Of Camaraderie & Capability - 2015 Mahindra Club Challenge

  • Jul 18, 2015

The spirit of an off-roader is one of camaraderie and team spirit. This is exactly what Mahindra sought to bring to the forefront through its latest off-road initiative, the Club Challenge! In its first ever form, the 2015 Mahindra Club Challenge invited various organised off-road clubs from different parts of the country to come and prove their mettle against each other in this mega off-road challenge.

A total of 10 teams were invited to take part in the Club Challenge. Namely, B.O.D.A, Tamil Nadu Off-Roaders, V5 Coorg Off-Roaders, Incredible Off-Roaders, Pune Pathfinders, Adventure Achievers, NIOC, DOT 4x4, KTM Jeepers and Charminar Off-Road Adventure Club.


These clubs consist of hardcore off-roaders who are always willing to get down and dirty to tackle the next off-road obstacle or explore the next trail. And in order to put their off-roading skills to the test, Mahindra setup a series of challenges. These challenges were not just designed to test the skills of drivers, but also the capabilities of their Mahindra Jeeps and push all individuals to contribute in taking the team upwards on the points chart.

But before any challenge began, Mahindra conducted a scrutiny of vehicles that were to take part in the challenge. All vehicles were required to be equipped with a four-wheel drive low ratio box.


Vehicle categories

Teams were required to present atleast a vehicle each in three categories, namely, Pro Stock, Modified and Pro Modified.

The Pro Stock category only accepted Mahindra Thar models (both DI and CRDe versions). The category accepted modifications in the form of A/T or M/T tyres up to a size of 31 inch, off-road bumpers, underbody protection, winch, snorkel air intake and body lift.


In the Modified category, any Mahindra 4x4 vehicle fitted with a Mahindra engine, gearbox and transfer case and non-standard axles were allowed to take part. Modifications permitted were air filters, suspension (leave springs, coil springs, non standard shackles and shock absorbers), suspension lift, axle ratios, differential locks, exhaust, winch, high lift jacks, sand tracks, shovels, snatch blocks and pintle hook. Maximum tyre size for this category was limited to 33 inch.

Coming to the Pro Modified category. Any Mahindra vehicle with a company chassis and body was allowed to take part. Modifications were allowed to engines and gearboxes, petrol engines were allowed and so were engines from other manufacturers. Chassis were allowed to be shortened. Different axles were also allowed. Pintle hooks were compulsory and any legal modification was allowed. Maximum tyre size was limited to 35 inch.




Coming to the off-road challenges themselves, five of the six challenges required a team effort. Mahindra had carved out tracks that each of the three categories of vehicles were capable of tackling on the basis of their modifications and capabilities on a general basis. On the safety front, all drivers and navigators were required to wear seatbelts and helmets in order to be able to take part.

If and when a vehicle were to be stuck while tackling an obstacle, the vehicle would be given a set of attempts to clear the obstacle. If the driver was too aggressive or employing a wrong technique and could damage the surface of an obstacle for later vehicles, it would be red flagged and towed out of the situation.

Before every challenge, a draw of lots was carried out to ensure that order in which teams got to do challenges was clear and fair.



Points system

Overseen by a panel of four judges, teams and drivers were judged on four parameters - Approach Technique, Drive Through (finishing the obstacle), Vehicle Preservation and Use of External Help. All challenges were judged on a point system on a scale of ten, based on each of the above mentioned parameters.

Some obstacles were timed, a maximum time limit was imposed for such challenges. In case, a participant runs out of time a minimum mark of 2 points was allotted for attempting the challenge.



Challenge 1: Mucky Relay

This challenge consisted of three stages. In the first stage, the Pro Stock Thar was required to clear a set of rocky and slippery terrain (while sticking to a very narrow path between guide ropes and cones). Once past and behind the stationary modified Jeep, the driver was to get out of the cabin and without laying foot on the ground, had to hand over the a flag to the driver of the modified Jeep.


The modified Jeep then had to make its way across slushy axle benders to park behind the pro modified Jeep. Once again the flag hand over was to be done from driver to driver.


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The pro modified Jeep then had to cross a slush pit and make its way up a steep, slippery and narrow incline. Once past, the vehicle was then expected to come down a single track path with two wheels in a deep ditch. This was a tough one and with the rains pouring down at midnight, the obstacle had to be abandoned by later participants due to erosion.


Challenge 2: No Man’s Trench

This challenge was for the Pro Modified category only. The course required the pro modded vehicles to climb down a steep incline into a trench which ideally would not be possible for almost any standard 4x4 vehicle. But thanks to the extra travel in their suspensions, missing links setups, etc these heavily modified Jeeps merely clambered down the rocky surface (only made more tricky by the rain) without a bother.



The vehicles then had to do a two point turn to make its way uphill and out of the trench, then drive around the deep obstacle to drive into it once again from the other side.




