SUZUKI EX­TREME 4X4 CHAL­LENGE

A win for the Biggs brothers, Scott and Jarred, and a ‘world-first’ back flip from Hamish Auret and Paul Barnes, made this year’s Suzuki Ex­treme 4x4 Chal­lenge an event to re­mem­ber

NZ4WD - - CONTENTS - Story and pho­tos by Gail Smith

With the day of the long-awaited Suzuki Ex­treme 4x4 Chal­lenge dawn­ing a lit tle over­cast on Sunday April 10, the driv­ers and navis were on the course early prep­ping their ve­hi­cles and minds.

With the crowd gath­er­ing round the tape in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the first haz­ard – “Cow­per Trucks – No Guts No Glory” – Brian and son Daniel from Wellington went first in the Lower Hutt en­gi­neer­ing busi­ness owner’s self-built, twin-turbo BMW V12 ( that’s right, V12!), hy­draulic twin steer ma­chine.

The pair cau­tiously dropped into the dip be­fore car­ry­ing some mo­men­tum to get through gate two at the top of the rise then adding more pedal-to-the-me­tal to drop into the wa­ter and climb the next ( man­made mounds) rise.

The flow of wa­ter over the bon­net looked im­pres­sive and the crowd whooped in de­light as Brian charged on, travers­ing the muddy patch to start the climb across the hill face which had chan­nels dug out so was like steps but with the gates placed at un­even lines. The fif th to tenth ones proved a bit more dif­fi­cult, and five caught him out. And so be­gan this fan­tas­tic, made­for-TV event.

This year’s en­try was lim­ited to 15 trucks with the start­ing order the re­verse of the seed­ing one. Af­ter Brian and Daniel came;

14. Graeme King­stone and Tony Had­land, Cow­perTruck LS2 Chev V8. 13. Grant Har­ri­son and daugh­ter Re­nee, Home­built Nis­san SR20 2-litre. 12. Brent Ward and Mark Smith, Wairarapa Diesel-built NOS-equipped LS2 Chev V8. 11. Mike Gee-Taylor and Dave Hoskin, Cow­perTruck LS1 Chev V8. 10. War­ren Jef­fery and Mark Pin­cock, Home­built, su­per­charged 3.8 V6 Holden 9. Rowan Huck­step and Hen­drik Hof­s­tee, Cow­perTruck LS1 Chev V8. 8. Phil Wal­ton with Chace Rodda, Home­built LS3 Chev V8. 7. Neil Mo­ratti and daugh­ter Elle, Cow­perTruck LS1 Chev V8. 6. Phil Con­well and Paul Chap­man, Home­built Nis­san SR20. 5. Mitch Sey­mour and Matt Wil­son, Howat En­gi­neer­ing-built LS2 Chev V8. 4. Kevin Her­mansen and Kirk Grant, Cow­perTruck Nis­san SR20 2-litre.

3. Hamish Auret and Paul Barnes, Cow­perTruck LS7 Chev V8. 2. Scott and Jarred Biggs, Howat/ Biggs LS2 Chev V8. 1. An­drew Garner and Ru­pert Curry, Home­built LS2 Chev V8. Neil Mo­ratti and daugh­ter Elle claimed the first win of the day on Haz­ard 1 with a top score of 700, with War­ren Jef­fery and Mark Pin­cock sec­ond on 600 and the Rowan Huck­step/ Hen­drik Hof­s­tee and Mitch Sey­mour/ Matt Wil­son pairs tied for third place on 500.

High­way to Hell

Haz­ard 2 – “High­way to Hell” – was spon­sored by Akarana Tim­bers and had a slight skip through a wet patch be­fore head­ing up­hill to a sharp turn to the right be­fore a hard turn to the left then an­other steep climb up a sheep- rut­ted hill that you had to de­tour across the face of to pick up Gate 8.

Neil and Elle Mo­ratti still led af­ter it with an over­all score of 1300 but An­drew Garner and Ru­pert Cur­rie had stormed back into con­tention with 1200, and strat­egy started play­ing a part as some good spec­tac­u­lar rides didn’t end with good points.

Get a Grip

Haz­ard 3 – “Get a Grip” was spon­sored by Mickey Thomp­son Tires with the start across a swamp and up past a hole in the ground close to the tape be­fore drop­ping back down then weav­ing be­tween the gates back up the hill.

Most driv­ers started by head­ing across to Gate 6 then weav­ing up. How­ever, both Scott Biggs and An­drew Garner at­tempted the first gates, with Scott mak­ing a spec­tac­u­lar climb to the sky as he avoided the hole and rut while An­drew suc­cumbed to the swamp.

The re­sult lif ted Scott to the top spot with 1800.

Long Run Roller Coaster

Haz­ard 4 – the “Long Run Roller Coaster” – was spon­sored by Roof Im­prove­ments and fea­tured deep steps cut into the face of both up­hill and down­hill tracks.

Of course the gates go­ing up weren’t lined up so that was an­other thing to con­tend with.

Hamish Auret was the first to take Gate 6 and Paul Barnes ( his navi) could be seen grip­ping the bars tight and prob­a­bly the seat as they went over the lip.

Ap­petite for De­struc­tion

Haz­ard 5 – “Ap­petite for De­struc­tion” – was spon­sored by Broad­way Ac­count­ing So­lu­tions and lived up to its name.

