By Phil Jobson,
A fellow club member told me rallying was meant to follow the cricket season. RAC 2013 taught me why that should be! Snowy (my immaculate newly built Ford Escort Mk1 Class C3 Historic rally car) left an icy road in Craik forest; an unscheduled flight pirouetting across a 50m ravine and landing upright on the far bank.
However, after a busy season helping my Welsh navigator, Arwel Jenkins, to win Class C3 in the RAC Championship, I’ve learned a lot about how tyres help one stick to the road. We use soft compound DMack gravel tyres, and we’ve found that lower tyre pressures provide better stability and this engenders confidence.
This was all critical on the recent Red Kites Stages, the first round of the British Historic Rally Championship. Although the start in Llandovery was clear of frost and snow, the first stage in Crychan was gripped in ice. Category 1 and up to 1600cc cars tackled the stages first, so there were patches where the frost had broken up and some of the apexes offered decent grip.
As long as we maintained smooth momentum over the icy patches, we could attack the rest. Although we struggled with gear selection all day – nothing changes there then – we set reasonably competitive times and saw others fall by the wayside or go off.
The second Crychan stage was cancelled as the long uphill approach was impassable through ice. A cracking stage in Caeo followed, and was relatively clear, although we had to watch for ice in the shaded sections. Crychan 1&2 were repeated, though a treacherous longer run in to Crychan 2 reduced stage length to only 2.5 miles. But what a stage! Wide open fast uphill drifts made for lots of sideways fun.
We were surprised to see Peter Smith (supposedly a Class C3) Opel Kadett set fastest time, taking about 20 seconds off BDA Escorts. By the time we tackled the final stage, we were up to 35th overall and safely second in Class. Only after the event have we learned that we have been awarded maximum Class points in the BHRC, and Peter Smith is accredited with points in Class D5. So it seems we won our Class. Thanks once again to Richard Clark for building a solid car and looking after us on the event. A day only made better with free meals on the way home!