4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
4x4 Adventures Interclub Challenge 2010
In association with OEC International
Sponsored by Superpro Europe and DiamondGeezer.com
West Harptree and Wellington, 21st/22nd Aug 10
Words by James Trembath, Pictures by 4x4 Adventures, Ally Harding, Bob Smith and Nick Anderson

The third Interclub challenge took place over the weekend 21/22 Aug 2010 over split sites in the South West. Building on last years success and feedback both days were run as 5 vehicle team stages with two individual night stages. Each Stage consisted of a taped Special Stage route complete with 5 punches. All 5 vehicles were on the stage at once with the clock running from the first vehicle starting until the last vehicle crossed the finish line. Saturday consisted of some very technical stages over the ardours terrain of West Harptree where codrivers were pushed to the limit both physically and technically. Sunday was held at Wellington where this time the drivers would be tested with faster sections – but with enough winching to keep the codrivers on their toes! To add spice to the day there were two night sections which again concentrated on the drivers ability and hopefully let out some of the aggression for the drivers from the technical codriver sections earlier on in the day!

This type of event not only requires meticulous planning but also relies heavily on Marshalls to ensure it runs as planned. A big thank-you goes to all the marshalls involved for their dedication on the stages and dealing with issues as they arose. Liz and Martin Lewis, Jeroen Van De-Hooft, Marcus Frankham, Bob Smith, Andy Stone-Wright, Ally Harding, Sam Woodbury, Justin Lacey and Alex Grove; your help was greatly appreciated and we look forward to seeing you all on one our Drive Round Days courtesy of 4x4Adventures for your hard work. Each Marshall in addition was presented with a voucher from OEC International.

Saturday proved to be a harder day than expected. Luckily the rain held off, this alone can make the West Harptree site particularly tricky in a very short space of time. With some long very technical sections the teams were straight in it at the deep end. The aim was to get all 5 vehicles through with all 5 punches in order to get a time bonus. Unfortunately, for various reasons, insufficient time, through to teams perhaps not working as efficiently as they could no one team completed any one stage with 5 vehicles. Stages were completed by not as a whole team. To that end punch scores alone were taken into consideration. There was an unfortunate incident on SS4 involving Dean Loader who was crewing for Martin Hounsell in the Challenge South West team. Dean was returning some kit to another vehicle in his team when he tripped and landed badly on his knee. After immediate first aid he was taken to A&E by our local marshall with a large open leg wound and suspected fracture. As it turned out, and it emphasis how dangerous our sport can be, Dean has suffered a shattered knee cap and has cracked his Tibula and Femur North to South. We wish him the best and a speedy recovery.

DiamondGeezer.com, who had not only agreed to sponsor the night stages but had also entered a team, started on one of the trickier rock outcrops sections, SS3, which was right at the end of the wooded gulley on the East side of the site. Their standard car decided it was not for him and opted out, leaving the four of them to push on. Clive Billing made an impressive start to the section following Philon and Alex Parpottas who, after making short work of the ‘rock squeeze’ were pushing on ahead of the team to pick up punches before tackling a severe side slope prior to the exit. Time was against them though and they never quite made the side slope. Luckily for the team the side slope also proved hard work for the other teams too with Jason Farr and Rich Sims of Innovate 4x4 having a gentle lie down, luckily held by two trees. Wooldridge Demolition were not quite so lucky with Chris Berryman taking a tumble and going side over five or six times before coming to rest at the bottom of the valley. Thankfully he sustained minimal damage and after a quick check could continue with the remainder of the weekends stages.

