4x4 Adventures Ltd
|Scott Williams Memorial Challenge – 9th/10th July 11|
Words by Jason Farr, photography by Damien Jefferies
The Scott Williams Memorial Challenge (SWMC) was first held back in the summer of 2007 shortly after the local challenge scene lost one of its youngest members to cancer. Scott who was a very hands character loved his outdoor pursuits, he was closely supported by his parents Steve and Carol and was a very keen sportsman with many achievements under his young belt. He had many passions such as fishing, shooting, show jumping and of course off-road challenge events. All of these Scott gave a very positive attitude towards by giving everything a 100 no nonsense percent.
Regularly competing in local challenge events Scott and his father would compete against and with friends from his local club. From his mid teens Scott developed cancer but this didn’t faze him, he took to his treatment well and soon after leaving school started back to a normal life. Sadly a year or so the cancer returned but Scott still persevered and enjoyed his pursuits. In 2007 shortly after attending the Muddy Truckers Trophy in Scotland Scott lost his battle with cancer just after his 18th Birthday.
In memory of this strong character some of his close friends Shaun Harris and Jason Farr wanted to do something in the memory of Scott, and with the kind permission from Steve and Carol the Scott Williams Memorial Challenge was created with the first event.
This is the 5th consecutive year for SWMC which has now established a following as an event that caters for all levels of off road skills and vehicles, mixed with a very good social atmosphere which has all the right ingredients for a highly successful event and weekend.
This year’s venue was held on the Mendip Hills in Somerset at West Harptree ,the site is renowned for its unforgiving terrain consisting of huge rocky outcrops made up from hard Mendip limestone, deep valleys ,gulley’s and a surface that turns to a texture similar to grease after rainfall. Confronted with torrential rain on Friday morning the setting up was to be task in itself! This also raised concerns of a very wet and slippery site which is not a good sign at one of the most challenging sites in the south of England for what is to be a fun challenge!
From previous events this year`s was slightly different as it was ran independently from the local club that it had previously been involved with, but that just meant a few more tasks for Shaun, Jason and Jade (Scott`s sibling) and with the help from James Trembath of 4x4 Adventures, who have overseen and run all previous events, the event planning got underway. With a mix of vehicles and teams ranging from well seasoned fully modified teams to first time competitors with standard Discovery’s on all-terrain tyres the setting up was crucial to satisfy the needs of all competitors. Fifty varied punches were set out to be achieved over the 2 days along with 6 Special stages that involved a lot more than just driving.
Most of the competitors arrived on Friday evening and were left to battle with the elements whilst setting up tents and camps. By 9pm the worst of the weather was finally over which was a great relief to the organisers and the competitors. By 10 am on Saturday the event was well under way with 16 teams competing from all over the UK. The weather also finally broke with brilliant sunshine that rapidly dried out the sodden terrain making the going a lot easier.
There were three stages for the Saturday’s day event . SS1 was made up of 10 trials gates to be driven in numerical order. To start with the first couple of cars through had to make more of an effort as the ground was new and slippery, but soon after a recognised route had formed and dried out nicely. It certainly paid to go a little later on this one. All teams put in some sterling times and averaged out to 4 minutes until Dan Sivier and Rich Denmead stormed it with an impressive 1m54s.
SS2 and SS3 were equally as demanding with SS2 having seven colour coded punches within a section that had to be marked on a score card in the order of the colours of the rainbow. This had a few teams trying to recite the old nursery rhyme to re-acquaint themselves with the order which in fact is very misleading and wrong. It was also interesting to watch some teams actually driving to the punches in the order when all they had to do was mark them on the score sheet in order.
SS3 was a mixed bag of trails gates that could be driven in any order but only once and a selection of control punches to be collected along the way. As the day progressed the pace picked up and some superb driving was demonstrated by all with the most impressive stage show going to Andy Welling and Neil Delany who decided the truck was going so well all day that it needed a rest and a lie down! They were soon back on all four but unfortunately not within the 10 minute stage time, a big thank you goes to Dan and Bert Smith for uprighting them.
