Land Rover Selects Final 16 G4 Challengers
EASTNOR, Herefordshire, England, Jan. 24 -- At the end of a grueling five-day training and assessment program, the final 16 competitors who will represent their countries in the 2003 Land Rover G4 Challenge have been selected. From now until the event kick-off in New York City on March 30th, they will undertake training and preparation programs in readiness for the rigors of the Challenge itself - four consecutive weeks, four time zones and intense physical and mental competition. The final 16 are, in alphabetical order of the country they will represent: Arabia Chris Perry Japan Shinichi Yoshimoto Australia Guy Andrews Netherlands Erik Den Oudendammer Belgium Rudi Thoelen Russia Sergey Polyansky Canada Jim Kuhn South Africa Chester Foster France Franck Salgues Spain Inigo De Lara Germany Dirk Ostertag Turkey Cuneyt Gazioglu Ireland Paul McCarthy UK Tim Pickering Italy Alberta Chiappa USA Nancy Olson The International Selections event took place at the 5,000 acre Eastnor Castle estate, home to the Land Rover Driving Experience and a world-renowned center for off-road driving excellence. During the program, which ran from Sunday, January 19th through Friday, January 24th, a total of 32 prospective competitors, two from each of 16 participating countries, were put through a series of demanding assessment sessions, including GPS and navigation, off road driving, mountain biking, climbing/abseiling and kayaking. The purpose of the event was not only to select the final competitor for each nation based on quantitative scoring systems, but also to train all 32 competitors in each discipline to give them all the skills and knowledge required to complete the Challenge safely. In the event of the selected competitor being unable to take part, the reserve competitor will step in to fly their national flag. Selected or not, competitors were united after International Selections in their enjoyment of the experience: Guido Sacre, Germany: "This International Selections is one of the best things I have ever done! What really makes International Selections special is the connection we get with all the other countries. It has been really great fun and exciting to be here; not to compete with the others but just to live this experience. This is for me a great challenge and I have been really happy to be able to participate in these International Selections." Nancy Olson, USA: "This entire experience from National Selections to International Selections has been the experience of a lifetime for me. When I signed up for this on the Internet I really didn't know what I was getting myself into. It all sounded good but no words can describe the actual experience. It has been amazing meeting with everybody from all these different countries, they are wonderful to work with and we have all come together and bonded as competitors but also as friends. And I think that this is going to be the major take-away, it's that we've made friends around the world. Now whenever we leave home, we'll never be far away from home." Tim Pickering, UK: "I've had an adventure this week, an absolutely fantastic adventure. I've learned so many things. I am going to walk away and it is going to take me weeks and weeks to process all the information that's gone through my head. I have learned many different things and some new techniques. It has all been really good and we have had a great week. I am absolutely exhausted. I am looking forward to a hot bath and a cold beer." Maktoum Al Maktoum, Arabia: "The International Selections were fantastic, a great bunch of people, very cold, very wet, very tough, and ... fantastic." Franck Salgues, France: "I think it was a very good melting pot. Sixteen countries are represented here. It is interesting to race against all those people. The competition is very strategic, not only about sport. I think the winner of the challenge will certainly be someone very strategic, adaptable, and who has good physical fitness. My experience of the International Selections can be described as 'making friends, challenging, and sharing.'" Niki Davies, Land Rover G4 Challenge Project Director, commented: "We have been overwhelmed by the level of professionalism and team spirit demonstrated by all the competitors this week. Despite the fact they have been camping out every night and living on 'boil in the bag' meals to replicate the conditions they will find on the Challenge, everyone has turned in a great performance and it has been difficult to make the final selection." For further details of the Land Rover G4 Challenge and to follow the action online from March 30th to April 26th, visit http://www.landroverG4challenge.com .