As a round of the NESCRO Championship Paul Brereton and I had put in an entry for the Durham Dales Classic Rally. Paul then went and got admitted to Hospital – very inconsiderate of him! – so it looked like I was going to miss this round. However, I posted on BRF that I was looking for a driver and got a fairly prompt reply from Steve Perry offering his services.
Paul & I normally trailer the Escort to these events and usually set off nice and early so that we can take our time getting to the event, get settled into our hotel and have a relaxing evening, a good meal out and take in the local ambiance (other words for going out and having the odd drink or two). With Paul hospitalised I decided to still travel up and stay overnight.
I packed my bags – Rally bag and everything I thought I might need – unfortunately I forgot to take with me the Name & address of the Hotel or any form of map for the Sunderland Area – All that was sat on the Dining Room table at home. So I get to Sunderland and start to ratch through my paper-work and cant find the hotel details. Ring my son to ask if he can find it at home anywhere. Son is out on the town with his mates and of no help at all. I then remember the name of the Hotel and ask passers by. No body has heard of the Sir William Fox Hotel in Sunderland! Lots of head scratching and trying to remember what the map (at home) looked like and a half hour later I find the Hotel. Ring Steve Parry and meet up for a little drinkypoo.
Sunday, and I wake up at 5am. See no point in trying to get back to sleep, so I sneak out of the hotel (paid when I checked in – in case you were wondering) and make my way to the Nissan factory and sit all on my ownsome for 2 hours before anyone else turns up.
Steve arrives. We sign on and get scrutineered and pick up the test diagrams. At the drivers briefing the CofC reminds us that the test diagrams are not to scale. Not until you do the tests do you realise how true his words are. There are a total of 18 tests to complete. The cone lay out for all the tests remain the same and it is only the way round them that changes.. Tests 1 & 5 are the same, as are tests 2 & 6, 3 & 7, 4 & 8, 9 & 13, 15 & 17, 16 & 18. Tests 10, 11, 12 and 14 are only done once.
We line up for test 1 and watch how the guys in front tackle it. The Vauxhall Chevette (3rd place O/A) of Gordon Glendenning / Murray Walker is spectacular to watch. Eventually its our turn and off we go. Until this event I had not met Steve before (although he tells me that we had met briefly on this years Ryemoor Trophy Rally – he was competing and I was marshalling) and I have not a clue how good a driver he would be. Spectacular – is the word I would use. Plenty of go and pizzazz with tyre smoke at every turn. I had the window open and was chewing burnt rubber all day long. A very enjoyable and exciting ride and despite the long and protracted power slides at no time did I feel that we were in any danger of putting the car off. However, when I have had time to study the results it might have been more to our advantage to be a fraction slower around the tests and a little more precise in our approach and I think we would have set faster test times. As it was, we missed out on a class award by one second.
On the shorter more technical tests we were about 4 seconds a test slower than the car that beat us for the class award.
Tests 14, 16 & 18 were a combination of tests 2, 3 & 4 (but a different way round the cones each time) and on these Steve was really flying (Rallying experience on the longer stuff showing) and was taking 8 seconds and more a test out of our rival and we finished 4th in class and 13th O/A.
A very, very enjoyable and exciting days sport. Thanks Steve for stepping in and giving me a very exciting and enjoyable rapid ride – The marshal at the end of Test 18 was heard to say ‘Its the Driver that is supposed to have the big grin on his face not the Nav’.
Maurice Ellison – Nav, Car 37 – Vauxhall Corsa
Thanks to Tait Images (www.taitimages.com) for all of the photos! Head over to their website for more photos and for contact details to buy yourself a copy!