4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
Wooldridge Trophy 2012
Run by 4x4 Adventures Ltd in association with
Goodwinch and Wooldridge Demolition
Words by James Trembath and Photographs by Tom Lamb of Red Yeti Photography

For many a competitor it was an anxious week of vehicle preparation and organisation with a stream of phone calls to the event organiser asking what time they could arrive on Friday and whether they could walk the stages and look for punches. After so many people contacting us it was almost as if though there was going to be a queue to get onto the site!!! And who was first in the queue? – Phil Dodd – one of our Marshalls! Not a competitor in sight!!! Phil was joining us for the first time as a marshall along with Kevin Pomfrey from J33P.ORG, both had become enthused with the event after competing at the J33P challenge run by 4x4Adventures.

One competitor still not sure, even on the day, as to whether he would make it to compete was Jerry Hunt. His little Suzuki, despite all the love it had at De-Cider, was decidedly unwell. Jerry, determined not to miss his weekend away, toiled very hard trying to get her running properly and thought he was there. However, on starting her up Saturday morning he found a bit of a fuelling issue. Well, it was a little more than ‘a bit of an issue’ in that there was more being sprayed out of the injectors into the engine bay than there was going into the chamber! Codriver Ben Turpie was deployed on a search for injector O rings, resulting in a trip to Halfords and a £7 box of 200 – issue resolved! Plus 194 spare just in case!!!

The Wooldridge Trophy was created in 2011 as the brain child of Nick Anderson from Wooldridge Demolition (who are coincidently the main event sponsors). Although in its infancy, the event is evolving and will continue to develop to meet the ever changing demands of the competitor world. With 4x4Adventures running the event you can be guaranteed it will keep up with the latest ‘must dos and trends’ too, as despite being event organisers we are also competitors and have a current understanding of what competitors want from a weekend away.

Returning to the Wellington site for 2012 saw us using the three main areas; Island, Quarry and Moor. Each area has its own attributes which mixed with a demand for punches one day and stages the next. It means a variety of terrain and technicality can be built into the event. Saturday consisted of forty punches, these were split equally between the technical and boggy quarry, through to the leaf mulch and wet Island. With the punch scores decreasing with the number of vehicles achieving the punch in any one class and a limited time on the punches, you couldn’t hang around.

Saturday’s punches were set to test but not to damage. There was a mix of the typical bog style ones for the hydro boys Gilpin and Grey, these also tempted in the likes of Radford and Jacobs. These two deserve a special mention for being so keen on Saturday morning to get into the bog sections at the back of the quarry on punch 20. At least they kept themselves out of harm’s way (and everyone else’s!) as it took them a good 3 hours to get back out of the punch! It certainly proved how good the TDS was! Martin Hounsell was the only other vehicle to achieve that punch, making it a good 100 pointer.

Dan and Bert Smith were also forerunners to head down to the quarry bog punches – with only six having been set out in the bog, the guys wanted the first shout at them before the ground deteriorated too much. With the weighted scoring system it was certainly worth going for them, working on the assumption that not many would. Unfortunately, the Smiths suffered a complete electrical cut out and retired back to the campsite to try and resolve the issue. A battery borrowed from Chris Stroud and Dave Hide soon had the boys back out. Chris and Dave were not so fortunate having a hydro pump fitted that was not too keen on working, so much so they hadn’t even come off the trailer! With Simon Crow popping back to hammer a few items back into place plus Andy Dawkins and Carl Davies back in attempting to weld a pulley back onto a water pump shaft, the conditions were taking their toll. Paul Church was also back (luckily for Andy and Carl who could then borrow their welder!), Paul and Cliff were experiencing a few running issues after a little too much time on its side. They soon rectified this and as the time results show for their performance on Sunday stages, it certainly didn’t hinder them. After what seemed like a mass of vehicles returning on Saturday morning, by Saturday lunchtime they were all back out there, less the Smiths who kept coming back now and then with repeat electrical failures.

