Nearly a week before the TopGear Treasure Hunt 2014 kicked off, a briefing session was held for by event partner Timeout Solutions to lay the ground rules and competition details to the already eager participants. A good portion of the presentation was used to explain how the clues could be deciphered, and one example was all it took to make us breathe a sigh of relief for being on the organising side of the fence.
Fast forward a few days and we find ourselves gearing up at Citta Mall in Ara Damansara, Petaling Jaya, in the wee hours of the morning – the Hunt challenging both crew and participants before it even got underway. Seventy cars turned up that day, five of which were spanking new Mazda3s sponsored by Bermaz Motor for five lucky, or rather witty, teams for the weekend.
After chugging down cans of Red Bull supplied by a couple of lovely girls in their cute little MINI, everyone spread their newfound wings and set off in search of treasure. The first stop, for us at least, was the Petron service station at the Dengkil R&R stop along the PLUS highway. The challenges devised by main sponsors Petron and Elite Looks there tested the participants in ways both gruelling and comedic, which was more than entertaining in our eyes.
We couldn't stay for long though. Our Mazda BT-50 wrapped in Treasure Hunt livery needed to be at the Seremban R&R stop for participants to snap a 'wefie' with it. For those not in the know, that's a group selfie, which can be a little tricky. Participants clambered onto the truck bed, and some even onto the roof to get the winning shot – yet another reason for us to pull out the popcorn.
As the teams wrapped up their photo shoots and went in search of more clue-related signboards, we continued our southbound journey on the PLUS highway to Malacca, where a night's stay at Equatorial Hotel awaited us all. Before being allowed to check in, participants had to first crack their heads and solve puzzles created by the Hunt's official watch, Oris, and co-sponsor Huper Optik. We had a go ourselves, only to come away with doubts about our intelligence.
Most of us grabbed a nap after the challenges were over, thinking we had enough time to prepare for dinner, only to find participants already waiting at the ballroom by the time we arrived. Their enthusiasm was understandable. Who wouldn't be excited at the thought of nabbing a slice of over RM80,000 in prizes? Then again, they could have just been really hungry.
The rich pool of prizes would not have been possible without our sponsors. And on top of contributions from Elite Looks, Petron, PLUS, Mazda, Oris and Huper Optik, official partners Cool Rhino, Elite Stickers, MedKlinn, Police Eyewear, Racechip, SHARP, Systema, Times Bookstore, Toyo Tires and Uber Men chipped in too to make this year's hunt one of the most enticing and exciting we've ever had.
In the end, the team of Fong Choon Kit, Ling Liong Ang, Lin Wei Nyin, and Rachel Chia Lei Wen came out tops, beating 69 other cars to the RM21,500 worth of prizes waiting at the top. It was an adventure to remember for everyone nonetheless, one made up of awkward poses, funny signboards and, for some, post-hunt Malaccan delicacies. If anything, the TopGear Treasure Hunt 2014 managed to get us excited at the thought of doing it all over again in another 12 months. If you weren't there, see you then!