First off thanks to all the marshals and organisers. I know for some it wasn’t nice to be stood around without any knowledge of the hold up so thanks for waiting it out!!!
Unfortunately there was a 2 hour delay at the start of the event due to some complications with the paperwork, but putting a few heads together came up with a solution. While we were waiting we left the car running while speaking to some others, to see Mike Aldridge shouting over to us with steam rising from the car, we forgot to turn the fan on… Not the best of starts but after she chuffed some water out onto the car park and it was topped up with some of the East Darts finest river water she was back down to temperature! At 2pm first car finally left Badgers Holt, again…
The start of this test used a convoy system to get up to the start as the route was being used (I presume to get some extra mileage) which was good and bad. Good because you could see the cars coming down the hill to the cone in front of us and also the fact we could slowly drive the first little part and see what we were coming up to and how slippery it was. Bad because of the 2 hour delay and then waiting for 15 odd cars to go through (we were 20th on the road) was taking it out of us a little, anxious to start and also getting a little tired of all the hanging around.
But we were joint 5th quickest through the test so the speed was there and hopefully before long we could reduce our time a little!
Another good test (yes another one I can’t remember so I’m saying a general thing about the whole day section…) with some slippy sections in there to keep you on your toes! But we ended up with one of the slowest times in here… The finish marshal was stood at the stop astride at the end of the test instead of a few yards after, so when pulling up after the PC just before we thought that would be the time we would be given, when we stopped behind the last car, but no. The marshal was doing the timing like a road rally section, looking at the clock when we pulled into him, so you can imagine our frustration after waiting for 2 clip boards to be signed and chipped before ours! The time wrote down on our sheet was rounded off to a minute as well (indicating the road rally timing). Bit annoyed to be honest as we could have had a good time through there. Think a clearer briefing might have been needed, or more in depth? 25th fastest…
I think this was the one with the bumps in the trees? (The driver has all the handouts so going off memory for all of this!) Great little section that carved its way through some dense forest, did contemplate putting the lights on at this point! Also with the forest being so thick there was a healthy portion of mud to slip and slid on. Joint 6th fastest so back up into the top 10 fastest times after 1 and 3 being a little bit of a right off.
Little run out on this one up towards Holsworthy and Bude. Great little test, nice and smooth with one keep left of a cone being very interesting! You had to slot 90 left into some bushes, and when I say into, I mean into/over/through and then hairpin right and the about a 45/60 left out back onto the track. Having a branch smack the screen in front of you does make you flinch a little! 4th quickest through here, good pace from Pat!
Had to drive down the side of a slippy field to get to this one and the start was quite muddy and slippy by the time we got there! Seeing the car in front slide down off the road at the start we tried to hug the left tree as much as we could when we left, but still slid down. 6th fastest
Lovely test, very fast with a couple little rough sections. The straight down to the lollipop marshal was great! Shame there was a codeboard half way down it… A great little bridge in there as well which kicked you off to the left. One corner in there Pat knew from a previous year, calling out ‘this is flat’ when coming up to it, with my reply being ‘I hope your f**king right!’ in a laughing manor! But it was (with a healthy cut) 7th fastest.
Back into the test with the bush! Second run through was great, giving it scandy flicks everywhere and we were rattling through! One massive slide half way in there but Pat managed to keep his foot down and keep the Nova under control! 2nd fastest through here which we were very happy with!
Fairly clean run through here. 5th fastest
Probably my favourite selective of the day! There was a merge in there this time so we had two loops of all the run stuff like the bridge! Unfortunately catching a slower car who was on their second loop and then cutting a corner into a massive hole which knocked the exhaust out of the rear clamp, so we backed off a little to make sure it stayed on! We did have some lights come up behind near the end of the loop so I hope we didn’t hold you up whoever you were, you still had a loop to go and we were fairly soon splitting apart so we didn’t pull over. At the end we jumped out to put the exhaust back up, I think we had bent it a little as we had to use a jack to get it back up to hook into the mount, but it would hold for one more final test before the supper halt. Only 14th fastest.
Before this was the final spot to get fuel before half way through the road rally, so we topped up to make sure along with several others. When we pulled up at Bellever course closing car was there asking where we had been, I don’t think they realised there was a fuel halt before as there must have been 6 or 7 cars still at the petrol station when we left. We were behind Alastair Barnes through here as we stopped for fuel. 30 second starts on this one. While waiting for our convoy there was two cars together down to the cone in front, which wasn’t too far from the start, the 30 second starts looked to be too close in here. We set off and caught Alastair fairly soon, I personally think this longer test should have been run at 1 minute intervals to get rid of the fact several people were catching each other. We did manage to pass him on the split but when writing down the code board before the merge we got stuck behind 3 slower cars, so 4th in the convoy… Spoilt the test really as 2 of them were of their first loop and 1 on the second, but it’s done now. Again, only 13th fastest.
