Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) is hitting the long road with Ford’s new Ranger on this year’s Blacktop Rally. The exclusive event takes place from 29 April until 4 May 2012 and will see teams traversing 3 500km of back roads, race-circuits and party venues across seven South African cities.
The event gets underway in Johannesburg and passes through Clarens, Bloemfontein, East London, Port Elizabeth and Knysna before culminating in Cape Town.
Online personalities Brent Spilkin (@spillly), Dale Imerman (@idale) and Mark Hamburger (@Mhammies) will pilot Ford’s new Ranger on the event. The trio will film and photograph the adventure and broadcast it back to the public via Twitter, Facebook and an interactive website.
The team will be armed with GoPro HD HERO2 cameras to capture elements of the journey in full HD. While the Ford Ranger is moving, it will be transformed into a mobile WiFi hotspot by Internet Solutions for other non-driving Blacktop Rally team members to access while in the vicinity of the vehicle.
The team will navigate their journey using the latest TopGear Edition TomTom Navigation that features the voice of Jeremy Clarkson. The Ford Ranger will also be fitted with a tracking device that links up to a real-time location on a map on the team’s website. The map will display the route travelled with geotagged blog posts, photos, videos and stories in order for the public to enjoy the event as it happens.
In preparation for the event, the team equipped themselves by participating in Fords Driving Skills For Life course where they learnt defensive driving skills, fuel saving, economy tricks and overall safety tips that all drivers should have at their disposal. These will be shared along the way through photography and real-life examples as the team encounters different challenges along the way.
On route the convoy will stop past various race tracks such as Phakisa in Welkom and Aldo Scribante in Port Elizabeth, where they will have the opportunity to unleash their vehicles on safe and sanctioned circuits or alternatively they can experience the thrill of being driven by professional race drivers
But it’s not all about who can set the fastest lap time. The team will also be keeping a close check on their fuel economy in particular during the longest stretch of the journey, from Bloemfontein to East London. The public will be invited to estimate the team’s fuel economy with the winner taking home a TopGear Edition TomTom Navigation unit as well as a Driving Skills For Life course.
The public can visit www.blacktoplive.co.za to view the real-time maps, geotagged content and the unique social charity element called #PayItFord which allows the public to engage with Ford South Africa on Twitter to unlock money for a charity cause.
The Missionvale Care Centre operates in the extremely poor informal township of Missionvale in Port Elizabeth, which is situated near Ford’s Struandale assembly plant. It provides love and care for the poor and destitute, with particular emphasis on those living with HIV/AIDS. The Ford bloggers will be asking the public to unlock R40 000 by following Ford South Africa on Twitter. The charity will be presented with the funds raised when the rally reaches Port Elizabeth.
The official hashtag of the initiative will be: #BlackTopLive
LW Mag will be bringing you coverage of the event as it happens, look out for info, images and video footage throughout the course of the Rally.
Best of lucky to the rally guys!