Being new to Endurance rallying, it was quite daunting turning up at the start and not knowing 100% what to expect!
I met my driver for the day at the start, Simon Stanbury. Luckily enough he had competed last year so knew what was going on! Sound test, Scruitineering, signing on and the briefing all went smoothly! All the organising team was on had and very helpful with any questions! Being seeded back in 39th out of 50, I had plenty of time to read over the road book and get handy with the highlighter!
On the road section out to the forests I was quite surprised to see around 15 people around the road with cameras! But none of them actually took a photo… Further on we passed another group, but this time I saw they were next to a railway line… Train Spotters… Oh dear! Anyway…
Into the forests and it was a lot rougher then I was expecting! The previous nights rain had caused the tracks to be very slippy and get churned up easily by the quicker cars ahead. We got through the first selective without a hick-up, not the quickest, but we finished! At the start of the second selective there was a big hold up. We had heard over the radio that Douglas Brown & Alan Pettit in the Vauxhall Corsa (car 7) had quite a nasty roll in the selective and we were held back to allow safety and recovery crews to enter the forests.
The first half of the day went well, getting quicker and quicker as the day progressed. A lot of people were having problems with punctures and damage, it was quite amusing to see Mike Aldridge running down the road with Stephen Hart’s backbox in hand! It was also good to see people out in the forests watching, a couple familiar faces out there!
I was glad I didn’t book any food at The Raleghs Cross Inn, even though it smelt so good when I went in! Because of the hold up at the start of selective 2 our halt had been reduced to just 20 minutes. At this point we were given the handout’s for the nights road rally, which had one section before out next stop! So we quickly plotted down the short road rally section and headed back to the forests. (With a small stop at a garage to pick up a pasty and flapjack!)
The second runs through the forests of Croyden were quicker then the morning, Simon was getting into the swing of things and we were catching one to two cars this time! The cones at junctions caused a few people problems with a few more cars scattered about, crashed or broken down, but we slid round on the bar and were both really starting to enjoy the day! Its good to have something a little different to widen a corner, weave through a slalom (poor simon without power steering!) or take a different line, rather then just thrashing it through the forest!
Then onto the famous Porlock toll road! Unfortunately it had been shortened due to the top moorland section having some quite heavily pregnant sheep roaming the roads! So it was all down to the lower, slippery section inbetween the trees. There was a couple points where it was very tight between the cones and we did hit a couple and also had to visit reverse gear at one point! But a great crack, and a lot smoother then the other selectives!
A couple more runs through the forests and 2 more of Porlock in darkness and the selectives were complete for the day! One quick blast of the road rally to get us back to supper halt and then onto the main road rally. MTC2 could have been in a bit of a better spot, with us being held up behind our due time because of some angry people trying to get down the road and the amount of rally cars trying to come up the road caused a bit of mayhem! But that’s what its like on public roads, I did feel sorry for the people, they must have been there for almost 30 minutes when we turned up!
We were lying 29th after all of the selectives, which I was really happy with as my goal was to finish better the 39th! (Our seeding)
Due to dropping a little bit of time on route, our time was reduced a little during the halt, so we quickly went in and started plotting the final road rally section. Again smelling the nice food was not good as we didn’t have enough time to eat again!
Back out and to the start of the road rally. A couple miles in and there was a 20 mile blast through the forests that we had previously used around Croyden. What an awesome section to put in!!! Probably the best part of the whole day for me! I had the maps rather then tulips so could call out the corners, and plus being in the dark and one whole section to blast through, it was brilliant!
The first diagram had written in large letters ‘Enter track using second white, KEEP RIGHT TO AVOID RUTS!’. Due to all the rain and 29 cars going through before us, it was VERY cut up! And you’ve guessed it, we went in the ruts! I thought our rally was over at this point as we probably slowed down to around 1 or 2 mph! But we kept the wheels spinning and finally managed to get out! We were very lucky the code board in there was clear and we could keep the car moving!! The road rally was a brilliant little route with diagrams, hairpins and some nice wide open sections.
And that was it! Over 300 miles, 9:00am Saturday to 2:00am Sunday with only a couple short stops to ‘relax’! We arrived at the finish to find the bar rammed with a lot of crews with loads of stories about the day! Several of the crews who had retired earlier on in the day were also there for the results which was good to see!
The results were posted, 14th overall and 3rd in class! A brilliant result for both of us! After being 9th quickest in the road rally section this brought up our position by a big margin! It was really good to get an award in my first endurance rally! There was plenty of banter at the finish and a massive round of applause to the organising team! I have to personally say a HUGE thank you! With such a variety of sections and covering some crazy miles it can’t of been an easy job! After this event I will definitely be back to compete in Endurance Rallies in the future and will recommend it to several people!
I have to say a quick well done to Stephen Hart and Mike Aldridge for their award on their first ever endurance! Even with losing wheels and exhausts in the forests!
Thoroughly enjoyable day! See you all in 2013!
Daniel Pidgeon, Nav – Car 39, Peugeot 205
To see pictures of the day, head over to M&H Photography here! Some brilliant shots!