Saturday afternoon saw Ben Procter and Bob Smith returning 90mins before the end of the day asking for their punch card to be removed. Ben confirmed there were no problems. On asking if they had completed the card and getting a nil response it was suggested it was early to retire which was met with the counter response that they had the time wrong and thought they only had 20 odd mins to go!!! They were soon back out.

Andy Baker was not having a great deal of luck. A leaking gearbox oil cooler joint soon put a stop to his fun and games on Saturday afternoon. Luckily he managed to source a new cooler in Taunton and had it fitted in time for the night stage on Saturday evening. Troubles with an alternator refusing to charge continued over the course of the weekend and hampered his efforts on both days.

Sunday consisted of 12 different stages, slightly longer on average than last years event – at the request of Mike Robertson (!). This time they were split with us using the Island for the morning plus some new ground on the moor for the afternoon combined with one stage in the quarry. There were no punches on the stages and each team competed individually, with no class against the clock.

As previously mentioned, Chris Stroud had a slow Saturday and that was just trying to source parts for his PTO pump driven hydraulic winch. Neal from Red Winches was on hand to source some parts, and between them they managed to fix it by 0100hrs and make it back for the stages on Sunday, looking at some of their times they certainly made a concerted effort to make up for lost points on Saturday!

Nick Bolt with father Chris had a few teething issues on the Saturday as they struggled with an air lock in the coolant system and an alternator not charging which hampered their punch scores, but Sunday saw a different day for them as the Lexus V8 was soon heard throughout most of Wellington!

Simon Essam with his son Henry crewing for him on their first outing were struggling to find any luck on Saturday shearing the drive member bolts early on in the day. They had the pleasant joys of changing the hub after struggling to extract the broken bolt ends.

Clive James managed to snag a tyre when on his way to help Dan and Bert Smith early onSaturday morning, then, on Sunday, the clutch started to slip on the first stage and failed before the end of that stage! Fitted for the event too! These Tdi’s certainly put out some grunt!

Martin Hounsell was leading the pack after Saturday’s punches with a good strong 35 punches collected, closely followed by Eddie Hart and then Nick Anderson. Bob Smith (with codriver Ben Procter) was leading the standard class after a trouble free Saturday punch collecting, (Even if they did come in 90mins early!) Close behind them came Karl Day and Chris Kelly in their Suzuki with Aaron Couldrake and Ross Wotherspoon bringing in third place.

After a quick stop for something to eat the guys were back out for the night navigation stage. After last year’s displays of tulip reading ability we decided to cut the route down from 3.2km to 1.4km. To keep the pressure on we also cut down the available time to a thirty min cut off just to keep the guys on their toes! Six vehicles managed to complete the course within the 30min cut off. Eddie Hart and trundle wheel Mike lost some valuable points despite having successfully completed the route to find themselves 2 mins over time!!! It was certainly an entertaining stage to sit back and watch, lots of vehicles driving around blindly as it were! Quickest vehicle around was codriven by the tulip guru Nev Hudd in 11mins with Martin and Derek Hounsell some 5mins behind, before the likes of Ben Turpie + Jerry Hunt, Chris Rice + Owen Richards, Simon Crowe + Mike Robertson brought in the remaining finishers within the time.

Sunday morning greeted the competitors without the frost from Saturday but a little mist and drizzle. With the clocks changing and the extra hour in bed most competitors were up and raring to go ready for the 0800hrs start. With twelve different stages to work through the guys set off in their groups to the unknown! Well to be fair, the stages had been open for viewing since Friday afternoon and I dare say a few wished they had taken the opportunity to recce them prior to arriving at the start time!