Start­ing at the top over a mound of dirt a chan­nel had been cre­ated like a bob­sleigh run straight down.

Brian Howat hit the bank with speed and snapped a steer­ing arm, so it was back to the pits for him. Brent Ward and Mark Smith, mean­while, took the freefall well but had some trou­ble through the gates on the knob so even with a good squirt of NOS couldn’t clear the hill. Nor could Neil and Elle or Phil and Chace.

Time At­tack

Haz­ard 6, the Fast Track Cus­toms & Lo­gis­tics-spon­sored “Time At­tack” was a speed sec­tion.

War­ren (Wassa) and Mark (Skid) had a clean run up but landed front first which caused a rollover and a lit­tle time spent tend­ing to them as they were taken off the course. Phil Wal­ton with Chace got the lit tle steps wrong and nose­dived onto their lid, while Mitch was clever and flew over the step but was very loose on the rest.

Feed it the Phat

The Brun­ton En­gi­neer­ing- spon­sored Haz­ard 7, “Feed i t the Phat,” had a snake- like course with three sidlings on the curves and a lit tle wa­ter in the drain.

Mike Gee-Taylor and Dave Hoskin looked in con­trol but clipped a peg, while Rowan took i t slow but came close to tape and backed off. Phil Wal­ton had a clean line un­til they touched Gate 8 and lost di­rec­tion.

Neil and Elle made a big splash and took a mouth­ful, but got i t un­der con­trol while Fire­man and Chap­pie had a clear, con­cise line and scored the per­fect 1000.

Ac­tion-A-Trac­tion

Haz­ard 8, the ARB 4X4 Ac­ces­sories-spon­sored “Ac­tion- A-Trac­tion,” fea­tured a wa­ter hole at the start and the odd game navi was sent in to test the depth be­fore the start.

Grant and Re­nee missed the wa­ter hole then worked the wheel brakes and spun the 35” Mickey Thomp­sons to no avail up the trench, while Mike and Dave chose to skip across the top at the trench only to hes­i­tate go­ing into the first chan­nel.

Fire­man and Chap­pie jumped across the trench in the mid­dle to get Gate 4 then cat­a­pulted be­tween the chan­nels un­til they flipped on Gate 7.

Stair­way to Heaven

Haz­ard 9 – Har­ri­son’s Hire­mas­ter “Stair­way to Heaven” had some gates placed zigzag-style up a sheep tracked hill. The zigzag was so tight most picked a straight line and just nailed it up and played save.

High Pres­sure Heroes

The Pirtek Wan­ganui- spon­sored Haz­ard 10 – “High Pres­sure Heroes” – was a daunt­ing one. Brian Howat launched i t but landed short, while Graeme King­stone gave i t some good throt­tle ac­tion and cleared the mound only to be caught out go­ing through Gate 6. Brent and Mark did their usual foot-to-the-floor job and sailed over the mound but did enough dam­age when they hit front first on the other side they were out for the rest of the day.

Mike Gee-Taylor just man­aged to hit the mound, where Rowan missed it, Phil Wal­ton pow­ered up but his wheels went the wrong way in mid-air and he and Chace landed on Gate 5, while Mitch fair dealt to it go­ing up and landed on the knob but caught Gate 5 be­fore ne­go­ti­at­ing most of the gates down.

Dirt De­stroyer

Haz­ard 11 the Op­timo “Dirt De­stroyer” was a run up the bog sec­tion be­fore a slight cir­cle to aim it back up the hill­side once again with many sheep ruts across it and the gates not lined up straight.

Phil Wal­ton and Chace got some awe­some lif t at Gate 9 and may have won­dered if it was go­ing to go hor­ri­bly wrong. Mitch had an ugly mo­ment at the same spot, and Hermy gave it a good try.

Scott and Jarred did an awe­some run through the bog, not giv­ing up any gates, and with plenty of bounce straight-lined it up the hill with the crowd roar­ing at they headed for the sky.

Ball Buster

The fi­nal Haz­ard (12) was spon­sored by Her­mansen Con­tract­ing and with its daunt­ing wave-like cut out wall at the end of a pit more than jus­ti­fied its “Ball Buster” tag.

Howie was first up and although he didn’t give it any phat still ended up on his lid. As did Mike Gee-Taylor and Mitch, Hermy and Scott. Then along came Hamish and Barnsy tak­ing the high line and a care­ful ap­proach be­fore lin­ing the wall up, floor­ing the throt­tle and clear­ing a back­flip, much to the crowd’s de­light.

And so an awe­some, crowd-pleas­ing day came to an end, tak­ing the ti­tle for the day Scott & Jarred Biggs – well done boys.

Phil Wal­ton and Chace Rodda get crossed up.

All hands on deck to put Mike Gee-Taylor and Dave Hoskin right side up.

Phil Con­well and Paul Chap­man get­ting some air­time.

Hermy and Kirk take a tum­ble.

The event at­tracted a large and very vo­cal crowd.

Fa­ther and son Brian and Daniel Howat on Haz­ard 3.

Hamish Auret and Phil Barnes go­ing up…

An­drew and Ru­pert mas­ter the knob!

And caught half­way through their his­tory-mak­ing back­flip.

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