Male and females, who believed they were tough enough, slugged it out at this year’s annual Ford Ranger Odyssey in-market event held last Friday in Lagos. At the beginning, most participants were hopeful of a ticket to South Africa, but at the end, only what organizers described as the brains and the brawns got selected. Motoring World’s Editor-in-chief, FEMI OWOEYE, who was a guest at the event, captures the scene…
[dropcap]P[/dropcap]articipants looked battle-ready. They all wore deportments of tough beings ready for jungle battle. Precursor to this year’s Ford Ranger Odyssey Challenge holding in South Africa, it was. Venue was Coscharis 4×4 Test Facility located close to the company’s head office along Lekki-Epe Expressway, Awoyaya, Lagos, Nigeria.
It was a public holiday Friday (29th of May), Nigeria’s democracy day. Road was fairly free. Weather was fair. It did not rain. Cruising from Ikeja, Lagos State capital to Awoyaya took less than one hour. After waiting and nattering with fellow motoring journalists for about 75 minutes, inside the Coscharis headquarters, participants and guests were conveyed to the battle ground, muddy, hilly and sandy terrain akin to a mini golf course.
On arrival, something caught my attention. Two men were busy pumping water into one of the pockets of potholes dotting the test facility. I guessed that was meant to further roughen the routes of the Ranger and its drivers.
Competitors’ demeanour remained bright until rules of the contest were read. Deportment of majority of them changed immediately. A psychic reader would almost comprehend different thoughts and messages from their minds. One of them, a bit smiley, looked straight at the rough, bumpy terrain, as if saying inside him: ‘Let them roughen the ground as much as they want; I’m here to win’.
Another one put on a pictorial smile. While one of the two female participants, Nkechi Uzawa, who I gathered works in a bank, looked contemplative.
Before the rules were read, Mr. Josiah Samuel, Coscharis Group Managing Director, in an address delivered on his behalf by Mr. Abiona Babarinde, General Manager Marketing & Corporate Services, assured guests of witnessing an adrenaline soaked Odyssey.”
Rules of the contest, as stated by Mr. Felix Mahan, included test of speed, endurance, ability to solve words puzzle, using placards picked up from a distance of about 21 meters away, (one piece at a time) and maneuverability of Ford Ranger in a difficult and tense situation.
Words Puzzle Session
Placards picking was completed with speed. And group three, which was made up of Ugochukwu Onuiri, Fawole Moyo, Nkechi Uzawa and John Amadi was first to correctly arrange RANGER ODYSSEY, using the placards. So they won that session and celebrated.
Aside first driver to have a go, performance of the other eleven participants was characterized by tension. An important part of the last session was that, before take off, each contestant must first load 10 balls from a distance of about 12 feet away, running or jugging to minimize time spent. In essence, before sitting behind the wheel at all, each contestant would have covered not less than 100 feet, jugging or running. Afterwards, rule that did not help participant’s tension was that 10 balls loaded onto the ranger’s open load bed must be guarded from falling off.
First contestant to have a go took off with aggression. He recorded fastest time but lost his balls. He lost marks from that as well as group words formation contest. He did not make it.
At the end, Ugochukwu Onuiri , Fawole Moyo and John Amadi(all in group three) secured first, second and third
position respectively and so will join last year’s winner, Chinonso Okezuo, to represent Nigeria at the boot camp in South Africa, from where only two will scale through to the Ranger Odyssey finale in Namibia.
In an interview with Motoring World after being declared top winner, Ugochukwu, aged 31, confessed he did not come for winning.
“I only hoped I could win”, he said eagerly and high spiritedly.” I came to just have fun, and it turned out that I won; so I’m very excited”.
Meanwhile at least, one female participant would have made the first three, had she not been unduly tensed at take-off. Both females lost about two minutes each, struggling to wear seat belt. Had that not been the case, Nkechi was quick, with her balls in tact. But ‘seat-belting’ struggle pushed her to fourth position.
[box type=”success” align=”alignright” ]PARTICIPANTS’ ROLL CALL: •Funlola Abiola Odulola •Balogun Olaniyi Azeez •Olukunmi Alalade •Enumah Stephen •Olisakwe Vincent •Anthony Uba •Peters Esere •Anieto Nnaemeka •John Amadi •Nkechi Uzawa •Fawole Moyo •Ugochukwu Onuiri [/box]