Bulldog Trophy 2002

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The Club Off Road

Bulldog Trophy 2002




The eighth Bulldog in a long and illustrious line up, with an equally long and illustrious entry list. This one was to be very special in so many ways. The land for a start. It so nearly never happened. Never has there been such a close call to actually having to cancel the event. But with a great deal of input from a small number of dedicated people (you know who you are, and you all live near Wooler) we managed to keep everything on track and boy was it worth it. These hills were all too literally to die for. Steep sided ravines, boggy uplands, slopes to make the eyes bulge and natures great leveller...... cloud. You can't drive over it but neither can you see through it and all around are your worst off road nightmares.

One of those nightmares so nearly came to fruition when the Toyota Hilux of Stewart Oakes and David Barchall went off route in the heavy mist. Their team mates Gerry Mills and Alan Farmer in their Disco were following at a respectable distance, which as everyone knows is good off road technique. The Hilux stopped when it became obvious that the slope was getting far too steep. It's not really possible to know with certainty what happened next but their attempt at backing up failed, gravity then took over and they set off down the steepening slope into the mist. Imagination is needed to sit yourself in those seats trying to control a 4x4 on an ever steepening slope with zero grip and no idea of what is in front beyond the visual range allowed by the mist. (What was in the mist was a twenty feet vertical drop into a rocky stream bed. I shall leave you all there with your imaginations in overdrive as those of us in the challenge fraternity tend not to share such things with others). Suffice it to say that Stewart and David survived the ordeal with no more than cuts, bruises and a wrenched shoulder. The Hilux however was recovered in a textbook late night winch fest and has since been put to sleep! The response for this event is always spectacular and I can't believe that anyone was disappointed with their weekend in the Cheviots. The Redcoats, both man and madam, as always, did a sterling job by day and by night to keep everything running like a well oiled machine. The competitive level was so high it was off the scale. The boys from the green stuff made a valiant attempt to take some trophies back to the Emerald Isle but their 4 leaf clovers were having no discernible effect and mechanical mayhem soon took its toll. True to their nature however it never stopped them having some good 'craic'! From here I shall revert to the words that appeared in Land Rover World magazine now that everyone has had their moment of glory in that august publication.

For Ivor Clegg Bulldog pictures click the link

Club Off Road's Bulldog Trophy.

The Bulldog Trophy was the 3rd and final round of this years Optima Batteries 4x4 Challenge series. Starting in Scotland then moving to mid Wales and finally just slipping over the border again to Scotland for the Bulldog. We have had 50 individual 4x4's entering these rounds, building up to the final in November. Standards class, which means what it says on the packet, has been as keenly fought as the specials and the final is an open book as to the eventual winners. There are now 15 teams of two through to the grand final of this years Optima Batteries Challenge Series at Tong on November 16th. From case hardened 90's to Tonka tough Suzukis. Jeeps to G Wagens, they'll all be there to prove that when the going gets tough, the tough just get tougher!

As my eldest daughter believes, with some accuracy, I haven't long to go before being completely senile, she has begun to accompany me on CoR events. Her recent success at putting event reports onto the ClubOff Road website has prompted her to pen this offering. I was allowed to do the results. And I always thought that I could keep control on slippery slopes! Over to the nearly youngest (that honour belongs to Sam) Redcoat ;

To start with, before we get to the nitty gritty of the most challenging off road event in the UK, I'd like to say…I'M BACK!! And I have a little verse that I pulled out of the mist in bonny Scotland.

All through the house
Nothing stirred, not even a mouse
From over the hills and far away
Fifty vehicles came out to play
Beware the jabberwocky my friend
Lest you meet a long dread end
Let's see how you'll fare
That is, if you dare!

It's amazing what inspired words can enter a head on a desolate hillside in the dead of night isn't it?

So onwards and upwards now I've stopped spouting terrible verse. As usual I was abandoned at home to start with. (Honestly you'd expect a little more service, it's a case of sticking your thumb out and seeing which Redcoat will offer to take you!) When I was picked up by Harry Haigh I hadn't allowed for the fact that my Dad had said Harry couldn't make the journey in under two and half hours (oh but we did!) Plus there was the other minor difficulty of me having to map read. I won't boast but I only got lost once, which is a record. I'm not famed for my map reading abilities. I'll skim the boring bits but the B&B we stayed in does deserve a mention. It was excellent. But I don't remember the name. Sorry!!

Once upon a time they say only the birds in the trees, the animals on the land and the fish in the streams inhabited the land. Here I believe we have found that time. The hills are green, the streams are crystal clear and the sky…well the sky is grey mostly. The hills are only green when you can see them through the clouds and the streams are navigated only by the fearless. But this is still one of the most beautiful places on earth; I have to say that I truly love Scotland. I also hope that anyone who entered the Bulldog will also have some good memories of the off roading, the scenery and the fierce but friendly competition.

