SUPERWINCH MAINLAND CHALLENGE ROUND 4
This was the ‘home’ round for our loyal Superwinch Mainland Challenge reporter Vicky Newport… meaning she, daughter Megan and hubby Scotty were busier than ever!
That’s right. Normally I’m on the outside looking in at the various Superwinch rounds I cover. This time though I was on the inside looking out. Normally we just have to load up and do the road trip to the different rounds. Even Nelson, because though our local crew have always been involved in running a round, we’ve always had Sav organising a fair bit of it. Also, we had last year off. This year a Nelson round was not only back on the schedule it was going to be on a new farm so we pretty much had to start from scratch. Luckily the new venue was a bit of a playground for one of our club members so he knew the farm inside out. Before I start into my story of how the event worked let me outline for you a little bit about what actually goes into running a round. Firstly to be part of the Superwinch Mainland Series you have to run under the Mainland rule and regs, with the hosting club to be affiliated to the NZFWD Association and all competitors to be a member of a NZFWD Association-affiliated club. That part was easy. Now to get a core group of members (or non-members) to build stages or tracks and organise and run the days. Obviously, it helps if these people have been part of a Winch Challenge, driving or co-driving at some stage. These are the people who need to be able to read and drive the stages, put some variety in, sort stages so they work if it’s fine for a week before hand or raining on the day. With hubby Scotty Newport leading the crew he had about six core people helping, then down to the admin, side of thing was where I came in; from taking entries and fees, sorting dinner, prize-giving etc, plus all the other assorted paper work to go with running a round. In all, four solid weekends plus a few weekdays were spent getting our round ready. Before the event we also had a working bee with club members, who were paid back with a play day to make sure all the tracks were and could be driven. To be absolutely fair on all competitors, anyone that was going to be competing could work on the stage but not drive them and on the day they had to step away and become competitors.
The weekend of 14/15 September was our date and the weather couldn’t have been better – typical of Nelson I might say, but then I would, wouldn’t I? Teams started arriving from all over at around 2.00pm with sign-in between 3.00 and 5.00pm. We had 22 teams, four from Wellington and the rest from all around the South Island.
With everyone signed in, and drivers’ briefing done the three night stages started at around 6.45pm. The Outlaw teams got through all three with just the one DNF, though Robin and Paul from Wellington came pretty close but managed to get back to the finish box in 28:29 minutes (30min DNFs in all stages). The problem was that in the first stage they broke a front drive shaft as well as the exhaust manifold. Fortunately, Newport Engineering opened up the workshop for Robin and with help from Scotty they managed to get the buggy repaired and ready for the Saturday stages. Mike Holmes and co-driver Andrew on their last night stage (Stage 3) came to a sudden stop on the winch wall, Mike finding he had left an oil rag under the bonnet and it had got sucked into the alternator. They called a DNF, fixed the problem on the side of the stage and drove out and ready for Saturday. All the Clubman got through the three stages while in Open Class all but Tom Green finished them. On stage 3 Tom’s Jeep Wrangler stopped dead just out of the start box. Suspecting a sensor fault they shot off to Sav’s to pinch parts and also replaced a fuel pump supplied by Scotty. Lucky the Nelson club basically all run Jeeps, meaning there are always a lot of spare parts floating around. Nathan Hammond and co-driver Daniel were the only ones to drive the Winch Wall in Stage 3, so they were stoked. The night stages finished around 10.00pm but Scotty was at the workshop until around 11.00pm helping Robin. Pete Leslie was also there rebuilding his PTO winch.
Saturday morning and we were woken pretty – 5:30am in fact – by a phone call and soon after Scotty was up and gone. The joys of being an organiser. He and the other guys still had to check that all pegs were still standing, signs were out, toilets set up etc. Me? I got to sleep in a bit later but still had to be at the Wakefield Carpark at 7.00am to meet the marshals so they could follow me up to the farm. We ended up with 25 marshals, an awesome commitment by these people. We had club members, motorbike club members, club members’ family or friends plus some guys who came all the way from Christchurch to help out. Scotty did his usual marshals’ briefing (to which drivers and co-drivers were also encouraged to attend) which included a run down and demonstration on rules and regs, what to watch out for and how to handle the competitors. Their day would finish at the latest at 4.30pm and to show our appreciation for their efforts all marshals and organisers plus our two first aiders went into a draw to win a Superwinch winch kindly given to us by Mainland series sponsor Superwinch. Drivers briefing was held at 8.45am and the Stages started at 9.00am. All-up we had ten day stages, with the last truck to enter a stage no later than 4.00pm. The stages had a variety of everything. Bogs, swamp, ponds, winch walls, forestry tracks, off-cambered angles and ground anchoring. Early in the day a couple of Stages (4 and 5) had a section which got changed, and teams who had already done them had the option to re-run them. Some did just that, others kept the time they already had. This was a decision by the organisers.