Once again, the Jeeps were then required to make two to three point turns and finally race up a long steep uphill slope to complete the challenge. While most made it, some vehicles were unable to complete the last uphill stage due to lack of adequate traction and or power.


And that was it for the first day. Some vehicles got stuck during either of the stages and a JCB had to called in for rescue operations. Also, the rain beating down heavily did not help. It was therefore called a day at 1 am. The service park was then opened for those who wanted to work on preparing their vehicles for the next day.



Challenge 3: Rock the Flags

The next morning was kicked off with the third challenge that required Modified category Jeeps to clamber up a rocky obstacle with a narrow path carved out on it. Since the path was not clearly visible to the driver, the navigator was required to stand ahead of the vehicle and guide the driver up the path. During the course, the driver was required to stop and pick up flags from beside the path while being inside the Jeep at all times.


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The large size of the rocks meant that multiple attempts had to be made by all participants to make it to the end. With some vehicles needing recovery as with a single mistake large rocks would make a Jeep bottom out despite their high ground clearance.



Challenge 4: Ticky Trailer

Up next was a timed challenge called Tricky Trailer. This stage required Modified category Jeeps to drive in and the co-driver attach a trailer to their back. Once done, the Jeeps were then expected to drive over a set of tyres in a ditch and immediately climb out of the ditch via a right curve. The co-driver was expected to guide the driver during this stage.


Due to the large size of the tyres, the driver was required to be extremely skillful while drive over them as it had to be done at just the right speed so as to ensure suspension components down below did not come in contact with them during the vehicle’s breakover angle coming into play. Too much speed would unsettle the trailer when it would cross the obstacle.


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Most participants made it past without a problem while one team lost points as the pintle hook was of a different size and type than the trailer’s hook.



Challenge 5: Demolition Derby

This was indeed one of the toughest stages of the 2015 Mahindra Club Challenge. Only pro modified Jeeps were allowed to take part in the challenge.

Jeeps were required to make a rudimentary path up a log and onto a roof of a vehicle. And then drive over a whole bunch of cars before making its way down.


But a Jeep and a driver were not enough for this stage. A whole set of team members were required to assist the vehicle across the stage. Teams were allowed to use all of their equipment during this challenge.

As a Jeep would make its way to the top of the vehicle, its roof would crumble more and more requiring team members use ladders and spare wheels to provide traction and create a path for individual wheels of the Jeep for it to make its way further.

There were times when a wheel would get lodged between vehicles or the Jeep would bottom out over the crumbling roofs. A team Jeep parked on a cliff on the other side was allowed to winch the participating vehicle to be towed out.


For added safety, Mahindra had parked a fleet of its own Thars on either side of the demolition derby to winch a vehicle and hold it in place should it be in the hazard of toppling over.

The bad news was that some teams did not have pro modified Jeeps with enough clearance to take part in the Challenge.

The good news was that there were no accidents during the stage and every Jeep that took part made it down safely from the obstacle course with the rescue JCB towing the odd stuck Jeep.


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This stage truly brought out the importance of team work and camaraderie required for off-roading. Team members worked tirelessly to get their representing vehicle and driver across the pile of scrapped cars. Every time the participating Jeep moved forward, team members were required to rearrange spare wheels and ladders to ensure the vehicle could move forward safely over the uneven terrain and had enough traction to carry on.



Challenge 6: Build a Bridge

The last challenge for participating teams involved building a bridge with a set of logs provided on the spot. Only Pro Stock Thars were allowed to take part in this challenge.

The team would arrange a set of logs and tie them together. Following which they would be arranged to create a bridge connecting the preset logs to an incline on the other side


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Team members would then guide the participating Thar onto the logs and direct its path to the driver across the rudimentary bridge.

With that done, we come to the end of the first ever edition of the Mahindra Club Challenge. Mahindra took great care to ensure that the challenge was a safe one and that there was positive competition among rival off-road clubs. It invoked a new sense of oneness in team members as they worked together to tackle challenges which no one would be able to do individually.

The Challenge pushed teams and their skills to the toughest of tests, revealing their absolute potential and off-road capabilities.

All teams performed commendably during the challenge. That said, a winner was to be picked. And owing to factors such as vehicle capability, driver talent and technique, team work and with a bit of luck, team B.O.D.A bagged the top spot in the challenge with a total of 168 points. The team walked home with a prize money of Rs. 3 lakh, to become the winner of the first edition of the Mahindra Club Challenge.


The first runner-up was Tamil Nadu Off-Roaders with 156 points, who claimed a prize money of Rs. 2 lakh for their commendable performance at the challenge.

Team V5 Coorg Off-Roaders claimed the second runner-up trophy with a total of 151.5 points, taking home prize money worth Rs. 1 lakh.



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