Winch Truck Challenge – 2013 Round 3

The third and final round of the ARB Winch Truck Challenge (WTC) was held over the October Long Weekend using the extensive gullies, hills and creeks of the “New Chum” property just south of Mount Morgan to the South West of Rockhampton in Central Queensland.  It was to be an exciting end to what has been a very competitive WTC in 2013.  With Red Beard Racing leading the competition going into this round, the rest of the teams were keen to ensure that Steve Blomfield and his Red Beard Racing Supercharged Toyota didn’t have it all his way.


Sprint RunThe event started with a sprint run around the property with a very deep creek entry catching some teams out with water intake seeming to be a bit of an issue.  The Swamp Donkez Team took in a lot and looked like they might get stranded in the creek, however it coughed, spluttered and spat out a lot of steam and white smoke and off it went again.  Not so much luck for Big Bird Racing who hit the water had and drenched the motor, losing about 5 minutes trying to get it going again and dried out.


The next stage was one of the longest winch stages ever to be thrown at WTC competitors.  Called the “Navi Killer” with obvious good reason, the stage was a 500 metre climb on one of the steepest sections of the property.  Involving at least three winches and a real struggle to the top, it definitely lived up to its name with most navi’s looking decidedly worse for wear afterwards.


By midday on the first day of WTC, it was starting to hot up in both the weather and the competition.  32 degrees had been predicted and it was already up to that temperature with very little moisture in the ground and a lot of dust being kicked up by the trucks.  The drivers were starting to take risks and really giving it a go and the first of the rollovers came from the ARB Rockhampton team who got caught out winching up an off camber winch wall and rolling into the gully below.  The winch was still connected and saved the car from going further into the ravine.  It took quite a long time to recover, using three other trucks winching from various angles.  No one was injured and after the recovery the truck hardly looked like it had been upside down with very little damage other than four smashed very expensive HID roof mounted driving lights.


With one truck rolling in the ravine, navi’s and drivers were likely to be more vigilant with this tricky winch wall.  And tricky it was.  The Swamp Donkez managed to not only roll in exactly the same place, but also fell deeper into the ravine making recovery look like a real problem, but they decided to have a go at self-recovery in an effort to not DNF the stage.  Sitting upside down in his car, Mark Thomas waited patiently for almost 7 minutes while navi Luke “Rooster” had a go at recovering the car.  It was not to be and eventually Rooster had to call it and a DNF was the best they could do.  Recovering the car was a bit more difficult and slowed down this stage considerably.


But it wasn’t to be the last roll.  The aptly name team “Ready 2 Roll” also put it on its roof on the same winch wall taking the stage roll tally to 3.  The team were the only ones in the modified class restricting tyre size and only allowing 12 Volt winches and had to declare a DNF in this stage also.  Once again, the team escaped relatively unscathed with a broken windscreen the only real evidence that they had had any sort of problem.



The night stage proved to be a quick and highly entertaining course with a steep hill to start under very well flood lit conditions which most teams drove, followed by a sprint to a whopping hole right in front of the main winch wall in relative darkness, testing each team’s ability to go from light to dark and back again.


Sunday was another hot and dry day with similar conditions to day 1.  The first stage was to the east of the property and involved three very tricky winch walls all within a few metres of each other.  This stage was exceptionally compact and the order of the winch walls was optional which made for some interesting decisions by some teams as to what order to hit them.  Because of tree placement and the narrow nature of the creek, the exit up onto each winch wall made selection of the order critical and a few teams got it wrong spending too much time getting up the walls.  By the end of the stage, a few teams managed to drive the last winch wall.  At the beginning of the stage this last wall was the hardest with the worst approach angle, but by the end had become a completely different test and allowed those last few teams the opportunity to drive it.  The exit into the finish box also became a fourth winch wall with all teams needed to winch out due to the angle of the exit and a deep whole putting trucks on an angle that would guarantee a rollover.


Three stages to the west of the property, including a sprint run along the main creek would conclude the event.  The second last stage was a revised traverse over the course used for the night stage and saw many trucks attempt and also drive two of the winch walls.  Another very entertaining stage with “Hound Dog Racing” rolling spectacularly in front of the crowd, saved by a large tree from rolling all the way to the bottom of the hill.  Red Beard Racing had winch problems on the last of the winch walls on this stage and looked like they would need to DNF the stage.  The winch just wouldn’t pull them up the hill due to some problem and they looked like calling it.  With a great deal of shouting from the crowd, Driver Steve Blomfield decided to have an attempt at driving the wall and managed to do just that, finishing the stage and eventually winning the event and the series.


The place getters for Round 3 were:


1st – Red Beard Racing (Toyota Lancruiser)
2nd – Pump and Grunt (Nissan Patrol)
3rd – Goldylox Racing (Toyota Landcruiser)


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