The heat, hopes and heroes of the Toyota Fortuner 4x4 Challenge

Contestants battled it out in fitness challenges to win the keys to a brand-new Toyota Fortuner

09 November 2018 - 15:05
Image: Supplied

Following months of build-up and anticipation, the big day finally dawned for the four contestants selected to compete in the Toyota Fortuner 4x4 Challenge. The 4x4 Challenge tasked four public participants (obtained through media partners Highbury Media, Media 24, Primedia Broadcasting and Tiso Blackstar Group) to team up with four celebrities (or heroes in “challenge”-speak), and then compete in pairs alongside their trusty Toyota Fortuner steeds in a range of tasks.

The 2018 event marked the third instalment of the challenge, and the bar was set higher than in previous years. The challenges this year amped up the fitness-endurance-strength equation. The contestants had to deliver maximum performance throughout to claim the title and prize. With Garmin, Specialized and Reebok providing the necessary gear, the stage was set.

Heatwave conditions in Knysna added an additional factor to contend with. After the contestant/hero pairings took place by drawing Fortuner keys marked with the hero names, the teams were as follows:

  • Brandon Hulley and Steffi van Wyk-Brink
  • Dominique Leclerq and Giniel de Villiers
  • Danie Barnard and Mapule Ndhlovu
  • Jackie Moore and Ox Nché

The first challenge consisted of a two-person paddle from the Eastern Head, across the lagoon to Leisure Isle. Upon arrival on shore, the teams had to complete a tyre-shuffle puzzle.

The second task took place at the Pezula Hotel, where the contestants set off on a trail run with navigational instructions provided by their Garmin Fenix 5 Plus Smartwatch. The rolling pathways of Pezula gave way to the frantic sound of footsteps as teams sprinted to complete the 4.8-km run.

Image: Supplied

Day 2 was a major competition day with five tasks outlined. It kicked off with the mercury high and adrenaline pumping as the teams competed in the Fortuner Pull, with a supplementary task involving the vehicle. The sheer strength of hero Retshegofaditswe “Tshego” Nché, better known as Ox Nché, made the Fortuner look like a featherweight, but a cool head and logical thinking had as much sway as brute power.

The following task was a little different with each hero/challenger pairing having to pick up state-of-the-art compound bows and aim for that elusive bullseye in the Archers’ Edge challenge hosted by the Knysna Outdoor Archery Circuit.

The fifth challenge was the gruelling Specialized Epic Time Trial, where the contestants had to use their impressive Specialized mountain bikes to pedal up the Phantom Pass trail in the shortest amount of time. The heat and gradient took their toll on the challengers, leaving them red-faced and gasping for breath.

After a well-deserved lunch break, only two tasks remained: the Warrior obstacle course and the Mountain Bike Eliminator. Unbelievably, after five rounds no clear winner had emerged and it was still anyone’s game.

After a testing obstacle course set up by the Warrior/Advendurance teams, the pairs had to use their Garmin Fenix 5 Plus watches and supplied coordinates to find items that would help them build a platform to cross a marsh pit.

Image: Supplied

The final round was the Mountain Bike sprint. Here the heroes had to jack up their respective Fortuners and remove two ropes under opposing tyres, while the challengers completed as many laps on their bikes in a 15-minute period.

In the end, Brandon Hulley (who entered via 947 and was teamed up with track-hero Steffi van Wyk-Brink) was crowned the Fortuner 4x4 Challenge champion for 2018. Strong teamwork and support alongside Hulley’s incredible level of fitness ultimately earned the 19-year-old the keys to a brand-new Toyota Fortuner 2.4 GD-6 4x4 6AT.

The three runners-up did not leave empty-handed, though, as all the contestants received a Specialized Epic Comp mountain bike and cycling gear, Garmin Fenix 5 Plus smartwatch and Reebok apparel to the value of R60,000.

Toyota South Africa Motors would like to thank the following sponsors and partners who contributed to another hugely successful Fortuner 4x4 Challenge campaign

Media partners:

  • Highbury Media
  • Media24
  • Primedia Broadcasting (947)
  • Tiso Blackstar Group


  • Garmin
  • Specialized
  • Reebok
  • Pezula Hotel


  • Giniel de Villiers
  • Mapule Ndhlovu
  • Ox Nché
  • Steffi Van Wyk-Brink

This article was paid for by Toyota.