The welders were working overtime in the pits at the Wanganui HireMaster 4x4 National Trial, held down in the valley on a testing Glencairn Rd course in Turakina on Saturday.
There were 47 trucks in six divisions undertaking the 31 hazards on course, most of them up sheer vertical and sideways routes on the various cluff faces.
While it was expected to be a very dusty course after weeks of dry weather, the overnight and early morning showers had added a wet sheer on top of the spoil, which especially made the morning section a little more difficult.
Heading for the speed hazard on top of the course, where drivers speed back and forth through the gates in a figure eight pattern, Wanganui 4WD club member Grant Harrison said it had been a testing start to the day.
Auckland's defending D-Class national champion Scott Biggs would have to follow his brother and fellow title contender Jarred back to the pits to do some repairs after a bit of a tumble.
But perhaps the most spectacular was F-Class competitor Paul Taylor, who had climbed the furthest up one hazard, but saw his front wheels tip up and over to send him and co-driver Antony Weatherley flipping backwards and rolling down the hillside.
The pair emerged unhurt, and while their front bonnet was bent up, they judged the suspension on the truck was alright to continue after repairs, and they managed to make through to the second-to-last hazard before the whole engine hub came off.
C-Class competitor Steven Thomason also took a long spill backwards at the fair end of the course, somehow avoiding taking out the farm fence at the bottom.
In the wrap up of the day, Jarred Biggs kept his name in the title equation by finishing top in class and first overall, being the only competitor to concede less than 400 penalty points.
Taupiri's Greg McDell was just over 400 points to finish second and keep his title hopes alive, while Scott Biggs was third, followed by Palmerston North's Derek Smyth and Waiterimu's Russell Luders to round out the Top 5.
4x4 Trials: Turakina course promises to be tough for fourth round of national series
4x4 Trials: Turakina's Dan Cowper settles for third and fourth at Rangiwahia rounds
Motorsport: Whanganui's Earl Bamber Motorsport finishes 9th at Bathurst 12 Hour
Finishing sixth overall and therefore winning his six-truck C Class division very comfortably was Turakina's Dan Cowper, around 300 points less than his nearest competitor.
"A good day for us," he said.
"It was a hard day, I think the competitors enjoyed it. It was greasy as."
Of the other Wanganui 4WD people, Kevin Hermansen finished in ninth place, while the Harrison family were neighbours on the table, as Grant and co-driver daughter Renee finished 20th, one spot ahead of Wellington's William Jeffrey, who has Blair Harrison as his co-driver.
As well as the D-Class and overall championship, which won't be confirmed until after the sixth and final round, following drivers removing their worst round result from their final tally, a lot of drivers are eager to finish in the Top 10.
That will earn them an invite to the 6th annual Suzuki Extreme 4x4 Challenge, hosted by Cowper on his Turakina property on May 10, later to be televised on TV3's CRC Motorsport .
Cowper said the likes of McDell and the Biggs brothers only need one more decent round to confirm their spots, with Scott Biggs being a three-time winner.
But other than that, the other seven spots are wide open.
"I'm sure it won't be the same [drivers as 2019], it's good to see the competitiveness in the national series to do it," Cowper said.
Counties 4WD club will host the next round of the New Zealand 4x4 Trials Championship season on March 14, with the finale being run by the Hawke's Bay 4WD Club on April 18.