4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
4x4 Adventures Interclub Challenge 2011
Uplowman and Bampton, 20th/21st Aug 11
Words by James Trembath and pictures by Sean Farrow, Edward Webber, David Bowyer and Tom Lamb

Event History

The Interclub challenge has developed over the course of the 3 years we have been running it into a well supported, team special stage event. Each team has to supply 5 vehicles, of which one must be a standard vehicle. Over the course of the weekend, which history dictates as a multi venue, the teams work together on a number of Special Stages (SS). These SSsí range from Tulip night navigation stages through to long (1km ish) driving and winching sections. These longer sections have a mix of terrain requiring both a good degree of driving skill and technical winching ability. The aim is to complete the stage within the cut off time with all 5 vehicles and achieve all 5 punches on the stage. To gain a time bonus all 5 vehicles must complete; if you only start a stage, or finish a stage with less than 5 vehicles then you will only score for punches. This last rule is designed to make the teams work and bond together to get all of them through. It also means that reliability and good preparation are a key ingredient in order to do well.

Picking up on the latter point, the Wooldridge Team, in particular little Kev could have learnít a bit here, having a blown shaft at scrutineering is a first for us, we only wanted to see his first aid kit......! As the four teams came together for scrutineering it was interesting to see the mix of vehicles, some of them resembled the former Landrovers they once were, whilst some required a second look to determine the vehicles origin, The rules were certainly taken to the limit on the class side!

The event was sponsored once again by OEC International. Anton not only provided the door cards, overall prizes and the T shirts but also managed the catering side of things with hot beverages and a marquee. Anton had also been hard at work promoting the event amongst local 4x4 firms and specialists. With eight stages due to take place over the weekend Stage sponsors were found for each stage. The sponsors provided a prize for each stage which was decided and awarded by the stage marshalls. This was a nice touch. It meanít you didnít have to be the quickest to take away a stage prize so everyone had an equal chance of picking something up regardless of ability. We are extremely grateful to not only Anton and OEC for their continued support but also to the stage sponsors for coming on board and helping to make it a truly fantastic weekend.

All of the team Captains have competed in the event before and were well aware of what to expect. Nick Anderson from the Wooldridge group had (on paper!) a well known and capable team. Nick was determined to beat Challenge South West this year after coming second to them for the last three years. All his team members were well known and sporting some interesting vehicles. Marc Dyer and Austin Jewitt were giving their Whitebread its first run out since changing to coil overs and Ashcroft Force 9 axles. It didnít help that Austin caught his thumb between the rope and crossmember within 5 mins of starting Ė our first and thankfully only A&E case for the weekend. Kev Pocock fixed his rear axle (needing a diff too with the end of the shaft stuck in there) and was driving Marc and Austinís old td5 vehicle. Nick himself was in his recent newbuild now sporting portals and fiddles. Jerry Hunt was running their standard vehicle, in a very modified and well known Jimney. Paul Church and Cliff Garrod also joined us for their first event with us in their well known vehicle.

Challenge South West had a strong team led by Martin Hounsell (Country Rovers Chard). Andy Baker and Sid Leigh joined us for their first event in Martinís team, while previous competitors Shane Avery and Stu Ball crewed for Martin and his brother Derek respectively. Oli Mathews was again entered as their standard vehicle, hopefully having resolved his charging issues from last year with James Westlake crewing. Roger Pardy along with Paul Rogers were back in their well prepared auto 90, now sporting a twin front top housing.

The first of the new teams to us the Demi Nord, Demi Sud team was captained by Clive James. Clive always looks to enter a team and had this time teamed up with Martin Gilpin (Mod) and Simons Parsonsí (Std) vehicles who had previously been looking to enter an OEC team. Clive was joined as always by Eddie Hart and Mike Holliday. Eddie managed to persuade Justin Dean to also come along (Eddie and Justin had competed together in March Madness). Unfortunately Justin suffered some serious over heating issues on Saturday and had to retire from the event meaning the team could only go forward with four vehicles for Sunday.

The final team came from a revamped Innovate4x4.com entry of 2010. Bob Smith (Wolverhamption Tree Surgeons) put together a sound team with a good mix of ability. His lads Bert and Dan were running a modified vehicle along with David Cornwall and Paul Radford. Their Standard class vehicle came with Anthony Counsell and Chris Withers. Both of them are reasonably new to the sport having only competed in the Scott Williams Memorial Event before. It was certainly a baptism of fire for them. The team were not without their mechanical problems. Poor fuel ended Anthonys day early on the Sunday, meanwhile both Bob and Bertsí vehicles suffered with overheating throughout the event. As Bob said, they were only there for the laugh and good fun and little dampened their spirits. (Well there was one incident but thatís best forgotten!)