All the stages were being scored on time with time penalties added for uncompleted tasks and as the final scoring was weighted towards the stages it gave all teams a better chance to level the playing field between standard and modified cars.
In-between stages the teams tackled 30 of the weekends punches with easier standard class punches well hidden to again achieve a more level playing field. This mean’t the modified cars were actually spending most of their time collecting visible but more technical punches whilst the standard cars were hunting and collecting the more driveable ones.
Brake master cylinders seemed to be the favourite breakdown of the day, with Anthony Counsell, Andy Welling and Steve White all contracting the same fault. I guess this is maybe down to some long standing on the brakes on the steep slopes in the hot weather. But with thanks to local parts supplier Tor4x4 most of them were back in action and back in the game by the end of the afternoon.
Now Saturday evenings are always time for fun and games and this year`s event was no exception. After a couple of hours to eat, repair or relax the teams were queuing for an unsuspecting stage which took part on the lower side of the camping field. The course was a simple one with a straight forward drive along a track, around an island and back up to the finish, what could be more simple? But the slightly devious thinking of the stage managers decided to add a couple of aspects to it that would certainly add some entertainment. So with the first car on the line ready for the countdown, the co-driver was promptly handed a litre measure full of water, and so the driver didn’t feel left out he was handed a blindfold to wear. Well nearly all the drivers! Team number 4, Bernie Weaver was happy to use his own blindfold headgear which really raised the entertainment value for the spectators and fellow teams. Penalties were given for every 100 ml of water missing from the measuring jug.
The fun and games did not end there, shortly after all the teams had completed the evening section they gathered along with the spectators and marshals outside the marquee for a very social team general knowledge quiz, this was the start to the end of a very fine evening .
Sunday was by no means a day of rest and by 9:15 all the teams were re-briefed and back out to tackle 20 punches set out on the southern part of the site and to complete the 2 remaining stages.t , The stages were deliberately set out in an area with a good viewpoint to the whole site and it was noted by the marshals on these stages how all of the teams helped each other to achieve the punches , the camaraderie was amazing also seeing as some of the teams had drivers and co-drivers that first met only hours prior to the event.
SS5 was a task that involved a good deal of team work between driver and co-driver, the task being to retrieve a metal plate from a gulley using only a rope, magnet and a pulley block. Once retrieved the underside of the plate gave them further instructions to obtain a marker by means of a compass bearing, this marker revealed the answer to complete the stage and as all the other stages this was scored by the quickest time. SS6 was more demanding for the co-driver where the task was to drive the vehicle across a 10 metre course without the front wheels touching the ground by using only three waffle boards. Once the starting format was worked out the teams were flying down the course and the effort of the co-driver determined the final placing.
By 2.45 pm most teams were franticly trying to gain those vital last punches before the 3pm finish. Shortly after, a gathering of smiling, happy and some tired looking teams congregated once again around the marquee for prize giving. No body went away empty handed with all the teams being presented with a trophy for their achievement which along with their enjoyment of a truly memorable weekend was serve as a good reminder.
So to sum it all up it was the most deserving weekend for all that took part and in the true spirit and determination that Scott was so passionate about.
Over £500 was raised from entries and donations to be pledged to the Teenage Cancer Trust Charity who have been nominated by the Williams Family.
A huge thank you to the competitors for being so dedicated throughout the event and to Jason(Nobby) Morgan, Marcus(Tig Up) Frankham, Tim Jones, Mark Morgan and Drew Harris for marshalling the event, without you guys this couldn`t happen, and to James Trembath of 4x4 Adventures for organising and providing the infrastructure to run the event and setting the punches. Our final thanks goes to Den & Dee for providing us with Tea and cuisine all weekend.
You can follow this event on Facebook.
Spirit of the event went to Dan Sivier and Rich Denmead
Some pictures from the day