Wooldridge Demoltion were first up on SS 1. This in its self was no mean feat. With a virgin rock face to lower down the unknown was certainly a nerve racking feature for the start of their section, even more so for Nick Anderson, who as team leader took on the role of breaking the new ground in. Thinking ahead the team had come prepared to the section with a set of trailer ramps strapped to the top of one of their team vehicles. The aim being to use them to help reduce the angle of the vehicle as it came to the bottom of the rock. The idea certainly worked, although it did take a while to get them in the right place. They then of course had to keep the ramps with them for the remainder of the section which was luckily outside of most of the trees. With the team successfully down they progressed onwards through the various climbs and rocky descents pushing to make the end, which unfortunately did not come quick enough. One team who did manage to make the end of SS1 was Innovate 4x4 with Simon Parsons and Mark Morgan in Simon’s Standard truck cab 90 plus team mates Jason Farr and Rich Sims in their D44 sponsored trayback 100”. Two cars to the end of the section was no mean feat and despite not being able to take the maximum points due to not having the whole team through (they only had four runners from the start anyway) they certainly attacked the stage with the enthusiasm and determination to succeed.

Challenge South West were meanwhile getting on with what needed to be done. Martin Hounsell was leading the team and giving advice where required to pretty much all 4 remaining codrivers in order to get the team through in the shortest time. Martin certainly had his team under control from the start and they worked well together throughout the weekend.

After a very busy day at West Harptree followed by a short jaunt down the M5 to the Wellington site the teams were straight into the two night stages. Each individual vehicle scoring events. They consisted of two 500-1000m taped Special stages incorporating various climbs and obstacles. SS 5 had one major obstacle in the form of a fallen tree. Crossing options displayed ranged from all out momentum using waffle boards as jumps through to a steady drive up and winch over, through to just picking the lowest point and trying to hit it hard enough to bounce over. Some methods were more effective than others! Jason Farr put in a very good time very early on in the evening which some came close to beating but never quite made it. That was until Tim Jones, who had started with SS6 came across and showed Jason the way to do it knocking a good 20 Seconds off Jases time, another one for the V8 vs Tdi discussions! Not that it mattered too much in the scheme of things with both vehicles being from the Innovate 4x4 team. Tim’s time didn’t last long though! Martin Hounsell (Challenge South West) was the last vehicle to run the section. Having had a disappointingly slow time on SS6 Martin gave it his all on SS5 knocking 13 Seconds off Tim’s time and taking the lead for SS5. Jason meanwhile, although now beaten on SS5 had put in another good time on SS6 winning that stage outright. SS6 started with a descent down into the woods with a 90 right at the bottom. The course carried on downhill before traversing a nice side slope followed by a sharp right and onto the first of two longish climbs up to the exit. The misleadingly looking dry ground certainly caught a fair few out with the deep leaf mulch and peat soil making the engines and codrivers work hard on the climbs. With both stages completed, consistency, as ever, proved the key aspect to the evening with Jason Farr and Rich Sims taking the overall victory. With the night stages sponsored by Clive Billing from Dimondgeezer.com Jason and Rich took home a silver Bogger key-ring for their strong first place.

Sunday was a different ball game. Still four sections and still all against the clock as a team. This time though the emphasis laid with the driver with some faster longer sections. That’s not to say the codrivers didn’t have anything to do!

SS7 was overseen by Liz and Martin Lewis along with Jeroen Van De Hooft. It was the longest section of the event and was completed by all of the teams. With a start in the pine woods they were soon winching through a short boggy section before picking up some tracks across the moor to take them down to Steve’s corner (a corner adeptly named after Steve Gittins was the first person to get a vehicle around it) Wooldridge Demolitions Standard Vehicle driven by Jerry Hunt had a little lie down on its side here! Ben Hampshire soon had it upright again and round the corner allowing the team to progress well. There was then a few more short rutted sections to negotiate and a short muddy climb before a final blast to the end of the stage.

Bob Smith and Sam Woodbury were responsible for the smooth running of SS8. With its combination of tracks complete with a long multi pitch winch pull all the teams were soon working hard. Innovate 4x4 put in a quick time here getting all their vehicles through but failed to pick up the points as the stage was also completed by both Challenge South West and Wooldridge Demolition who finished with all five of their vehicles in good order.

