Been a bit busy again

By Carlione Lodge

Barry told you about the SMC results at Ingliston in last month’s edition of TT.However  the following weekend saw us back there again, this time with only one seat in the car for the Ingliston sprint. For a change the weather was good to us, a bit windy but a lot drier than last time. We were both using the Corsa, and I was first out. I think that my role in all this is to warm the tyres for Geoffrey.

The route was the same as last year, but I’m still convinced that the hairpin somehow gets narrower when I get into the driving seat! First practice run, nothing remarkable, just trying to get the hang of the car again, I’ve not driven it since October last year. Before the second practice run our team manager for the day (Barry), suggested that, as the time wouldn’t count in the results, I should just ‘go for it’ and see what happens. So I did, and couldn’t get out of the car for laughing at the finish. There are 4 main corners on the route and it kind of went wrong on 3 of them! Lots of screeching (from the tyres not me) and lots of sideways stuff, at one point I really thought that I was going to take the timing beam out! –the tyres were well warmed for Geoffrey. But I was quicker. Another practice run, I was quicker again but a bit more in control. By now I’d knocked 2.05 sec off my first time but was 4.24 sec behind Geoffrey.
After Lunch it was time for the timed runs, I did better again despite lifting in the esses –and being told off for it! Final run and I didn’t get away from the start very well. But was a little quicker again, but so was Geoffrey. At the end of the day Geoffrey came 3rd in class with 48.43 sec, I was 2 places behind with 52.27 sec. That’s 3.84 sec difference. I’ll
catch you one day Mr Harkness.

With nothing else planned for a while, my helmet and suit had been put away. That was until I got a surprise phone call from Pip Simpson. Did I want to do Hamsterley  the following weekend? I had said that I’d marshal on Hallburn, what a decision I had to make, I thought about it for about, oh half a second and it was ‘sorry Hallburn I’m off to Hamsterley’. Our Team Kankku convoy of, an Imprezza and a Landrover met at Tebay truckstop. After a few laughs whilst I had to get out of the Mazda and climb up a wall to reach the button, to open the barrier to the long stay bit of the truck parking area. Then we made our way up the road. As we were car number 31, I thought we would have a bit of time to spare. It was only when l went to check the start times that I realised that we were running 9th on the road. The lads did a quick spanner check only to find that the front near side wheel bearing had gone. With no spare we were in a bit of a pickle. I got sent to run around the service area to try and find another one, there was only one other Imprezza the same model as ours and they didn’t have any spares. Luckily Richard and Edwin Cook came up trumps and loaned us a compatible hub. Garry, Steve and Darren did a very quick change and we made it to MTC1 in time. When I asked Pip about the trip meter his response was ‘haven’t ever used it, don’t have a clue how it works – we’ll find our way to the stages on instinct’!

Since the Stang had been sold, all the stages were in Hamsterley and we found our way there with no problems. I’ve never sat in with Pip before but we quickly got into synch during the 1st stage. I also discovered that I’m very impressed with a car fitted with a launch button (especially if it is attached to the launch system). The first 3 stages went well, none of them over 6 ½ miles long. Some parts of the stages were in absolute mint condition, although there was one 750m that was like a mud track and very slippery. A couple of sections on stage 2 were very rough which lead to a few expletives. We were getting 6th and 7th fastest stage times, but the Scooby was getting ‘bogged down’ in the chicanes. Back to service (using our instinct), and then the rains came. Luckily we were sat waiting to into service whilst the heavens opened. The poor marshals were nearly drowned in about 2 minutes. As we drove in the rain suddenly stopped, which always makes life easier for the service crew.

After a quick check over the car and a top up the fuel for us and the car we were away again to repeat the first 3 stages. This time with an anti lag that was working and it showed. We took a total of 52 seconds out of our first run. But not without a  bit of excitement, there was a particular hairpin right followed by an uphill section when things started to get ‘out of shape’, with a series of ‘eh up’s Pip fought the Scooby from one side of the road to the other and got it under control just in time for the 3 left at the top. During stage 5 we rounded a corner to meet the pile of logs that Michael Glendinning and Jo Hind had scattered all over the track. I tried to brace myself in the seat, but the Scooby seemed to just skip over them.

We met up with the lads for remote service, where they did more for Car 19 than they did for us. One of our crew noticed that Jo Wickham and Josh Davison’s Subaru was pouring fuel, Jo and Josh weren’t aware of it. They sorted the problem for them and possibly prevented a nasty incident. In the final stage we were having a good run. However it nearly all went wrong on the last corner, I called it and heard Pip say something, as I looked up I saw about 30 spectators hot footing it for the trees, probably due to the fact that there was a, slightly out of control, bright orange Scooby heading right for them! We did get through the finish in one piece and according to the stop line marshals were the only crew to get there laughing like idiots. Instinct took us back to the finish, and we were please to hear that we’d come 6th over all.

Unfortunately our team mates were not so lucky, as they’d rolled the Landrover end over end on stage 5. The only injuries had been to the top of Mikes head, as he failed to brace himself when he undid his seat belts whilst still upside down! Jane was OK and even got to take some pictures of the Landy whilst it was still on the roof.

Final results :
1st Tristan Pye/Stewart Merry
2nd Stephen Petch/John Richardson
3rd Richard Cook/Edwin Cook

After a few days rest and it was time for the first Spadeadam MC autotest of the year. Wearing my wellies and armed with a stop watch I was all set to marshal. However I was bullied into taking part. I had a go at driving my old Swift and a couple of other cars. Yes, it was a laugh and yes, I’m rubbish with the handbrake but did better with a voice activated one later on! That day we also welcomed a guest competitor James Neave from Tindale. He looked like he was enjoying himself and said that he’d come again, I’ll be round with his membership form very soon. Another good autotest organised by Barry Lindsay. Lady Gaga doesn’t know what she missed.

Enjoying the autotest
Enjoying the autotest