4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
March Madness 2012

Organisers View: James Trembath

4x4Adventures continues to concentrate on two day challenge events that have become renowned for being hard, ruthless, excellent fun and very rewarding. Specialising in team challenges they started the 2012 season with March Madness which despite only being born in 2011 already has an amazing following. No sooner had the entries opened and they were coming in thick and fast with a reserve list soon in action. Not surprisingly though no one pulled out and the full entry was fielded. Priority was given to teams who had competed before, but this still left space for some new comers. Jerry Hunt and Paul Church, active Interclub Challenge team players were desperate for a team place and managed to slot in at the last minute with mechanical issues forcing one team to withdraw.

The event was run, as last year, at Uplands Coppice over the weekend of 24 & 25 March 12. With ten teams of two vehicles (no classes) they had 22 sections to contend with over the course of the weekend. Two of the sections were individual night stages with one of Bob Smiths ‘small’ logs to cross, the remaining twenty sections were to be completed as a team within the time collecting all the punches on each vehicle in order to be eligible to score maximum points.

We have been very fortunate to gain the support of some well known companies in the 4x4 World and are extremely grateful for their support at March Madness. Sponsorship is a key element in putting on any event and goes a long way in reducing the competitors entry fee. We are thankful to local Land Rover specialists Roean Landrover. Andy, who runs the show, has provided tremendous support for us, from not only financially supporting the event but also being on hand to deliver spares to competitors as they required them at very good rates. (V8 Starter motors being a key one! – Philon!) Dave Ashcroft joined us on the Saturday and again we proud to be associated with Ashcroft Transmissions and thankful for their support to this Event over the last two years. Dave was soon stuck in shortly after his arrival offering some advice and help to the Billings with their diff change. It no doubt made him wish everyone was running his Force 9 axles so repairs would be a thing of the past! Wooldridge Demolition have also kindly agreed to sponsor us for 2012, and Nick Anderson, being the man he is, not only came along to show willing but also entered the event, and as event photos will show its certainly an event he will remember. Roll on March Madness 2013 I believe was his theme!

Having arrived on site on the Wednesday prior to the event it was nice to see the ground in excellent condition and the car park field was well drained and ready to go! Dan Smith had been working his heart out on the access track through the woods which now meant superb ‘normal’ 4x4 access to all the sections making it easier for the marshalls to get to their stages.

Uplands Coppice is a great site with a fantastic array of terrain. The sections were designed and setup to include a good mix of driving with technical winching encompassing the whole diverse range of terrain. This would mean that no one vehicle would be ideally suited to all the sections and would show the benefits and drawback of each vehicle design. The ‘slightly’ higher than normal Mog axled defender of sponsor Nick Anderson coped very well with the rocks and mud/water but it didn’t shine on the side slopes. (it did roll alot though) The squatter, nimble Whitbread buggies of Morgan, Jewitt, Whitbread, Crowe and Overton were quick off the mark and good across obstacles but suffered a little in the trees and being a touch higher would of helped in the water, but being low were superb on the side slopes! Big tyres gave good clearance but didn’t help for speed off the start line for some!

Gilpin and Parsons had teamed up together this year again to put their vehicles and codrivers – Grey and Hawse through their paces. Their team name ‘Heart Attack’ most probably comes from Ian’s input, who last year placed a high demand on the oxygen in the area as he crewed Simons vehicle through the course. This year they suffered a few mechanical issues but were always smiling and willing to push on, fixing what they could and making do in true Challenge Style.

J33P had entered a team this year in the guise of Cuff and Overton. We were looking forward to having a true jeep team compete but it was unfortunately not to be. Will Overton, who is sponsored by Vectis Racing, had some build problems with his axles and was on the cusp of pulling out when Anthony Counsell very kindly offered him the loan of his Whitbread buggy for the weekend. Will certainly had a baptism of fire in the vehicle and it also meant we had the novelty of a jeep driver in a Landrover! Whatever next! A couple of issues with Wills winch and a steering box problem meant Mike Cuff ended up running some of the sections on his own, just scoring the punch counts. Hats off to Will though for still entering, and all credit to Anthony for the loan of his vehicle.