SS9 run by Ally Harding and Andy Stone-Wright was a drop straight into Ian’s Pond which as Shane Avery will testify to is certainly deep and appears to be bottomless. Maybe it would of been an idea to get that winch hook out before dropping in! With most vehicles double or triple lining through the above bonnet silt and water it was a hard start to the section before they took on some short steep drops and a quick blast took them to the end. This section was completed by several of the teams.

SS10 was a return to the quarry, a long testing section that only a handful of vehicles managed to complete in the time. No one team completed the section so the scores went to punch count. Innovate 4x4 had their problems with Tim Jones 100” Hybrid blowing the terminal out of a battery at the most inopportune moment requiring recovery and retirement from the stage. Challenge South West were down to one wheel drive on one of their modified vehicles and were struggling with charging issues on another. Meanwhile Wooldridge Demolition had a recovery point come clean off a vehicle under load which thank fully didn’t result in injury but put a stop to their progress. Diamondgeezer.com had two vehicles complete the stage , Clive and Philon. But they failed to get the remainder of the vehicles through in the time.

Overall the event was certainly a testing time for all involved. The team work visibly improved amongst all those entered and more and more sections were completed as the event progressed. Certainly a challenging weekend, the standard has certainly been set, with many a competitor ranking it as their hardest UK event to date. We are indebted to our Sponsors without whom the event would not go ahead. OEC International for supplying the prizes and T shirts and door cards, Superpro Europe for presenting a vehicle set of bushes for Spirit of the Event and DiamondGeezer.com for Sponsoring the night stages presenting a silver ‘bogger’ Key ring for the overall night stage winner.

Teams: (Team Captains Highlighted in red)

Wooldridge Demolition 1 Mod Ross Wotherspoon Dan Elias
2 Mod Chris Berryman Lee Marchant
3 Mod Nick Anderson Neville Hudd
4 Mod Paul Cook Nick Hearn
5 Std Jerry Hunt Ben Hampshire
Challenge South West 6 Mod Martin Hounsell Dean Loader
7 Mod Derek Hounsell Oli Bishop
8 Mod Stuart Ball Shane Avery
9 Mod Roger Pardy Paul Rogers
10 Std Oli Mathews James Westlake
Diamondgeezer.com 11 Mod Clive Billing Chris Jones
12 Mod Luke Billing Mark Philling
14 Mod Philon Parpottas Alex Parpottas
15 Mod Bryn Hemming Jason Russell
16 Std Don Godfrey Paul Robinson
Innovate 4x4 17 Mod Martin Gilpin Mark Gray
18 Mod Tim Jones Darren Church
19 Mod Jason Farr Rich Sims
20 Mod Steve Gittins Mark Morgan
21 Std Simon Parsons Ian Hawes


Overall team results:
1st Challenge South West – 1981pts
2nd Wooldridge Demolition – 1773pts
3rd Innovate4x4.com – 666pt
s 4th Diamondgeezer.com – 656pts

Night Stages (individual scores)
1st Jason Farr & Rich Sims - Innovate4x4.com
2nd Philon & Alex Parpottas - Diamond Geezer.com
3rd Paul Cook & Nick Hearn - Wooldridge Demolition

A Teams View of the Event by Jason Farr of Innovate 4x4

What more could you want other than a weekend of winch challenges teamed up with some of the people you would normally compete against? This is the concept of the Interclub challenge. The object is to enter a team of five vehicles and crews against other teams from the UK, the entries this year were below the expected six teams with only four UK teams entering, each team had to consist of four modified and one standard challenge vehicle. The aim of the event is to complete 10 stages, 8 of which are as a team plus 2 individual night sections. The first four stages were set in the wild terrain of West Harptree in Somerset, the event organiser James Trembath of 4x4 Adventures really went out of his way to set up the most difficult stages that the venue would lend itself to .Each stage was approximately 500 to 700 metres long and a 90 minute DNF time was given per stage and as a bonus 5 control punches were laid out along the stage. Unfortunately the Innovate team had a team member back out days before the event and as a replacement was very difficult to find we decided to run with four cars instead of the required five, aware of a possible zero score count we made the choice to go ahead and give it a go.

