After speaking with a couple of people who competed in the event last year and said how brilliant it was we were very keen to compete. We sent off our entry the day the regs came out and were pleased to get a run. In fact, there ended up being four crews on the event in 205’s sporting Pat Messer Motorsport livery. After a very early morning for scrutineering there was a bit of time to kill before the start of the event, which I spent working out the stage diagrams and setting my clock to rally time. This was the first event I had done for a few years with no pacenotes! It took me a until the second stage to get into the swing of reading the corners from the stage diagram, but that gave me more time to appreciate what a good venue Weston Park is. The stages were excellent and we thoroughly enjoyed them. We had a slight moment on one stage, nearly spinning at a square right before going over the bridge into the courtyard and chicane, but we came out of it unscathed. Even though we finished the event fourth in class we managed to beat the other crews in our little gang on every stage except one. We were held up by car 24 blocking the water splash and were beaten by 1 second! All in all a very enjoyable day.
At very short notice we decided that we would enter this years Cambrian Rally. We competed in the event in 2009 and it was my first ever forest rally, so I was keen to go back again. After finding out that the final stage of the day would be round the Great Orme we were both eager to compete. After scrutineering and signing on we went for a drive around the Orme to see what we were in for. There was even time for a piece of cake and cup of tea in the cafe at the halfway point. I wasn’t surprised that the start ramp commentator made a joke about my height, asking my Dad if he made me sit on the floor of the car. My Dad didn’t help the situation by saying that co-drivers should be “heard and not seen”. The stages in Clocgaenog were very muddy and slippery and the after the first run through we weren’t sure if we were enjoying the day or not. Penmachno was very rough and bumpy, but we getting into the flow now and really starting to enjoy the challenging stages. After the second run through the Clocgaenog stages we were having a great time. After changing the tyres from gravel to tarmac we were ready for the Orme. What a treat to end the day on! My Dad summed up at the end of the event by saying that “scrabbling though the forests all day is the penance we had to pay for a fantastic trip around the Orme”. We were very surprised to find that we finished the day second in class 1.4c and 8th 1400 and we even got asked for our autographs by some spectators at the finish. What a brilliant day!
After insisting that we wouldn’t be doing the recce for this event, we rolled up onto the ranges and paid our £10 to complete the recce. After one pass we decided we’d had enough and went back to the B and B. I found the recce very helpful in getting used to the peculiarities of Epynt and how tricky it can be. My Dad was keen to see how the car would go since he changed the final drive. We were lying second in class when disaster struck…a burst water hose put us out of the event on stage 7. Despite our early finish we had a good day and I particularly enjoyed the section of stage through the German village.
This was my first event in a car that isn’t a 205! I was still in a Peugeot so I didn’t get withdrawal symptoms too badly. I co-drove for Nigel Hunt in his 309 GTI. It was nice to sit in a car with a bit more power and starting at 9:51 meant that I got a nice lie in and a good breakfast. Nigel had never done an event on pace notes, but it didn’t take very long for him to get up a good pace. The stages were slippery but great fun and we especially enjoyed the Sweet Lamb stage. My dad came with us as chase crew and managed to learn the proper pronunciation of Dylife.
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This was our third visit to Cockermouth to compete in the Malcolm Wilson rally. Scrutineering, noise check and signing on went without incident and then we discovered the sale in the M Sport shop. I got some M Sport T-shirts very cheap and my dad was very pleased to get a new pair of Ford work trousers for 50p. I was apprehensive before the start due to the roll we had on the Grizedale stages. My apprehension was gone after the first stage. We were trying out numbered notes instead of the descriptive ones we usually use. I found reading them much easier and after the first few stages we decided that we preferred them to the descriptive notes. We thoroughly enjoyed the stages, even though we slowed down slightly when passing the spot in Grizedale where we rolled into the ditch. The stages in Greystoke were fast and exciting and Grizedale was great fun. We’d like to thank the guys from Geoff Jones Motorsport who helped us out in service and Geoff for the cups of tea. We all had a great day, including the service crew. We finished the day second in class and 43rd overall.
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The damage done by the roll on the Grizedale is now fully repaired and the 205 is looking shiny once again. Our next event will be the Malcolm Wilson Rally in March. Hopefully we will make it though without landing roof down in a ditch this time!
On the friday prior to the Grizedale Stages my Dad and I took the car out to set up the spot lamps and give me some practice of reading pace notes in the dark. After a few attempts the lamps were positioned correctly and I had a fair idea of what I was up against when reading notes by map light. The rain on the saturday of the event made noise check and scrutineering a soggy affair. We were pleasantly surprised with our stage time for the Saturday night stage. I had lost my place in the notes and the patchy fog made it very difficult to see, with the light from the spot lamps bouncing off it. We finished the stage 1st in class and 27th overall. After stage 2 we had dropped back to second in class. On SS3 we had a bit of a moment before a wooden bridge but came out of the stage unscathed. SS4 and SS5 were fast and great fun. Disaster struck on SS6 when we rolled the car into a ditch after a square left. We weren’t hurt, but the car wasn’t so lucky. The drivers door and rear arch were bent inside out and the roof was dented in two places. The windscreen was shattered but still intact. Thanks to several spectators and marshals who tipped the car back onto its wheels and pushed it back onto the road, we were able to continue and finish the event. SS7 proved to be tricky due to having to hold the windscreen in and try to see through the unbroken parts. We finished the event very muddy, a bit shaken, a little bruised and 4th in class. It was a rally of firsts, first stage in the dark and first major accident!
My second trip over Otterburn was definitely as much fun as my first. The weather was very different, instead of sunshine, it was drizzling rain all day. On stage one we had a slight problem with the intercom, which meant that I had to shout to be heard. This was easily solved in the next service by changing the battery! On stage 3 we were putting in a good time until we crashed through a wood and wire fence on a square left just past a farmyard. The car had only cosmetic damage and we were able to carry on. Thank you to the spectators and marshalls who pushed us back onto the road. The time that we dropped meant that we were now lying second in class. Going into stage 10 we were lying first in class by just 2 seconds, but a spin put us back into second place. We finished the day first in class by 11 seconds. We had a brilliant battle with the Fiat X19 in the same class as us, the stages were brilliant and we were actually glad of the rain!