And then back to Badger Holt! With the two hour delay at the start we were wondering what would happen here as the break was meant to be 2 hours. Road Rally held back 1 hour, so with our lateness this gave us about 35 minutes to listen to the briefing and have a quick look over the hand out… I’m glad we thought ahead and brought a sandwich at the previous petrol halt! We nicked some wire from George and Mike to make sure the exhaust stayed on (thanks!) and then off out again!
Thankfully the route was a little shorter so no need for the convoy system at the start! We did see Pete Barnard here though! Unfortunately Roger was up the road in the ditch on the test! Pete said that Roger didn’t know that the code boards were at 90 degrees to the road and drove past the first board, turning around to head back he pulled the handbrake after the board to face the right way and end up with the front in the ditch, stuck broadside on the track! When we got there George and Mike were in the ditch the opposite side! Mayhem! Roger civic was between the ‘codeboard’ sign and the actual board so it looked like they missed the board, tried to reverse to see it and got stuck in the ditch doing so! Unlucky boys! 10th quickest through here which I’m happy about seeing as there were 48 cars going through there now (a lot with chunkies) with the people who waited for the championship points section and all the road rally guys joining.
Onto the road rally now. I wasn’t too confident with the map handouts, but who is with other peoples style of plotting? The start was incredible! The road on the map looked straight but the lanes were a complete different story! Tight and twisty! I’m not sure how the likes of Lucas and Rob got that big escort through some of them!
My calls were rubbish at this point! We were both getting exhausted but I was trying to keep up! We got beached on a triangle which caused us to lose a minute and then onto the flood…
First off, I do apologise to Andy from M&H Photography and the Marshals, being tired and then that happening I wasn’t a happy bunny! We went in a little too hot and sucked up some water which stalled the engine and then it wouldn’t start. So I jumped out to grab the tow rope, there was no way around with the water up to the bottom of the door, just had to jump in a wade through! We managed to get the car out (sorry to the guys behind who had to wait) and popped the bonnet to see what was going on! Was a little confused as we had no life from the battery at all, clock was off and the starter wouldn’t even turn on. After unscrewing all the interior panels we found that the isolator switch, for some reason, had melted into the back of the switch and was in the plastic and not touching the metal, so we got that sorted and she fired up! We were down around 24 minutes at this point so we might have to cut. It made me chuckle that we got a time at the TC just after the flood but got a time of 1 minute early! So not sure what happened there! I should have noticed it but I was trying to concentrate on the map.
The start of the test was delayed due to Jon and Andy’s tumble! Glad your both ok! Car looked a little unhappy for itself when we saw it in the test! Nice test with some slippy and fast corners. Nice exit from the test! Was a incline up onto the A380 dual carriageway! Was a little interesting but was there someone down the road warning people? Saw some orange flashing lights? 9th quickest in here
This one almost ended in disaster! There were a few bumps in the first section hidden under puddles, so we tried to miss them. One was on the inside of the left hand corner and a moment of concentration loss from Pat caused us to go around the water a bit violently, causing the car to spin and come within inches of rolling down the bank to the right. Thankfully Pat managed to hold it on the handbrake and give it a little throttle to go into the bank on the opposite side of the road to save us. After turning around the tire marks showed how close we were, the closest to a big off in my rally career! 28th fastest through here.
Last test before the main petrol halt! Was a short sprint (think it was 0.8 miles) in the trees opposite the petrol station. 10th fastest, not too bad after our earlier scare!
And that was it for us! After our close call in Ashcombe we called it a day due to safety reasons! We were both just too tired and were going to have a serious incident sooner or later!
Great pace from Pat all day! Thanks a lot for the drive!
Thanks again to Andy and the two marshals at the flood for the help!!!
Thanks to South Hams MC, personally think it needs a couple things sorted but well done for making it run with the initial problems! I did think it was the end of the day by the look of some of your faces before you gathered us for the talk at the start!
Daniel Pidgeon, Nav – Car 35, Vauxhall Nova
Thanks to Dewerstone Photography (http://www.dewerstonephotography.co.uk) & M&H Photography (http://www.mandh-photography.co.uk) for all of the photos! Head over to their site for more photos and details on how to purchase a copy!