I was very excited to return to the Isle of Man, having had such a good time competing in the Pokerstars Rally in November 2015. We had spent a while before leaving going over the route to see which parts we already had pacenotes for and made these into a booklet in preparation for the recce days. We recce’d the route on Wednesday and Thursday and found that we were happy with the notes we had made by Thursday lunchtime. We spent Thursday evening going through noise check, scrutineering and signing on and after this made sure that all the pacenotes were in order and we had written all the splits and merges in the correct places! As we had already scrutineered we had time on Friday morning for some tourist activities and took a steam train ride from Douglas to Port Erin. We were back at the Grandstand service area for 5pm to check over the car and fit the lights before starting leg one. Our due time at MC1 in Ramsey was 20:00 and we headed over to Ramsey at about 18:45. The 2 short stages along the seafront and over the swing bridge at Ramsey were great fun and a good start to the event. By the time we reached stage 3 (St Judes) it was already getting dark and we had a brilliant time doing the laps in the dusk. My favourite stage of the evening was Tholt-y-Will and my dad was very pleased with our stage time (although he assures me it is better downhill than up!). What we didn’t realise was the stage had been stopped shortly after we left the start line and the cars behind us went through in convoy. This meant that we got a notional time, which was a little bit disappointing, but couldn’t be helped. We finished the first day without any incidents and were pleased with all our stage times. I especially enjoyed doing stages in the dark and was glad I managed to keep up with the notes!
The following morning we arrived at the Grandstand to find out our start time for the morning after the re-seed. We were disappointed that 2 of the longer stages (Knocksharry 1+2) had had to be cancelled due to lack of marshalls, but were keen to get going again to do the stages from the previous evening in daylight so we could compare our times. We were having a good run through Baldwins 1 and got nearly to the end of the stage when we had to stop due to an accident blocking the road and had to drive the rest of the way to the finish in convoy. On the second run through later in the day we managed a full stage and got a time we were very pleased with. St Judes and Tholt-y-Will were fun in the daylight, but we were faster on both of them in the dark! We nearly spun at a hairpin when my dad had a Brian the Chimp moment (those who have read Guy Martin’s autobiography will understand!) but we came out of it unscathed. Apart from this we had a successful day with no mechanical mishaps (apart from an occasionally intermittent intercom, which didn’t impact too much on my ability to read the notes!).
Although we didn’t win any prizes and lost a chunk of stage miles (due to lack of marshalls) we had a brilliant time competing in the event. We both think that the Isle of Man is one of the best places to rally and are hoping to go back in November to compete in the Pokerstars again.
We’d like to thank Terry for lending us a car to make pacenotes in and babysitting the rally car, service vehicle and trailer at his workshop whilst we went out to do the recce days. It was very much appreciated!