Day one started out as most days do with the briefing (always a laugh) and the prologue. You don't like the prologue much do you? A test of brains and practicality in the face of the clock but you lot don't say that, and I quote, "£200 for a ****** quiz"……..Bryn Hemming.
"North is South & South is North but when you get past the fence North is North & South is South, East and West stay the same. Did you really expect to get away with this?" Says Nathan Arrowsmith.
Those who didn't end up tying themselves in knots and at cross points on the compass were sent on a wild box hunt. May I add at this point that it was me who hid the box? They said hide this bright blue crate over there. I showed 'em, it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. I later found the sheep eating my beautiful camouflaged creation. Hidden in there were your Club Off Road goodies. Bulldog trophy mouse mats to be exact (or as two marshals thought, table mats!)
After everyone had waded, (that was Mark Sutton who now looks almost human but still acts Neanderthal) ran or crawled through the prologue it was to the off! Or to the off in intervals at least. The day consisted mainly of punches. (Those are getting a bad reputation don't you think?) Sound's easy? Well no actually. Once the punches were located, they had to be reached. All were above 2,000 feet and the only way back was down a wickedly narrowing spine of land that wasn't quite as steep as the surroundings, or entrants could retrace their steps and descend the wuzzies way. Once those were achieved, and one team never even reached the cloud base while another team missed the descent and did the hard, as in VERY hard, way down then there were wickedly difficult little transit sections if you wanted to claim more points. It went along the lines of here's a piece of innocent looking hillside, drive through it please. Oh how we laughed.

Things were not all that simple though, as we know in the world of Club Off Road. Even as the contestants headed towards the start line the hills above were being eaten away by the low cloud. I wasn't up there myself but the
horror stories coming back down to control were proof enough that it was getting tricky. Especially along the narrow track that headed back to the valleys and relative safety it seemed. This section claimed Stewart Oakes and David Barchall and their previously pristine Toyota HiLux. They had a scary encounter with a long slide, sudden drop and a narrow rock filled ravine. Their motor ended in a state that caused many mutterings about "the wife" and what she was going to do. Paramedics Steve and Julie Wilson plus other Redcoats arrived on the scene and although no real physical harm was done a hospital trip, was deemed a worthy precaution. It may be small consolation to them but they were in second place as they came off the cloud shrouded moor on this, their first 4x4 Challenge event. The HiLux wasn't the only casualty of the day though. There was a steady stream of limping and dying motors returning to the control box for hours I won't name names (mainly because I can't remember them!) but there were quite a few.

After the mad rush to the finish line in order to safeguard your well-earned points for the day, and for The more industrious managed to finish the whole days tasks and set off for bonus punches once their days points were safe in the bag. The organisers weren't at all happy about that but I'm sworn to secrecy about their 'cure' for it in future! I was much more happy once the time limit was reached, some peace descended on control and we could all troop off to the farmers barn for a spread fit for a King. Ham, chicken, salad, bread and all manner of other things sweet and bountiful. I also surreptitiously filled up my flask with delicious soup for the cold and promising night event. While people milled around or dashed back to the camp to get much needed parts for their flagging motors, a red mound appeared in a corner of the barn. Furtive whispers ran around it. It could mean only one thing. The head red had called a "meeting." The clag still shrouded the hilltops in misty uncertainty and the safety of the night event was called into question. However when the fearless (and slightly insane) entrants were asked if they wanted the night event to continue there was a resounding yes! So the worry creased brow of Brian sent off his little helpers (the farmers' sons) on a quad and motorbike to set light the lights. When they returned from the unknown they had been unable to find one of the stakes and therefore hadn't lit it. Why were we not surprised when despite this lack of illumination plenty of you smarty pants still found it!

Hence that night off we headed down into a little cloud filled valley. Head Red assured everyone that clearly shining in the pitch black were several red and green snap lights. People looked and people stared but no one could even see the moor, much less light. Despite that it was quite spectacular seeing fifty motors lined up on the crest of a hill waiting for the mass start. We watched as the time for off approached, redcoat vehicles disappeared into the gathering gloom, their nearly invisible hazards winking out the boundaries. As the motors disappeared into the bowl any visible lights soon became impossible to find in the onset of 400 watts worth of light bearing down from all directions. I'll give you your due though together you found all the lights and one non-light! While this chaos reigned I rejoined Dad for the first time after being abandoned at control. (You know it's sort of like a Chinese torture method? Some one say's 'control' and marshals cower in fear?) We weaved in and out of the floundering vehicles, huddled together on the quad for warmth, before returning once more to the flashing orange light on Steve Wilsons' motor that marked base. Soon everyone was pulling out whether it be in triumph or defeat and heading back over the steep incline to the road. It soon became apparent that the ascent was harder than the descent had been and frequently the most hardy off roaders were finding it hard to conquer the hill. In an effort to spare the some of the marshals vehicles that had road tyres on the farmer's son agreed to lead the remaining people back down the easy route. (Easy route? No one said anything about an easy route before!) However! Team Ibex's night event jinx had struck once more. Steve Barrass had inverted his Ibex whilst Neil Redpath was so keen to get back under time that he appeared solo at control saying Steve was just behind him. Like the pantomime you could hear the chorus of, 'Oh no he's not'!

