Drag race with a difference – As a test of ultimate toughness, we considered a bakkie tug of war and … then thought better of it. We considered a caravan-towing challenge but as the majority of the vehicles didn’t have a towbar, we had to concoct something else. Gerhard finally devised a drag race with a difference. He fabricated a beastly ±600 kg contraption of railway sleepers and cement-filled tyres to be dragged behind each bakkie on an 800 m oval course. The fastest time wins.
With each bakkie in low-range and the Amarok in Off-road mode, this proved to be an excellent evaluation of engine torque, pulling power, chassis strength, tyre performance and transmission efficacy. The first 400 m of the course was downhill to aid the pull off and get the bakkies up to speed in second gear low range. The bottom turn – where the course transitioned into a climb – is where the men were separated from the boys. At the turn, tyre grip and chassis strength came to the fore. The stronger automatic transmissions also proved their worth here, with some able to sustain motive force in second gear low while others – running out of pulling power – had to shift back down to first, ultimately slowing their time.
One such example was the P-Series’ eight-speed auto that lost momentum when shifting up to second gear. Similarly, although not as detrimental to its time, the Nissan Navara and Mazda BT-50 slowed in shifting to second, before defaulting back to first gear. We pegged the JAC with its robust drivetrain for a good showing in this challenge, only to see all four wheels spinning on the uphill section. A similar fate befell the Mitsubishi and torquey Amarok that lost precious seconds with wheelspin on the uprun (one of the downsides to the VW’s low-profile Pirelli rubber). The Mahindra performed above its station as the most affordable entrant and placed an excellent fourth, underlining its utilitarian credentials. The Ranger 2,0 SiT and Hilux 2,4 GD-6 put their relatively modest outputs to good use and returned impressive times, the latter tackling the course with speed, tenacity and rear leaf spring pliability to go sub-60 seconds for an impressive win.