4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
4x4 Adventures Winch Challenge Series Round 1
Bampton, 23rd Feb 08
What a cracking start to the 4x4Adventures Challenge Series. With some 27 Competitors, split between 3 classes, registered for the 1st event at Bampton the series was off to a flying start. The teams were going to meet all the elements the Bampton site could throw at them from sheer river drops to deep mud and hard technical climbs, this combined with a navigational challenge for Special Stage 1 (SS1) meant that a good co-driver, team work and preparation were all vital ingredients for success. All this was going to be needed considering the lineup that included past winners or runners up in the Rainforest, OBC, Baskerville, Muddy-truckers, Tay Forest, AWDC and countless local events.

The 4x4 Adventures series has been launched for 2008 in association with X-Eng and OEC International. The series follows on from the success of last years individual events and was in response to competitors requests of having something to aim for over the year. Anton from OEC and Simon from X-Eng agreed to join forces after both independently sponsoring the 2007 events and co-sponsor the series providing; T shirt's, winch blankets and event and series prizes.

With some well known names in the Challenge series having both registered or come along for one off events the regulars knew they were going to be in for a run for their money. A first to us but very well known supplier and local 4x4 specialist Simon Buck was along in his TD5 truck cab 90 with Matt Cook in the hot seat trying to control him for the day, some good team work and excellent vehicle preparation (what else would you expect from Devon 4x4) put them in a strong position to be in the top three. Also a first for us Jim Marsden from Gigglepin 4x4 with Adrian Turner codriving, they were down to the Southwest to give the truck a running in period and experiment with some new ideas, hopefully away from prying eyes! Not everything went to plan and a suspected head gasket didn't help them towards the end of the day.

Despite the well known competitors the money amongst the marshals for the modified competitors was still with the local 4x4Adventures veterans namely Team OEC and Team Gigglepin (A). Team OEC in the guise of Jason Farr and Paul Milsom were competing in Jase's well prepared trayback 90. After a good season last year winning a good proportion of the events they were now head to head with some new names to scene plus their old rivals from Wales in the guise of TEAM Gigglepin 'A' (!) Steve Gittins and Mark Morgan. Steve and Mark again in a traybacked 90 work well together and despite appearances get around the site pretty quick as well!

Also new to us in the modified class and registered for the series were Shaun Harris and Steve Williams. They unfortunately had a few mechanical issues on their first punch and having got the vehicle back up and going were playing catch up for the day.

Tony Cordell and Mike Dunlop were back in force and despite a roll putting them on their side they had a sterling day putting in a good score on SS1 and would get the vote for the most relaxed competitive approach for the day; they were there to enjoy themselves and were not phased by the other competitors plus considering they were running a full hardtop vehicle certainly had their work cut out. The same goes for Bert and Dan Smith down from Wolverhampton, again running a full hardtop does have its limitations within a tight woodland site. Bert and Dan are regulars on the Challenge scene and work well together in a well prepared vehicle, they will certainly be ones to watch as the series develops.

Tim Jones, having purchased Nick Walkers very well prepared tray-backed Range Rover, crewed up with Darren Church to give the series a good attempt. He cleared the navigation stage on special stage 1, one of only two cars to complete the whole course within the time and also set the course fastest time in 9m30s from a 10min Did Not finish (DNF) time. Unfortunately the punches were a little more elusive and with front locker air supply problems and some rear winch issues in the latter part of the day they had to give some sections a miss, despite this they managed a creditable 6th in class which for a first outing working together against the competition is an excellent result.

The Standard+1 class (two aid to traction allowed ie two winches no lockers) was slightly down on numbers with Mark Walford and David Webber's vehicle needing a new head so they were out of the running but very kindly offered to help out and came along to Marshall for the day. Paul Radford was back having moved up from Standard class with his shortened rear end 90 now sporting a rear winch. Shaun Houghton and Ben, another event regular was back in Shaun's yellow V8 90 again with two winches, unfortunately they had solenoid problems plus a small engine fire and struggled to keep the truck running through the day.

The standard vehicles certainly had their work cut out for them on the day. Lewis Alderson was back in his Suzuki with brother Rob co-driving for him, they unfortunately snapped a prop shaft around lunch time and retired early. However the other standard vehicles also had their own problems to contend with, Simon Parsons in his hardtop 90 was plagued by his slow winch and over heating problems and although he struggled on for the day he was severely limited by vehicle issues, meanwhile Keith Knight picked up a few of his own problems in the day but kept pushing on. Therefore despite leaving early Lewis and Rob managed to secure the victory within their class. Something they were certainly surprised to have achieved.

The marshals on the day were superb and the event could not have even been contemplated without their help. Thank you guys for keeping an eye on the competitors and help throughout the day. A special thanks goes to David Lovejoy for running Special Stage 1 with Matt Neal and Dave Wilson, plus Ian Gildersleeve for overseeing scrutineering with Chris Watts and team. Chris thank you for all the extra errands you picked up on the day as well!

Overall results:

1st Team Gigglepin (Steve Gittins and Mark Morgan)- 1228 pts
2nd Simon Buck and Matt Cook - 1091 pts
3rd Team OEC International (Jason Farr and Paul Milsom) - 963 pts
4th Team Gigglepin (Jim Marsden and Adrian Turner) - 861 pts
5th Mark England and Paul Hutchings - 815 pts
6th Tim Jones and Darren Church - 767 pts
7th John Piper and Andy Smith - 481 pts
8th Mike Cuff and Sam Fletcher - 465 pts
9th Shaun Harris and Steve Williams - 440 pts
10th Paul Hooper and Ritch Green- 409 pts
11th Graeme Mitchell and Rob Langley - 405 pts
12th Just Degan and Gary Sprigmore - 373 pts
13th Tony Cordell and Mike Dunlop- 371 pts
14th Bert and Dan Smith - 333 pts
15th Kris Murphy and Craig Hope - 193 pts (retired early)
16th Pete Mitchell and Adrian Pike - 74 pts (retired early)
DNS - Will Overton
DNS - Alen Cousins

Std + 1 (Slightly Modified) - two aids (eg 2 winches, 2 lockers or 1 winch and 1 locker)
1st Bob and Dawn Smith - 1467 pts
2nd Ian Moulsdale and Ryan Price - 1042 pts
3rd Paul Radford and Joseph Jacobs - 967 pts
4th Shaun Houghton and Ben - 950 pts
DNS David Webber
DNS Anthony Bennett

Std - 1 aid (eg 1 winch, or 1 locker)
1st Rob and Lewis Alderson - 1467 pts
2nd Simon Parsons and Chris Solway - 867 pts
3rd Keith Knight and Simon Elvins- 767 pts

Some pictures from the event