4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
4x4 Adventures Winch Challenge Series
In association with Difflock.com
Round 3 sponsored by Superpro Europe
Bampton, 3rd Jul 10
Words by James Trembath, Pictures by: Jake Lloyd, David Bowyer and Jason Morgan

With Bampton chosen as the Superpro Europe Round 3 venue I dare say a few of the competitors were thinking it would be the same old same old around Priestlands wood, well they were in for a surprise! Richard Fearn from Superpro had kindly agreed to sponsor the round and in the early planning stages we had decided that we would chose a style of event that would suit his product range, therefore speed and timed sections were to feature heavily!

The Difflock.com series which is being run by 4x4Adventures has a slightly different format this year in that it includes two disciplines/types of event. Three of the six rounds are the ‘normal,’ albeit quite technical, punch style events, while the remaining three rounds are all special stage events. Round 3 was the first of these Special Stage (SS) events. Unlike a normal punch event where you can spend alot of time in a wood pretty much on your own or only seeing a few other people/vehicles we had decided to open the event up socially by putting the competitors into groups. These groups, ideally consisting of one vehicle from each class, then made their way to specific SS for set times. All the SS had a 10min cut off time with the same route for all classes of vehicle. Each group of three vehicles had 40mins to complete a stage and move to the next stage. With the tight timings it meant more stages could be fitted in over the course of the day, 10 in total, plus it kept the emphasis on the competitor to make it to the stages. By having small groups this also minimised their waiting time on each stage. Points were calculated against a winning time regardless of class and then allocated as a percentage of the quickest time. (ie if the winner took 3 mins they received 100% of the points, if 2nd place took 6mins they were twice as long and therefore were allocated 50% of the points).

The style of the event certainly drew in a couple of new names to the 2010 series with Martin and Derek Hounsell from Country Rovers in Chard entering their first series event with us. Martin and Derek are well known in the local club circles competing regularly with Challenge South West and they are currently leading the modifieds in the Devon4x4 mini-series with CSW. With a supercharged V8 and Gigglepin twins front and rear plus a burning desire to succeed they were among the favourites for the event. Another first for this year’s series would have been Steve Gittins and Mark Morgan in Steve’s Gigglepin sponsored 100” traybacked V8. Unfortunately due to the ongoing truck’s ‘secret’ build progress not being quite on schedule they didn’t even make it to the start line!

Someone who did make it to the start line and managed to keep running all day (a first for this series), was Tim Jones and Darren Church in Tim’s V8 Trayback 100”. Again, overvolted and running a twin front motor with a new freespool they were going to be strong contenders if everything went to plan. With the old favourites of Team Devon in the guise of Jason ‘Ciderman’ Farr and Rich Sims competing plus, yet another sponsored team from Gigglepin, with Marc Dyer and Austin Jewitt (with a three motored overvolted front winch!) the competition was going to be tight. Mind you, Dyer and Jewitt had a few worries with a damaged turbo. The vehicle was not upto its full tune plus Austin will readily admit that speed sections are not his thing. Normally Marc would drive these but as Austin was the series registered driver there was to be no swapping if they wanted the points to count for the series.

Andy Dawkins and with father Les in the co-driver’s seat also managed to run trouble free for the day and put in some excellent times winning a SS outright, putting him very firmly up with the leaders from the morning stages.

Bert and Dan Smith had a fantastic afternoon, easily winning SS 6 by a large margin. Running a new 8274 air operated freespool from Delta-Tek.com no doubt helped them a great deal in the afternoon stages. Another team running the new freespool and also new to the series was Tom Salt and Ian Moulsdale. Ian from West Mids 4x4 (who sponsored RD 1) normally drives with Tom codriving so it was a change of roles this time as they competed in Tom’s vehicle in the Std +1 class. Std + 1 has been lacking in numbers with only two entries per round at preceding events so Tom’s appearance has made a welcome addition and it certainly started to ruffle feathers as can be seen by the tight scoring within the class as they snapped at the heals of Mark Walford and David Webber.

There were 5 entries in the std class and these ranged from Bob and Dawn’s heavily modified caged 88 through to Steve Gooding in his 200tdi hardtop. The two full bodied non-caged vehicles in the class knew they were going to have a tough day; both teams admitting they preferred the idea of the punch style events where they could pick and choose rather than the timed sections which were take it or leave it. To be fair to Steve (who did decline a few sections) it was certainly an eye opener to him as this was his first ever challenge. Being in a group certainly helped at this point as he could see how others did things and could gain confidence from them plus there was an abundance of advice on hand for him to talk through options prior to doing a stage. Bob and Dawn also openly admitted they would rather do the punch style events but despite this they put in some good times and if it hadn’t been for a small rope issue on SS6 – well who knows! The one outstanding and surprise performance on the day came from Simon Parsons and Ian Hawes. Having had a few mechanical issues at previous events Simon was keen to get back into the swing of things in his std class although caged and Insa shod truck cab. He certainly drove well and was rewarded with some good times coming in 3rd and 4th (twice) overall on three of the stages.

Superpro, in addition to providing the class prizes, also presented a very generous prize of a set of vehicle bushes for Spirit of the Event. This prize winner is chosen by Richard after consultation with both the marshalls and competitors combined with what he has seen over the course of the day. There was several contenders although one team stood out in the form of Jason Midgley and Kevin Luxton in the Std class. Both are reasonably new to the challenge scene and this was their first SS event ever. Despite being somewhat daunted by the sections they attempted all of them and gave them all their best shot. In fact, on one stage where they were over time but ahead on the day’s schedule they asked if they could continue to complete the stage so they could gain the experience, with the rest of their group and marshalls in agreement they went on to do so and in fact weren’t actually that late considering the interesting route they had chosen!!

The format of the day worked very well. There was a good social element with the chance to learn and develop your own skills within the combined groups. The groups also helped each other out when mechanical issues arose or tyres came off rims fetching spares etc. The feedback also indicated that the sections worked well with comments along the lines of ‘more of them’ and ‘keep the same coming’. All these groups and sections do however need marshalls, far more so than a typical punch event. This style of event just could not run without marshalls and our thanks go not only to Anton de Leeuw from Difflock.com for his hospitality and running stages but also to Chris Watts and Ben Procter for scrutineering plus Jason Morgan, Justin Lacey, Rich Germon, Alex Grove and Liz Lewis for their time running all the SS.

Overall results:

1st Marc Dyer and Austin Jewitt 4294
2nd Jason Farr & Rich Sims 4281
3rd Martin & Derek Hounsell 3955
4th Andy & Les Dawkins 3307
5th Tim Jones & Darren Church 3021
6th Bert & Dan Smith

Std + 1 (Slightly Modified) - two aids (eg 2 winches, 2 lockers or 1 winch and 1 locker)
1st David Webber and Mark Walford 2792
2nd Tom Salt and Ian Moulsdale 2759
3rd Paul Radford and Will Vardy

Std - 1 aid (eg 1 winch, or 1 locker)
1st Simon Parsons & Ian Hawes 2772
2nd Bob and Dawn Smith 2249
3rd Kevin Luxton & Jason Midgely
4th Jeroen Van De Hooft & Kevin Williams
5th Steve Gooding and Joe 486

Video clip of the event...

Some pictures from the event