By Caroline Lodge
A surprise phone call the week before the Cheviot Stages lead to me sitting in with Jane Beebe, her son Matt had challenged her to do some rallying and after some good runs asphalt, she had a on track to win the N3 class in the BTRDA. Otterburn was to be her final rally. We were entering in an MG ZR 160.
We met at the ranges on a very cold Saturday afternoon for the recce. As we followed the fellow competitors nervous laughter commenced when we saw the covering of snow on the stages. After a very slow scrutineering appointment and making plans for the event we waved goodbye.
Sunday morning – rally day, I left a very wet Tindale Fell, as I carried on along the military road the wet road turned into a sparkly surface which then evolved into a good covering of white ice. My journey to Otterburn was ‘eventful’ as every time I tried to give the little Mazda a bit more revs it promptly tried to swap ends! Also just missing a black cow wandering around in the dark on an icy road added to the experience. So it was a slow slithery trip to the ranges. Barry and Mike took a slightly different route as their truck refused to turn off where they wanted it to.
That start of the rally was delayed due to the icy conditions, most crews decided to give it a go. Having marked the wet areas the day before, we knew we were in for a slippery event. As we sat in arrivals we were informed that Jane’s son Matt was off but OK, not sure if we needed this information, but decided to give him a wave as we passed. Jane was handling the car well and we seemed to get on OK together, one hairy moment on an icy straight had Jane fighting with the car, but she got it back again, “Well held” was the comment from my seat.
I called “6Right 100 past sign caution 1 Right tightens over small crest 40” – and I do have proof of that! We went into the corner a bit quicker than we should and the back end broke away, I had a fleeting thought we might spin until the rear nearside wheel got on the grass, dug in and over we went, then over again! Down the bank and then over the ditch. I can’t print the words that were uttered in the car, but it was ‘game over’ for us.
We clambered out with a little help from the spectators and marshals. A kind film crew gave us a lift back to service, where we reported our experience to the service crew. After a brew and some ribbing from various people, Barry mentioned the car. In our post roll state we had simply wandered off and left the car in the heather! So off Jane and I went back to the scene again, this time with a van and trailer. The recovery crew did give us a bit of a look and asked where our service crew were? They were still busy with Matt’s car, he’d got on the road again but was having problems. Anyway following a lot of hard work by the recovery crew we got the car back onto the trailer and back to service.
After that it was a case of keeping up with how everyone else was doing and I went out to watch the last stage. The other Spadeadam crews were going well, Barry and Mike had a fantastic result, and I’m sure he will tell you about that.
Jane picked up her N3 trophy at the BTRDA awards last Saturday and I believe that the accident footage was shown at the awards night too.