Throw Back Thursday – 2013 Top of the South Winch Challenge

Bogs, Boulders and Boys at the Top of the South Challenge!

Broken drive shafts were the order of the day at the first round of the 2013 Mainland Winch Challenge Series.

 Broken drive shafts were the order of the day at the first round of the 2013 Mainland Winch Challenge Series.

The event was held at Mt Riley Farm over Queen’s Birthday Weekend, and saw trucks from as far north as Auckland and as far south as Temuka attending, with a total of 22 entries.

The four stages on the Saturday night were tough, putting out the Nelson truck (Jeep Cherokee) of Miles Anderson and navi Neil Aubrey after just one stage, with a myriad of problems. Unfortunately, these weren’t fixable by the next morning so the guys became spectators for the day.

Night stage two proved interesting for Guy Griffiths and navi John Hodgson in the Toyota Prado, with a spectacular end stand, teetering for a moment, and resulting in an end over end tip. This left the A-pillar somewhat bent and the windscreen smashed in.

All that could be seen was a headlight flickering skywards, followed by a loud crash from behind the hill. This didn’t stop the boys though, as they came back fighting on Sunday managing to complete all stages and coming in second place in the open class, behind Gordon Jackett.

The day started on time on Sunday, but it wasn’t long before the pits were filling up with dead and damaged trucks, at one stage I counted eight with the bonnets up and the drivers and navi’s crawling round underneath, desperately trying to fix the problems and get back out there racing. Reports were that at one point during the day there were 12 in the pits, with just two trucks racing!

The day was a first for several trucks. This being the first major competition for Nelson’s Andrew Satherley (Sav) ’s new truck, a Jeep Wrangler that he had re-acquired and rebuilt.

Sav and Scotty started the day leading the Outlaw class by just 10 points from Mike and Sherill Holmes in the V8 Hilux, but with a broken windscreen, from the night before in stage two. They bombed out temporarily early on in the day, doing in the power steering, then getting a DNF in Stage two with a loud crack up a steep bank, breaking his rear driveshaft.

This put the pressure on him to catch up, as he was running in hot competition with Mike Holmes, who also had his fair share of damage. He managed to demolish his PTO winch, and had to rely solely on his Superwinch back-up, and finished at least two stages on flat tyres. By the end of the day, Mike came out on top, beating Sav by just two points in the outlaw class.

The two Leighs (Leigh Jones and Leigh Kirby) had their truck ready in time. A fairly clean run had them third in Outlaw by the end of the night stages, but the couple had only completed three stages quite late in the day, as they too had a broken driveshaft that snapped clean in half, and they did a CV Joint twice, but managed to get the truck repaired enough to complete all the stages and come out in fifth place.

This, after spending a total of four hours in the pits and even a trip to town for parts. They were the last truck running, starting the last stage in the nick of time.

In the open class, Rowan Coutts was in the lead after the night stages, finishing with a first and three seconds, twenty points clear of Gordon Jackett. Guy Griffiths struggling with the effects of the rollover, the DNF hurting as he finished the night with two stage wins and a third.

Wayne Lang was leading Clubmans comfortably from Jimbob Gregory who was by this stage the best of the Aucklanders.

Next day saw Pete Leslie absolutely blitz the class however, winning no less than seven stages. Lang had been hanging in well with a series of seconds till mechanical issues saw his run come to an end, allowing Gregory to retain his second place.

Another to suffer on Sunday was overnight Open Class leader, Rowan Coutts, who ended up sitting on the sidelines to watch Jackett just hold off Griffiths who stormed back into second at the end of the day.

Stage three was meant to be a relatively short stage, but turned into quite a tricky one, with a massive, rutted hole forming part way round catching quite a few out, and by the end of the day, over 50 percent had a DNF on this stage.

Stan van Heeswyck ripped his front axle out and had to be recovered by the tractor, Pete Leslie got well stuck and winched for sometime before freeing himself, but this wasn’t enough to slow him down, as he came first in the Clubman class. Trev Jamie and Grant Watson in the Pink Rat (Hilux) had a small lie – over here also, the fortified rat on the dash not quite a lucky mascot!

Stage one, on the neighbour’s property, cut up after lunch with some hard winching through deep bog and was testing for winches, and stage nine had a long run of approximately 1km up a creek bed with big boulders taking its toll on steering systems and front axles and tyres.

Stage six had a 10-metre winch up a slippery rock face which caught a few out, and the controlled hazard on stage five also got a few, killing several winches, as it could be a 50m winch for some.

While Holmes and Sav were tearing chunks off each other and the scenery for the lead, the two Aucklanders in the class were quietly getting on with the job, Peter Haig coming home third, with Bernie Konz fourth. A great result for the two Jeeps.

There’s just enough time for the guys to get the trucks back in order, to battle it out for round two of the Mainland Winch Challenge Series coming up in Hanmer on July 6.



1st Mike Holmes

2nd Andrew Satherly

3rd Peter Haig


1st Gordan Jackett

2nd Guy Griffith

3rd Rowan Coutts


1st Pete Leslie

2nd Jimbob Gregory

3rd Andrew Reeves

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