The 2nd round of the 2018 COMEUP Xtreme Winch Challenge saw plenty of great action, with the winner finishing with the truck ON FIRE, literally!

The 2nd round of the Comeup Xtreme Winch Challenge kicked off on a cold and clear Friday night on the Springate property just south of the small township of Limbri, in the Tamworth area of NSW.

There were 11 purpose built 4WD’s, all fitted with winches capable of pulling these mighty machines out of the toughest gully.

But it doesn’t all go according to plan, with Manny Kafenterus in the GQ patrol breaking the winch rope, not a good start to the night. Luckily his navigator knows how to tie a good knot.

Picking your line into the gully is important. Getting stuck on a rock is not ideal, having to winch in the Gully even worse as Steve Howarth and Glen Rodgers found out.

Another team to break a winch rope was John and Mick from the Blue Mountains 4WD club. Unfortunately Mick failed cub scouts and needed a lesson on knot tying from his driver. Mick eventually tied the biggest knot he could and they winched to the top.

Rod and Russell Rathbone in the Toyota FJ40 picked a pretty ordinary line of the second of the winch climbs and struggled for traction. A broken front axle and no rear drive would see them fail to finish the stage, and they will be extremely busy trying to fix it overnight.
But there were plenty of Extreme Winch trucks that made the climb out of the gullies look all too simple. Let’s chek them out.


Day 2 of the Comeup Xtreme Winch Challenge Series started with a decent crowd of people gathered to watch the action, and it was straight into it. The first stage for the morning included traversing the gully a few times and winching over mother natures strategically placed Log.

Rod Rathbone and Russell Rathbone were back after travelling into Tamworth and welding up a new tailshaift and the FJ40 sounded great. They were back in the game!

The biggest drama for Pete Bannister and Tim Simpson in the Mav, was the navigators door. It just wouldn’t stay closed and was flapping around in the breeze for the entire stage.

Josh Rathbone was struggling with the winch on Kevin Gorricks 80 series. Eventually freeing the rope and winching over the log.

John Adamson And Mick Weimeri from the Blue Mountains 4WD club were quickly over the log, but an electrical fire at the end of the stage was quickly extinguished by the marshals and some quick repairs were needed. It obviously didn’t affect the car, the very next stage they drove the winch section, very impressive for the 60 series.

Most needed to winch the narley hill, including Steve Reid in the 100 series Landcruiser. The rocks providing a real challenge and some tricky manouvering. The angle of the winch hill is very misleading until you see it from side on. Matt Holgate and Issac James in the GU Patrol were the overnight leader and made it look simple winching to the top of this very rocky hill.

Phil Bell and Iian Hughes were also close to climbing the hill unassisted… But didn’t quite make it to the top of the hill. They’d need to winch the final stretch.

As the afternoon drew on, a stage in the creek bed required drivers to pick any route they liked, provided they went through the three gates. Paul Semmens and Dave Rolands making it look easy in the GU Patrol.

Steve Howarth getting lots of air, he took a pretty straight forward approach to the stage in the GQ Patrol.

Mani Kafantaris decided to take a different line to everyone else and quickly found himself stuck. Navigator Tristan Saunders guiding him off the rocks and then into the gully and waters below.

The last stage was a race through the main creek running through the property. Another 5 stages completed, one more day to go and 2 more stages before a winner is decided.


On Day 3 of the 2nd round of the Comeup Xtreme Winch Challenge, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was the extreme sprint run. The final two stages were a combined run in the same area as the Saturday Morning stages and there was very little winching to be seen. The competitors kept driving the winch walls starting with Phil Bell and Ian Hughes in the Toyota, setting a combined time to beat of 4 minutes 49 seconds over the two stages.

Rod Rathbone was struggling in his Landcruiser, The car wouldn’t steer and it looked like another problem with the front end. But it was actually a steering wheel problem and it was sorted, but all a bit too late and with the amount of running needed, Navigator Russell Rathbone was exhausted.

Another truck to have problems was the 60 series of Kevin Gorrick. They needed to winch one of the hills, but the car stopped and wouldn’t start. The battery was flat. A grand plan was hatched for navigator Josh Rathbone to use the High Lift jack to jump start the car off the winch power, but it all went wrong …. Let’s see that again in slow motion. Spectacular stuff, but they were out.

John Adamson and Mick Weinert in the 60 series were the first to go to the top of the first winch hill without a winch and set the precedent for those that followed. They did, however need to winch on the second hill, providing the spectators with a bit of winching at least.

Mani Kafantaris and Tristan Saunders were one of the teams that needed to get the winch rope out more than once. But the second run through, they drove the hill, good work team.

Quickest on the first half of the combines SS9 and SS10 was the 100 series of Steven Reid and Alex Gordon. But on the 2nd traverse of the main hill, the car got off track taking out the log AND the bunting. The winch combined with the penalty would be a huge disappointment for the pair.

Another team to finish the course without the use of their winch was the red undies racing team of Matt Holgate and Issac James. At the end of the stage, it was all smiles and they’d finish the event in 5th overall.

Starting the Sunday stages in third was Steve Howarth and Glen Rodgers in a GQ Patrol. They needed to finish the stage without winching if they wanted to secure a top 3. But the first winch hill caught them out and with the winch rope out, they dropped a position, finishing 4th.

The speed of Bell and Hughes in the FJ Toyota, was enough to bump them up to 3rd place overall from further down the leader-board. Showing that you should never give up at these events.

Without his regular navigator Nathan Mills, who was sitting at home waiting for a baby to be born, Paul Semmens was using navigator and Stand in Ranga, Dave Rowland. They did there best to drive all the hills, but were another to be caught out on the first winch hill. They drove the rest and were rewarded with 2nd overall.

But with the most spectacular drive and win to date, was the boys in the Mav. Getting the name for the Ford Maverick they drive, Pete Bannister and Tim Simpson were flying. Driving every winch hill and looking spectacular over the entire course, this team was on fire. In fact literally. A power steering hose had broken and the car came into the final stop gate to awaiting fire extinguishers. A top result that could have easily ended very differently.