With the teams all geared up and ready for the off the marshalls took them to their first stages at Uplowman. These were reasonably short 4-600m sections which ranged from short bog and holes run through to some technical side slopes and winching sections. The punches were positioned to ensure everyone kept on the right path rather than being a technicality themselves. With an hour to complete the stages the teams were certainly under pressure from the off. Times over Saturday ranged from 30 odd mins right upto DNFs on some stages. Most were coming in around the 48-55 min area. Anthony Counsell has put together a few words that describe his experience of the stages so we shall leave him to paint a picture of what he went through.

With the first day completed and four stages under their belt the competitors retired to the camping field at Bampton to repair and fix vehicles and bodies in preparation for the Night Stages of which there were two. X-Eng kindly sponsored the night stages. SS5 consisted of a 10min DNF with a taped quarry section drive (including one small winch). Times ranged from the odd DNF through to Marc Dyer flying around in 1min 50 odd seconds! SS6 was a little more challenging for the codriver with Tulips diagrams over a 3km course in a steep sided Pine forest and a 60min DNF. With marker boards out on the course the vehicles competed on this stage individually recording the boards as they passed them to prove they had completed the route. Despite all the best plans there was even some winching for a few of the standard vehicles on this course! A fair few of the teams obviously need a bit more practice with the Tulips with only 6 teams completing the stage with the letter boards in the correct order. The quickest being Jerry Hunt with 16mins. 2mins after him came team captain Nick Anderson and Neville Hudd with 18mins. With Marc Dyer and Kim making it a 3rd finisher for the Wooldridge team they took the night stage Team Victory.

Saturday - the Stages

The Uplowman Saturday stages consisted of a mix of boggy and rocky terrain, all of which was interspered with deep Gullies and we made use of one or two of the side slopes Ė just to keep them on their toes. The stages all ran sequentially meaning the teams didnít have far to travel between them, which also meant that the timetable didnít have much slack in it so there was limited time for repairs between sections! If you had a problem on one you would forfeit that section and you needed a quick turn around to be up and running for the next section.

Sundaysí section by contrast were much longer in distance meaning the drivers had a tad more thinking to do! Predominantly based on some of the driving routes that we use around Bampton there was a good opportunity for some speed work interspersed with technical winching sections. The sections were also much further apart Ė some of them a mile or so from the previous section. The teams had 30mins between sections to navigate themselves to the start of the next section and carry out any repairs as required to their vehicles. The navigating between the sections certainly added a non competitive pressure element to the event whilst giving them all something to think about and keeping them geographically aware of the areas they were using.

Sunday Ė the Chase

Sunday morning saw Challenge South West with a strong lead over Wooldridge Demolition. The battle has been raging since we started running the event between these two teams and this year was proving to be no different. Could Challenge South West hold onto their lead from a strong Saturday? The night stages apart they had cleaned up on Day one finishing all the sections with all of their team. Wooldridge had failed to complete two stages but had won the overall night stages which kept them in the running. The Innovate Wolf Pack led by Bob, like Clivesí team, had not been without their own problems Ė overheating being the main problem for Bob when his electric fan decided not to kick in. With the Wolf Pack also suffering from some winch issues they were please David Bowyer was on hand with a few spares and helping hand.

Wooldridge started well on Sunday with some strong sections and managed to finish all the sections with their five vehicles. Meanwhile Challenge South West had dropped a section, failing to complete it in the time. Having had a good Saturday it would appear they were now playing chase to Nicksí team. The times were close for all the stages between the two of them but Wooldridge had the edge, and kept it, from the start.

As ever the results donít give any idea of the strain and hard work that was put in by all the teams over the course of the weekend. With a score of zero for not completing a section either through running over time or just not having 5 vehicles there is a big spread in the results between the top and bottom teams. In reality they all ran some long hard sections and competed well against each other. The comdradership and Interteam spirit was good to see throughout the course of the weekend and has become one of the main ingredients to making it a fine weekend.

