4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
4x4 Adventures Winch Challenge
Uplowman, 28th Jul 07
Even in the dry the Uplowman Site is traditionally one of the harder site. With the heavy rain it looked like the competitors were going to be in for a challenging day. A select 10 pre-registered known competitors meant the course could be set to meet their demands. In other words everyone competing had two winches so it made sense to lay out a course to make the maximum use of these assets!

After negotiating a nice uphill wet grassy climb into the car park field, the competitors were soon unloaded, eagerly awaiting scrutineering and signing on. The climb into the field was testing enough for some, but then Marshalls should know better really shouldn't they Dave! A short convoy move to the event area mean't the competitors were soon on the way to discovering the lie of the land. Two fenced off areas had been used, mixing technical punches requiring double lining and the use of both winches with some easy drive in/drive out punches and the 'standard' one winch pull punches. An additional restriction was placed on the use of the fields to minimise environmental damage by limiting competitors to two entry/exit points into the woods. The whole site is a steep sided wooded valley with a small stream running along the bottom. Area one is a naturally formed soak away for the surrounding Devon hills and area two has steeper sides a testing ground for developing those side slope driving skills!

The competitors were mainly Land Rover based with only one ringer, Mike Cuff and Kevin Williams in Mike's TJ. Mike, now a regular at 4x4 Adventures events, was keen to gently introduce Kevin to the co-driver role. It was a shame therefore that he pulled the punch card off twice in the first hour! At least it wasn't in the last hour!

Others were even less fortunate in the first hour with Bert and Dan Smith all the way down from Wolverhampton braking a CV. Father Bob, also competing, kindly lent them his truck to carry on competing whilst he did his best to fix it. In this time Bob's winch started to play up with Bert and Dan so they were keen to swap back to their own 3 wheel drive LR. However by the end of the day the other CV had also gone so they were down to 2 wheel drive! It's just as well they had axle lockers! It's also a great credit to them to all carry on and continue in the spirit of the event and makethe most of the day.

Martin Stainer was also a first hour casualty with brake problems on his rear 8274, leaving him with one winch. Pete Mitchell soon came to his aid although Pete was to suffer his own problems with front winch problems and then a bent track rod. Unfortunately, both teams had to retire early.

Meanwhile, Bristol boys Jason Farr and Paul Milsom were down to their last two punches to collect in area two with std+1 class Shaun Houghton close behind them. Jase and Paul were soon through and onto area one while Shaun, with yet another new co driver, had decided he liked his vehicle on its side so much he was going to leave it there a while and let the batteries recharge!!!! Needless to say he ended up leaving area two a good two hours behind Bristol companions and was no longer able to keep the pressure on them. Jason and Paul went on to clear area one in just over an hour and completed the 40 punches with 60 mins to spare; trust and good team work going a long way towards their success.

Meanwhile, Mark and David were having an interesting time in area one. With initial rear winch problems now resolved they were back in the competition and despite having not competed together for over two years were keen to give Shaun a good run for his money in Std+1 class. Despite this, there were a few vehicle/steering wheel interface problems later in the day and they gracefully decided to cut their losses early having had a fantastic day and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

In all a great day with even the rain holding off until after the competitors had left the site (a first for this series of events!) As ever the organisers and competitors are in debited to the marshalls for all their help in scrutineering, sign posting and keeping competitors on their toes. Our sincere thanks go to Chris Watts, Matt Neal, Paul Challis, Andy and Dave Wilson.

Overall results:

Std + 1 (Slightly Modified) - two aids (eg 2 winches, 2 lockers or 1 winch and 1 locker)
1st Shaun Houghton - 27 punches
2nd Mark and David
3rd Bob and Dawn Smith - retired early with winch problems

1st Jase Farr and Paul Milsom - 40 punches completed
2nd Mike Cuff and Kevin Williams
3rd Dan and Bert Smith - with 2 broken CVs
4th Pete Mitchell - retired early with track rods and front winch problems
5th Martin Stainer - retired early with rear winch problems
6th Scott and Dan 567 - Retired very early due to steering problems

Some pictures from the event