Pardy and Parapottas had also joined forces again for 2012. As with 2012 March Madness though, things did not go well from the off. Philon’s Taurus wasn't running well and refused to idle. In the end after blowing 2 starter motors they decided to call it a day, and that was on their first section! Roger joined forces with Clive Billing (who had teamed with son Luke (who likes to come to our events to do some axle maintenance!!!)) for the majority of the Saturday sections. Roger was then unfortunate to be unable to start on Sunday when it was noted the crank pulley was attempting to make a dash for freedom!

With the majority perhaps going at it a little hard too early it was refreshing to see Morgan/Jewitt, Smith/Radford and Hunt/Church making the most of the sections. With Anderson/Pocock snapping at their heels there was certainly alot to play for in the top runners on Saturday morning. As overheating and winch motors took their toll on Radford and Smith they started to slide down the field whilst it was becoming very close between Morgan/Jewitt (Team Gigglepin) and Hunt/Church. The latter had their own misfortune with a front locker not working correctly on Fat Cat (Church’s vehicle) meaning it was permanently locked in costing them the time to change 2 shafts over the course of the weekend. Hunt was not without issues either with rear cross member problems later on Sunday requiring a weld back on. Despite the competition it was great to see fellow competitor’s comradeship with Morgan loaning some welding gear for the job to be completed. Did this have an impact on the 1% score difference by the end of the weekend? Mind you Morgan and Jewitt had a few of their own problems with locker and ARB issues on the Nobby Signs buggy.

The night stages proved interesting sections for most. Ran as individual vehicle events the competitors had to negotiate two courses, both against the clock. One of them was spectator friendly based in the main car park field, involving a ‘little log’ that Bob Smith had found. The other section was a blast down a gulley. There was some technical driving and winching required by most on both sections. They were designed to be short, fun and with something to keep both driver and codriver occupied, and they certainly achieved their aim. Kev Pocock and Dan Elias had superb runs with outright wins on both the night sections, good driving and good preparation gave them a sound well deserved result. It must be said though the Parpottas Bar B Q was second to none. Marshall/Competitor/Spectator alike were all delighted with the food, thank you Philon and crew for staying on to provide despite your early morning departure from the competition.

Crowe and Whitbread had a cracking day Saturday and were right on the pace, unfortunately, Crowe throw a prop on their first stage Sunday which pretty much put and end to their success to date. Crowe continued in Whitbread’s truck to pick up punch scores but with no time bonus to count their overall positioning took a big hit.

Sunday proved an interesting day for competitors and marshalls alike. The sections were reversed and run again, still against the clock and with punches to count. It was a long hard day for competitors who were already fatigued from the previous days efforts. The day became one of survival, getting to the end and keeping the vehicle in one piece until the end. The times were incredibly close between the top runners and it was not until the end of the day drew near that some margins could be found. Anderson took a bad roll on section 17 (Garlic Alley). Morgan and Jewitt failed to complete one stage with a little water issue whilst Hunt and Church were frequently back for some maintenance. Meanwhile Radford and Smith kept plodding on, fixing things that broke and getting back out there. Overton and Cuff were down to one vehicle as were the Whitebread Team. Pardy and Parpottas were out completely which was one shout better than Hart and Dean who failed to start after a last minute (Fri pm) withdrawal. It was tight at the top which the scores show. If it hadn’t been for Andersons roll then it would of been tighter had they completed the last 3 sections as a team. All in all, a very hard event on both competitor and vehicle. Too hard, we would hope not, just challenging enough hopefully! With the number of teams already asking about entry for MM13 it would seem to say we have it about right!

Our events continue to be superbly supported with countless volunteers to marshall for which we are extremely grateful. We are also pleased to say that the course provided plenty for them to watch too, so hopefully kept them entertained! Bob Smith who runs Uplands Coppice, should also be thanked for his professionalism and help in the lead up and execution of the event. Thank you. Roll on March Madness 13 hey Nick!

In addition to our planned sponsors we are also very grateful to those that were on site and offered some additional Support. Lawrence from 4x4Goods for his prize donations, David from Goodwinch for his photographs, on hand motor spares and Bowrope (not to mention advice), Dan from Wrex Racing for Best Marshal award, and Simon from X-Eng for his support and kind offers over the course of the weekend. The marshalls prize draw consisted of two Led Lensor P7 torches donated by 4x4Adventures.