We are indebited to OEC for their continued support and a big thank you also goes from our competitors to both our Marshalls and Stage Sponsors. Stage Sponsors were; Superpro, X-Eng, Difflock, Brookwells, OEC and Evo, whose support is greatly appreciated. Thank you for some superb stage prizes. To our Marshalls, Jason Morgan, Rob Phillips, Chris Watts, Edward Webber, David Webber, Mark Walford, Andy Stone-Wright, Ali Harding, Jeroen Van De Hooft and Ger Van De Hooft, Kevin Williams, Kevin Luxton and Sue Edmonds Ė thank you for your help over the course of the weekend, it is a thankless task, especially combined with the long stages Ė your help is greatly appreciated. The winner of our Marshalls draw , taking away a £50 OEC voucher was Jason Morgan whose name was drawn from a hat by Austin Jewitt. (Well we had to get Austin to do something useful over the course of the weekend!)

Team Results

1st Challenge South West 3537pts
2nd Wooldridge Demolition 3059pts
3rd Demi NOrd, Demi Sud 969pts
4th Innovate Wolf Pack 424pts

Special Stage Prizes

SS1 Evolution Oil
Tom Salt & David Cornwall for enthusiasum and commitment
£50.00 worth of Evolution 1 Oil

SS2 Femco
Shane Avery and Martin Hounsell, for the best codriver on the stage
Femco Drain Plug and Drain Hose worth circa £50.00

SS3 Superpro
Oli Mathews and James Westlake
£200.00 worth of bushes for spirit of the stage

SS4 Oilsafe
Jerry Hunt and Ben Hampshire
£150.00 worth of Oil Safe Pump Kit and various containers and lids

SS5 & SS6 X-Eng
Quickest combined night stages, Marc Dyer and Kim
Set of X-Eng Lights

SS7 Evo2
Paul Church and Cliff Garrod
£50.00 worth of Evolution 2 Oil

SS8 Difflock
Ian Hawes and Simon Parsons
£50.00 Gift Voucher

SS9 Arbil (Liftrax)
Dan & Bert Smith
Pair of Lift Trax worth £250.00

SS10 Brookwells
Martin Gilpin and Mark Gray
£50.00 Gift Voucher

Anthony Counsell: ĎHis first timeí

Firstly I would like to thank James for running a very "interesting" weekend, and Bob and the Tree Lads for inviting me into their "gang Ė The Innovate Wolf Pack team" for the weekend.

After getting involved with 4x4's just a little under a year ago, I have been frequenting Jamesís events regularly mainly as a driver on DRD days, and a Marshall at March Madness, but this weekend I had the opportunity thanks to a bunch of northern axe welders to participate in my first serious event. In the lead up to this event I wasnít really sure of what to expect, after marshalling March Madness, and competing at Scott Williams Memorial (the two extremes of which is my understanding of a Challenge event), I had pangs of regret of even entertaining the notion of entering, and sleepless nights of anticipation of "getting involved"!! All this was eradicated from my mind when I turned up at 8.00 Friday evening when I was welcomed into the event by a cup of rainwater stewed Tea, and a forever happy bunch of Scots...sorry I mean people from the Midlands. After being told I was crazy, strange and weird by a certain young Scot, it was time for tea and then getting my head down in preparation for the morningís V8 wake up call.

After being woken up at around 6am by some demolition dudes warming up the V8's, I arose from my tent (after Chris my co-driver was getting forever closer in the night) and was introduced to the rest of the Team, Paul Radford and Josh, David Graham and Tom Salt, then it struck me....I may be in trouble, spotting portal axles, 37" boggers, arb and Ashcroft lockers all screaming use me use me...So again I had my nerves calmed by some reassuring words from the team, and some friendly advice from the camp...mainly two little girls saying, you canít compete you are a Marshall....maybe they were right....9.00 and it was time for the off, 20 minute drive than we entered what would be our Alice in Wonderland moment for the weekend, an array of amazing steep hills, sludgy streams and hard unrelenting trees which would prove to be less inanimate then I hoped!!! So we had stickers a quick safety check, a few words Anton the man, who with his all influences managed to get some great sponsorship, and some great prizes for the event, some friendly words from James...well I may have been slightly delusional at this moment, but I am guessing they were friendly? Now time for the off!!! Heart in throat, hands shivering like an Eskimo with no gloves and token unlit roll up in mouth it was...3,2,1....GO!!!

