By Fiona Gourlay
I was really looking forward to the Jim Clark National as I had not been out competeing on notes since october last year.
Garry had been working all hours and not had time to spend preparing the Manta since he had done Charterhall with Hollie, his daughter, in the navigators seat. So preparation was all last minute- All was ready, we’re through scrutineering- home for tea and time to start. This being our home town I told him to make sure we went through the Duns stage with no damage. We started with a good dance along North Street. He was very close to the kerb on my side at the hotel, we got through and down Station road and into the Industrial Site, just missing the kerb on his side to the finish of the stage. We were now in 48th o/a.
Away on the 20 miles road section to do Bothwel after that we were up to 35th with no mishaps, doing well and enjoying it.
The next stage was Abbey St. Bathans. Which had a few tight bends and steep climbs, all went well to the village, I lost the notes and would be a least 1 mile before I found them. Back onto them again and we were catching the car in front combing back to the main road at Ecclaw, downhill over grid into a square right. The tail end swung out and we hit the kerb very hard and reckoned we would have damage. At the end of the stage we went back to Kelso to park up for the night and were lying 27th o/a and 3rd in class. Would we start in the morning. We would find out at the 45min service that we had a twisted wheel and Garry thought the axle had moved over telling Ewan to bring a large mallet next morning as we might need it! It was now 11.45PM and time to go home to bed. We were to collect the car 8.53AM the next morning.
Saturday morning was dry just, but there had been rain overnight- car collected and into service to find Garry was right the panhard rod was out of place, rim was tiwisted and I saw a large mallet being used at point thanks to Archie Simmonds for his advice and the service crews hard work, we started not knowing how long we would go as everything was not perfect.
Polworth was a good stage and a road that Garry travels most days, we were now in 29th positinon and 13 seconds away from 2nd in class and a long way to go. Edrom was next, it just started to rain so was very slippy and a few cars went off. We took the acute hairpin at Buxley with a tidy handbrake turn and little dance and off to a 750 fast straight. We to the finish having dropped to 4th in class.
Next was Ayton a stage neither of us knew, with the split in the stage we were caught by 2 cars and had to stop at the Lamberton hairpin and let them through- time lost. The next time round the loop we caught an Escort but there was no slowing in Garry’s mind, straight past (sorry if we gave you a fright!) and off to the finish. We were now 33rd o/a and 3rd in class. We were happy to still be running.
Back to Servicefor 20minutes, not time to do much work on the car. We were on our way to Eccles, this was the longest stage in the event with losts of twist and truns we let a C2 past and found it in a tree round the next bend. We had a good dance here too, but made it round. Next we passed Gareth White with a puncture. Gareth caught us up and we let him past, Kev Dunn came past in his Nova and then we passed Kev in the ditch… see video below.. finishing the stage 30th o/a and 3rd in class.
Swinton the jump before the crossroads we were well off the ground, flat out for the crossraods and “Oh No!” the road was wet on the other side we had a little dance. But on we went to take the big jump-great this car just lifes. Finished the stage in 30th o/a/ and 8 seconds behind 2nd in class, this was a good result. Back to Kelso and another 20 minute service, some food – the car needed a weld up with time hoping it would hold panhard rod in place to get us through these 5 stages again.
Eccles 2 was no mishaps and 4 seconds slower were taking it steady to get to the end we hoped. Swinton 2, Garry went slower over the crossroads and did more damage than if he was going hard, I heard the car hit the ground but we made it to Swinton House gates where we let a blue Escort past, followed him bumper to bumper onto the rough and smash went the windscreen due to flying stones, we had also lost 5th gear and rear brakes by this time. Were 18 seconds slower than last time but still hoping to finish the rally.
Next wsa Polwarth 2 which we had the same time as the first time tthrough and were in 24th place o/a with 2 stages to go.
Edrom 2 with hairpin and jumps safely behind us, Garry said the weld had given way so the axle was definitely fully floating now we were still 12 seconds quicker that in the morning. Garry wondered whether to continue but was keen to get a finish. So, on we went to Ayton 2. On this stage we went 2 minutes slower than the morning, saw Mike Horne parked up with engine problems, we made it to the end and finished in 32nd o/a and 5th in class.
Thanks to our service crew for all their hard work in getting us to the finish. Thanks also to our sponsors Mike Dagg of Crailing Tofts Tatties and Harry Frew of Cheviot Trees as we would not have started without their support.
I have done a few(!!) rallies now in a few different types of car, with different drivers, this was one of the most enjoyable events I have done- Well done to Garry for keeping on the road when the panhard rod was no longer holding the back axle in place. Looking forward to another event in the Manta – When the car is fixed.
(Photos © Barry Lindsay / Spadeadam Motor Club)