Belgian fighter pilot Rudi Thoelen won the inaugural Land Rover G4 Challenge in Moab, Utah, on Sunday. He claimed a new Range Rover as prize.

Belgian fighter pilot Rudi Thoelen won the inaugural Land Rover G4 Challenge in Moab, Utah, on Sunday. He claimed a new Range Rover as prize.

The 31-year old from Zoutleeuw beat 15 men and women in the four-week-long global adventure, which included 4x4 precision driving, kayaking, running, climbing, abseiling and mountain biking in remote areas. South Africa’s Chester Foster finished ninth.

The Challenge’s final confrontation, known as The Separator, decided the overall winner in the red cliffs near Moab. The Separator course was designed as a ‘mini G4 Challenge’, testing competitors’ mental dexterity, as well as their driving skills and proficiency in a variety of multi-sport activities.

“I have absolutely nothing left,” an exhausted Thoelen said. “I’ve given 150 per cent but I wouldn’t have made it without some fantastic teammates.”

“Rudi has it all,” said Australia’s Guy Andrews, who finished fifth. “He’s a brilliant navigator, has a sharp mind and is incredibly fit.”

Thoelen started the day with a 14-point lead over France’s Franck Salgues in second place. This translated into a four-second advantage for the final Separator. The competitors competed in four groups of four, starting with those ranked 13-16. In each case, their points total was converted into time. Only the top four competitors could compete for the Range Rover.

The competitors began by abseiling down a 16 m drop. They then cycled to the edge of the Colorado River, where they swapped pedal for paddle power.

This was followed by a ‘matrix’ exercise that tested their mental dexterity. Completing the matrix released a key code that would enable them to start the waiting Range Rover. An off-road obstacle course followed before a testing “jumar” climb to the finish.

Salgues had established a reputation as the Challenge’s Iron Man, but his chance of victory was lost when he capsized his kayak in the rapids of the Colorado River.

The Team Spirit Award, voted for by all the competitors, went to the UK’s Tim Pickering. “I’m honoured to think that I have been able to contribute to other people’s enjoyment of this event,” said Pickering.

"It is a long, hard punishment and inevitably you pick up injuries along the way as well as not getting enough sleep and being jet-lagged. But that's the attraction - being able to push your body to the limit and still be standing at the end,” said Foster. The Challenge will be an annual event.

Results:

1 Rudi Thoelen (Belgium)

2 Chris Perry (Saudi Arabia)

3 Franck Salgues (France)

4 Cuneyt Gazioglu (Turkey)

5 Guy Andrews (Australia)

6 Paul McCarthy (Ireland)

7 Sergey Polyansky (Russia)

8 Tim Pickering (UK)

9 Chester Foster (South Africa)

10 Erik den Oudendammer (Netherlands)

11 Inigo de Lara (Spain)

12 Dirk Ostertag (Germany)

13 Kitt Stringer (Canada)

14 Alberta Chiappa (Italy)

15 Nancy Olson (USA)

16 Shinichi Yoshimoto (Japan).