South African Chester Foster and his partner Chris Perry of Saudi Arabia dominated the start of the G4 Land Rover Challenge in Australia this week.

South African Chester Foster and his partner Chris Perry of Saudi Arabia dominated the start of the G4 Land Rover Challenge in Australia this week.

Four flights and 36 hours after departing from George, on South Africa’s Garden Route, the 16 competitors arrived in Karratha in the northwest of Western Australia.

Unlike the previous two stages, which had started with a Maximiser, the Australian stage began with a full day of ‘Hunters’, challenges in different locations that the teams visit in order to score points. They had to plot their course to each location, and also predict the order in which they hoped to complete each Hunter during an early-morning Strategy Pit session, held on a rocky hill overlooking Karratha and the Indian Ocean.

Foster and Perry did well to visit three Hunters during the day, a feat equalled only by the Australian and Russian team. However, Foster and Perry accomplished the positions they predicted at all three locations, whereas Guy Andrews and Sergey Polyansky managed only one.

The only setback for Foster and Perry was a burst mountain bike tyre, which saw Foster running most of the mountain bike section.

Foster and Perry said they were glad to get a chance to work together. “We spoke about the possibility of being partners at some stage, but we didn’t hold out much hope,” said Foster after the selection. “But then this opportunity came along and we’re both ecstatic.”

The USA/Ireland pairing of Nancy Olson and Paul McCarthy said the long flight did not help their aching muscles and they battled in the first stage. But they still managed to visit two locations, scoring maximum points at each by visiting them as predicted during the morning.

“My legs just couldn’t do what they’ve been doing all along,” said Olson. “I know I am capable of pushing harder, but my legs are simply not up to it anymore.”

Two teams really struggled to get their Australian Challenge going. Belgian Rudi Thoelen, partnered with Germany’s Dirk Ostertag, made the mistake of following team UK/Italy on to a mudflat. As a result of recent rain in the area, the mudflat proved difficult to negotiate and cost both teams valuable time.

It took almost an hour of winching and snatch-towing the vehicles out of the mud for the teams to get free. In the end, team UK/Italy managed to visit two Hunters, scoring one full and one half prediction (out by only one position). Team Belgium/Germany managed two Hunters, completing both in the order they predicted.

“I’m just glad of the training I received back in the UK,” said Brit Tim Pickering after his struggle to get teammate Alberta Chiappa and the Range Rover unstuck. “The extra day I spent training at Eastnor Castle dealt with precisely this situation, and I was able to effectively plan a way to get us out.”

But these teams’ problems also cost Team Canada/Netherlands valuable points. “We made our predictions, and headed for the Hunters,” said Canadian Kitt Stringer. “Unfortunately for us, two other teams got lost and bogged down, which meant that we were unable to stick to our predicted finishing orders.” They managed to visit two Hunters, but each of their predictions were out by one place.

Their bid to make up points saw one of the most dramatic finishes to a Hunter so far in the Challenge. The Hunter at Python Pool ended with a long abseil, after a murderous mountain biking trail and uphill hike. Team Canada/Netherlands made up time on Team USA/Ireland during the Hunter, and if they finished in front of Olson and McCarthy, they would hit their prediction.

Stringer and teammate Erik den Oudendammer were within reach of the team in front of them, but McCarthy reached the abseil lines first, thereby securing the abseil for him and partner Olson. “It was incredibly frustrating to have to sit there and watch them finish in front of us,” said Den Oudendammer.

The rest of the week will see the teams compete in more Hunters, as well as a Maximiser in the Karijini National Park, which, according to Competitions Director Simon Day, will be “spectacular and brutal”. At the end of the week competitors will rest at Eighty Mile Beach, before moving to Sydney for the final Maximiser in Stage 3.

Original article from Car