4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
4x4 Adventures Winch Challenge Series Round 7
Bampton, 6th Dec 08
It was the last event of the series and all down to the wire in each class. For the final round we returned to the first venue of the series at Bampton. Knowing that the competitors would think they could predict what they were headed for, we decided to up the ante and make things a little harder to finish the series on a high and give them something to remember it by. Punches were set avoiding the normal waterways and riverbanks and instead concentrated on some quite hard technical elements coupled with difficult access routes just to get to the start of the sections. It obviously worked with no one clearing all the punches and the winning punch count going to Team Gigglepin coming in with 29 of the maximum 38 punches plus 2 special stages.

The format for the day was two voluntary special stages set at a different location. Both had 10min DNF times with one having 2 punches and some hard terrain to negotiate. The other had 10 punches allowing competitors to decide how many they thought they could do in the time. With a potential 500 points available for each special stage they were certainly worth doing and the scoreboard reflected those that missed them. Tim Jones went upto the special stages first and despite not completing one due to a drive train failure that took him out of the event, he and Ian Stokes still managed a very creditable score with fastest equal time on their only special stage, putting them 6th for the day.

Simon Parsons had a cracking two day event with the series although due to family commitments was unable to make this event which meant the door was left wide open for Lewis Alderson and Russell Lowton to wipe the floor in their class and they knocked Simon off the class series winning perch.

In Std + 1 Shaun Houghton was yet again fighting his corner. Shaun was beset with winch problems, having only fixed it the night before for the same part to break yet again, early in the day. Shaun with Stu Guard codriving were in hot contention for first place in the class but David Webber and Mark Walford, competing for their first year together, were hot on his heels with all to play for. Mark had only been drawn into the event after David explained to him ‘Its like greenlaning just a little more involved!’ David and Mark secured a sound win on the day gaining them valuable series points, no doubt helped by their approach on special stage 1 and careful punch selection in the main woods. They even did it all without losing their door – unlike Shaun!

Meanwhile, Bob and Dawn Smith unfortunately had some problems quite early on in the day snapping the steering drop arm whilst negotiating some fallen logs. The fallen logs played a key part in the day and those without, or with only a limited number of waffles certainly had to work hard with extra winch rigging to get themselves to the punches. Shaun Harris in modified defied the odds and made the absence of waffles look easy, assisted by some good spotting from Paul Milsom and use of his two front winches as he completed punch 15. Shaun had a good day on the punches putting him in a strong second place but having missed out on the special stages Jason Farr pipped him to the post and bagged 2nd place on the day. Jase was not without his own problems; rolling towards the end on punch group 37-39 and again struggling with winch problems, front and rear.

Team Gigglepin (in the guise of Mark Morgan and Steve Gittins) had a superb day, working like demons, ticking off punches with lots of technical rigging and excellent team work. They scored very highly on punches and completed both special stages with respectable times giving them a resounding victory.

Others were not quite as fortunate, Bert and Dan Smith who have been plagued with problems all series were to find themselves yet again at the mercy of Bampton. Despite the excellent twin motor addition to their front winch, they now found rope snapping to be a problem and with broken ropes and lockers not working by 10am they were all for giving up, but true to the passion and spirit of the event they battled onto the end making the most of ‘a trip out in the woods’.

Kris Murphy with co-driver Bryony Passmore put in a sterling effort and with a slow, relaxed, methodical approach and sensible planning they managed a good 4th place. Austin Hewitt was back with us for a second time, his first time at Bampton but despite a cracking start he soon succumbed to the Bampton pitfalls with a damaged vehicle and had to retire early.

The only Jeep in the event belonging to Mike Cuff with Sam (“I made it to the right site this time”) Fletcher co-driving headed for one of the hardest sections soon after the start. Their initial rope problems were soon resolved with a new Bowrope from Goodwinch and they went at it hard again in the taped section for punches 37-39, so hard in fact they were still in there 3 hours after the start! Speaking to Mike it was an eventful 3 hours, at the end the Jeep’s steering damper was “banana” shaped and only had rear wheel drive only. It was tricky enough getting to the entrance of the stage and with Team OEC’s roll here as well, the punches didn’t attract many competitors. Unfortunately, with so much time spent on this section Mike and Sam missed their opportunity elsewhere and slid slightly further down the scoreboard.

A hard day for all, but a fitting event to end the series showing that just when the competitors think they have it cracked we can throw in a few little extra surprises to keep them on their toes!

Our thanks go to our marshalls on the day with Anton from OEC bringing along his band of trusty helpers, Rich, Martin, Liz and Les who were all great tape custodians with a helping hand from Nobby, Ian Hawes and David Bowyer. Many thanks also to Chris Watts for running scrutineering and to Kevin Williams and David Lovejoy for their help running the special stages.

Overall results:

1st Team Gigglepin (Steve Gittins and Mark Morgan) – 3114 pts
2nd Team OEC ( Jase Farr and Rich Sims) - 2340 pts
3rd Shaun Harris and Paul Lardy Milsom - 1373 pts
4th Kris Murphy and Bryony Passmore – 966 pts
5th Austin Hewitt and Scott Benwall- 783 pts (retired early)
6th Tim Jones and Ian Sticky Stokes – 500 pts (special stage only)
7th Bert and Dan Smith – 456 pts
8th Mike Cuff and Sam Fletcher - 440 pts

Std + 1 (Slightly Modified) - two aids (eg 2 winches, 2 lockers or 1 winch and 1 locker)
1st David Webber and Mark Walford - 2119 pts
2nd Paul Radford and Josh Jacobs - 1696 pts
3rd Shaun Houghton and Stuart Guard – 1400 pts
4th Bob and Dawn Smith – 300 pts (retired early)

Std - 1 aid (eg 1 winch, or 1 locker)
1st Lewis Alderson and Russell Lowton
2nd Wayne Martin and Mike Holcombe

Some pictures from the event