Simon deploying the winch cable for the first time at Croatia Trophy

4×4 Croatia Trophy 2011 prologue

The adrenaline level is high. The start signal goes off. I gas it… Some kamikaze runs at the hill… but eventually the winch is deployed

After a good day setting up the small things in the car we find an error in the readings of the Terratrip. After a late test run last night, we suspect a speedo-cable malfunction, and decide to remove it and replace it with a new one. But after a short test with a battery drill – everything seems to be working? So we re-route the cable to avoid a tight angle, and hope for the best… Also, Ruud spots a roller-block failure in the morning and we replace the two steel pins with bolts…

Is this a lucky break? That manifests itself at the briefing, where Simon draws ‘lucky number seven’ from the hat. Which means we can start in the third set of three. We have no idea what to expect, so wait in the car until our starting slot. We’re up against a V8 Jeep and a heavily-modified Defender.

The adrenaline level is high – at least for me. The start signal. I gas it… But we end up at the back and have to wait for the others to negotiate the tight turn at the bottom. The Jeep is in the lead and rev’s up the hill! The Defender in front of us has some more difficulty getting up the hill so we stop and lose momentum… After a few kamikaze attacks he manages to gain some traction. We are surprised at the large number of spectators dotted around the hillside, taking cover from the mud thrown out by the knobbly tyres.

Suddenly it is OUR turn in the gulley so I give it some beans, but slide into the wrong track. I reverse and try again… No go… So reverse again and try to get a different line, but keep slipping off-line. I am putting this down to the lack of front lockers and not driver error…After five attempts we decide to winch. Simon jumps out with a tree strap and heads up the hill as I pay out winch cable. We pick the right tree and drag ourselves up the hill. A quick recovery of cable and strap and Simon is in the car and we head off! Not a bad effort!

The adrenaline is pumping and we floor it to get up the last section. At the finish at the top we slide to a halt as the timekeeper notes our time. We assume that it is not too impressive and are disappointed that we had to winch, but our mates reassure us that we still have a week here and the most important part is keeping the car in one piece!

Later we descend down the hill to go and watch the Extreme Class competitors give an impressive show which is impressively loud, mostly skilful and rather entertaining for the crowd.

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