By Phil Jobson
It started with a phone call from Jerry asking me what I’m doing on 21st January 2017. I reckoned Jerry would usually ask me that question if there was a REALLY GOOD road rally in the offing. But I’d already heard the jungle drums… “The Bagger17″ was on!!!
The subsequently announced date for NHRC Awards night clash, I’m afraid, wouldn’t stop me taking advantage of a Classic taking place for the first time in 7 years.
Jerry and I completed the 2010 Bagger, despite going off into a frosty field, and Jerry haring round it to find a downhill gate back onto the road. The Bagger is so frenetic with continuous Controls, and the tightest twistiest sections anywhere in the U.K. (Mind you, I haven’t road rallied in SW Wales ….. yet). We ended up cutting and running to avoid going OTL.The journey down to Somerset wasn’t uneventful. An offside puncture on the shuttle, followed by the Police impounding said shuttle in Avon & Somerset Police HQ because wing mirror extensions weren’t fitted L. It turned out one of the officers had his own tarmac spec Mk2. After retrieving the shuttle and a well earned daytime kip, on the way to the start we realised the tyres were fouling on the rear arches. We stopped to make bodywork alterations, but still had to change for DMack wets on the rear before starting.
A 90 minute plotting illustrated we were in for an exciting night. The single track roads are lined with high hedgerows that wash mud down into the road. The biggest challenge was ‘reading the road’; where to push on sub-‐zero but dry tarmac, and where to tip-‐toe where a blind crest hid sheet ice on a square corner. The latter caught out many, with casualties lining the route. We went off ourselves when the road went left uphill, but we went straight on into a muddy track. Fortunately the track opened up hill back onto the road, and that’s where the gravel rallying experience kicked in.
We made it back to the road without losing time to the Mk2 that we’d caught and passed. Nectar!!
Despite a couple of wrong-‐slots, we were lying about 22nd up to the end of the second time card. A white through a farmyard traversed a cattle grid where two of the grid rails were lying across the top of the grid. A little further on from here the clutch cable cried enough and the Silver Bullet came to rest.
We’d completed about 1/3 of the route, but we’d had a great time. Only half the field made it to the finish.
Well, there are a few jobs to do on the car, but I’ll have to book my place early for the next SMC 12 car to avoid disappointment.
Road rallying is one of the cheapest forms of motorsport, identifiable with more illustrious televised forms, and is ideal to encourage youngsters into our sport. Despite the difficulties maintaining road rallying within the Road Traffic Act and MSA Regulation, it is essential for the continuation of our sport that 12 cars and road rallies continue.