So after a briefing we set off to our first stage, weaving up and down the steep banks in the lower gulley heading for virgin terrain. Shortly into the stage team mate Tim Jones suffered a winch problem which sent him backwards downhill at a rate of knots narrowly missing the rest of the team, it was a quick trip back to the camp to carry out the necessary repairs which ate into most of our 90 min time so we decided to concede this stage. We were all back together for the start of the second stage , back up the opposite side of the valley we navigated the team through narrow rocky gaps and up onto the head of the valley , traversing and zig zaging along the top. This proved to be a time to have as many winch lines on as possible as we soon found out after a moment of madness and misjudgement which found us rolling over onto our side. Luckily a strategic tree was used to save us from plummeting to the bottom of the valley! We all started our third stage which commenced with nice simple climbs and descents but it soon got very technical with gullies to cross and steep drops to lower over. With limited anchorage for the winch lines we found our standard car rapidly heading for the ground when an in-directional lower out went a bit wrong when the third party (a Hawthorn tree) decided to up root. With one car only yards from the stage end we decided to do evict ourselves from that section, not that time was an issue for us but it certainly would have made us late for our final stage. The final stage of the day section was one that we only put two cars through, Myself and Rich and Simon Parsons & Borrowed co driver Mark Morgan. The start was a nice lower down over a 20 ft rock face, followed by some twisted overhang sections, through to a rocky climb back to the finish .It was amazing to see how well Simon went in his Standard guise truck with a truly ’balls out’ driving style. By 4pm we were heading down through Somerset towards the Wellington Venue for the night stages that were due to start at 8pm, this gave us time to carry out a few repairs and mount on the lamp pods that would be essential for marking the way through the dense woodland .

The night stages were entered as individual vehicles but scores were to boost the weekend team score. The sections were each about 1 km long and anticipated to be cleared within 5 minutes. They picked their way through the wooded lower parts of the site and involved hill descents, climbs, bogs and obstacles such as fallen trees . As this was a driving section Rich was strapped well into his co driving seat, but not for long as the waffles were required for a jump over a fallen Beech tree, but the stage was soon completed with a good time of 3 minutes 40 .We alternated stages and queued for our second night stage, this stage offered a choice of directions and a pre- walk of the stage paid off as we had completed it in two minutes flat which shared a first place with Philon Parpottas from Team Diamond Geezer.

So with the days 6 sections complete we retired for some well earned socialising and campfire cooking .Sunday morning welcomed us with glorious sunshine and all the makings for a good day, mind you some of us thought at 6 am that they needed a lie in (didn’t they Rich)? Shortly after the final briefing we rocked up ready and willing for a fresh stage. With all four vehicles through we achieved a commendable time just short of 27 minutes (60min DNF per stage for Sunday). The next stage was not so straight forward! The entry point into the next stage started in the infamous Ian’s Bog which offered a large copse of trees surrounding a bottomless bog covered by water. Trying to be innovative the team decided to winch fallen trees into the bog to form a set of rails to winch the trucks over, this did not prove to be very successful as the first truck through either sank them or pushed them through the mire clearing the way for the others to follow .

The scoring was originally set that no team could score until they had all five vehicles through a stage within the DNF time, as no stages were completed on the Saturday by any complete team the scores were marked on the punch count. This gave our team a lift as we were in the rankings now. Sunday was not so similar as most of the stages were completed by one or two complete teams, and with our 4 vehicle handicap we scored nil for Sunday. But our efforts were certainly not in vain, we enjoyed every second of it and worked well together as a team. Many thanks to the organisers, marshals and to OEC International, Superpro Europe and DiamondGeezer.com for sponsoring the event.

Some pictures from the event