Marshalls View: Words by Anthony Counsell

So as another year starts we head off to the first 4x4 Adventures winch challenge event, organised by James Trembath at Upland Coppice in Bridgnorth. After making James aware last year I would be interested in marshalling again, it wasn't long before he was on the phone in January asking if I would still be interested in doing so, after a few choice words I seem to remember agreeing, well according to James I did?

 Thursday was soon upon us and I was heading North on the M5 towards what I envisaged to be a field bordering Hadrian’s Wall, so how surprised was I when I saw no one wearing kilts, no one drinking whiskey and no haggis running around, but there was a very sunburnt James sitting in his chair necking a cup of tea and chewing on a party sausage! After the obligatory cup of tea, and discussion about what to expect over the course of the weekend, we headed into the wood with chainsaw, roll of tape, battery drill and punches. After 1 hour of walking, up, down, up, down, over logs, over streams, up valleys, over rock faces and down mud mountains, we finally reached the end of special stage 3 with another 7 to go! Looking at the stages as we walked them, I was a little thankful I would not be competing the weekend, but a little regretful my truck would be.... after 4 hours all the stages were completed as we added the punches and finalised the tape routes.

Friday morning would prove to be a very interesting day for me after Bob allowing me to drive his Unimog and JCB, I would like to say I was almost a professional behind the wheel, but realistically neither came out of 1st with maybe a little bit of reversing action. So as Bob and his lads were busy moving Bobs twig, and James was organising the last of the ropes, SS signage and display boards, I was eagerly anticipating the arrival of the first competitor, and then it arrived... Jerry... then slowly but surely everyone else started arriving.

So as the camp site was officially open, competitors were allowed to walk the stages for the weekend. There was an array of facial expressions displayed from people exiting the woods, from Nick Andersons jubilant expression of happiness and anticipation all the way through to James's look of... um... well... let's just say I don't know if I have ever seen him smile yet. The comments from people exiting the woods also made interesting listening, like "I can't wait to get my teeth into this" to people saying "is it too late to say the trucks not ready!" Personally I was awaiting the arrival of my partner who had just found a thong in my wardrobe that wasn't hers, I don't know who was more scared, me or some of the competitors.

7o'clock Saturday morning and someone with a yellow 90 with a Taxi lump was the official rooster no comments on who it was, I wouldn’t want you to think I was complaining Nick, but seriously have you got a silencer? Maybe Kimi could weld on one if Nobby lends him a welding mask again? Aaahhhh then breath a proper engine, the noise of them Welsh boys is a dam fine thing in the morning. It was good to see the Welsh boys back at full strength again and in full fighting spirit as Nathan rejoins Nobby, Marc and Austin again this season. All that's left is the marshalls brief, drivers brief, stickers, t shirts and punch cards, then off to the stages we head.

First on my stage was Eddie baby face heart and scary Mike, unfortunate for them a few issues arose before the event which meant that they were not competing this weekend, but they still arrived to support other teams and show their support to James's events. I think they were just bored... or Mike didn't have anyone left in his village to scare... next was Clive and Like (I know it's Luke, but look at the scores...) Billing, again this would be another team not joining us on our stage, after Luke blew a diff on the previous stage. So we waited for our next team Philon and Roger... then we waited, and waited... kind of gave up waiting and I sent Katherine for a scout, she was then informed Philon and Roger we're out due to the turnkey being a constant turnkey engine, and starter motors melting to liquid and god knows what else. So our first competitors of the day, Dan and Bert Smith, Radford and Josh after an immense run by both they were unfortunate not to finish in time, but another dickey motor impeded their chances. Then we thought they would come in drones after, how wrong we were, with Simon and Mark arriving on stage and on time (after some a&e action on Puggers’ leg) and again having a very good run, until again the clock ran out, it was time for lunch. Then the arrival of the Welsh boys, with a clean run and on time finally we had a score on the cards for what ended up being a very competitive stage. Again the next team Mike and Willow had also suffered from issues, and were not currently running, so on to the noisy rooster, sorry I mean Nick and Kev, again the clock seem to have got the better of them, as the drivable gully was seeming to be a winching nightmare. Then the other Welsh boys had turned up in the Whitbread Buggies, Malcolm and Simon. After hearing only Nobby and gang had completed the course a little bit of that Welsh pride seemed to seep thought the cracks and the look of determination on their faces was enough to see this was going to be a good run... and it was beating Nobby and co by 2 seconds... onto the last; Jerry and Paul... or as Katherine called them... that's not land rovers team and what's that called? Fat cat?... and again another team completed the stage, and the best result of the day.

