Thursday 14th November
We arrived in the service area in plenty of time to set up our pitch before heading off to scrutineering and noise check. At scrutineering we discovered the brake lights had stopped working, so although we passed these had to be fixed before the event started. Thanks to our mechanic Chris for working out what the problem was and putting it right!
Friday 15th November
Our start time from Deeside service area was 09.24. This gave us plenty of time to check tyre pressures and make sure we had everything in the car that we needed (including cereal bars and energy drinks!). We had to collect the days time card at the start control at our due time, which was a new experience for both of us. The first road section was 63 miles long so we had to stop at Tesco in Newtown to refuel. SS7 – Hafren, At 20 miles this was the longest stage I have ever competed on. Running so far down the field and behind so many WRC cars meant that the roads were very badly cut up and the 205 seemed to get lost in some of the ruts and bomb holes in particular on hairpins. We also started the stage unsure of how the car would perform. This was the first event since Patrick has changed it from carbs to throttle bodies. Despite this we got through in good time. International timing meant that stage time and road time were combined to give arrival time at the next time control, which was something that took a bit of getting used to. I managed to get it sorted before we went into SS8 – Sweet Lamb. At 2.65 miles this was once of the shorter stages on the event and was also extremely rough. The Jumps and water splashes were entertaining for the spectators but made it difficult to get the stage to flow. After another long road section were arrived at the start of SS9 – Myherin to be told that there would be a delay starting the stage, due to a car rolled in the stage. After a long wait for the stage to be restarted we were extremely disappointed to find out that it had been cancelled. We drove through the stage in convoy, disappointing for Patrick who’d been looking forward to Pikes Peak. The highlight of his day was finding out that the 205 now spits flame from the exhaust when it hits the rev limiter.
Saturday 16th November
This mornings start time of 11.15 meant that we had time for a leisurely breakfast before heading back to Deeside. Due to the late start time we decided to fit the spot lamps before leaving Deeside, we didn’t fancy doing Chirk Castle in the dark. The first road section of the day was 2 hours 11 minutes. Sometime during the 9 miles of SS12 – Gartheiniog the exhaust manifold of the 205 fell apart, despite the noise we finished the stage without further incident . During SS13 – Dyfi I realised that the break in the exhaust meant that the floor of the car was very hot and my shoe had melted to it. I particularly enjoyed the 13 mile stage through SS14 – Dyfnant where we really seemed to get going and lots of side ways action through corners. After a 1 hour 34 minute road section we arrived at SS15 – Chirk castle to find that there was an hour delay before we could start the stage. By the time we started the stage it had gone dark, so we were glad we had fitted the spot lamps. On the way back to the service area we rang the service crew to get them to ask around at Deeside if anyone had a welder so the broken exhaust could be mended. The noise was becoming unbearable. We managed to find a crew with a welder and took the manifold to them. The repairs took about 4 hours and included needing to change the clutch cable that had been damaged by the excess heat from the broken manifold. The manifold came back with a desert spoon welded to it it bridge a gap that had formed!
Sunday 17th November
The car was definitely quieter as we left Deeside, but it didn’t last. After SS17 – Dyfnant 2 the exhaust was definitely damaged again. Sometime during the stage we nearly had a close encounter with a bank, but managed to avoid it. SS 18 – Penllyn was a very fast and flowing stage and a lot smoother than previous stages. SS19 – Clocaenog was very rough and muddy, was difficult to get going properly as we had to be careful at hairpins and corners so not to risk breaking a driveshaft so close to the finish of the event. It was nice to see so many spectators watching the stage though. Road timing was tight between Clocaenog and Kinmel Park and we arrived at the control just 1 minute before our due time. On the second run through Kinmel (SS21) we improved on our first stage time by about 6 seconds. After SS20/21 – Kinmel it was time to head for SS22 – Great Orme. It was great to go round the Orme again. I first competed on this stage on the 2012 Cambrian and thoroughly enjoyed it. This time it was just as much fun and made up for Myherin being cancelled on Friday. It was a relief to get to the finish in Llandudno town centre and receive our finishers awards. Overall the event was challenging and I was very tired on Sunday night, but it was well worth it to go round some very good stages. It was just a shame that the results were delayed due to technical problems.