4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
4x4 Adventures Interclub Challenge
Uplowman/Bampton, 22nd/23rd Aug 09
in association with OEC International and sponsored by Superpro
Words by James Trembath and Pictures by Sean Farrow, Liz Lewis and Marie

The last interclub challenge took place in 2006 run by Neil Whitford and crew under the AWDC banner at West Harptree. As a codriver there for Challenge South West I had a good idea of what the competitors were after and also how enthusiastic the teams were to win. With that in mind when the idea of another Interclub was launched by Tony Cordell from LR4x4.com, 4x4 Adventures put their name into the hat and volunteered to run the event with the aim of doing something a little different.

With five teams entered for the weekend the competition was certainly going to be well contested with local teams from Innovate4x4.com and Challenge South West plus some traveling from further afield with the ‘Last Few Men’ from the Mid West Off Road Club. There was also obviously LR4x4.com, having come up with the idea, who had a part local and part Midlands team of 4 vehicles and a strong mixed AWDC and Challenger team members in the guise of Wooldridge Demolition.

First up, the Challenge took on the format of a two day event split over 2 main sites. Saturday took place at Uplowman with eight special Stages (timed with punches) combined with an additional ‘not too technical’ further 26 punches to keep the teams busy between the SSs. The whole of Saturday was as an individual vehicle with no outside assistance permitted. With a 1600hrs finish the teams then had the option of the Hog Roast part funded by event Sponsors OEC International which along with the marquees and free hot drinks throughout the weekend provided some welcome refreshment after an interesting ‘warm up’ day.

The competitors did not have long to rest though and were soon back at 1900hrs for the night stage briefing. There were two stages each with a 15min DNF located in two different quarries, each consisted of a marked out route with some inevitable winching for at least one hill on each stage. It was hoped that the better drivers would be able to drive the remainder of the climbs. The stages were designed to test the driver’s nerve as much as anything and see who would actually drive the majority of the sections compared to winching. There was an estimated 4min winning time for Night Stage 1 and 6 min time for Night stage 2. The teams were required to do some navigation between the stages (although I think it was only one marshall who struggled on the return leg with this element!)

Sunday followed a new format to the challenge scene. The idea was born after competing in the Monks Challenge and adapting it to suit a team effort. There were five special stages each with 5 punches and each section had to be completed as a team. This, combined with some specific rules about completing the course in the limited timeline, created some pressure for the teams and codrivers, some coping better than others!

You could say some teams did not get off to a good start; within the first 15mins we had 3 breakages, Innovate4x4.com were to suffer the first of their weekend ‘issues’ with Jason Farr and Rich Sims breaking a CV, the team’s 2nd issue was with one of the Gigglepin sponsored vehicle; Steve Gittins and Mark Morgan were having problems with a branch that had wedged itself up into the engine bay and was fouling the crank shaft sensor. The third unfortunate event was with Dan Elias’ truck from Woodridge Demolition with a twisted HD prop – he went onto break another one during the day and then ran a std for the night stages and all day Sunday with no issues. Despite all these early issues being resolved Farr and Sims were not in for a good weekend as they suffered with a burst power steering pipe. Running a D2 box on their Defender it was not an easy part to source although with D4x4 running their own weekend just down the road Simon Buck was soon to the rescue with a replacement part – for the team to only fit that and then break it again on the night stage! Jase managed to braise the two good parts of pipe he now had to make a 3rd spare to get them running for Sunday although halfway through the 2nd SS they were out of the competition for the 3rd time and decided to call it a day. A disappointing event for Jase to say the least!

Others were much more fortunate with Challenge South West (CSW) and Wooldridge Demolition (WD) putting in maximum effort with all their vehicles going for all the SS they were both set to score well for the day. Adrian Tuner and Kevin Pocock had ‘detuned’ to enter the standard class in Kev’s very capable range rover and were running just a front winch. With some good thinking on the punches they managed to clear 23 of 24 punches outside the SS and went on to complete all the SS, an excellent result and it certainly helped with their team philosophy to complete everything keeping them high in the running order and maximising scoring ability. Andy Nash (also with Wooldridge Demolition) put in some good SS times and managed a 1st place on SS 8.

Meanwhile the Challenge Southwest team made a good start with Roger Pardy with Paul Rogers codriving putting in some sterling times on the SS’s as they systematically worked through them collecting the additional punches along the way.

Team LR4x4 were on a par with ‘Last Few Men’ from the start with both teams being down on team members at the start of the competition. LFM (under the guidance of Clive James) were missing one team member with fueling issues – luckily the issue was resolved and the vehicle joined the team for the night stage. Meanwhile LR4x4 were only running with 3 of their 4 members with Bob Smith unable to join the team until late Saturday in order to compete in Sunday’s sections. Ian Moulsdale and Tom Salt, along with Neil Brook and Tony Cordell competed along side Bert and Dan Smith as the 3 LR4x4.com contenders for Saturday. All 3 put in sterling efforts on the Special Stages with Tony driving 90% of SS 4 in his full bodied 90 after several other cut down vehicles had shown how not to do it!!!

Ian Moulsdale was competing in his own very well prepared auto traybacked 90 with all the work having being done by Ian’s firm West Mids 4x4 who specialise in Challenge Vehicle preparation. A distinctive orange and black vehicle, they worked hard all day taking on the challenges before them whilst getting into the throws of working together after a break at the end of last year.

