4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
4x4 Adventures Interclub Challenge 2012
West Harptree and Wellington, 18th/19th Aug 12

Organisers Overview by James Trembath

Wow – what an event. Five teams, each of five vehicles and 12 different, timed special stages to keep them busy for the weekend – two of them were in the dark, the remaining ten had an hour cut off time... We knew the competitors were going to be kept busy!

The Interclub challenge (or the Real Interclub Challenge as it is sometimes referred to) has grown in size and difficulty and following since its creation by Neil Whitford for the AWDC a good few years ago. 4x4Adventures have taken on the concept and run the event in its current format for the last four years. Each year has been renowned for being technically challenging, testing on both man and machine and very rewarding.

This year we were up one team from the previous year’s which also meant two extra stages! The general format is your team of five vehicles, or which one must be a standard vehicle, competes against the clock on a special stage. The time runs from the first vehicle entering the stage until the last vehicle crosses the finish line. There are punches within the stage but these are only there to be use as a guide to show how far teams get along the stage so that all the stages can be scored in the event that a stage is not completed within the typical hour cut-off.

We have had some terrific support this year from our sponsors. Our long term Interclub sponsors were this year joined by Wooldridge Demolition to run as our two main event sponsors. Both have been a pleasure to work with their support is gratefully received. We were also fortunate enough to pick up sponsors for each stage of the event. We are eternally grateful to Goodwinch, 4x4Goods.com, , Superpro Europe, Wrex Racing, Ashcroft Transmissions and X-Eng for their very kind and generous prizes which enabled us to present individual rewards within the team event. Thank you.

SS 1 & SS10 Goodwinch – Scott Benwell and Philon for outstanding efforts in attempting the sections – set of Albrights each

SS 2 – 4x4 Goods – Neville Hudd – best Co-Driver – Large radius fairlead

SS 3 & SS 12 – Delta Tek Spirit of the two stages – Edward Lambert – extended free spool drum

SS 4 & SS 8 –Wrex Racing - Best Driver - Marc Dyer & Allen Sharp– set of waffles boards + voucher each

SS 5 Superpro – Most determination shown Eddie Hart & Mike Holliday – set of vehicle Superpro bushes

SS6 & 7 – X-EngQuickest combined Night Stage time – Kimi and Jerry Hunt – X-Eng Ground Anchor

SS 9 – Ashcroft Transmissions – Derek Hounsell – best individual display of driving – ARB Compressor

SS 11 – Difflock – Jerry Hunt – most amusing team player – Difflock products.

This year we had a good and interesting mix between the teams.

Challenge South West. Derek Hounsell (Country Rovers Chard) stepped forward this year to run the CSW team who have competed under Martins guidance since the event was created. Martin still took an active roll within the team (without actually rolling for once too!) They were joined by Ed Lambert in their standard vehicle and the father and son Bond team in their Can-Am – both ‘interclub virgins’ Andy Baker made up the last team vehicle and was no doubt chosen after his sterling performance last year.

Shane Avery, one of the crew men for CSW was involved in an unfortunate incident during the course of the Saturday afternoon when there was catastrophic failure of a key piece of equipment. At this moment of writing Shane is still in hospital awaiting further surgery. We wish him a speedy recovery and would love to see him back on the scene as soon as possible. Chris Pedlar from CSW is running a collection fund for Shane and further information can be found on their website.

Wooldridge Demolition – Nick Anderson and his team have entered every Interclub challenge that has been run by us. Each year they are determined to win but until 2012 have never quite been able to pull it off! Well there luck certainly changed this year. With reliability and team work from the outset the team put in a sterling effort finishing all bar 2 of the 12 sections over the course of the weekend. Jerry and Kimi made up the teams standard vehicle entry although it can be argued that Jerry’s vehicle looks anything but standard, although that’s pretty much true for all the standard vehicle in all the teams now. His light weight Suzuki with a powerful front winch running through a newly designed wide angle Delta-Tek fairlead certainly took everything the two sites could throw at it in its stride. With Allen Sharp, Philon, Mark McMillan

On paper the Welsh Wonders were a good combination which had been put together by Jason (Nobby) Morgan consisting of Nobby and Wez, Austin Jewitt and Marc Dyer, Gwyn Lewis Ger Davies, Scott Benwell and Chris Holmes, Simon Crowe and Alan Webb. With Scott running his recently built and first outing standard class vehicle on MTs they were expecting a few teething problems but were well placed to give any one a run for their money in securing a top ranking place. The team worked hard the stages and were the only team to only drop one stage over the course of the weekend. Saturday didn’t go too well for them as they picked up quite a few penalties at West Harptree leaving them in 4th place. Sunday however was a great success with them picking up 1st place for the day including two 1st and a 2nd on stages. The night event proved a little taxing on the tulip front for young Crowe as his results sheet will testify! The spirit however was never lost – which after all is the key reason we do this sport!

