A Suzuki Grand Vitara SUV has completed 7 000 km gruelling Africa kilometres, mostly off the beaten track, while competing in the annual Put Foot charity rally. Piloted by Team Half Full Four, and sponsored by Suzuki Auto South Africa, the Grand Vitara took everything from potholed roads and desert dunes to muddy marshlands and sandy beaches in its stride.
“Suzie, as we dubbed our trusty Grand Vitara, completed the more than 7 000 km without any technical issues whatsoever, despite conditions that were arduous at times,” says team captain Ron Rutland.
“We really tested Suzie to the absolute limit, and she not only survived everything we threw at her, but seemed to enjoy it as much as we did! She took us to parts of the countries on our route which literally no other teams visited, and allowed me to show my Kiwi team mates the absolute best that Africa has to offer.”
The Team Half Full Foursome consisted of Rutland and three New Zealanders: Jimmy 'Radar' Parfitt, 'Field Nurse' Kate Parfitt, and Helen 'Ostrich' Parfitt. Jimmy and Kate Parfitt are based in China, while fellow Kiwi Helen works and lives in London.
The quartet and their trusty Suzuki was one of 60 teams participating in the 17-day Put Foot Rally – a charity event organised by the Put Foot Foundation. The foundation provides African learners with brand new, South African-made leather school shoes – and the hope, pride and dignity those shoes represent.
Collectively, the participating teams raised R600 000 for the foundation. This year, a portion of the funds was donated to Project Rhino, an initiative combating rhino poaching in Southern Africa.
The rally started in South Africa, and traversed Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi before ending on the Mozambican coast. The teams were able to choose their own route between compulsory check-point parties in each country.
Ron says the shoe drop in Zambia was a particular highlight of the event. “I believe it would have changed the lives and perspectives of the rally participants just as much as it did the lives of the learners who received those much-needed shoes.
“I’d like to thank Suzuki Auto SA for its generous sponsorship. We’re over the moon that we were able to showcase the impressive capabilities of our trusty Grand Vitara over such varied and testing terrain,” Rutland concluded.
STORY BY SUZUKI