After the disappointment of not getting to the start of the Manx National in May 2018 we decided to try again on the PokerStars rally in November. This time we entered in the blue Peugeot 205, with me in the co-drivers seat and my Dad driving.
Our previous trips to the island have prepared me for the fact that it is likely to rain heavily on the Isle of Man, particularly when you have gone there to do a rally. On this trip however, the rain was the worst I have seen.
When we completed our recce of the stages on Thursday the ford on SS3 (Brack a Broom) was a fairly fast flowing stream that made crossing it in the Skoda Octavia we used as recce car a little bit worrying. By the start of the event on Friday evening it had swelled with so much water that the rally organisers were forced to change the position of the stage start to after the ford as there were concerns that any cars crossing the ford would be washed downstream and end up in Peel harbour. This was not the only section of the stages to be water logged. At the start of SS1 (Little London) we were warned that there was deep standing water by Little London farm, but before even reaching this section we encountered very deep puddles and saw multiple cars drowned out and stopped at the side of the stage. We did spend about 2 minutes stopped on this stage behind several cars struggling to make it through the water logged area at Little London. The stage start of SS2 had also been moved about a mile further into the stage than originally planned due to standing water. On the approach to the arrival control we drove through water so deep that the bottom spot lamps of the car were underneath it. It wasn’t just on the stages that we encountered problems with the extremely wet conditions. We even saw cars drowned out on the road sections and had a few tricky moments trying to get through deep standing water. After the first 3 stages we headed back to service and were told at the service in control that stages 4, 5 and 6 had been cancelled due to the extreme weather conditions. I was very relieved at this news as I feared a second run through the stages might damage the car and end our event, but my Dad was disappointed. He had been enjoying the challenges of the conditions.
The rain did stop late on Friday evening and by Saturday morning it was looking a lot drier. We had a good run through the stages on Saturday with only one minor mishap. As the stages dried out further over the course of the day we were able to go faster and got caught out by some mud on a medium right and ended up sliding gracefully into a wall on the outside of the corner. There was no damage and we carried on, but this little off cost us about 20 seconds. We finished the rally 3rd in our class. It was the first time I’d won a trophy on a Manx rally, which was very exciting and made slogging through all the water on Friday night very much worth the effort.