classes in the sport (some were on display), for this event it was all about the big boys.  These are purpose built machines, all of them sporting V8's (some supercharged), all with independent braking on all four wheels and some with 4 wheel steer.  Big tyres running about 2psi of pressure and phenomenally long travel suspension allow them to tackle stuff that a trials bike would turn its nose up at...

All that grunt and grip launches them from zero to hang onto your hat in the blink of an eye and things like steep climbs are a walk in the park.  None of the photos really give you a proper idea of how steep the obstacles were.

As you can see often plenty of power is applied "just in case" resulting in plenty of crowd pleasing aerial antics.  But, the drivers have to be careful as they need to get out of the power real quick once airborne.  If they don't they run the risk of breaking driveshafts on landing - this happened quite a few times but they obviously keep a supply on hand to get the cars ready for the next trial.

V8 powered winch in action

So with the mud mostly gone, the trials require all sorts of tight maneuvering through obstacle courses (generally on the side of a steep hill) with points off for hitting a flag and instant disqualification if the car touches the tape lined course.  They are also only given so much time to complete but could back up and have another go at a particular part of the course as long as they stayed within the time allowed.  A couple of courses were speed sections where the shortest time was what they were after.

One of the things that struck was how quick the driver and navigators (the guys on the brakes) got themselves out of trouble if they muffed one of the obstacles.  Often when you thought that they should probably just tumble down the hill or roll, they somehow got the truck pointed in a better direction or spun it it around for another go.  The 4 wheel steer an independent brakes mean that they can turn at least 90 degrees inside the length of the truck.

Checkout these guys getting through a decent set of obstacles:

Pretty sure the #6 flag may have been clipped here...

This truck wasn't so lucky:

Anyway, it was a great way to spend the day, wandering from course to course, listening to the V8's and taking photos.  I also shot a bit of video and by highlights video is getting plenty of views on Youtube.  Here it is:

Oh, and by the way, one of the trucks was for sale at 100k (including transporter), Colin managed to avoid taking it home...


  1. Some impressive skills on display! Nicely shot, Andrew.

    1. Thanks Geoff - time to upgrade the Rav?