A good time was had by all at the Southern Trail Blazers 4WD club’s two-day teams’ event in November last year
With much of the South Island being blasted by strong winds and heavy rain leading up to the Southern Trail Blazers 4WD club two-day teams’ event some of the stages had to altered due to the amount of water around.
Three months of planning and cutting, marking tracks had gone into organising this event by myself and my brother Keith as well as other 4WD club members so we were very pleased when the sun decided to shine for the two days of the event.
The event is for Club Trucks with rego and wof. Teams of two vehicles enter with two night stages on the Friday and a further six stages on the Saturday.
This year four teams from the Southern Trail Blazers club and two teams from Clutha 4WD club had entered. Teams met in Mataura at 4pm on Friday November 25.
First up they were given a small car trial which took them to the campsite. Upon arrival at camp everyone set up their tents or caravans and cooked their tea with the exception of one team who had a roast lamb meal delivered!
Afterwards everyone tested their vehicles on the suspension travel ramp before drivers’ briefing where teams were informed of the weekend’s plan then set off to complete the evening/night stages.
Stage two was short in a farm plantation with the only tricky part for some being an off-camber hairpin turn which had a few teams using their recovery gear and winches early.
On stage one was another plantation which started off with a steep drop into a ditch followed by a compulsory winch wall, then along slippery steep climb to the top of the hill, and looping back around to the finish. The first two teams had to winch the hill which resulted in them having slower times than other teams.
We returned to camp about 10pm, lit the bonfire and had a great social evening.
On Saturday morning, we were on the road by 8am to a forestry block for the day’s stages. Teams were given a map with the six stages marked on and set off. It wasn’t long before team two (Callum Calder and Terrance McNamara) had a breakdown; Callum had punctured the Hilux radiator but soon had it removed, repaired and refitted. Unfortunately, however, this wouldn’t be their only breakdown as Terrance broke a CV joint later in the day resulting in a DNF.
All teams were pushing hard with some teams managing to drive some of the stages while others winched. The forestry stages were mainly in swampy/boggy terrain which meant choosing the right line was the difference between a fast or slow time.
Stage two proved this with some teams setting time around two minutes while others were well into the nineteen-minute mark.
Stage three dropped down a steep bank followed by a boggy section in some scrub then up a bank to the finish. All teams completed this stage in good time with little penalties except for team five (Ben Miller and Murray Jarvis) of the Clutha club who had just replaced the power steering pump on Ben’s Holden-powered Surf only to start stage three and lose the clutch.
While most stages involved winching there were some which gave the navis a rest and drivers a chance to blow the cobwebs out like stage five, although with a steep downhill section it was easy to overshoot the turn into the creek before turning around and returning to the start/finish.
By 4pm all teams had completed the six stages and returned to the Falls Hotel in Mataura for prize giving and meal.