The an­nual Manukau Winch Chal­lenge tested com­peti­tors new and old alike. Ash­ley Lu­cas ex­plains why.

NZ4WD - - CONTENTS - Story and photos by Ash­ley Lu­cas

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.

Pegged back

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.

New prop­erty

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.

Only op­tion

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.

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