Clive James put in a commendable effort on Night Stage 1 giving one the hill climbs the vehicles maximum all out guts he was close to cresting it, several times, although just did not have the traction or brakes to hold himself there long enough to get the winch rope on. After a good few attempts he took a humble DNF time of 15min and shot off to try and improve his score on Night Stage 2.

With the last teams finishing around 2230hrs it was then back to the marquee for the night Stage prize giving. Richard from Superpro had kindly sponsored Night Stage 1 providing a set of vehicle bushes for the fastest time. This went to Steve Gittins and Mark Morgan in Steve’s recently ‘refurbished’ V8 auto trayback 90. Having had a little rest from competing at the beginning of the year it was interesting to see how he judged the course – maybe High range no diff lock was not the answer for the first climb!!! Despite this little oversight the pair soon made up for it with some good driving and came in with a winning time of 3mins 58s; an excellent result. Not all the competitors were quite so fortunate on the course and many a codriver had to work hard on the 2nd climb getting the vehicle up with some exceeding the 15min DNF. Martin and Derek Hounsell both competing with new codrivers put in good times on NS1 with some forethought and planning – not wasting time repeatedly attempting climbs and being quick with winch work earn’t them both respectable times.

Team Innovate’s luck certainly didn’t improve over the course of the weekend with Jase Farr now out with a broken steering box but with Steve Gittins back up and running now; Adrian Everitt, with Darren Church in the codrivers seat, were to be plagued with winch problems. Adrian who runs TOR4x4 in Somerset was all out on luck with winches for the weekend with several issues resulting in his retirement early on Saturday off SS 5, this also meant missing the night stages to try and preserve the vehicle for Sundays antics. Sunday though things did not get any better when he had problems with his rear and then front winch, yet again resulting in the Innovate team being down to 3 vehicles after 2 sections. At this point Ian Hawes, with Simon Parsons codriving, decided that in order for their team to continue and complete the three remaining Special Stages within the time, they stood down to allow Gittins and Steve Williams with Shaun Harris codriving to push with two vehicles for the last 3 stages. Running only 2 vehicles limited their scoring potential down from 5000 per section to 2000 but at least the points could be guaranteed as long as they finished the sections.

For Sunday’s stages there was a maximum of 500 points per vehicle for punches and 500 points per vehicle for a time bonus if the team completed the section within the 60min DNF. With the punches themselves being fairly innocuous it was the route itself that was to prove testing. With limited down time the pressure was on the codrivers who had to work hard to get all their starting vehicles through the sections within the timeframe. Each stage was about 600m long and included bogs, ditches, tree crossings, water obstacles and inevitable side slopes and long muddy climbs. With a 15min turn around time between sections and a ‘must’ start time the teams did not have time to spare. Working to get 5 vehicles through in the time needed dedication and teamwork plus someone to take control of what was happening to ensure there was structure and order to the section. Some teams warmed to this and worked exceptionally well, helping their Std vehicles as required and running ahead to setup winch points off vehicles that had made it though parts to help the next vehicles through. Some teams did not grasp this quite as well. With time being short the results speak for themselves.

An event like this would be impossible to run without the help from all the marshalls who eagerly managed their stages throughout Saturday and Sunday. Our thanks and gratitude goes to all of them for their sterling efforts throughout the weekend in their approach to their work, professionalism and conduct. Our thanks also goes to Anton and crew from OEC International in Newton Abbott and Richard from Superpro for sponsoring the event and providing prizes.

Overall Team Scores
1st Challenge South West 42054
2nd Wooldridge Demolition 38919
3rd Innovate4x4.com 19154
4th LR4x4.com 14883 (4 Vehicles)
5th Last Few Men (Mid West Off Road Club) 3577 (4 vehicles)

Overall Individual Vehicle Scores (taken from Saturdays results)
1st CSW- Roger Pardy & Paul Rogers - 4114
2nd CSW - Martin Hounsell & Chris Kurniak- 4033
3rd WD - Kev Pocock & Adrian Turner - 3992
4 INNOVATE 4X4 - Steve Gittins & Mark Morgan - 3954
5 INNOVATE 4X4 - Steve Williams & Shaun Harris - 2990
6 CSW - Stuart Ball & Shane Avery - 2948
7 CSW - Derek Hounsell & Liam Davis - 2614
8 WD - Dom Brione & Paul Bass - 2529
9 WD - Andy Nash & Lee Marchant - 2470
10 WD - Nick Anderson & Neville Hudd - 2421
11 INNOVATE 4X4 Adrian Everitt & Darren Church - 2269
12 CSW - Mark Gray & Martin Gilpin - 2218
13 LR4X4 - Bert & Dan Smith - 2039
14 LFM - Clive & Mark James - 1864
15 INNOVATE 4X4 - Simon Parsons & Ian Hawes - 1559
16 INNOVATE 4X4 - Jason Farr & Rich Sims - 1445
17 WD - Dan Elias & Mark Gadsby - 1382
18 LR4X4 - Tony Cordell & Neil Brook - 1305
19 LR4X4 - Ian Mousldale & Tom Salt - 1224
20 LFM - Mike Jones & Charles Bennett – 576
21 LFM - Sue & Eddie Hart – 447
22 LFM - Allen Satchell & Paul Austin – 222
DNS LR4X4 - Bob Smith and LFM - Andy Screen

Superpro Night Stage – presented with a set of Vehicle Bushes
Fastest on Night Stage 1, Team Gigglepin Steve Gittins and Mark Morgan 3min 58s

Superpro Spirit of the Event
Clive and Mark James from Mid West Off Road Club

Some pictures from the event