By Nigel Harkness
After not competing in any rallies or sprints for about seven years, but having retained my MSA license and having a race suit and helmet, I decided it was about time I got some use out of them. After asking Geoffrey if I could use the Corsa, (which I have a half share in, but he’s been using it and maintaining it for the last seven years), he said yes, but he was going to do the Pendragon rally first. So there was a nervous wait incase Warcop did it’s worst.
Thankfully the car (and Geoffrey & Caroline) returned in one piece, so an entry form was hastily filled in and sent off for Wigton MC’s last sprint of the year at Kames. With everything organized the day before, (and half the neighborhood coming to see why there was a rally car sat in our drive), Helen and I set off early Sunday morning to Kames.
We eventually arrived at a cold and soggy Kames. After signing on & scrutineering, all that was left to do was get suited and booted and wait for first practice run.
I think I’ve only done about 3miles in the car in the last 7 years, so this was going to be interesting! First run was slightly damp, so the cautious approach was taken, but I managed to get round in one piece, with a bit of a rusty 109.20. My “pit crew /team boss/ tyre advisor” said I needed to go faster! Next practice run and the track starting to dry out, a 104.72 was posted. Again, “Go faster!” were Helen’s words of wisdom.
Now for the 1st timed run, with the track dry, it was time to try harder. With a few moments of understeer, oversteer and locked wheels, I got a 100.49 seconds. With a time on the scoreboard, I was happy-ish. After the lunch break and another shower of rain, I started disobey team orders and got a run of 106seconds. Next run was dryer and so I pushed a bit harder and stopped the clock on 99.55seconds. Team boss said that was ok, but go faster!!
For the last run, the tyre advisor said I has nothing to lose so why not put the slicks on…. Hmmm! So on with the slicks and off to the start, I thought this could be interesting. The lights changed to green and I was off to the first corner, this feels like a rear wheel drive!
Next corner, yes this is rear wheel drive! Helen, what have you been doing to the transmission/ drive train/etc.? First lap complete, next lap more sideways action. Round the hairpin and off down the straight into the fast left… uh oh!! Oversteer one way, then the other. Keeping the boot in was my line of thought. With a 70mph four wheel drift, front wheels screaming for grip. “Yes!! I’ve caught this…. Oh no, no more road left!!” . Oh well, my reverse parking in the gravel trap was pretty good. Back to the paddock, with help from a tow truck, time to fire my tyre advisor!
I wasn’t the only one to end up in the gravel though, Wallace Menzies, in his 700+ horsepower DJ Firestorm single seater, had a brief rest there too. He did however go on to set a new Kames track record of 69.5 seconds! Think I’ve got a bit to go to beat that!
It was great to get behind the wheel again and I’m looking forward to my next outing. I might leave the tyre advisor/ team boss at home though!
(Images © H. R. Gibbon / Spadeadam Motor Club 2013)