Saturday 6 august saw the first 2011 4×4 competition organized by Zahle offroad team and Jean Waness one of the experts in the domain of offroad and 4×4 modifications in Lebanon and sponsored by shubaddak.com group. The mountain of sannine hosted the event that featured hundreds of spectators. The main rules of this competition were: tires sizes not exceeding 33 inches in case of front and rear differential lockers and 35 inches for 4×4 without the front lockers.
The competition started around 3 PM with the 1st stage that was very difficult for long wheel base 4×4 such as Range Rover or Toyota Tacoma due to the deep ditches and rocks that needed front and rear differential lockers. This stage ended with a steep hill of more than 45 degrees that needed good concentration of the driver and a powerful engine, this stage was a piece of cake for Suzuki samurai due to its short wheel base, light weight and high differential and gearboxes ratios. American jeeps : Cherokee and wrangler did a good job also in this stage due the powerful engines and solid axles .
Thank god; one of the drivers was not hurt after his wrangler flipped and rested on the topless roof.During this stage the contestants were testing, their car’s performance, and the limits. From the beginning it was obvious that both Georges Srouji and Tony Alam ( katana) were pushing harder than the rest. They were followed closely by Ziad Chaaban and Nabil Jalbout who started cautiously on the first stage and then started to pick up pace gradually. All three drivers were on seriously modified Jeep Cherokee. On the other end Sleiman Khattar was cautious over the course and was enjoying the day while showing clean driving on the Mercedes G=class with a chevy engine and high offroad capabilities, the suzuki buggy of Eid Choueiry did a clean stage due to its light weight and bmw 318 engine.
Previous 4×4 champions like Laurent Dagher , Issam abou Jaoude and Maroun Karam were present in this event and were giving hints to the contestants, so they had the chance to benefit from their expertise .
At night all the drivers and the spectators moved to a camp around the fire where they exchanged different points of view and watched old offroad videos on a big screen to remember the old days when the 4×4 modifications was on higher level.
Sunday morning started with the second stage that needed good spotting to keep the 4×4 on 2 wooden beams without any tire slipping to get full points on their total score.
The third stage was the most difficult one and needed extremely high offroad capabilities of both the cars and the drivers and good preparations, more than 10 ditches and narrow corners with a deep mud and 3 dangerous sand vertical walls . Srouji was the winner on this stage he was driving his Cherokee with high precision on its full potential. Soly demonstrated how an offroad stage can be done slowly with good benefits from the lockers.
The long wheel base of the jeep Cherokee xj gave advantages during this stage due its low centre of gravity and its capabilities to climb the sand walls without flipping while having the front tires in the air. In addition Ziad Chaaban representing the channel 11 group on his modified jeep Wrangler Tj with 33 inches xtreme tire ended the stage in the third position . This stage was marked by 2 crashes; a land rover discovery and a Suzuki samurai drivers saved after their 4×4 back flipped and rested on their roofs.
The Unimog of Elie abdeyem that have high power and flexibility was always available to pull out the broken 4×4 out of the track .
In the 4th stage the contestants had to pass a mud lake but it was an easy stage because all the 4×4 were equipped with mud tires .
In the last stages 2 4×4 were connected by a rope and had to pull each other in the opposite side on a slippery sand terrain, but this stage wasn’t fair enough because for example a 4 cylinder Suzuki can never pull an 8 cylinder 2.5 tons range rover .
The race ended at 3:30 PM with podium festivities and presenting the winners and participants with their rewards.
Most of the drivers were satisfied with the event and were looking for the upcoming events this year.
And here are the final results:
1st :Georges Srouji
2nd : Tony Alam katana
3rd: Ziad Chaaban