XWC Round 3 – Swamp Donkeys by a Whisker

It’s been nearly ten years since the Comeup Xtreme Winch Challenge has ventured north into Central Queensland, but on the weekend of July 12-14, it was back with an action-packed weekend of extreme 4WD winching action.

Seventeen Central Queensland based teams lined up on Friday night to tackle the first of three stages, set in the Seeonee Park grounds on the outskirts of Rockhampton. It would be a pair of Nissan Patrols taking the first stage win with Mark Thomas and Luke Ingram setting equal fastest time with Matt Barker and Matt Milne. In the next stage, Barker looked fast again, but broke a ball joint and had no steering. But they weren’t giving up, using a strap to hold the ball joint onto the steering arm, they attempted to get out of the stage and even resorted to winching the GQ Patrol along the creek. But it wasn’t to be, running out of time and recording a DNF.

Stage 2 would be won by the Buggy of Mick Adams and Kelvin Richardson, setting the fastest time, and with no penalties, they scored a perfect 100 points. But Thomas and Ingram in the GQ Patrol were nipping at their heels and were second fastest, maintaining their lead.

In Stage 3, John Nicholas and Dean King in 100 Series Landcruiser would come up trumps, winning the stage and jumping up into 3rd outright. Thomas and Ingram finished down the order in fourth, but this was enough for them to maintain their lead going into Saturday’s stages. Olley Clews and Ashley Quirk in the Dobinsons GQ Patrol scored two top three placings in the opening tests and this would set them up well for Saturday’s stages, they were second outright.

Special Stage 4 was the first for Saturday and was a double winch stage with a gnarly set of wombat holes on a steep slope set to test teams winching skills. The stage quickly proved to be a tough one with an hour hold up when Jack and Mitch Henderson lay their Hilux on its side after climbing a tree and deeply burying the Toyota in the wombat holes and taking out three different trees in the recovery exercise. They weren’t the only team to lay it over, with Peter and Steven McKechnie almost doing the same. The father and son team worked well together to pull it back on to its wheels and over the obstacle. Ben Boulter and Luke Mackie were another team to lay their GQ Patrol over in the Wombat Holes. They also quickly recovered and had the winch truck back on its wheels and through the stage.


Barker and Milne were quickest in Special Stage 5, but a 30-point penalty would upset their day, handing the win to Clews and Quirk in the GQ Patrol. Right behind them was Ben and Jordy Saunders in the 100 Series Landcruiser, they were very close to a win, only seconds off the top time. By the end of the 2nd day of Competition, Thomas and Ingram in the GQ were in the lead, holding a 14-point margin over Clews and Quirk in a similar spec GQ Patrol. Third was Nicolas and King.

Sunday was a single super special stage with a split time used as SS9 and the entire course making up SS10. The stage was made up of a very rocky section, a climb over a big log and then a run up and down the creek in a metre-deep water. Most trucks dealt easily with the water, with only one team struggling, resulting in a wet navi. This long two stage test would really be the decider, and it was on, like donkey kong for our top three teams.

Nicholas in the 100 Series was fast through the stage and navigator King remained in the cabin the whole time, Nicholas driving the two winch walls to take the fastest time in the combined SS9/SS10 stage. Could Clews and Quirk in the older GQ maintain their second place?

Clews drove the first winch wall and subsequently took the fastest time at the split point making up SS9. In the second half of the stage it was close, but with Quirk having to get out of the truck to winch the final wall out of the water, the Nissan Patrol would still manage to stay in front of Nicholas in the Toyota behind.

It was now all up to Thomas and Ingram in the GQ Patrol. They were in the lead going into the final two stages, so needed to be fast to win. At the rock ledges, Ingram was out of the cab, ready to winch, but Thomas drove the wall and headed straight into the water to the last winch wall. Thomas was quick out of the water and straight up the winch wall, driving it with determination. Heading back to the finish line, Thomas would pick up a ten-point penalty and possibly his chances of victory.

The scores were close, and after the time-keepers had entered the times into the timing system, the third round of the Comeup Xtreme Winch Challenge Series was won by just one point with Thomas and Ingram victorious in the Swamp Donkeyz Nissan Patrol GQ.  Second with 918 points was Clews and Quirk in the Dobinsons GQ. Nicholas and King were third in the 100 Series Landcruiser.

Round 4 of the Comeup Xtreme Winch Challenge Series heads south to the Springs 4WD Park on the 23rd- 25th August.

Report: John McCredie   Photos: Melissa Moran


No  Driver  Navigator  Sate  Make  Model  TOTAL  POS 
15  Mark Thomas  Luke Ingram  Qld  Nissan  GQ  919  1 
10  Olly Clews  Ashley Quirk  Qld  Nissan  GQ  918  2 
3  John Nicholas  Dean King  Qld  Toyota  100 series  901  3 
17  Ben Saunders  Jordy Saunders Qld  Toyota  100 series  876  4 
9  Mick Adams  Kelvin Richardson  Qld  Buggy  834
8  Benny Boulter  Luke Mackie  Qld  Nissan  GQ  742  6 
16  Sam Callow  Mitch Hetherington  Qld  Toyota  Hilux  710  7 
6  Nick Murphy  Hayden Lowe  Qld  Nissan  GQ  700  8 
12  Matt Shields  Dan Bowes  Qld  Toyota  LC MWB  693  9 
4  Peter McKechnie  Steve McKechnie  Qld  Nissan  GQ  690  10 
1  Sam O’Keeffe  John Pratchett  Qld  Nissan  GQ SWB  650  11 
7  Adon Murphy  Bevan Ransom  Qld  Nissan  GQ  587  12 
5  Jack Henderson  Mitch Henderson  Qld  Toyota  Hilux  559  13 
13  Raymond Stokes  Anthony Purcell  Qld  Nissan  GU  446  14 
14  Ben McCamley  Matty Vass  Qld  Nissan  GQ  440  15 
2  Matt Barker  Matt Milne  Qld  Nissan  GQ  397  16 
11  Jade Stack  Brent Evans  Qld  Nissan  GQ SWB  340  17