RGS 4×4 Challenge Team have returned triumphant with a 7th place finish in the Land Rover 4×4 School Challenge World Final in Abu Dhabi in December. Here is an account of their wonderful experience:
Seven hours after leaving a very wet and cold London Heathrow the A380 Airbus touched down in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. With baggage reclaimed and passports checked we were soon on our way to our hotel on Yas Island. At the hotel reception there was a real air of excitement as teams queued to check-in ready for the 2018 Land Rover in School 4×4 Challenge World Final.
Team Pinnacle sat outside in the morning sun to eat and contemplate the task ahead, while the rest of the UK prepared for the worst of the British weather. By 11.30am local time, with the RGS school day only just started, our 1/18th scale radio controlled 4×4 truck had been checked in for the competition and had passed scrutineering without breaking any critical rules. What a relief this was. The rest of the day was ours, so a short trip on the shuttle bus took everyone to the local water park. All had a fun time.
The main activity for Saturday was the pit build. Each of the 24 teams were to have exactly two hours to set up their displays. These
needed to highlight how their cars had been developed during the preceding 18 months. Firstly though, there was some time to explore. This time the team were heading for the Yas Mall; and what a shopper’s paradise it turned out to be. Despite the distractions of the mall shops and Ferrari World the team were safely back at the hotel in time for the coach that would take us to the Yas Marina Circuit Events centre. With all of the paraphernalia that we had brought over from the UK assembled, the team listened to the briefing. Then it began, two hours of, well, carnage. At least that’s what it must have looked like. Imagine the scene if you can, boxes, crates, tools, tables and bodies strewn all over. However, with two hours up we were pleased with our achievement. Our display measured up well to those of the opposition.
Day one of the competition started on Sunday. This included driving the car over two challenging obstacle courses, one designed like an urban environment and the other like a desert. Then there was the reversing challenge where Fraser’s expertise shone through. He was able to reverse the car towing a boat into the water with ease. The team also delivered their verbal presentation and discussed their pit display with the judges. At the end of the day everyone was feeling positive, the driving had gone quite well and based on this alone we were in the top third of the field. We were in the running.
On Monday we were back to the Yas Marina Circuit for the second competition day. After a short tour we were ushered down to the pits, yes the same pits that had seen action in the Formula 1 race a few days earlier. Three Jaguar F Types were waiting for us and to the revving of their engines the door to one of the pit garages opened to reveal two gleaming Land Rover Discoveries. With windows open and doors ajar the track designers had placed the day’s driving challenges over, round and through the two vehicles; a sight to behold.Team Pinnacle’s track performance on Day Two was even better than the previous day’s with the top score of all 24 teams achieved on the fourth and final driving section. We wondered if we had done enough as we headed back to the hotel to prepare for the evening’s Award Ceremony.
Third Place was awarded to the Australians and then Second to the Malaysians. Would it be Team Pinnacle for podium position? Unfortunately, not, K-EVO from Portugal were awarded First Place. Very worthy winners we all thought. However, Seventh Place at a World Final, we all agreed, was not too bad. After all there were 17 teams who had done worse than Team Pinnacle.
With the competition over the itinerary provided by Jaguar Land Rover listed Cultural Activity for our last day in Abu Dhabi. The day started with a coach journey around the Formula 1 circuit – probably the nearest thing any of us are likely to experience to competing in a proper F1 motor race. After about 90 minutes on the coach, we turned off the highway and were driving along narrower and increasingly remote sandy roads. With about 20 1950’s vintage open top Land Rovers waiting for us it was climb aboard and hold on tight as we were raced up the hill and into the dunes to the Bedouin encampment. What an exhilarating ride that was. There we were greeted by our hosts for the rest of the day who entertained us with a falconry display, spoke to us about traditional Emirati hunting dogs and took us for another ride in the Land Rovers around a nature reserve where we saw mountain gazelle, lots and lots of sand and the odd tree. Dusk fell early, as it does in December even in the heart of the desert, and we were treated to traditional food, drink and even music and dancing.
Of course, we had heard about the snow that had been experienced back home while we were away enjoying temperatures in the mid
to high 20s. However, getting off the plane at Heathrow was still a real shock to the senses. Even worse was disembarking from the minibus back at the RGS. How cold it was. All of a sudden, the UAE seemed a long way away.
The Team would like to thank everyone who supported us over the months leading up to the World Final. These included, Addlestrop Consulting, MM 4×4, Springboard Corporate Finance, Stour Precision Tools, AMCO, AJB Landscapes, AVL, the AOOE and the RGSW Parents’ Association. Without the support of all of these companies and organisations and without the generous donations made by many individuals entry into the competition would not have been possible. From all six members of Team Pinnacle – Thank You.