As this was our last group we headed up to relax, and prepare for the infamous bar-b-q and to spectate the night stage.

As the night stages progressed we walked from death valley, or roll hill, or side step hell or whatever you want to call it, to the twig crossing, both stages looked very interesting, and both very quick, with interesting technical sections and there were no tulips, daffodils. Daisy’s or any other form of plant life related navigating diagrams in sight... which I personally would of breathed a sigh of relief at.

Sunday... and the powers passed to Katherine... or was that little Trem... I forget... as the stages are now all ran in reverse you are then also placed on your opposite stage to Marshall, so I went from stage 8 to 18 and wow what a stage!!!!!! The first team again on my stage were Mr and Mr Billing, Luke was leading the way and completed the course within the time, regrettably his father didn't necessarily keep pace, and exited the course, well done Clive, that was a very very good attempt. Now the Tree boys, and again showing their tree felling skills, but this time there were no chainsaws, just a winch and a 90... but again winch motor issues stopped their attempt. That was then us until after lunch... the once again straight after lunch we had Nobby and Marc, so again finally I had a time on the cards, and a very good time it was. Next on the cards or on his roof depending on what stories you have been told was Nick and Kev, after quite a violent roll, , the team opted to recover and DNF the stage as Nick was the lead truck, and positioned himself across Bridgnorth. Next was Simon driving Malcolm's truck, as it is my belief Simon had suffered some mechanical issues in the morning which meant his truck was no longer competitive... I stand to be corrected, simon entered and finished in good time, dealing very with the obstacles whilst getting Darren to run around like a mad man!!!!! So again to the last... Jerry and Paul... slightly stunned by the way this team worked, both very capable trucks, and good team communication... I think this team will be one to watch out for.

The end is upon us... as we headed back we were talking it seemed everyone, from young children to retired old short legged mechanics they had all really enjoyed this event, with tough technical stages, some nice driving stages, and good solid marshalls who ran a consistent event, as well as the Uplands coppice site which is just a pleasure to stay at with Bob and his family making you feel very welcome.

With congratulations to Jerry, Kimi, and Paul, Cliff winning the event, and Mike, Kevin and Willo and John who had competed trying to raise awareness for Help For Heros, and thanks to Bob and his family, Philon, all the marshalls, and of course James for organising the event. Also extended thanks to Dave Ashcroft, Andy at Roean Landrover Specialists’ and Nick from Wooldridge Demolition for sponsoring and supporting the event. Lastly thanks to Dredi for being the official photographer and again taking some exceptional photos which I believe are available direct from him!

Overall Results

1st Jerry Hunt/Kimi Nilcolajeff + Paul Church/Cliff Garrod 88.7%
2nd Marc Dyer/Austin Jewitt + Jason/Nathan Morgan 88.6%
3rd Nick Anderson/Simon Wilkinson + Kev Pocock/Dan Elias 63.7%
4th Malcolm Whitbread/Darren McGuniness + Simon Crowe/Rab Young 47.2%
5th Paul Radford/Josh Jacobs + Ban/Bert Smith 27.8%
6th Simon Parsons/Ian Hawes + Marc Grey/Martin Gilpin 19%
7th Clive Billing/Andy Nash + Like Billing/Mark Philling 16.3%
8th Philon Parpottas/Dom Brione + Roger Pardy Paul Rogers 1.7%
9th Mike Cuff/Kevin Williams + Will Overton/John 1.3%
10th Eddie Hart/Mike Holliday + Justin Dean/Paul Edmonds – DNS

Night Stage Winners

NS 1: Kev Pocock
NS 2: Kev Pocock

Other Winners

Marshalls Prize Draw Winner: Kevin Luxton + Tim Jones – LED Lensor P7 torch
Wrex Racing Award: Paul & Sue Zergis, Silver key ring Simex
4x4Goods Prize Winners: Rope/Hand protector - Best Codriver in eyes of marshalls – Kimi Nicolajeff
4x4Goods Prize Winners: Large Radius extended Hawse - Most Enjoyable Set stage: Bob Smith
4x4Goods Prize Winners: Set of extended arches - Competitors Voted Best Marshall – Clive Billing

Videos clips of the event...

Some pictures from the event by Tom Lamb and Jon Hoole