By Phil & Caroline Jobson
Basking in 28˚C ? Well not in Perthshire on 1st October! Torrential rain greeted crews to the otherwise picturesque Aberfeldy beside the River Tay. Receiving a tow off the trailer park / service field following scrutineering was a sign of things to come.
We took Snowy for a thrash around some classic stages on the Colin McRae Stages and survived a massive attrition rate to come away with a respectable result. As usual, we stopped overnight in the middle of nowhere at an isolated steading that, to me, resembled Father Ted’s House on Craggy Island. Our very welcoming host had moved recently from Kendal – my dreams were interrupted with fears of what terrible crime had caused him to be banished to such a place!
SS1 had been cancelled for the National B event because Peter Smith / Russell Langhorne Historic BDA Mk1 went off at a rough quarry area. I can understand why! This meant us hanging around at MTC1, but eventually we headed off to Auchtar Gate (more commonly known as the classic Drummond Hill). Now having done this stage before, I know why it’s a classic, but this time round it was both treacherously slippery (rain on the dusty surface leaving me thinking I was riding a bar of soap on the bathroom floor) and low cloud restricting visibility to 30m in places. This wasn’t helped further by a misting up with the heated screen failing. We caught a car after about 8 miles and he wouldn’t let us past. Frankly I wasn’t about to force the issue as to get off line in there would certainly be curtains. We lost at least 2-3 minutes.
A new heated screen relay was fitted at service, but it now seemed that the switch was working the wrong way round (!) Errochty was better, with at least some grip in places and confidence was beginning to build. Caroline was very succinct on the notes, and learning to adjust to an improved pace, but there were more than one or two ‘moments’. After service we headed to another classic; Craigvinean. As Drummond Hill, this excellent surfaced stage runs around a hill and back to the same point. The better grip levels through the downhill sweeping hairpins are just absolutely magic, particularly in an Escort Mark 2, though perhaps I’m biased. Snowy was handling perfectly and the tyres were working well.
As SS1 had been cancelled, a repeat of it was run as SS5. The Historics were due to run a variant of that stage as SS5 too. This final stage was unbelievably rough, but I decided that to get some form of result we just had to keep the foot in. We did our good turn from the stage stop line and towed a Talbot Sunbeam out to the road.
It was pleasing that we finished when 31 crews didn’t. Throughout the day it had been a fine balance between staying on the stage and going quickly, and with the grip levels constantly changing in the stage, it was difficult to judge where to push. A 36th overall finish and 6th in class was somewhat poorer than I’d hoped, but I’d not have been popular with John and Big Al if they’d had to pull us out of a Perthshire bog in the ****ing rain.
Great event that I’ll return to ….. but hopefully in better weather.
Huge thanks to John Ross and Alan Walsh.