By Mark Talbot
The Jack Frost Stages was our first time ever competing in a car. Despite years of motorcycle racing the nerves came flooding back days before the event. The flurry of last minute preparation, issues with the car and then 6″ of snow to top it off whilst trying to load the service car and get the rally car on the trailer.
After a few hours sleep and a 4 o’clock start we made our way towards the A66 with fingers crossed it wouldn’t be closed. Fortunately it wasn’t and we arrived on time, only to realize how packed the service area was and how difficult it was to find a space. Pushed for time due to the car not starting after suffering Frost Bite during the night, we managed to be the last car to scrutineering with only seconds to spare.
We then signed on and joined the SG Petch Rally Championship. Once signed on we had plenty of time to get prepared as we were car 87. Just to finish the event was the first goal as this was the first time driving the 106 XSi. During the first stage we kept things smooth and learned how the event works and how the car drives. We soon realized the standard engine and gearbox were a little outclassed against the competition but throughout the day we kept on finishing the stages and crawling up the leader-board as other dropped out or had on track issues.
We had a few issues ourselves throughout the day including the gear selector coming loose and having to complete a lap stuck in 3rd gear and the ignition key inadvertently being switched off by my knee! The car can’t be blamed for everything as it was driver error that caused at least 3 spins throughout the day, with one on cold tyres at the first corner! Despite all this Mandy and I thoroughly enjoyed our experience and were pleased to see the times drop and smooth uneventful laps add up. 7th in class and 64th overall was a good starting point which we intend to improve on throughout the year.