4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
Bampton Drive Round Day – 11th Apr 09
Words and Pictures by James Trembath

What brilliant weather and a great turnout for the last Bampton Drive Round Day until November. With some familiar faces returning – Jeroen and Ger in their red 90, Tim Jones helping out with routes and guidance where needed and Steve Hart taking his first visit to the site in his Pajero plus Jos in his 110. We also had a few new to us; Matt Foyle and Sophie in their black hardtop V8 90 which was not only very loud but was also only firing on 5 so it was not the easiest to control and was a little touch and go at times. Marcus Freeham also joined us for the first time is his well prepared td5 90 ‘to be challenge truck’. Currently not sporting any winches and still in the development stages the course was an ideal run out for it and certainly showed how effective a good 3 link front suspension setup can be. Les Brock also joined us for his first DRD in his recently SVA’d challenge vehicle. Les was also using the day as a test for the vehicle, having recently put it back together, the exception for his Simex tyres obviously made the course a little easier for him but he certainly came away with a big smile – we were all surprised though that he let his co-driver Guy drive the hardest parts of the day – maybe Les was a little unsure……….

Poor old Kevin Williams, whilst preparing his vehicle the night before and putting his rope back on the winch under tension he burst a flexible brake pipe and with parts not being widely available for his custom vehicle that was unfortunately him not driving for the day. However, true to form, he happily came along in the lead vehicle for the day to help out as ‘chief gate opener/helper out’.

Wow what a truck Jos! Jos has certainly made an impact coming back into offroading with an unmistakeable lime green 110 bodied V8 auto Range Rover!! Unfortunately the vehicle didn’t like running on anything but level ground so after a little tinkering and not really getting anywhere he decided to call it a day around 1130hrs and headed off home. It would be nice for you to make it through a day Jos, come on get the old girl sorted out and come back for a full day!

As a change to the normal for the regulars we started across at Warrens hill after the obligatory warm up woods session. The steep sided pine forest has some excellent descents and climbs throughout the various sections and soon had everyone thinking about what they were in for the day. Matt has a slight issue on one descent getting hung up on a tree stump that the previous vehicle had hit and uprooted, a quick reverse off soon had him running again although the problem did highlight the fact that he has a weeping front crank oil seal – not good to leave it on its nose for prolonged periods then!!!

From Warrens hill a short circuit of Warrens wood was next with Steve Hart in his Pajero showing how good the standard engine braking or lack of it is on his Pajero on one particular descent. Marcus gamefully threw his vehicle at all the obstacles, clearing them with ease showing, how capable the vehicle was despite 235.85s. Les breezed the section but then really we wouldn’t expect anything else.!

Having completed the quarry it was a short road section down to the first river drive followed by a lunch stop by the river in the glorious sunshine having taken on some more drops and tricky rocky/mud/root intertwined climbs. We left out the newly cut route along the top of the river section which needs a little more work on it to guarantee all the vehicles in this group making it though unscathed. We did do the two long drops to the river with the axle twist climbs out before heading over to deep ruts.

Unfortunately Marcus’ 3 link system combined with the 31” tyres caught in places resulting in a tow being needed from Matt on several of the sections. Jeroen’s vehicle also on 31”s made it though with slightly better underaxle clearance (no 3 link) and a more aggressive MT tyre. Meanwhile, Tim led Steve on a newly cut bypass route with a gentle meander through the trees down to cross a small stream before tackling a misleadingly steep climb back through the trees on a side slope before dropping back into deep ruts. It was certainly a preferred route for the Pajero with its limited clearance and wishbone suspension and a side from a gentle loss of traction on the side slope it was a good little excursion.

From here we were back up to middle woods and the sunken river after taking on the axle twist hole which shows some good articulation, particularly on the Challenge trucks with all their tricked up settings. Having posed for the various pictures, with some taking the bypass as required we met up again for the final river drives including the deeper new section before gathering in the final field for a coffee and talk through the day.

Despite Jos having to leave early and Matt’s V8 running problems a fantastic day was had by all with some great scenery, driving and comradeship. A good mix of vehicles showed what could be done with a vehicle at one end of the spectrum through to how much a standard vehicle will do with some forethought given to the driving and route selection. The Pajero (as we knew it would) more than held its own and there were even some comments from devoted LR owners of how good it proved to be! Bampton DRDs will be starting up again in November 2009 after giving the ground and routes a rest for the next six months or so.

Some pictures from the day