A fine and Sunny Saturday Morning would greet the ARB Xtreme Winch Challenge competitors and it was off to Special Stage 4 to get things started for the day.

Rod and Russell Rathbone would be the first to tackle the stage. Starting first and the fresh morning air must have helped, as the Rathbone boys would take the stage win with 100 points, leaving the rest of the teams fighting for the minor places.  One of the features of stage 4 was the soft top soil and grassy gully.  The two winch walls were very straight forward and the times would be very close.

Peter Bannister in the MAV had navigator Josh Flynn out of the truck and he was also making quick work of the first winch wall.  He and Bannister would have the 5.7 litre Ford Maverick to the top of the wall in no time.  After almost making it to the top of the second wall without a winch, the pair had the Commodore powered machine up quickly to finish in second on stage behind the Rathbone team.

Phil Bell is behind the wheel of the OTC Landcruiser and gets the winch going to drag the truck out of the gully on SS4.  The winch on this truck is one of the fastest in the competition and really makes extreme winching look simple.  After getting to the top of second of the winch walls in this stage, they were placed 3rd in the stage.

The next stage is SS5 and we are moving north on the Property to the top of the hill where the terrain is quite different to the last stage, it’s rocky, it’s slippery and it’s very steep.

Our top three finishers in this stage would be Peter Bannister on 90 points in the bright Yellow Mav in third place.  Phil Bell would once again feature in the top 3, finishing in second position on 95 points, dislodging a rock along the way and showing just how steep the hill is as it rolled some 200 metres to the fence-line at the base of the property.  But finishing with a perfect 100 points, and sounding like a V8 supercar is the Rathbones once again, in their Toyota.

Over to SS6, which is very similar terrain, but started with a quick dam crossing.

Rod and Russel Rathbone hit the first winch wall and looked like they were going to jump the truck up.  They had to go to the winch and then struggled with the diff caught on a rock.  On the second winch wall they manage to get right off line, but a quick winch out pulls them straight up and out.  Despite being slowed on the winch walls, they finish in 3rd.

Phil Bell and Iain Hughes have a setup with Maxxis Trepador 37’s and Fox Coilovers with hydraulic bump stops.  They drive the second winch wall into 2nd on stage.

But proving that sometimes slow and steady is the way to go, Dave Burrows drives both the winch walls into 1st place on SS6.  His Navigator Howard Crossley didn’t even need to get out of the farm truck on this stage.

Special Stage 7 started with a long sprint followed by three small winches out of dry creek bed. Plenty of spectators have made the long walk down to the bottom of the property to catch the action and they wouldn’t be disappointed with Dave Burrows launching the farm truck out of the gully.

Phil Bell takes a more conservative approach to getting out of the gully with very little wheel lift at all.  The speed of their winch all comes from a twin motor low mount unit with free spool.  It’s built by Russell Mason in Rockhampton who has a bit of a reputation for fast winches and has done a few for the guys competing in the Hammers events.  With a fast time and 86 points, they finish SS7 in third.

Peter Bannister is starting to show some real form in the Bursons Sponsored Mav.  This truck has an interesting setup with dobinson springs shocks in the front.  But in the back he’s running a custom 3 link rear suspension setup with profender remote reservoir shock absorbers.  The Mav is certainly a crowd favourite, especially with Petes Mum who is often heard cheering them on.  They finish in 2nd on stage, another 2nd place this weekend.

But with yet another stage win would be the Rathbone team.  Some very quick driving, and some very quick work in the gully from Navigator Russell, they would secure their third stage win for the event despite some disturbing smoke coming from the winch.

Now onto Special Stage 8.  The last stage for Saturday and it would be a repeat of SS4, except in reverse.  And to keep with the theme of reversing, the first decent into the gully would be a reverse winch.  This would be followed by a second small winch wall and then back into the gully for the final winch wall of the day.

In third place on the stage is Paul and Neil Semmens.  They have a very conservative run, winching on all three walls, but staying out of trouble and snagging 90 points.

Phil Bell and Ian Hughes are once again sitting in 2nd place on the stage.  They too winch all three walls for 95 points.

But with the fastest time and a rooster tail of dirt and rocks out of the final winch wall, Rod and Russell Rathbone would take the 100 points for a stage win.

So after two days of full on winch competition, the leaderboard would see Phil Bell and Ian Hughes remain at the top with The Semmens team slipping back into 4th place.  That would elevate Dave Burrows and Rod Rathbone into 2nd and 3rd position respectively.