By Barry Lindsay
The ninth round of the SG Petch ANECCC championship was the Hamsterley Rally, moved from its April date after it lost its RAC Championship slot the event moved to September to try and get the stages in harder condition, too stop them cutting up.
The event was a great layout with Service, Scrutineering, rally HQ all just outside Barnard Castle. A 20min road section to stages 1 & 2 which was 15.6 mile with only a breather in between then back to Barnard Castle for a 2.9mile mixed surface Raby Castle Stage. After a service these were repeated and back to the finish by 3pm.
Three Spadeadam crews entered, but Rob Graham & Helen Gibbon withdrew leading up to the event due to farmer Rob having to get harvest in! (Saturday morning was pretty wet so probably could have gone rallying!)
This left John McIlwraith bringing out his Mk2 Escort and bringing in to navigate Ian Jones. They were seeded at 29 and would prove that was too far back as the day went on. Myself with Caroline Lodge ran at 15 in the 206.
We soon discovered possibly the only organizer error of the event along a few others an arrow for later in the event was baffling crews. Caroline soon had us in the right direction (we hoped as now we had 5 other cars following us)
Into the wet, foggy stage the note supplier hadn’t started the notes in the right place but that only took a couple of corners before we were on it. Visibility was getting worse and surface changes made grip unpredictable then uphill into a 90 Left tightens the 206 bounced out of the inside an dropped in the ditch on the outside on a 45^ angle but we still had forward momentum and the 206 scrabbled itself along and out. We climbed higher and visibility was down to 50m which gets the heart rate going when its fast flowing and your basically just driving on the notes as if something popped up in front we couldn’t stop. John & Ian got 9m01 with myself & Caroline on 9m 05 which was 30sec quicker than any other in the class. Straight into Stage 2 which had a lot of scraped tracks and a grassy/mud surface. Then some recently regraded sections. John & Ian got 9m16 then myself & Caroline on 9m24. A quick management service then in Raby Castle, we had put some well-scrubbed Dmack forests on the front, apparently it works in America & Portugal to lose the tread block movement. However a mile into the stage I wasn’t convinced! Downhill into a 90 left I thought I braked early but we were locked up and passengers as the 206 scatted across the grass, down a bank and headed for a 9” wooden gatepost, barbed wire fence and gate. Coming to rest in the field on top of all the debris We reversed out hanked on something but it spun us round and scrabbled our way back onto the tarmac. Still wanting to press on I sensed caution in Caroline’s voice wanting more care and slow down. Especially as we were now approaching the forest section which was my downfall last year. No issues there this year. John & Ian got 3m 51 but had also had a spin in the stage. John said “We were coming down a hill into a 90 Left”…… I know the bit you mean! There was a fence on the outside! Caroline & I got 3m59 loosing 10 seconds to the next in class.
My worry now was the horrible knocking noise from under the bonnet and the bumper, light, wing all hanging off. At service it was discovered the fan was broke. Jonathan came up with the solution. “It’s broke, but if we break it more, it will be fixed!” And he was right. To balance the fan out he broke some off the opposite side to put it back into balance.
Happy and armed with a new set of Dmack Softs were armed for another attack. Stage 4 was slightly clearer visibility wise but the stage was now higher in the middle and the 206 kept bouncing out into the loose. John and Ian went 34 sec quicker than their first run but Caroline & I went 1 slower. That showed our commitment in the fog to the notes! Stage 5 we misted up probably due to the amount of water that had come in through the roof vent on a large puddle in a hairpin. It wasn’t clean water either! John & Ian again improved getting 8m59 while we were on 9m 23. Back to management and put the scrubbed tyres on for another chance. Now wasn’t the time for heroics so 2 runs with a bit more caution. Both Spadeadam crews got 3m 46 on there first run, the I & Caroline got 3m43 on the second while John & Ian got 3m47.
ANECCC Championship wise I have extended the overall lead at the moment but due to drop scores this will start to reduce as others can still count there scores. It’s going to go down to the last rally at Grizedale. Malton before then though. Caroline will now jump up to 3rd Overall (points not out when this was written.)
10th OA 1st Class3 John McIlwraith / Ian Jones 47m07
12th OA 1st Class2 Barry Lindsay / Caroline Lodge 48m26