Happy as a pig in mud…

The sport of observed trials is usually done on two-wheels with somewhere around 250cc, but down here in New Zealand the sport has been adapted.  We added a couple of wheels, an extra passenger, and threw another 5000 – 6000 cc into the mix.  Anytime a national round of 4×4 trials comes close to where I live, I make sure to go out and watch it (well watch through the videwfinder).

It is a mix of big power, angle-defying suspension, and precision driving like you wouldn’t believe.

There is a start and finish line to each obstacle, and you need to get from one end to the other without stopping, while avoiding contact with all the pegs along the way.  The further you go the more points you score. Simple…well sort of…

The best thing about this motorsport is that fans can get right up close to witness all the action, so from a photographers point of view it is perfect.  I’m lucky that landed on KB’s head and not my camera…

No two trucks take the same line, and you need to be watching like a hawk to snag the truck at the right spot, with the right angle while also being weary of where the water, grass and mud is flying.  Nothing is planned here which is part of the fun for photographers.

The drivers end up caked in mud, and if the trucks weren’t distinct in shape nobody would have any idea who is who.

If you were eagle-eyed then in the second photo you would have spotted this guy perched on a large tyre.  FMX superstar Levi Sherwood has driven a few of these events in a Cowper-designed and built truck.  The FMX star is no stranger to dirt and isn’t scared of the vertical climbs and crazy obstacles.

Throughout the event, crews are allowed to walk the obstacle prior to driving it, this allows for a plan of attack between the driver and brakeman to be hashed out.  Here one of the crew members checks out just how deep the water is…

While other crews observe and secretly hope he gets stuck and falls over.

Regardless of how good of a plan you have, most of it comes down to clever throttle and brake work, and making sure you don’t drop momentum.  A heavy right foot often is what you need but knowing when to be precise is the key to making it out the other end.

Although closing your eyes and giving it death is also effective.

Just watch those pesky pegs.

Earlier in the day before all the action got underway I went for a wander down into the pit area where all the trucks were sitting.  These are all custom hand built works of art.  Specially built for this exact sport, the class D trucks such as the one above are pushing north of 600horsepower, and now NOS is finding a home in these machines as well.

Also the presentation of these trucks is second to none.  How is that for a rear end!?

As well as top notch presentation by the trucks, once all the 4×4 side of competition was tied up and champagne was sprayed everywhere the fans were treated to a FMX display by Levi.  If you ever wondered why they call him ‘the rubber kid’ then it quickly becomes obvious.

By now I was out of memory cards which signalled a perfect time to flick the camera off and make a retreat for home.  That’s all folks!

Additional shots

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