Demi Nord Demi Sud – Clive James’ team probably surprised the most people this weekend (and probably themselves too if they admitted it). Certainly a very happy team who although were there to compete we also very much there to enjoy the event and soak up the atmosphere. The team consisted of Mark Gray and Martin Gilpin from OEC International, Simon Parsons with Ian Hawes from Difflock, Eddie Hart and trundle wheel Holliday plus finally Adam Gardiner and Mike Jones in the standard vehicle.

The Good, The bad and the Ugly. I will leave it to you to decide who fills which roll within the team! Paul Church’s team had a wide range of capability and vehicle. From Tony Baskervills submersible buggy through to Pauls’ own Fat Cat and not forgetting Aaron’s standard class 90 and Peter Jackson, Chris Stroud – Whitebread buggy. This team certainly had the largest selection of vehicle make up and branding! Unfortunately for them they had a few mishaps on Saturday which combined with a little water roll on the Sunday in the Culmhead quarry left them down on a few vehicles leaving them with little choice but to opt out on the Sunday afternoon.

We would not be able to run these type of events without the help from our marshalls. We are truly indebted to them all for their professionalism and dedication over the course of the weekend. Well trained and capable marshalls are a key part of any event and we are thankful for the resources we have to be able to call on. Ash Salt was the lucky winner of the LED lensor torch from the marshalls draw. The expression of thanks from the competitors, led by Nick Anderson from Wooldridge Demolition at prize giving said it all, "Thank you guys, without you our events would be nothing".

Team Results

1st Wooldridge Demolition 4075pts
Nick Anderson, Jerry Hunt, Alex Sharp, Philon Parpottas, Mark McMillan

2nd Welsh Wonders 2920pts
Marc Dyer, Gwyn Lewis, Jason Morgan, Scott Benwell, Simon Crowe

3rd Demi Nord Demi Sud 2371pts
Clive James, Eddie Hart, Adam Gardiner, Mark Grey, Simon Parsons

4th Challenge South West 1826pts
Martin Hounsell, Derek Hounsell, Andy Baker, Robin Bonds, Edward Lambert

5th The Good, The Bad and the Ugly 1413pts
Paul Church, Peter Jackson, Aaron Couldrake, Chris Stroud, Tony Baskerville

Some comments from the competitors

Nobby Signs:
'It was the hardest event I’ve ever done. Nothing comes close to it. James you have a talent for setting up and running an event like no other person 11 out of 10!

Jerry hunt: I’m sure everyone will agree 4x4Adventures puts on a really tough event, the punches are not difficult, its the route!!! 5 trucks and the 60 min stage that makes it such hard going! James does put on simply the best Uk events I’ve ever done. All team members from the top three teams got a trophy, the sponsors put up some really great prizes and there were ten 60 min stages all different, not just the same thing run over & over again. Well done 4x4Adventures.

Nick Anderson: What a fantastic weekend, James and his crew did us all proud once again and put on another very challenging event to keep us all busy in all the stages. I would like to thank all the marshalls and fellow sponsors for all their effort in making this event one of the must do events of the year. We at long last got our WIN which has taken us 4 years to achieve, we had a fantastic team which worked really well together many thanks to Philon, Dom, Jerry, Kimi, Allen, Ben, Mark, Andy and of course my great co driver Neville. The stages were hard, all of them, stage 12 by the time we got into it being the last team in was bloody horrific we unfortunately got a DNF on that and with Philon out with a broken truck thought that Nobbys team would be right on us but as it turned out we still maintained a good lead from Saturday so were ok. James a big THANK YOU VERY MUCH for your hard work and effort once again from all the guys at Team Wooldridge, we will be back next year to have another go.

Simon Crowe: GREAT EVENT!!! We had never worked as a team before, and some of us hadn’t even met till we got there! Great result especially with Knobby leading us!!! Big thanks to James and all the team for all the hard work that went into it. I can’t wait to come back next year! Might even start practising tulips!!!