Dad and me went to investigate on the quad. It was a rather precarious ledge we ambled along and we ended up leaning right over the side of the quad to lessen the chance of going head over heels down the hill. It's at times like this he's glad he doesn't have a stick insect for a daughter! (I'm good ballast.) We found the stricken team in the middle of a long hard winch up the hill.

The other Ibex was doing it's best to pull him out but the winch was starting to tire. Dad and me returned to get winching reinforcements in the shape of Ian and June Herron and Donald Sutherland. We returned to the scene to find both Ibex's nearly at the top if the hill. Using Donald's motor as an anchor and Ian's winch we soon helped the Ibex out and onto a towrope. The long pull did claim Ian's winch in a finale of sparks and molten plastic though. Eventually we all got safely back down (led once again by the farmers son). The day wasn't over as we headed off to check on the recovery of the HiLux which had been undertaken by the three Redcoat motors and crews, finally getting to the farmyard about 2300 just as we arrived to 'help'? And so to the witching hour and a comfy bed.

Before we motor on into day two Club Off Road would like to thank Richard and Carol Dixon and their family for their help and co-operation with the running of the night event, indeed the whole event as well as the catering arrangements. Day two dawned with the promise of low cloud once more and a hectic day for those marshals at control. As the briefing was in full flow those latecomers sneaked in at the back. Where had you been we wonder? Before we go any further who nicked our doggy bags after the meal on Saturday? Own up!

Today was going to be complicated. First you had to go get two punches at certain references (which were hurriedly handed out as a last minute thing for much stress and angst to those running around.) Then you had to return to base and have them checked. Then you had to go across the moorland route. Then you had to come back to control where you got a ticket to go do a section and two more punch references. Then you kept on doing that until finishing time. Confused? Good. So was I. (But most importantly we looked as though we knew what we were doing.) One thing to remember though when using punches…PUNCH THE RIGHT CARD!!!! It saves a lot of time believe me! At control we had no one return for ages then bang you all arrived at once. We lost team 19, a bob tail Range Rover and a 110, for a while. Apparently they had taken all day just to get to the first, and unluckily probably the hardest, punch. Like true Yorkshiremen they refused to give in and just kept at it. They weren't getting any points but they were doing some great off roading which was eventually rewarded with the Bulldog Spirit award for tenacity in the face of adversity. The day progressed pretty much the same in stops and starts. Sunday seemed pretty uneventful from where I was stood (all day) but the number of 4x4's being worked on or parking up near the control told a different story. The cloud finally lifted and a few people got to see the whole glory of the views from the heights of our hills. Bryn Hemmings & Paul Church were one team who had battled all weekend to defend their Bulldog title but mechanical problems finally saw them dejected at the finish line, but there's still the final to come boys. For the first time ever prize giving was actually delayed to the previously announced time rather than being late, now there's a record. Part of Dad's musings were about the likelihood of losing the land. Sadly we found out 4 days later that he was right. Politics again! I don't always agree with him but he did talk sense when he talked about the assembled off roaders being happy to put themselves to the test without whingeing or wanting backup from other people, that's one of the great things about the off road fraternity according to him, independent folk.

From the feedback we've had from this event I can safely say the majority of you enjoyed the event and I had great fun being there. This was my first Bulldog and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. The level and skill of the competition was amazing and the atmosphere created on any of the events is unique. The fact that so many different people from so many walks of life can come together and make something like this work is an achievement and we should all be proud. To finish with I will just say I can't wait to see you all again at the Tong Final! I'll be in the white box…

Shona Hartley

This was overheard at Billing show as Alan Wormald staggered away carrying the biggest ground anchor since the Queen Mary was launched.
"There's no ……! trees at this years Bulldog!"

There does appear to be a direct link between the recent earthquake centred on Dudley and the celebrations of this years Bulldog winners who come from that area.

Bulldog Trophy Winners Giles Evans & Paul Howes V8 90
Nick Pym & Steve Gaunt 100" V8 L/R Hybrid 3970pts.

Special 1st: Barry Pluckrose & Robert Phillipson TD5 Ibex
Tony Baskill & Dave Needham Mercedes G Wagon 3840pts

Standard 1st: Tony Wilson & Phillip Wilson Jeep Wrangler
Alan Wilson & Andy Gudelajtis L/R Lightweight 2850pts

Special 2nd: Doug Dransfield & Dave Longdon L/R 90
Karl Frost/Glynn Oxley L/R 90 3600pts

Standard 2nd: Charles Fawcett & Rachael Simmonite TD5 90
Nick Parkes & Andy Hutchinson TD5 90 2820pts

Special 3rd: Pete Turner & Mark Sutton L/R 90
Nathan Arrowsmith/Steven Grimshaw L/R Lightweight. 3600pts

Standard 3rd: David Howes & Robert Green Suzuki SJ
Martyn Richardson & Simon Vernon Suzuki SJ 2770pts

Steve Maddison Bulldog Spirit Award Dave White/Nigel Waller Range Rover
Matthew Sykes & John Davies L/R 110






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