By Barry Lindsay
Greystoke was a forest I’d never competed in and 2011 was going to be the best opportunity for me to do it. However reading the regs I noticed that it was maps only no notes. With Michael not reading OS maps, I had decided not to bother, then I asked map reader Caroline Lodge to navigate. Caroline agreed so it was all systems go.
Leading up to the event we were both nervous. Caroline because she hadn’t called maps in 1 to 9 before. Myself because I hadn’t had anyone else navigate me in 18 years and damaging the car with a tarmac title at grasp in the next few months would be silly.
Scrutineering was done on the Saturday and once we had the route Caroline set about marking her maps with as much information as possible from the route book.
The morning of the event was warm and sunny, dust was now going to be a problem. Going to the first stage it became apparent that a large number of people know Caroline, I was beginning to feel that I was just a chauffeur for a VIP celebrity, blacked out windows should there be a next time.
Into the stage up to the first corner Caroline calls Right 7 I braked then as I got nearer thought nothing like a 7! Doubt started to go through my head. But the next few corners were right and we got quicker, then more detail and distances. That was when I started to think “ She’s good,” we then got to a bit I recognised from spectating on the RAC and remembered it was straight to where the finish was! (It was dark then and it now isn’t straight!!) a little moment as we went through a series of bends. 3m 45 was our time 2 seconds behind Andrew Wheatley in a fiesta R2 (M Sport worker – so I’d guess he knew the wood also!) into SS2 which ran the same first part of the stage but split off to give a different and longer 2nd half. This stage went well a couple of moments – one bit I again thought I know! but when we locked up going over a crest into a 90 right. (yup – It wasn’t how I pictured it either!!) then near the finish there was a lot of rights and lefts flowing then “ this is nothing like the map!” pause “Watch out for a 90 right.” We dropped 11 seconds to the class leader but we were 17 ahead of third after the two stages.
Stages 3 and 4 were repeats and went quicker on both and only dropped 8 seconds to the class leader over both stages so were happy at the lunch halt in a safe 2nd in class.
Stage 5 was the other way round stage 2. Again everything was going as map but the front tyres were passed there best on the rock hard surface. I did have to admit I was wrong on this stage to my map reader! Approaching what was the first corner was now the last corner. This way though it is a much faster down hill approach and Caroline calls “ Left 5” we got round using all the road and I had to admit that it’s more like a 7 from that side!!. Loosing another 12 seconds our chances of winning the class had slipped away. Stage 6 was a repeat but half way round my intercom wire part unplugged itself. So with Caroline shouting I was getting bits through the intercom and bits from outside then almost at the finish I managed to click it back in. NOW I can hear you as she shouted left 7! We were fastest in the class on this one by 1 second.
The final stage went to plan and managed to avoid a hole that had dug out that I thought had pulled the wheel off on the previous stage. But the majority of the stage was fantastic despite parts being used for 7 stages. We dropped another 7 seconds but third in class was almost 2 minutes behind and with 3rd & 4th both crews that have beaten me before in the forest on notes I was happy with the result.
Chris Taylor was another Spadeadam member on the event. Also finishing runner up in his class navigating Jonny Brass in the 1400 Corsa.
Thanks to the Spadeadam Marshals Neil & Zach Varah, Mark Taylor and Dave, Edwin & Stephen Love. Thanks also to Caroline for “Perfect” navigating and Michael & Geoffrey for servicing
(This report was three pages long so if it’s now shorter, Caroline has edited all the bits that I blamed her for losing the time that cost us the class win!!)
Barry – I tell fibs about how much I wrote – Lindsay
Well it did look like a 7R on the map! – Caroline