Firstly, some thanks
This series is now in its 9th year, and Odyssey Batteries have once again supported us by being the headline sponsor for the series. It is great that Odyssey supports the grass roots level of motorsport so that it gives new and upcoming competitors a chance to win top quality batteries which could help propel them up to the next level of the sport.
Round 1 was individually sponsored by Goodwinch, another iconic name in the off-roading world and another company who believes in supporting the grass roots level of the sport. Competitors were keen to do well to be in with a chance to get their hands on the much coveted Goodwinch products. The combination of the two brands delivers a perfect combination for anyone involved in the challenge scene.
Having cut their teeth at Viking events, Allen Sharpe and Duncan Smith have become the nation’s top competitors, so it was great that both teams joined us again to battle it out for top spot and were very much the teams to beat.
It was also great to see Dave Middleton out and about after a period of illness. Dave has been an ardent supporter of off-road motorsport for more years than he would probably wish to admit and has helped organise events for decades. Competitors gave a spontaneous round of applause when he was introduced at the driver’s briefing, which is something rarely done for an event official, but a very fitting accolade for Dave.
Fire up the trucks!
As usual the formalities of signing-on and scrutineering were completed in good time and the driver’s briefing was done at 09.45 as per usual. This took a little longer than usual, due to the extra health and safety briefing as a result of tragic accidents in Scotland last year. Immediately after the briefing, there is usually a mad scramble to hunt for punches, but for some reason, many competitors took their time to get going with some guys still working on their trucks before heading off.
The organisers had done their best to cater for all comers, many of the punches had been cordoned off with barrier tape in order to create a tight, technical event where competitors would have to maximise their use of winches and call upon all of their rigging prowess to get their trucks near to the punches. However, there were also several places where it was a simple straight line pull to get to a punch to make life a bit easier for newcomers and class 1 trucks, which only have one winch. Massive engine power was certainly not needed.
‘At it hammer and tongs’
Challenge events are meant to be tough on both man and machine and it wasn’t long before the first casualties returned to the pits for essential repairs. It was great to see Simon Essam, one of the founding fathers of the series (then known as the LRS challenge series) out again. But this time he was acting as winchman for his son Henry. Sadly, they were forced to retire early when their power steering pump gave up, which rendered their hydraulic steering system inoperable. Chris Booth with his son Tom were also to retire early with a rare gear breakdown in their hydraulic winch. There were many reported minor faults, but most were able to make repairs and carry on. In fact, it’s probably the lowest attrition rate ever recorded at a Viking challenge event with only six retirements, all of which were in class 3. Amazingly, all class 1 and class 2 teams kept going to the very end. All up and down the field, there were some great battles with very little between each place on the leader board.
As expected, there was a titanic battle between the two top teams. Allen Sharp with winchman Ben Turpie and Duncan Smith with Henry Papworth were going at it hammer and tongs. Both teams matching each other point for point, until Allen had a failure in the rear winch. He wasn’t sure of the exact nature of the fault, but a motor and a solenoid were quickly changed and they were back in the game with just 30 minutes down time.
Dishing out the prizes, and how they're awarded
The event finished at the usual time of 16.00 and competitors rushed to the paddock to have their punch cards removed by the officials. While the scores were being totted up, some of the competitors kindly went off to collect in the punches and cordon tape. The scores were ready by 17.00 and were announced a few minutes later.
It is generally the practice to announce the scores in reverse order, but as the Goodwinch goodies are so highly prized, the scores are announced in descending order so that competitors can get first pick at the prizes. The first place teams are given a discount voucher for Goodwinch products plus first choice of either a Bowmotor or a Bow Rope. The second place crew were then able to take either a motor or a rope, depending on what the top team had selected, and third place would get either a motor or rope depending on what had been handed out to the top 2 teams.
This round’s winners are…!
Scores were quite close in Class 1. Anthony Powell & David Longmore did their first challenge ever at this event last year and managed a creditable 3rd, but a years’ worth of experience has propelled them up to top spot for this event on 3068 points. 2nd went to Matt Dilley and Ben Robinson, who have been campaigning in Class 2 but have decided to disable their rear winch to try their luck in class 1 this time. They were tantalisingly close to top spot with 2938 points. 3rd place went to Jack MacDonald and Paul Dallyn with a creditable 2450 points. The top 2 are competing in challenge special buggies whereas Jack and Paul are campaigning in a fairly standard, full bodied 90 which did very well against the buggies.
Class 2 was totally dominated by Dan Hicking and Alex Wilson, collecting a massive 8902 points in their ex-ORA buggy. They were the only team in class 2 to get onto a second punch card. Some way behind were Ben Mark & Chris Sutcliffe on 5384; they also compete with a 90 but theirs is a pick-up bodied truck. Very close on their heels in another 90 pick-up were Ryan Stimpson and Tom Joliffe on 5249 points. As with class 1, just over 100 points or one punch score separating them.
The titanic battle for Top spot in Class 3 went right to the wire between Duncan Smith & Henry Papworth and arch rivals Allen Sharp & Ben Turpie. Both teams had completed one punch card and were on a second card, which only two other teams managed.
However, someone had to win and it seems that the 30 minute stoppage cost Allen and Ben dear as it allowed Duncan & Henry to take advantage. They amassed a massive 10,226 points, to take the win while Allen and Ben were just 314 points behind on 9912. How close would it have been had it not been for the minor breakdown? 3rd in class 3 went to father and some team of James and John Ayre. They had also managed to get onto a second punch card and collected a very creditable 7385 points.
Some teams opt for hydraulic winches, but the great majority use electric. The top three in all classes went to trucks with electric winches and though several competitors run the best winches money can buy, they still run on Goodwinch Bowmotors and both Duncan and Allen were very happy to get their hands on a couple of new motors. Every truck must use a winch line regardless of what form of energy propels their winch along, but the ropes of choice are invariably Goodwinch Bowropes, so the lucky recipients in each class were very happy to walk away with one of these as well.
It was a tremendous start to the Odyssey Battery Winch Challenge series, a huge thank you must go to the marshals and to Goodwinch and Odyssey Batteries for their support within the challenge community.
There are still some spaces left for round 2, so check out the Viking 4x4 Club website for further details. The series has to be the cheapest entry fee for a motorsport event at just £50 per event. Pip Evans
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