By Phil Jobson
After continuous rain showers in the days beforehand, Sunday 14th August dawned dry and sunny. This relatively new round of the North of England Tarmac Championship had attracted fewer competitors but there were lots of questions on the forums about the best tyre choice.
Organisers Solway Car Club put on two cracking stages with lots of variety from tight twisty sections beneath trees with water draining off making the tarmac slippery, to flat out wide concrete aprons and significant mileage sections of compacted gravel loose or broken tarmac loose sections. Not all competitors were happy with the loose, though Snowy revelled on it. Some resorted to using worn gravel tyres. Four loops of the two identical stages, meant times would tumble through the day.
Caroline Jobson, navigating for only the 3rd time on a stage event and the first time on tarmac, found the corners came up quicker, but soon got the hang of calling notes. With intermediate fronts and wets on the rear, Phil struggled (as did most) on the slippery surface and spun twice on SS1, stalling the car too. However the undoing was to be SS2 when on a very rough broken tarmac section ‘Snowy’ got far too sideways (both ways) and emerged onto the next sealed surface with two punctures. Phil elected to stop & change one with the only spare carried, but collected a maximum, dropping them to very last position.
Returning to service, already one crew had elected to retire their C2R2, but Barry Lindsay was setting top ten times, though complaining he’d fitted the wrong type of diff. James (Squirt) McWhir was in with Michael Hunter’s Lada Samara benefitting from more power from the K Series Rover 1600cc engine fitted. A marshal at the start of SS4 pointed out a soft intermediate rear tyre, which the crew changed for the two slicks carried, now devoid of any more intermediates.
Sunshine and brisk winds were rapidly drying out the exposed parts of the stages, but it remained slippery under the trees. In fact more mud was being drawn onto the corners and Snowy seemed to be fully sideways each way, but sitting still and going nowhere on some muddy parts of the stage. However, by setting a series of 4th and 3rd fastest class time, Phil & Caroline were reasonably satisfied to drag themselves up to 30th and 8th in class. Barry and Mike Lindsay finished an excellent 7th overall and won the class, while Michael Hunter / Squirt finished in 22nd and 7th in class.
An excellent friendly and well organised event with challenging stages left competitors promising to return next year. All in all ‘a grand day out!’
(Photos © Yvonne & Martyn Petry/ Spadeadam Motor Club)