STAGE 3: Dave Webber and Kevin Luxton Marshalls: 32 seconds into the stage and wow....Anthony stop get your front winch on, Bob will attach you and go around the corner winching, but whatever you do DONT go down the hole...we wonít be able to get you out!!! Maybe my initial thoughts of the sweep stake which took place as to how long I last was right to be held in seconds and not hours or days was slightly unfair maybe be now slightly realistic...I still want to know who won though!! After this initial heart stopping moment, the rest of the stage went rather well, with a few double line pulls, and a few cars being attached to me to save me from myself. Although not finished in time, it was an immense start to the day.

Stage 4: Kevin Williams Marshall this was an interesting stage, you know when you are a kid all you want to do is get covered in mud...well I was the proverbial Pig in Sh*t!! Mud up and past your knees, a few close encounters with trees, and my co driver walking around with a fire extinguisher ready to put my overheated winch out, after proclaiming..."donít turn the fan's off, otherwise you wonít be able to see through the smoke" this was a rather troubling statement to be made!! Bob (my recover truck) was also suffering with an overheated engine, so I was all alone, in a muddy dark, cold wet place...ah well nothing new! This is also the stage where Dan and Bert suffered a winch failure and had to go and replace a motor..or was it two?

Stage 1: Marshall Ė Andy Stone-Wright and Ally Harding, down to four cars...and me leading the pack, first corner mmm left or right, I choose tree!! After a few choice words in some foreign language from Bob, normal service resumed, a very steep decline into a ravine and Anthony was away again, when I say away I mean stuck! A stump the size of a small house now wanted to weld itself to my car, and after being lowered in by Bob, there was no going back. Josh and Leila now both joined Chris in an attempt to save me from total disaster...which with all credit to them they did and this turned out to be the only stage I completed in time with all punches!

Stage 2: Jeroen, and Jason Morgan marshals. What a stage!!! It was a mix of all the three stages put together with deep ruts, inanimate trees, ravines, and streams!!! On this stage David decided to join the wolves boys and their family company by becoming a tree surgeon. Thankfully we were back to five now, and could make headway but again time was again not on our side and we exited the stage without finishing.

So back to camp it was, and the preparation for the night stages!!!

Stage 6: Kevin Luxton, James Trembath and other Marshals. This was a "Tulip" based orienteering stage...two way traffic, steep hills, taped off winching areas and a lot of blackness never noticed those before on a Tulip Map, but hey!!! Cars set off at 2 minute intervals, being leashed into a world of confusion and mayhem...may officially have been the best moment of the event!!! Chris my co-driver did some amazing map reading, and although I have allegedly got one wrong...I think Me and Trem may have words, we competed this stage in 21.06!!! I was made up, what a rush and a thrill!!!!

Stage 5: Anton, Justin, Marcus and other Marshals. A ski slope in the dark, now that was fun, so imagine how felt after finding out there were two on the stage! Massive hill climbs, which even some of the top boys struggled on! A quick winch then down to another massive hill, then a dash to the finish! This was a fast stage and my hat goes off to, and he might as well have the rest of my clothes too, Marc Dyer who did this stage in just 1m52s!

Back to camp, Chris rocks up with Josh..."mate we are going to town, do you want to come?" my obvious response being No....oh what a night I missed! Chris returned at 7am to start the next day showered, sporting pictures of Josh dressed as a girl, a girl dressed as Josh, borrowed BMX's, and.....well, a few other pictures of interest.

Stage 9 Kevin Luxton and Jeroen Marshall: So the day started well with a 5 punch score but not finishing within the time, up some naughty hills, round some intriguing corners, and a few little nice straights to get the engine running!!! This was to be the driverís day!!!

Stage 10 Ally Harding and Andy Stone-Wright plus Mark Walford Marshalling. Sadly this was to be my last stage due to Anthony issues. But to be the most interesting...steep decent being lowered in and pop, there goes a winch rope, and there goes Anthony...people say life flashes before you before you think you are about to die...all I could see was Walfy handing Trem a tenner and Trem saying "see I told you!!!" So here comes Mr Radford, bang, there goes another tenner to Trem, and to top it off, Mr Bob Smith, the third in our triple disaster stage snap goes anther rope! So Dan, David and Paul continued as my Axe Murdering Knight in Shining Armour saved me and dragged me out.

Stage 10 and 7 unknown as I didn't compete in these stages as I was too busy stripped my fuel lines, emptying fuel tanks and cleaning lift pumps, as I made a bad judgement call before arriving at the event.

All in all this was an amazing weekend; both I and Chris thoroughly enjoyed it and will be competing more often. A big thanks to all the Marshall, competitors, James Trembath and Anton for making a good weekend great!

Again THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Some pictures from the event