With an empty car park field it was surprising to see Simon Crowe and Mike Robertson return after one stage. A fair bit of banging later they were back out heading for their next stage. Simon Essam was also seen returning, but this time bringing Martin Hounsell back with him to fetch some readily needed spares. Our next visitor was the local police, just checking that we weren’t gipsies moving in!!! They then trundled off to watch a few stages intrigued by the whole set up and willingness of people to play in the mud.

Sunday brought a whole new change to the scores with everything against the clock. The woods could soon be heard to echo to the noisy td5’s of Anderson and Crowe through to the petrol roars of Bolt, Church and Hunt. With so much power on tap there was potential for breakages but it was the Tdi’s that suffered again with Bob Smith and Mark Gray both twisting out rear props. (That was after Marks back end problem with the A frame mount the previous evening!)

Paul Church had a strong day putting in some outstanding times giving him the outright day win for Sunday, Jerry Hunt was a very close 2nd place with Simon Crowe, again very close coming in 3rd. So two red winches and a Delta Tek/GP running Bow3’s in the top 3! Certainly a previously unsighted winning combination.

Martin and Derek Hounsell took the overall Trophy Challenge title for the second year running. Although not as strong a second day as they would have probably hoped for, the efforts spent punch collecting Saturday had given them a strong lead. Martin and Derek took home their 1st place trophy along with £250 and the event trophy.

First in standard clas,s from three starters, were Karl Day and Chris Kelly who were out for the first time in Karls vehicle, along with their 1st place trophy they took home £150.

The Spirit of the Event, £100 cash prize, was awarded to Andy Dawkins and Carl Davies for their enthusiasm and commitments combined with competitive spirit throughout the event.

Our thanks go to the marshals for not only looking after the punches and taped section on Saturday but for also overseeing the safety elements of the night stage, plus the thankless task of running the stages on Sunday, which in the cold and wet would not have been the most enjoyable of jobs. In particular our gratitude goes to David Webber and Kevin Williams for running the quarry and island stages respectively; they both received an LED mini lensor torch as a token of our thanks. Carl Davies, who volunteered to marshall after failing to get the competition vehicle back up and running won the marshalls’ prize draw for an LED Lensor.

We are indebted to our sponsors of the event, Wooldridge Demolition and Goodwinch. Their support has been second to none and is greatly appreciated by competitor, marshall and organiser alike.

We are also greatly appreciative of Red Yeti photography for their dedication to the event. Headed up by Tom Lamb his outstanding pictures can be found by on his website and copies are available by email. Contact details can be found on the here.

Overall Results

  Saturday Sunday Overall
No. Competitor Position Event Score Position Event Score Position Event Score
1 Nick Anderson 3 37.92 4 28.68 2 66.61
2 Andy Dawkings 12 15.36 20 0.00 18 15.36
3 Paul Radford 17 8.91 13 11.36 15 20.27
4 Eddie Hart 6 28.02 8 19.93 7 47.95
5 Paul Church 9 22.85 1 41.19 4 64.04
6 Chris Stroud 20 0.00 7 22.85 13 22.85
7 Jerry Hunt 5 29.21 2 35.30 3 64.51
8 Mark Gray 10 21.22 9 19.24 10 40.46
9 Roger Pardy 7 26.74 10 19.01 8 45.74
10 Simon Crowe 13 14.56 3 30.64 9 45.20
11 Bob Smith 2 45.01 16 8.65 6 53.86
12 Chris Rice 14 12.99 15 9.21 14 22.20
14 Aaron Couldrake 8 24.66 12 12.06 11 36.92
15 Simon Essam 16 11.36 18 7.45 16 18.82
16 Martin Hounsell 1 51.67 6 24.48 1 76.14
17 Clive James 11 17.59 19 0.88 17 18.46
18 Karl Day 4 35.36 5 26.31 5 62.07
19 Dan Smith 18 5.61 17 8.34 20 13.96
20 Andy Baker 19 3.58 14 10.99 19 14.57
21 Nick Bolt 15 12.82 11 14.49 12 27.31

Some pictures from the event