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Team France Wins Camel Trophy Tierra del Fuego '98

25 August 1998

Team France Wins Camel Trophy Tierra del Fuego '98; Americans Voted to Third Place in Team Spirit
    USHUAIA, Argentina, Aug. 25 -- After criss-crossing the
Patagonian region of Chile and Argentina for nearly three weeks, and putting
nearly 5,000 miles on their Land Rover Freelanders and Defender 110s, the 20
teams of Camel Trophy Tierra del Fuego '98 arrived here late yesterday and
handed in their scorecards for the last time.
    When the results were announced today, William Michel, 31, and Marc
Challamel, 24, of Team France were declared the winners, with a narrow lead
over their closest competitors, brothers John and Mark Collins, aged 24 and
29, of South Africa.  Americans Dean Vergillo and Greg Thomas placed 11th in
the Camel Trophy scoring, but were voted by their fellow competitors to a
third place finish for the coveted Team Spirit award.
    Vergillo, 30, a stay-at-home dad from Duvall, Wash., said, "We just found
about our third place standing in Team Spirit, which is really exciting.  It's
good to know that even though we didn't place as well as we had hoped overall,
we made a lot of friends on this event.  And right now, that seems more
important than anything else."
    Thomas, 33, is a multimedia designer from Santa Cruz, Calif.  "Camel
Trophy is all about exploring the world and having fun, which is what we did,"
he reflected.
    Camel Trophy is an annual international four-wheel drive adventure
competition, and since 1980, the event has traveled to the most remote corners
of the earth in search of the ultimate team adventure, from Malaysia and
Mongolia to Brazil and Burundi.
    This year, the teams set off from Santiago, Chile, on August 5, driving
south to Ushuaia, Argentina, on the island of Tierra del Fuego.  Equipped with
mountain bikes, skis, snowshoes, snowboards and inflatable kayaks, all
strapped to the roofs of the Land Rovers, the teams scored points by visiting
Discovery and Adventure Locations.
    Discovery Locations could be reached by car, but the Adventure Locations
were further afield, and often more easily reached by bicycles, kayaks or
skis.  Guided by GPS coordinates and local maps, participants trekked to as
many of the 225 possible locations as they could.
    Three times during the event, all 20 teams arrived at common Meeting
Points, to join together in non-competitive group activities: climbing to the
10,000-foot summit of Villarrica, one of Chile's many active volcanoes;
rafting the Class IV rapids of Rio Futaleufu, one of the world's most renowned
whitewater rivers; and exploring Glacier Grey, one the southernmost tongues of
the Patagonian ice cap.
    Driving a four-door, 2.0 litre diesel-powered version of Land Rover's all-
new four-wheel drive vehicle, the Freelander, the competitors were impressed
with the way the vehicle handled itself in the varied terrain.  Throughout the
event, mud, rain, snow and ice all threatened to slow forward progress.  "We
pushed the Freelander to its limits," said Thomas, "and it did really well
every time."  Freelander will debut in the U.S. in early 2001.
    The two-person teams from each of the 20 participating countries were
chosen through a series of national and international trials and selections,
from more than a half-million applicants worldwide.  Adventurers interested in
applying for Camel Trophy '99, the location for which has not yet been
announced, should write to Tom Collins, U.S. Camel Trophy, P.O. Box 587,
Snowmass, CO  81654.
    Camel Trophy is organized by Worldwide Brands, Inc., marketers of Camel
Trophy Adventure Wear, and is sponsored by Land Rover, manufacturers of
premium British-built sport-utility vehicles.  Team USA is sponsored by Land
Rover North America, Inc., and additional support for the team has been
provided by Michelin Tire Co. and Mountain Hardwear, Inc.
    Further information on Camel Trophy '98 can be found at either or