MANUKAU WINCH CHALLENGE
The annual Manukau Winch Challenge tested competitors new and old alike. Ashley Lucas explains why.
For 2016, the Manukau Winch Challenge was held a lit tle later in the year, and this allowed them access to new venues for the night and day stages.
Competitor numbers were certainly down this year for reasons unknown. It may have been the later timing or it could have been that many thought it would be the ‘same old, same old’ at the previous Onewhero property.
Seventeen competitors over three classes entered, with the largest class being the ‘modified’ class which is for anything goes type vehicles whereas the Challenge class requires vehicles to be roadworthy with registration, WoF and certification for modifications.
Unfortunately 2016 also saw the previously popular entry level “Manukau Class” dropped due to lack of entries and as extra work is required to set up special stages for this class it was too much for just for a couple of competitors.
A fine evening
Come a wet Friday afternoon vehicles were put through scrutineering at the Ramarama Country Lodge which was to be the base for the two days of competition. As the competitors made their way to the venue for the night stages at Meremere the rain eased and as they gathered for drivers’ briefing it cleared into a fine evening of competition.
There were four stages to complete with a couple being fairly easy and a couple proving troublesome for some others. Grant Stone and Steven Hardman in the Challenge Class GU Nissan managed to be fastest in class on their first stage but on the second did a spectacular wheelstand bounce coming down hard and breaking the rear diff pinion causing the driveshaft to drop down and had to be recovered from the stage.
Missing the remaining two stages they had a long night ahead changing diffs ready for the next day.
This gave the other Challenge Class competitor Steve Reed and Steve Green an advantage collecting maximum points on the other three stages.
The hilarious sight of the night was local competitor Bernie Knoz who got the fastest time on Stage 14 but also a penalty when on the first corner his door swung open and took out the peg.
There were five competitors from the Tararua region and by the end of the night Robin Scaife and Stan Goodman were leading the chase with only 19 points separating them. It would have been closer had it not been for a 10 point penalty.
In Club Class Dean Currie and Ashley Goddard came away from the night stages with a lead after being fastest on three stages ahead of newcomer Chris Simpson and Ben Harvey who did not start a stage.
Come Saturday Dean Currie had PTO and gearbox problems that saw him only complete four out of the 11 stages for the day and be awarded a DNF on the others.
Saturday stages were on a completely new property to winch challenges at Maramarua. Again the day was fine with 11 stages to complete during the day although several would not finish the day.
Tony Smith and Calvin Tyler were one pair that only managed to finish three stages
before their automatic gearbox gave up on them and they retired for the day. Another was Luke Vitasovich who managed five stages before also having to retire with mechanical issues.
Steve Reed has been competing in winch challenges in the same Nissan GQ for in excess of 10 years now, the last few years with Steven Green. They share the roles of driver and winchman alternating on each stage. On stage 11 Steven Green was driving and didn’t hit the first boggy part hard enough which left Steve Reed on the winch.
As he was pulling the rope out Steve lost one of his shoes in the deep mud and was carrying i t along with the recovery gear. A jam on the winch rope had him back at the vehicle where he ‘ lost’ the second shoe in the mud and was reduced to getting around in his socks.
The pair can be entertaining to watch but seem to collect a few penalty points along the way at the rate of a penalty every second stage. Luckily this time the penalties would not make a significant difference to the overall results for Challenge class due to Grant Stone being out.
Stage 3 threw up some challenges for a few competitors with Stan Goodman, Brent Holden and Bernie Konz all finishing just outside the DNF time of 30 minutes. It was especially hard on Bernie as he was only 44 seconds over and had he been 45 seconds quicker he would been second in class ahead of fellow Manukau club member Peter Haigh.
Stage 9 was a good stage with a drop into a small creek and then a sharp right out up a steep bank. Those that tried to re-align to get straight on to the hill lost time and found it was not possible due to the lay of the land. The only option was to get the winch hooked up and winch up the bank with those that did would do so in around four-five minutes.
Stan Goodman was concerned about his winch coping with the pull so got out and helped set up a double line pull costing them valuable time and then also got a penalty for their efforts. That penalty point, the second of only two for the day, would be critical at the end of the day as he was beaten into third place by just eight points overall.
Back at prize giving Robin Scaife and Paul Kelly took the win by 167 points over Peter Haigh and Nathen Phillips with Bernie Konz and Warren Thomas a further 27 points behind in third place. Stan Goodman was fourth overall.
Despite the lower competitor numbers the event was extremely successful and the new property having plenty of untapped areas the prospects of a 2017 event are very good.
Tom Goodman directing Jacob Higgins as they realign to winch.
Steve Reed winching to take the stage win for Challenge Class.
Steve Green on the end of the winch rope for Steve Reed.
Phil Barnard in his Toyota special was placed 6th in Modified Class.
Steve Reed on his knees and minus a shoe as he puts serious effort into pulling a jammed winch rope.
Stan Goodman in the V8 FJ40 double line winch up the steep Stage 9 hill.
Manukau’s Mike Inns making a splash in Modified class.
Carol Le Gallais takes on the hill in stage 11 to set up the winch for Tim Randall.