4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
Wellington Drive Round Day – 27th May 12
Words and pictures by James Trembath

What glorious weather to start the Wellington Drive Round Season. Robin Watson had approached us on his last Bampton DRD to ask about running a sole day at the Wellington site for his group of friendly ‘greenlaners’. A date was duly found that suited all and the day booked up.

Robin fielded a full six vehicles for the day, all of them having already competed or attended a drive round day with us previously. Rob was teamed up with Jo and her missing hair band in ‘their’ ex Military 90. Steve and Anne joined us in a well used lifted Discovery. Jeff had his well prepared although modest looking 90 truck cab which then left the three none Landrover products. Mike and Claire in their very capable white Shogun, Rich and Sam in a black Pajero and Rod in his very nimble Vitara.

The plan was to split the day between the Island and the Quarry meaning Widecombe Moor could be saved for another day, but more importantly we could concentrate on some of the more technical sections on the Island before moving to the Quarry to finish off with some nice drops.

We started the day meeting in our new camping field just off the main road. With excellent access straight off the road it will be a god send to use come the event season and has the added benefit of being much easier to find. From here we headed off up the main Island access track to the ‘cut through’ at the Northern point. A very short climb is quickly followed by a longish descent down onto the main ‘cut through’ track. Its then relatively easy going along here until we came to a short side slope descent followed immediately by a climb up on to ‘side slope lane’. Having safely traversed this we were into the main section of the island.

With various rutted tracks and descents to contend with, we were certainly busy for the first section of the morning until one of the vehicles, we won’t name who to avoid embarrassing Jeff, came hung up on his diff pan on the ‘stumpy descent’. Steve kindly winched Jeff back up the hill off the stump and with some outside guidance a more suitable route past the stump was found. The winches were soon out again when the lead vehicle became beached trying to negotiate a new track on a tight turn. Once the first few had ploughed a way through some ruts it was easier going for the rest to follow. It was whilst moving on from here Jeff noticed his truck was behaving a little different to normal and upon investigation found his rear near side shock had snapped at the top joint. After a short impromptu stop the offending item was removed and we were off again.

Whilst heading back up one of the harder side slope climbs Jeff found the spring was staying put, despite the tall springs and relocation cones. As some required a little outside assistance on the side slopes climb the opportunity was take to remove the cone and using a combination of cable ties and jubilee clips the spring was secured in place. With the side slope also proving slightly more testing than some anticipated a lunch stop was also in order!

Post lunch we started to head back across to ‘side slope lane’ and back to the main access track. The longish descent into the site was now a beautifully long(ish) technical climb back out! Only two made it on the first attempt and the winch was called into action on more than one occasion!

As we headed across the other side of the island Steve had a little moment with a tree (it was to be the first of 3 for him) and caught his rear window. Undeterred he pushed on still smiling. With some great little climbs and tricky descents to contend with there was enough to keep everyone on their toes. It should be noted the little Vitara performed very well, sprightly through the trees and light underfoot meant it made most of the sections look far too easy. There was a lot to be said for the other independently sprung vehicles too, Mike certainly made some of the axle twists look very simple – I dare say the limited slip rear helped a great deal here! Rich had by now found the throttle and was not shy to use it! With the Island now conquered it was down to the Quarry.

Robin had requested a quick jaunt around the quarry, which is not something we always include on the DRD, tending to save it for the competition sections. There are some longer testing drops to contend with plus some short although very steep drops to also play with. The first quarry climb looks very simple but with an axle twist part way up some momentum is need to clear it then some quick thinking as the ‘landing’ area is not particularly wide as both Rod and Rich found out! The Land Rovers certainly made lighter work of this section leaving the lighter agile vehicles struggling somewhat with the conditions combined with articulations under tyre. With a short mud splash to finish the quarry section off it was time to call it a day and head off back to the car park field.

Once all safely accounted for the vehicles were given a quick once over by the owners – which for Steve meant changing an indicator lens! (strange how he had spares with him.......) before all heading off on separate ways.

Some pictures from the day