By Dan Haynes
So this was it. Three weeks prior I had responded to a text that Jerry Hettrick sent saying ‘Yeah, put me down for that!’
Normally a formality for us, but on this occasion my chosen chariot was sat on my parent’s drive where it had been abandoned when our attempt at February’s EVMC 12 car resulted in a broken CV joint calamity.
To cut a long story short, the Ibiza was fixed and finished with camber set up and everything by 19:05 on the night of the event. Now to some of you this may seem a little last minute, however I can assure all that by Haynes/Johnson standards this was unbelievably organise, so much so I was able to road test the car, return home and double check the wheel nuts were nipped up tight. Herein lay my downfall; one…tight, two…tight, three…crack – oops I’ve broken it. So with three tight studs and half stud in the hub I set off to pick up my faithful Navigator. Fortunately, once at Pete’s we got the car jacked up, wheel off and stud extracted with enough time to get to Gretna for the start, just.
The event started at 20:15, which was slightly delayed due to it being pretty light at 20:00. This gave us plenty time to make certain that the crew borrowing my spare map got the old one. The lent map didn’t show the support road alongside the M6 extension, which unfortunately was used in the first section.
We got to TC1 clean, which was a direct run from Gretna to the West side of Floriston Crossing. From there it was a short blast round Rockcliffe Cross/Castletown area where my local knowledge didn’t help and we ended up missing a side road and adding about ¾ mile to what was a relatively short section. So TC2 and 1 minute dropped.
From there we ran up towards Westlinton, and used the crisscross of roads between the Motorway and A7 until eventually crossing the A7 and coming into the TC between Alstonby and Westlinton. From there we ran back towards Rockcliffe and Cargo via Cringledyke. Then on to the biggest NAM we have ever done, about 5 miles & consisting of three roundabouts on the new Northern Bypass. We messed about a bit here as we were uncertain as to which way along the bypass we should have been heading. We knew the finish was at Smithfield and we were going there after the next section, but the instructions seemed to be taking us too far away from the finish location. Anyway, having turned round, stopped, ummed, aahhed we made an educated guess and got it right, getting into the time control 2 mins late.
We then blasted round Bousted hill, Little Orton, the old airfield with the finish being on our way into Carlisle. The roads had been slippery all night with patches of standing water but this last section really took the prize for the number of times a puddle, pothole or muddy section tried to drown, damage or disorientate car and team. However, we managed to maintain a reasonable pace and despite Pete repeating, ‘I’m only a junction ahead’, there were no further major navigational errors made. This got us to the finish on our minute and left us with grins on both sides of the car.
So, well done to all marshals and event organisers, it was a 12 car to be proud of. Really enjoyable route, instructions that were simple yet took enough thought to make them interesting. The only negative is that it would have been good to see a few more entries, as the event certainly deserved it!