Eddie Hart from Muddymotorsport.com: What a brilliant event, that must be the toughest I’ve entered, our team brief was to enjoy ourselves and we did that OK!!!

The length of the sections was spot on. An hour stage for five vehicles all in, perfect. What I called you when I saw the “cliff face” in section 5 cannot be repeated!!! Section 2 was my favourite at West Harptree, the nice climb up the rocks after bridging the little gulley at the base with god know how many waffle boards we got up there and cracked on through the section. If only we had about 3mins more our standard truck was running 4th with me behind and he couldn’t quite make it up the last climb and our third vehicle had just dropped down the last descent before realizing Adam hadn’t made it, just couldn’t get him rigged in time...

With the quick move down to Wellington “trundle wheel” Mike was keen to give the tulips another go and vowed not to be beaten, fair play to him he would have walked round there all night if he had too! Loved the speed section although I did manage to find a tree right in front of the truck down the start straight, god knows how I managed to do that but 4th was a cracking result for us.

Section 10 was our start for Sunday and was an ideal “warm up” to start the day with a quick dash through the trees at the end but was also a taste of what was to come. Remind me to bring a life jacket next time, taking the wrong line through section 11 I found the water chest height while I was sat in the car. Bloody hell it was cold! The dash over the road to Sections 8 & 9 brought us a mixed result; not finishing 8 but having a good run through 9 gave us a great finish to the event.

Big thank-you to all the marshals and the sponsors. It was good to catch up with some old friends again and meet and make new ones. Finally a huge thanks to you for another awesome event!

A marshalls view by Will Overton

Having fought the Friday evening traffic on the way up to West Harptree in Somerset, I set my alarm clock for a bright and bleary start somewhere around 0600 hours Saturday morning, which 'should' give me enough time to get my head round the 4x4 adventures Interclub challenge event scoring and get familiarised with what was required of me as a marshal over the following days. Quite a lot as it turned out and i was glad of an early start which gave me time to get into gear before the Marshals briefing at 0730 hours, followed by Scrutineers briefing. Setting out the Scrutineers pen i noted that as at March Madness earlier in the year James had brought the same weather, a very damp and misty morning, which hopefully would burn off into a nice hot sunny summers day. We weren't disappointed and later in the day it was redders (very hot!).

The line of trucks was quite a sight and I spotted a few familiar faces along with some new, with accents representing all parts of the country, it was easy to understand how highly the Interclub is now regarded and with James impeccable reputation the event has grown to be a national event like no other.

With Scrutineering finished I sauntered on to my stage (sponsored by 4x4Goods.com) for the day and hooked up with my fellow ss2 marshals, Ian "Sticky" Stokes and Dave. We walked the course to see where the harder/potential penalty areas were and check out the punches.

For anyone that knows West Harptree our stage started just to the left of the pond and essentially wiggled up and down that away bank until the finish further towards the wood. It was clear that the first part up and across a rocky outcrop was going to be the most technical part of the course and would easily weed out any teamwork that wasn't up to scratch . The following part of the course looked like a driver’s dream where teams could go a bit quicker and maybe drive to the finish although there were a few very steep ascents and descents. You will note i didn't say that it was an easier part. I don't think the word easy is in Mr Trembath's vocabulary!

Between the three of us we decided that upon arrival at the section we would warn all competitors of a bit of tape that came in at the first rock outcrop to dissuade people from taking the "less hard" route to the right. Everyone was told there and then that that was their warning and if the hit that particular piece of tape they would incur a 100 point penalty per car that hit it. I am pleased to say that all the competitors heeded our warning and no-one was penalised.

The welsh wonders were our first team in and set the benchmark times. With a star studded team with names such as Dyer (3rd in KOV) Morgan (winner of the Baskerville 2011) Gwyn Lewis, Simon Crowe and Scott Benwell in a fairly freshly prepared trayback, we expected them to do pretty well. However with 20 mins to go they still had 2 cars to get up the big bank.

Nobby powered ahead and nearly made it to the end and poor old Wez his worker for the day ended up with a jarring blow to the chin after the ground anchor self extracted. A busy first stage. With Wez back on his feet and steady, we scurried back to the start of the stage and awaited our next victims, Team Wooldridge Demolition.

Another team with many famous names in our little offroad world, Anderson, Popalotofdiffs, Hunt, McMillen and Sharp.

