4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
4x4 Adventures Winch Challenge Series
In association with Difflock.com
Round 1 sponsored by West Mids 4x4
Wellington, 6th Mar 10
Words by James Trembath, Pictures by Liz Lewis, Edward Webber and James Trembath

The 4x4 Adventures Series 2010 got off to a flying start with the first round held at Wellington in early March. Round One was kindly sponsored by Ian Moulsdale from West Mids 4x4. Ian’s firm specialise in Challenge vehicle preparation and have some great innovative ideas for the new breed of challenge vehicle builders.

The weather had been kind and the going was actually pretty good on the site which made a pleasant change. That’s not to say it was going to be easy! If some of the competitors had been hoping for a gentle introduction to the series at this debut round then they were in for a shock! Concentrating on providing achievable punches across the class range whilst also keeping all the competitors busy for the day which can be hard to master but with a bit of tape and groups of punches it was hoped we had got it right.

With an impressive vehicle line up in including some of the well known Howlin Wolf competitors entering the series such as Bob Smith (1st in class 09) Marc Dyer and Austin Jewitt along with Kev Pocock and the David Brothers we knew that the South West regulars were going to have their work cut out to keep abreast of them.

To keep everyone occupied we had a special stage consisting of 2 punches to be achieved in the quickest possible time plus the traditional 40 Punches. The punches were split with 20 on the ‘Island’ and 20 in the quarry. There difficulty ranged from what would be a drive in and out punch in a modified vehicle but requiring a winch for a std vehicle through to some that needed two if not three winches working concurrently to achieve the punch in the most efficient manner.

The newly appointed Team Devon 4x4 were proudly showing off their new paint job at scrutineering along with some very nice Devon 4x4 challenge essentials. The crew in the guise of Jason Farr and Rich Simms had good knowledge of the site and our scoring system. Having not competed a great deal in ’09 they knew it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park if they wanted to match their class win performances in the ’08 series.

Right from the start Austin Jewitt and Marc Dyer from the Gigglepin Challenge Team were going to be a team to watch, they headed straight to the quarry section tackling the harder punches, hoping that they would be able to go for high scoring punches rather than just quantity. (Our punch values decrease as the number of vehicles that achieve each punch increase, per class). After taking on some good technical winching over the fallen tree section they headed out into the bog run where they were soon snapping at the heals of Andy Nash and Kev Pocock in Andy’s newly modified 90. Sporting portals and 100” conversion this was its first outing and they were having a few issues with keeping air in the tyres meaning after clearing the majority of the bog and the quarry section they were retiring early. Meanwhile the David Brothers, Phil and Alastair were fighting to clear the Island section with Team Devon close behind them on punch numbers. Both teams were working well and soon after lunch had the island in hand. Tim Jones and Darren Church were not having quite as much luck. Tim, having recently converted his new 100” trayback to V8 auto was having a few front winch issues which left them high and dry with no battery power on their first punch, a hard technical multiple winch pull over some fallen trees. Unfortunately, despite their best efforts to fix the problem it was slightly beyond a field repair and they had to retire early from the day.

Tony Cordell, with Les Brock co-driving, Charles Bishop along with Mark O’Leary running around for him, and Mike Holliday were the only three full bodied vehicles entered in the modified class and the extra size of the vehicles certainly made it hard work for co-drivers working to minimise body damage. Tony was unfortunate with some rope issues reasonably early in the day while Charles and Mark proved you could get a vehicle around without damaging it although punch points would suffer.

Mike Cuff and co-driver Kevin Williams started well in their modified Jeep, clearing one end of Culmhead Island (the area down by the watershed) before suffering a flat whilst driving out of the section. The flat caused by a stump bending the inner rim of the wheel. After nearly removing the dent with a sledge hammer, Mike and Kevin opted to fit the spare and run with a Simex in the wrong rotation. Continuing on Mike and Kevin tackled the special stage, unfortunately this proved there undoing, near the end of the stage they clipped a tree with such force that it caused the roof bars to crack the windscreen and the engine to momentarily knock into the electric fan damaging it beyond repair. So it was back to staging area for an early end to the day.

In the standard+1 class, with only two entrants, both of which competed against each other in the ’08 series Paul Radford and David Webber were again head to head for the day. Paul was having a slow start to the day in the quarry undertaking some hard punches while David and co-driver Mark were quickly picking up the punch count up at the Island. With only two in the class it was going to come down to punch nos at the end of the day and Davids choice to stay at the Island certainly paid off with a 1st in class for them. I dare say they were pleased of getting the win especially as Shaun Houghton will no doubt be along at Round 2 snapping chasing them for series points.

The other full bodied vehicles were in the standard class with Dave McLachan in his green discovery and Jereon Van De Hooft in his red 90 CSW. These challenge virgins along with Kevin Luxton and Steve Hardcastle both in well prepared 90 truck cabs all certainly had a baptism by fire. Simon Parsons with co-driver Ian Hawes were looking to score well with Simons newly upgraded ‘super quick’ hydraulic hybrid winch, unfortunately despite the grinding and welding issues along early Saturday morning along with rope snaps their luck certainly ran out when the rear diff went pop mid afternoon.

Bob Smith had ‘downgraded’ his faithful old 90 from Std+1 to Std class for the round and with co-driver Dawn running around for him they certainly had the experience and knowledge to give the class a run for their money. They certainly made a go of it and went for everything possible in the morning which was just as well as the vehicle suffered from overheating issues in the early afternoon, luckily they had secured enough to make a win in class possible.

The results speak for themselves with Team Devon just snatching victory from Team Gigglepin with the David Brothers in the old TOR4x4 vehicle coming in a strong third place in modified class. David Webber and Mark Walford pipped Paul Radford to the post for the honours in Std+1 and as aforementioned Bob and Dawn Smith put in a creditable performance picking up 10 punches to win their standard class.

The event couldn’t of gone ahead without the support of Difflock and all the marshalls they provided, a big thank you to Justin and Rich for having the coldest stand all day manning the Special Stage, Chris, Steve and David for running scrutineering and keeping all in check during the day along with Mark, Liz, Jason and India. Finally thank you to Anton from Difflock.com for all his support towards the first round and providing the free hot drinks throughout the day.

Overall results:

1st Team Devon 4x4 – Jason Farr 2146
2nd Team Gigglepin – Austin Jewitt 2023
3rd Alasdair David 1424
4th Scott Benwell 1164
5th Bert Smith 963
6th Mark Gray 78
6 7th Tony Cordell 679
8th Mike Cuff 652
9th Charles Bishop 646
10th Sue Hart 644
11th Andy Nash 517
12th Neil Brooklyn 516
13th Mike Holliday 427
14th Clive Billing 167
15th Carl Davies 83
16th Tim Jones 50

Std + 1 (Slightly Modified) - two aids (eg 2 winches, 2 lockers or 1 winch and 1 locker)
1st David Webber 3219
2nd Paul Radford 1754

Std - 1 aid (eg 1 winch, or 1 locker)
1st Bob and Dawn Smith 1416
2nd Jeron Van De Hooft 930
3rd Simon Parsons 767
4th Kevin Luxton 638
5th Dewi McLachan 481
6th Steve Hardcastle DNF

Videos clips of the event...

Some pictures from the event