4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
4x4 Adventures Winch Challenge Series
In association with Difflock.com
Round 2 sponsored by Allisport
West Harptree, 1st May 10
Words by James Trembath; Pictures David Bowyer, Richard Watson, Shaun Farrow and Jake Lloyd

With Allisport kindly sponsoring the Round there seemed no better site to use than the local to them, well known, West Harptree Site (or the Lambs Lair as it is also known). A historically tough, unforgiving site for challenge events. The compact area offers great combinations of deep gulleys, mud, rocks and ravines with a few blackthorn bushes here and there to offer the odd anchor point for winch ropes. In the dry it’s a testing and hard site. In the wet it can be almost impossible to move let along compete!

It had to be expected – Bank Holiday weekend and it rains! Setting up proved to be a more arduous affair than normal with the elements doing their best to destroy the sections before the competitors even had a chance to get near them. With the wind and rain picking up on Friday night it looked like the contingent sections would be brought into force and some of the more technical sections would have to be closed. The big day arrived and – what a change! A nice dry start and the wind had dropped, a bit of early course maintenance and the site was soon ready to go.

Although low on numbers with only 14 entrants there was a fantastic spread of both vehicle and crew ability and the course had to be set with this in mind. With full bodies Discoverys and hardtop 90s on MTs in standard class through to the likes of the heavily modified Team Devon and Team Gigglepins trucks of Farr and Dyer respectively there was certainly plenty to think about to keep them all busy.

Standard class had a good turnout with just over a third of the entrants. Jeroen Van De Hooft had managed to pinch Kevin Williams from his normal slot codriving for Mike Cuff which put him in a good position to take on the class leaders. Kevin Luxton and Jason Midlely put in a sterling performance. With a steady approach to the punches they worked their way through the ‘standard punches’ earning a respectable score. However Bob and Dawn Smith with several years experience in the class were always one step ahead of them collecting a good 15 punches and two special stages with a strong second overall in SS2. Dave McLachan and Matt Price struggled initially with the lower ground clearance of the Discovery on the smaller tyres and were then slowed a little more by the continual failure of their synthetic rope. Luckily, the man himself from Goodwinch was not far away and came to the rescue with some new Bowrope which soon had them on their way. Simon Parsons and Ian Hawes were also out on the luck front yet again. Competing in Simon’s black and silver OEC livered truck they lost a diff at Rd 1 so with a round gone they were keen to perform well at Harptree, so 10mins in and a split tyre sidewall didn’t go down too well and this was followed at lunch time by a CV failure. Not to be deterred they ventured back out with rear wheel drive only to pick up some of the ‘easier’ punches. As the end of the day loomed the rain came back and the site soon changed into a slippery mess which left Simon and Ian in a predicament on their particular punch and late for the finish thus losing 100 points.

In Standard+1 Class there was still no sign of Shaun Houghton’s vehicle entering, meaning it was down to a head to head again between David Webber and Paul Radford. Paul had a new codriver to break into the sport (or Will, his codriver, had a new driver to control depending on which way you look at it!) so they had a working relationship to develop which had to happen quickly if they were going to be in with a chance of beating Mark and David. Mark and David on the other hand worked well together and despite being new to the site soon came to grips with the rocky outcrops – once yet another tyre had been changed! They also put in an excellent clear section on SS2 – a numbered gate section against the clock, giving them a strong 300point bonus taking 1st place on the section.

Andy Dawkins and Carl Davies had swapped roles for Round 2 – having both registered for the series. They had been plagued with autobox cooler issues at Wellington.Having now resolved that issue the truck was put through it first full day of competing since its rebuild and the pair came in a credible 4th place against stiff competition. Tim Jones and Darren Church were yet again up against it and lost a CV very early on in the day quickly followed by a brake issue with their front winch meaning yet another disappointing early retirement for them. On the plus side they did last about 4 times as long as they had on rd 1! Eddie and Sue Hart arrived bright and early on the event day having driven their truck there, the only modified team to do so, which also meant they had to drive it home again. Having unpacked and had a quick walk about they picked some good selective punches to go up against and put in a commendable performance with an impressive punch score against some very determined competitors. The top three places for the modified went to three very experienced and capable teams. With the local team of Farr and Sims hoping for a second victory in their Team Devon sponsored vehicle they were soon up against it on punch 26 in a deep rock slab sided gulley. It didn’t help they went down it the wrong way first but then I don’t believe they were the only ones to do so were they Marc? But we won’t mention that! Wasting some time there sorting themselves out they were then playing catch up to Team Gigglepin in the guise of Marc Dyer and Austin Jewitt. Marc and Austin were not without their own problems with battery issues in the early afternoon and a charging fault which was soon rectified and it was all out to beat the Devon Team. Meanwhile, Bert and Dan Smith, another very experienced and previously placed Howlin Wolf veterans were quickly working their way through the site taking on some good technical punches with ease. With two special stage points also up for grabs the last hour was proving quite frantic between the three teams. Team Gigglepin missed out on SS 1 with not enough time to get up there to complete it, whilst Team Devon had put in the quickest time. Dan and Bert weren’t far behind them again getting a clear round and scoring well. If any of the modified had completed SS2 with a clear round they could have had a big impact on the scores. As it was Team Gigglepin went for the punch options whilst Team Devon took on the stages and in this case it was the Gigglepin option that paid the dividends with a good strong win going to Marc and Austin who managed a creditable 37 of a maximum 40 punches.

Marshalls – A big thank you goes to our Marshalls for their continued support and help in ensuring the day ran safely and without hiccups. An extra thank you goes to Liz, Justin and Rich from Difflock.com for running the Special Stages and for overseeing some of the more technical taped sections.

Overall results:

1st Team Gigglepin Marc Dyer & Austin Jewitt 2641
2nd Team Devon Jason Farr & Rich Sims 2106
3rd Bert & Dan Smith 1875
4th Andy Dawkins &Carl Davies 1473
5th Mark Gray & Martin Gilpin 1289
6th Sue and Eddie hart 626
7th Tim Jones & Darren Church 346
8th Tony Cordell DNS

Std + 1 (Slightly Modified) - two aids (eg 2 winches, 2 lockers or 1 winch and 1 locker)
1st David Webber & Mark Walford 3780
2nd Paul Radford & Will Vardy 2893

Std - 1 aid (eg 1 winch, or 1 locker)
1st Bob and Dawn Smith 2264
2nd Kevin Luxton & Jason Midlely 1057
3rd Jeroen Van De Hooft & Kevin Williams 923
4th Simon Parsons and Ian Hawes 673
5th Dave McLachan & Matt Price 637

SS1 : 10 Gates Any Order
1st Team Devon 2m20s
2nd Andy Dawkins 3m47s
3rd Bert Smith 4m07s
4th Team Gigglepin 4m08s

SS2 : 10 numbered Gates
1st David Webber 4m59s
2nd Bob Smith 5m43s
3rd Paul Radford 6m45s

Some pictures from the event