After the Tour of Caerwent in March 2018 I had finished enough events as a driver and collected enough signatures on my MSA upgrade card to apply for a National A rally license. I did this with great glee and was very pleased to receive the new license.
The Corinium stages which is run at Down Ampney by Cirencester Car Club was next on my list of rallies to do. Down Ampney is near to home for me and is a single venue event. I decided we should go over to the venue on the day before the rally to scrutineer and leave the car in the service area. At scrutineering we discovered that the cut out switch had seized up due to the car living outside for several months between rallies. A bit of WD40 managed to solve the problem and the car passed scrutineering ok.
The following morning we arrived back at the venue to set up in the service area and sign on. It had been raining overnight and the track was still fairly wet. It was my first experience of driving in the wet and I was fairly concerned that I would spin off at the first corner. I was pleasantly surprised that I managed to get through the first lap of the first stage with no spins, even managing to prevent a spin. On the second stage I caught up another Peugeot and managed to stay with him. I can only assume the wet conditions were causing him some trouble as it was the first time I have ever managed to catch another car in a stage. I was getting to the point of being brave enough to overtake when he went the opposite way to me at a split and saved me the trouble.
The stage got drier as the morning went on and there was no more rain during the day. The car wouldn’t start when we were leaving service to go to stage 3 and we thought perhaps the starter motor was failing. It still wouldn’t start after a bit of encouragement by tapping the starter with a hammer. We had to get a push start from a service crew across the service area from us. I daren’t turn the car off again between the service out control and the stage arrival control in case it wouldn’t re-start. During stage 3 I spun off and wasn’t quick enough the press the clutch to prevent the car stalling, however it didn’t start again ok with no need to get a push from a Marshall. It did continue to be a bit temperamental at starting after sitting in service and we had to be pushed a few more times when leaving the service area.
There were four stages in the morning and four in the afternoon going in the opposite direction. I preferred the afternoon stages (I’m still not sure why – perhaps I prefer travelling anti-clockwise), but I wasn’t as fast in the afternoon as I was in the morning.
I really enjoyed the event. The venue is great offering good, challenging stages that don’t feel repetitive. I will hopefully be putting in an entry for next years rally.