By Barry Lindsay
The final round of the AS Performance NE rally championship was held on the ranges of Otterburn. Due to an army exercise the organisers had been restricted to half of the range, and made a brilliant job of using every single mile of what they had to give 80+ mile of competition in 11 stages.
We were still in with a chance of the title for the fifth time but would rely on Michael Glendinning & Andrew Roughead not finishing and also either beating or finishing very close to Bob Grant & Pete Carstairs. A tall order but we would try! Saturday saw scrutineering and a recce which I obtained the help of Neil Thomlinson to navigate on as we checked the notes and noted the severity and direction of the chicanes.
Sunday: a dry but cold & cloudy early morning start, we were seeded at 10 and with fellow members David Hope & Fiona Gourlay at 17 in the Subaru. SS1 is a fast uphill stage not a one I like and less this year with cold rear tyres it kept stepping out so a few hairy moments 3m 40 with David & Fiona 2 seconds behind. SS2 was a longer one on narrower roads with a blind brow or two. We were flying now (literally) and caught and passed the car in front. Into service before repeating them after a little delay whilst the army moved some live ammunition. Both SMC crews went a little quicker on the repeats. Stage 5 was a different stage along bits not used very often. We were now 8th on the road and after a 360 spin at the first corner then noted on the hill a car parked and Richard & Edwin Cook reversing, flagged down we came across the incidents of two cars at the same point. Bob Grant & Pete Carstairs had rolled heavily and needed medical help while Ken Bills navigating another car had chest pain after taking out a chicane. The stage was cancelled and crews returned to Service. Stage 6 was most of SS2 reversed we got 8m 55 with no incident but David and Fiona got 9m 38 struggling with a sever misfire and lack of power due possibly to a fuel pump problem in the tank. This would hamper them for the rest of the day. Stage 7 was the short one reversed then 8 & 9 were repeats. Stage 8 was where we caught David Hardie limping through the stage with no power. We passed him on a narrow uphill section which was quite tight!
Stage 10 was a long one joining up two stages to give 14 miles. We were in 6th place with a minute gap in front and over 30 seconds behind we were quite comfortable so didn’t do anything silly. However back at service before the last stage Paul Hughes behind had taken almost half of the deficit from us and with a repeat it was hotting up..
Final stage Exactly the same stage, approaching the second chicane in fifth gear, “ It was straight through” dad said. In a split second I looked at the gap, dropped one gear, aimed for the hole between the bales then thought, “Is it hell!” As the bales rattled the mirrors, slamming the pass side one through the side window. Good job the glass had its security liner put on the week before..
Further on we had two more chicanes noted as straight though but had been tightened for this run!!! We knocked 21sec off our previous run and enough to keep the position.
The event was won by John Stone / Patrick Walsh in the CA1 prepared Skoda Fabia. Michael Glendinning & Andrew Roughead finished second overall and enough to clinched the North of England Championship we had to settle for runners up spot or the first of the loosers…
6th O/A 1st Class Barry & Michael Lindsay 106gti
19th OA 1st Class David Hope & Fiona Gourlay Subaru