4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
4x4 Adventures Winch Challenge Series
In association with Difflock.com
Round 4 sponsored by OEC International
Uplowman, 13th Nov 10
Words by James Trembath, Pictures by Tom Lamb and Richard Watson

Round 4 took place at the Uplowman site near Tiverton on a very wet 13th Nov 2010. So wet in fact that the camping/car park field turned into a bit of a quagmire and the majority of the tow vehicles or lorrys had to be winched in the day prior to the event! Not an ideal start but once they were in they were in! Luckily, come the Saturday morning the sun was out (well almost) the wind had dropped (sort of), well anyway it had stopped raining!

Round 4 was due to take place in early Sep but was postponed after a small incident at Manby which has previously been reported. With everyone back to full health the new date was set for Oct. The Uplowman site is hard work in the drier months but come Oct it was guaranteed to be a hard day for the competitors. With twelve entrants we decided to continue the grouping theme from our previous series Special Stage events. We ran 4 mixed class groups of three vehicles. The aim of this is to primarily promote the social and fun side of the event. It also allows teams to watch how other classes compete on the same ground against the clock, walk the course together, work as a team to preposition the vehicle to aid passage outside of the sections, if required and generally take a more relaxed approach to the day. Thatís not to say the sections were easy! Although there was a very much relaxed atmosphere as people got stuck in when they were on the stages, it was hard graft all the way Ė even more so for the standard class vehicles. With some modified going over the 12min cut off times the standards certainly had their work cut out to stay within the times. The results and timings across the stages speak volumes for the ability of the crews but what they do not convey is the shear determination to finish that some of the teams displayed.

Kevin Luxton and Jason Midgely are one strong example of this determination. Despite not being able to finish every stage within the time they gave everything their all throughout the day. For shear grit and enthusiasm they could not be beaten (on times maybe!). They impressed both competitors and marshalls alike, especially poor Jason working so hard after failing to meet one cut off time for a stage he didnít have the energy to get out of a bog himself and needed the help of co group members Dan and Bert Smith. Kevin and Jason were rewarded with the Spirit of the Event (Leatherman) from OEC International for all their commitment and hard work.

Jeroen Van De Hooft with Kevin Williams codriving had a very hard day with a standard 90 hardtop and no cage. It was hard enough getting around the access tracks between the stages on MTs let alone competing! Despite this they stuck at it and with some slightly longer cut off times a finish would have been in their grasp. Meanwhile, Bob and Dawn Smith were taking most the stages in their stride, Dawn was working very hard to keep the vehicle moving with repeated winch pulls required on each stage. The work certainly paid off with a strong 2nd in class, snapping at the heals of Simon Parsons and Ian Hawes. Simonís truck cab was running well and his hydraulic winches, even better. With a fantastic line speed it certainly gave him the edge on the timed stages, if only Ian could keep up with it! Rumour has it that Simon is now contemplating fitting a defibrillator kit to the vehicle just in case Ian gives it that little bit too much effort!

Unfortunately David Webber and Mark Walford had some mechanical issues and didnít quite make it to the start line with major clutch failure. This was good news for Paul Radford and codriver Josh Jacobs who had been chasing David and Mark all year in the Std + 1 class. Paul was at least grateful for the 1st trophy of the season to take home, if not a little tired and with a very hot V8!

The modified class had a new face in the field to contend with. Philon Parpottas, with his son Alex codriving, in their Gigglepin prepared trayback sporting some very nice D&G axles and alot of td5 power. One interesting new modification to Philonís truck was the addition of an anti run on device on the motors of his 8274s which eliminated the winch running on when not under load. An excellent addition, which with safety in mind is sure to make its way onto many vehicles in time to come. Philon is particularly keen on SS events of this nature and his truck was certainly built for them with the right gearing and fast winches, now if Alex was a little bit quicker, and the vehicle a touch narrower!!! The Modified favourites certainly had to treat them with respect as they put in some fast stage times improving as the day developed.

Tim Jones and Ben Procter were doing well until they hit SS6 Ė literally! A tree stopped forward momentum for a while after potentially a little too much gusto on the wrong line. It was enough to take them 15s over the cut off time and gave them the only DNF of the day, enough to push them out of the top two. Jason Farr with Rich Sims in the now renown Team D44 truck were proving you didnít need fast winches to win. With some excellent driving Jason put in some good times especially on SS1. By being consistent and taking Richís advice when needed the pair did well to maintain their lead and came in a good 1st place for the day. Carl Davies and Andy Dawkins were also working well together and putting in some good times despite picking up a puncture on their 1st stage. Unfortunately they suffered a CV failure on their 1st afternoon stage and decided to call it a day at that point. Bert and Dan Smith were giving Danís truck its first run out since replacing the V8 with 300tdi. The truck and the lads ran well all day, one slight mishap though on their first stage with poor route selection cost them a fair few points and took them out of the running. The remaining Modified vehicle of Mark Gray and Martin Gilpin was certainly doing well and performing consistently. Their home brew hydraulic winch was in a league of its own with its quick line speed, now just a free spool to sort and Martin would be able to put his new studded boots to full use on those hills!

Liz Lewis, representing OEC International very kindly looked after the marshalls for the day with hot bacon rolls and provided free hot drinks to competitors and spectators alike. A most welcome addition on a cold wet day. We are also indebted to the diligent marshalls who ran the stages keeping the crews flowing through and ensuring everyone was kept on an even keel. We are extremely grateful to OEC International for sponsoring the event, providing the event trophies and Spirit of the Event prizes.

Overall results:

1st Jason Farr and Rich Sims
2nd Philon and Alex Parpottas
3rd Tim Jones and Ben Procter
4th Mark Gray and Martin Gilpin
5th Bert and Dan Smith
6th Carl Davies and Andy Dawkins

Std + 1 (Slightly Modified) - two aids (eg 2 winches, 2 lockers or 1 winch and 1 locker)
1st Paul Radford and Josh Jacobs

Std - 1 aid (eg 1 winch, or 1 locker)
1st Simon Parsons and Ian Hawes
2nd Bob and Dawn Smith
3rd = Jason Midgely and Kevin Luxton
3rd = Jeroen Van De Hooft and Kevin Williams

Some pictures from the event