Past Events > 2002 > The Muddy Truckers Trophy

The Muddy Truckers Trophy

2nd March 2002

The Muddy Truckers Trophy
March 2nd and 3rd 2002

by Dave White

Photos by John Davies and Graham Porter

In November 2000 two of my friends, Steve and Wendy Maddison, were killed in a tragic accident on the A1 whilst trying to help others escape from an overturned car. Steve and Wendy had been involved and competed in many areas of our sport and had turned their hobby into a successful business by founding Maddison 4x4. Steve had achieved great success in the "challenge" events as part of "Team Ibex" with vehicles prepared by Steve and Maddison 4x4.

The Steve Maddison Memorial Trophy was created and was due to be competed for in April 2001, however, the foot and mouth outbreak made running the event then impossible and so it was that, in March 2002, ten invited teams, each comprising two vehicles, were drawn to compete for this trophy as a part of the "Muddy Truckers Trophy". The event would consist of 2 days of competition with driving challenges, navigational challenges and some more cerebral tasks along the way.

Our team consisted of myself and Nigel Waller in my Range Rover and Matthew Sykes and John Davies in Matthew's 110. All eyes though were on "Team Ibex", sporting two newly built Ibex vehicles built and prepared by Maddison 4x4, neither of them had done more than a few hundred miles since their completion but both looked very capable. Their bright yellow and green colour scheme certainly gave them a high profile and the sound of their V8 Diesel engines turned a few heads too !

Saturday morning saw the 20 vehicles and the collection of marshals vehicles congregate in Wooler for an early start. Each team was handed an individual road book and following a briefing and introduction we were away. The first challenge we were to attempt was challenge number 1. We had an 8 digit grid reference so after entering the coordinates in the GPS we headed off to find the first site. This turned out to be just outside Wooler, overlooking the town on a steep hill side. The first section required the vehicles to drive along a trials section to the marker punch. I set off first while the rest of the team ran ahead to deploy the ground anchors at the top of the first hill where it was obvious that we would need the winch. We soon had the Range Rover to the top and decided to bring Matthew's 110 up to the same point before I tackled the next climb.

With the 110 hanging from it's winch rope about half way up the hill the engine kept dying and this was putting a great strain on the battery having to winch without the alternator topping the power up. Fortunately, the only tree on the site was just in the right place to allow me to assist with the Range Rover by reversing the pull from my front mounted winch through a snatch block. With both winches deployed the 110 finally crested the first hill and I could then winch the Range Rover up to the punch and then on to the end of the section. Again the 110 was having engine problems and it took a combination of the Range Rover winch, the 110's winch and the winch on the following teams lead vehicle to drag the ailing 110 up the hill. After clearing the section we checked all the power cables on the 110 and Matthew crimped the fuel return pipe in an attempt to improve things.

The second challenge was similar to the first, with a very tight section next to the punch that forced both vehicles to use a combination of winching and brute force to get through. The third challenge was more cerebral and didn't require the vehicles, using a piece of string and a couple of sticks we had 20 minutes to lift a bottle filled with "acid" out of a tyre. 3 minutes later, flushed with success, we headed off to the second site about 6 miles away for the next challenge. This was a quarry site with 3 challenges, the first challenge we came to had another team on it so we went on to the next...

Our chosen challenge looked simple enough, drop down the quarry side into a lake at the bottom, cross the lake to get the punch, drive out of the other side. As my Range Rover (a 3.9EFi) is better in deep water than the 110 I went first. The punch was on a post about 150 ft out and not knowing exactly how deep the water was going to get was a bit unnerving. As we approached the post the water was at around headlight level and a quick glance down confirmed that the gearbox tunnel had just disappeared under some very muddy water and the level was still rising. Still, the Magnecor HT leads were doing their job and the engine wasn't missing a beat so other than a very wet right foot and a navigator moaning about a wet bottom all was OK. We got to the punch and Nigel stamped our score card, then the engine stopped... It's at times like these that your navigator really appreciates the benefit of Plasma rope on the winch. Nigel climbed out on to the bonnet with a coil of winch rope and threw it to the bank where it was attached to the 110 and I winched the dead Range Rover out of the lake to dry ground.

It took some time to diagnose the problem but, to cut a long story short, it appeared that the petrol tank now had a high proportion of water in it, sucked in through the vent pipe while we were crossing the lake. Once the petrol/water ratio had reached a critical point the engine stopped, effectively putting an end to our days competition. Matthew managed to complete a different challenge on his own in the 110 but after trying for a couple of hours to coax the Range Rover back into life we decided to call it a day and head for the finish. After dropping both prop shafts, Matthew towed us to the finish so we wouldn't lose our points for the day. The "night run" was out of the question for us and we set about draining the fuel tank and trying to get the Range Rover ready for the following day while the other competitors set off into the evening.

Four hours later we were mobile again and headed back to Duns for the evening meal and a well deserved pint. If the Range Rover would start on Sunday morning we would continue, if not then the AA would be getting a call.

Sunday morning we were up in plenty of time. The Range Rover started but didn't sound too healthy so we set off to an industrial estate where we could "give it some" without disturbing the locals ! After an hours tweaking it would tick over and seemed to be as good as it would get so we headed to the meeting point to receive our days instructions. I'm not saying we are jinxed or anything but when our first challenge of the day (15) was drawn from a hat, we looked in the book and it read: "the sections on this site are straight forward apart from 15 which is a real pig" or something along those lines, which filled us with confidence ! Once we eventually found the section we realised why... suffice to say that nearly 2 hours later, after much winching, lugging ground anchors around and spinning of wheels we managed to get both vehicles down a steep sided valley to the bottom, back to the top again and finally out through a gate at the bottom.

By comparison, the rest of the challenges on the site were simple enough and we were soon working as a team to coax, winch and drive the 2 vehicles through one challenge after another, picking up punches along the way. By 2.30 pm we had completed all but one of the sections on the site and decided we would run this section and then call it a day as we had to be at the finish by 3.30pm if we wanted to keep our score. There appeared to be two "undriveable" parts of this particular section but with plenty of trees around to winch against neither of them should prove a problem. Matthew went through first and I followed him in using the same tree strops to get through the difficult bits. The end of the section passed along a V gulley and about 10 ft from the end with the Range Rover leaning over at an acute angle on the side of the gulley the engine died. After winching myself along the final stretch, a quick diagnosis revealed that the fuel pump had packed in. This presumably as a result of the previous days attempt to pump muddy water instead of petrol. So it was that, once again, the Range Rover finished the days competition on the end of a rope, towed to the finish by the 110. The Range Rover was to make the journey back to Yorkshire on the back of an AA recovery vehicle.

1st place and the Steve Maddison Memorial Trophy went, fittingly, to Steve Maddison's old team mates in "Team Ibex", Neil Redpath, Patrick Smart, Steve Barras (Wendy Maddison's brother) and Malcolm Watson with a total of 4870 points, this despite Neil spending a good part of Sunday with 3 wheel drive. 2nd place went to the team of Alan Wormald and Richard Ibbotson with 3875 points, 3rd place went to the team of Barry Plockrose and Tony Baskill with 3800 points.

Despite our problems (and perhaps because of them) we thoroughly enjoyed this well thought out event and hope to be back next year to compete for the trophy. Needless to say I am currently modifying the fuel tank venting system on my Range Rover !

Pictures of the event can be seen here
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