These guys attacked the stage in a much more dedicated manner and their teamwork was so good I wondered if they had been secretly practising perhaps at a recently demolished building site (or should that be un-building?) team sharp headed up the team and after the whole team i think popped their waffle boards in the big hole, they had no problem winch assisting up the rocky cliff. With all cars through and all kit stowed, they finished the section in a very respectable 38 mins 38 seconds.

Following the lunch/repairs break the next 3 teams subsequently tried and all failed.

1600hrs was the end of the day at West Harptree and as we all had to get on, we quickly packed up the stage and got on our way to the stalwart 4x4 adventures stomping ground at Wellington.

Like I said a busy weekend, with a bit of time to set up camp, next on the agenda was the briefing for the night stages which were due to start at 2030hrs sharp( well it wouldn't be anything else otherwise it wouldn't be a JST event!) I was stationed along with James Wickenden, someone I knew on the internet but not in real life, isn't it strange the way the world is going? Anyhow we were on watch down at a mud splashpool on the greatly anticipated tulip navigation course. Since the Wooldridge trophy in 2011 there has been much talk about the complexities of the night tulip stage, with many competitors not certain that they are infact achievable. Whilst James and I were tapping our feet along to the Pogues (or was it????!) at the local Strummer of Love festival in the next field over, we noticed Eddie Hart approaching the splashpool with his co-driver running alongside the car with nothing else but a head torch and a road measuring meter wheel, fair play we thought and highly entertaining! Turns out they got the tulips correct for once, but not in time! (3 mins over, Mike should of run quicker!) Evolution at its best!!

The next morning after a night of music, which seemed to last virtually all night, we were allowed a slight lay in with a marshals brief of 0800. I was tasked with looking after SS12 with my tulip partner James and Steve Gooding. The stage was sponsored by Delta Tek. I timed our walk around the course and although we missed out some sticky bits on foot, I thought that at 9 mins to plod round, the teams had half a chance of completing the stage. Perhaps I should have tried the tracks proper!!!

First team up were Challenge South West headed up by the Hounsell's.

The first part of the course was fairly straight forwards with a drop down into the quarry around some tracks, through a bit of a hole then to the top of a muddy looking gully. Mr Trembath had been a little sneaky and put a punch halfway along the mud run so cars couldn't build up a head of steam to try and get through to the other end with momentum helping them along. Derek Hounsell was first in, having gained the punch the power went down and he crabbed forwards a metre and stopped, was that a bang? Turns out a cv failed and after that unmistakeable waft of hot motor brushes and windings, they were forced to relocate their middle hydro winch and extract themselves from the quagmire, a fueling issue resulting in a dead car also didn't help. Next in was the Can-Am, half expecting them to float over the smeg, we heard another familiar metal on metal sound and they discovered their transfer case was US. With the initial recovery of Derek costing the team time, they very wisely decided to extract off stage and fix trucks ready for the next stage

2nd in was The good the bad and the ugly, headed up by Paul Church and his impressive FatCat. With both Paul and Peter leading the way showing that big tyres and big power can be a help, they both easily made it through the bog with only a bit of winching.

The latter part of the team was made up of Aaron Couldrake, Chris Stroud and proving its not all grim oop nerth, and someone whose dedication to our sport should be an inspiration to us all, Tony Baskerville and his awesome back to front Mercedes G-Wagon.

Things were not going the teams way and after a lengthy extraction they all made it out to start the next section.

3rd up were demi nord demi sud, a team of Eddie Hart, of running man fame, Clive James, Adam Gardiner, who deserves a special mention for giving the stage a damn good go in his std car, Simon Parsons and Mark Grey, who after watching the ugly's trying to extract themselves decided that the best ploy was to get in, get as many punches as were available in the 60 minutes and get out, not a bad plan in my eyes as it seemed no-one was getting through.

In all, four individual cars finished our stage and a further special mention must go to Jerry Hunt from Team Wooldridge who was one of the four finishers in his standard toyzuka truck.

The Difflock.com prize giving tent was amassed with people for prize giving, which as just as well with many super stage prizes being awarded prior to the coveted team placings announced. It was with little surprise in my eyes that Team Wooldridge won the weekend after their show of great teamwork in the opening stages at West Harptree even if Philon did try to undo all the good work the next day!

Many Thanks to James and all the competitors who always had good spirits even in dark times, till the next time!

Some pictures from the event courtesy of Tom Lamb