Some of the stages got harder as the day went on and some became more driveable so, really, there was no advantage or disadvantage for the teams. We on lookers and crew had 4 stages that were easily viewed. Plenty of winching, a nice long swampy bog and a couple of winch walls to view.
This was the fourth round for Mike Holmes (Blenheim), Scotty Newport (Nelson), Richard Wilson (Queenstown), Andy Reeves (Christchurch), and Wellington trio Robin Scaife, Stan Goodman and Lance Goodman. It was a first for Michael Duncan (Wellington) in the Superwinch Mainland Challenge and our youngest driver yet. Michael has been following the Mainland series competitors for about six years so it was great to see him in a driver’s seat of his own. Mike Holmes had a new co-driver (Tom Jessep) for the Saturday stages due to Andrew falling ill, and the new pairing completed all stages. Tom should know this truck like the back of his hand, he has been working on it a fair bit this season! It was a home round, of course, for Scotty and co-driver James, a bit of an advantage, guess everyone gets that in at least one round. Andy and Arron had a great round, getting the fastest time in stage 12. Robin and Paul completed four stages but DNFed their fifth stage of the day with a broken rear diff lock, bent front diff and broken CV. Not a good day for them then. Both Stan and Lance Goodman had a good round, with both completing all stages and getting good results. Young Michael Duncan started all 13 stages but got one DNF. Awesome driving by this team. Michael also got third fastest time in two of the stages.
This was the fourth round for Rick Crosbie, Adam Wardle, Nathan Hammond, Steve Bruerton and Brock Welsh, all of Christchurch. All completed all stages apart from Steve and Matt, who started four of the day stages but DNFing stage 11 saw them out for the rest of the day. It was a home town round for Rowan/Chad and Tom/Zinny. While Rowan and Chad had a great run, completing all stages, though Tom managed to fix the problem from the night stages, a late start saw he and Zinny run out of time to complete all of Saturday’s stages. The Leighs (Mr & Mrs) from Blenheim started all stages but ended with two DNFs, Mr Leigh putting the Hilux on its side in Stage 9 and both winches packed it in in Stage 4. Greg and son Cullum in the wee Suzuki started eight stages but DNFed in Stage 7, and after getting recovered from there they called it a day. Malcolm and Robb (Timaru) started six of the day’s stages but, needing to spend a bit of time in the pits they decided to call it a day also.
We had four entries in the Clubman Class this round, the most we have had all season: Pete Leslie and Richard Gifford from Blenheim, Tony O’Donnell and John Boylett from Nelson. Pete/James, Tony/Russell and John and wife Tyra completed all stages. This was only the second Challenge John and Tyra have entered and they were pretty stoked when they topped the Clubman class on seven of the 13 stages. Richard and Son William started four day stages but after a DNF in stage 12 they called it quits for the day. The day started to wind down with the first of the teams finishing at around 12.30pm. It was a great day, lots of smiles all around, even from the guys/girls that broke. They got a lot of winching, challenging tracks and both driver and co-drivers got plenty of seat time. By 5.00pm the stages were closed, most of the teams were gone and the organisers (that’s us!) even had all the stages packed up. Megan again had the scoring under control and by 6.00pm had the competitors' score cards printed out for them to be checked off. Dinner and prize-giving was held at the Ocean Lodge in Tahunanui, Nelson. With over 100 meals catered for by 7.30pm we were ready for prize-giving at 8.00pm. Nelson chose the two Superwinch Option prize package from the sponsor Superwinch with one winch put aside for the marshals and organisers, and the other for the competitors. We had a great night. Thanks to all involved.
Scotty and James wading thru the pond.
Mike and Tom driving out of stage 9.
Chad and Rowan in stage 9.
Oopps Mr Leigh has rolled it again. Photo by Alf Russel