Driving through mud isn’t rocket science. As you’ll see from my advice on how to cope with mud when you’re in a car, much of it is common sense. And that’s how I came to spend a day sitting at the wheel of an Isuzu D-Max pick-up truck, waiting to rescue competitors at the inaugural Green Flag Mud & Motors.
The event took place at the dauntingly named Devil’s Pit near Luton in Bedfordshire. We had Love Island finalist Chris Hughes plus six competitors. The idea was our six entrants had to do a lap of the four-wheel drive course. During that lap they had to make various choices based around common sense that would ensure they didn’t get stuck. They would score points on the way according to the decisions they made and the winner would get £1000. Here are four things I learned from the day.
Chris Hughes was great fun
First thing’s first: Chris Hughes was brilliant. Bearing in mind he’s not a professional driver and he had to wear pristine white overalls, he really mucked in if you’ll forgive the pun. He was fun, approachable and made our six competitors feel completely at ease. He was also pretty good when it came to the driving part and certainly seemed to enjoy himself.
I spent the day at the wheel of one of our specialist instant response vehicles. It’s an Isuzu D-Max pick-up truck and it’s equipped with a winch, specially designed for pulling stranded vehicles out of sticky situations.
It was surprisingly dry
Sadly, I didn’t need it! Despite the amount of rain we’ve had, the course was easier than we thought it was going to be. Even so, it was still pretty muddy. And the competitors still found it very challenging. As this is a proper four-wheel drive track, regularly used by big vehicles, there were some very deep ruts that had to be avoided if cars weren’t going to get stuck.
Vauxhall Tigras are quite good in mud
To give our competitors a broad spread of vehicles, they had three to choose from. There was a Vauxhall Tigra. This is a front-wheel drive coupé that’s based on the Vauxhall Corsa. I always thought they were a bit all mouth and no trousers but maybe I was a bit hasty in my judgement. The Tigra we had was actually very competent when the going got tough. Something to do with them being relatively light I imagine.
Then we had a Saab 9-3 Estate. Again these are front-wheel drive. And again, it’s a car based on a mainstream Vauxhall. But I think the Swedes at Saab, with all their know-how of driving on snow, must have imbued it with some skill for the slippery stuff.
Last but not least, so our competitors could channel their inner van man, we had a Ford Transit Connect. Also, front-wheel drive, this had a crucial advantage: all its weight was over the front wheels. With no load in the back of the van, there’s very little to cause the rear wheels to bog down.
Driving through mud really is common sense
Our winner and the lucky recipient of £1000 was Darren Wareham. Although the 33-year old hadn’t done that much off-road driving, the night manager from Maidenhead, Berks proved that it really isn’t that difficult – if you approach it with your head screwed on.
Alan Gilbert is regional operations manager