By Barry Lindsay
The Jack Frost rally win for Barry Lindsay & Caroline Lodge was meant to happen because there were quite a few stumbling blocks that could have stopped them in their tracks before the event started.
Their car for the day was to be a SG Petch car offered as a Prize-drive for the winner of the SG Petch ANECCC stage Championship. Steve Bannister & Callum Atkinson won the championship but passed the prize down to 2nd. This happened to be Lindsay & Lodge. This was announced just after the Grizedale and at this point they were building a new Fiesta for the prize-drive.
A few weeks before the Jack Frost the car wasn’t ready so it was agreed with the motorsport manager that Barry best get the 106 prepared ‘just in case’. A few days later plans changed again, Barry & Caroline were to use Steve Petch’s own car the WD40 Fiesta S2000T.
A test was arranged for the Thursday before the event, to get the seat adjusted and get a few miles and get to know the basics!
Spadeadam team early morning start Myself, Caroline, Michael and media/PR officer Helen head to Teeside. Unknown to us, the east had had 6” of snow in places and Middlesbrough was one of them. Just south of Newcastle on the A1 at a standstill. Caroline gets a phone call. No test today, but carry on to the workshop and get the seat set. At Tony Bardy’s workshop we both sat in and could hardly see out! Caroline’s seat was fixed on one position nothing could be done. Mine was semi adjustable but not enough. Extra brackets were made to get enough height and after the seat had been in and out a few times I was happy. (Well with the seat anyway!) A brief talk about all the electronics but everything like lights, heaters, screen heater, als were all on a computer in the middle for Caroline but would be talked through hopefully at the test on Friday if the snow thaws.
Early call, Test is on! So Myself, Michael & Helen head to Teeside. Caroline had to work.
We were first there and the track was 50% snow and 50% Ice. Circuit manager got us all signed on and said the ice part will thaw the snow part probably won’t! The car arrived sitting on Pirelli Wets. There was one set of Pirelli Sotto which are what the crews use on Monte Carlo. The problem is if they were used there would be nothing for Sunday. However it was decided if the car was damaged today they wouldn’t need them Sunday anyway. So with ice tyres fitted Stephen Petch (Jnr) took me round to warm it up, see how much grip there was and try and explain a few things.
6 laps later there wasn’t much grip, Stephen was fighting to keep it straight. A small service while we swapped over and I got in the driving seat. Steady out lap but the issue was going to be the sequential gearbox. When it was spinning all four wheels on ice it wouldn’t change up and you can’t change down if all four wheels are locked under braking. With massive brakes that’s easier said than done. So left foot braking to control wheel spin going up and easing off the brakes going down as well as getting used to left hand drive and how quick it actually goes through the gears when it has grip. Building confidence but then came ‘the spin’. No damage, but a three point turn and a stall or two but it was good practice just in case on Sunday.
Thankfully a few more turned up Constantine – Corsa and Bird – Focus so we waited to hope it thawed more.
After a bit Michael was strapped in and another 5-6 laps of slightly better conditions and I was pushed a bit harder and when there was grip the gearbox worked well. With Helen the only person taking photos I spotted her on the long hairpin which was white with snow so playing for the camera & practice at drifting the Fiesta was the order for a few laps.
Another break to let Bird out and the Fiesta cool off, Thankfully the tyres were hardly marked.
There was enough fuel for another run but they hadn’t brought any more. So with Helen in the navigator seat we had the last run. Track was now 30% snow 30% Slush and the rest wet. I was also allowed to use the kart track infield just to do a bit of Handbrake stuff and tight twisty with no actual route the navigator enjoyed the view although was pretty quiet! However before we ran out of fuel or the driver talent it was time to call it a day.
Debrief was had and the forecast was for more snow Sat and Sunday. I asked if they had any 15” Snow tyres? No. So I explained that three year ago with the
Evo they had some and were great in the snow. Never mind Sotto’s it will be. Headed home with mixed thoughts but the test had been worth every second.
Have you heard there has been a few withdraw as there is a lot of snow. I was thinking they were about to say and we’re too. But no. The mechanics have done what you wanted. They’ve taken the tarmac brakes off so we can get 15” wheels on and we’ve got some tyres that you wanted. Get some sleep….
That’s easier said than done the night before a rally in my own car never mind someone else’s.
Jonathan would take Caroline & I over. With an early start while the rest of the team would follow. Nigel & Helen were also doing the event in their Corsa so they needed an early start also.
Petch Motorsport had all the awnings set up and car inside warming but sitting on the Pirelli Sotto’s. Caroline had picked up a sickness bug at a rescue training day the day before and was feeling unwell but battled on while the team were considering if she was well enough to start. However with minutes to go she strapped herself in and the tyres were changed to the snow tyres. Not wanting other teams to know what was happening then we drove straight to the arrival on our due minute.
5! 4! 3! 2! 1! GO! 1st gear 2nd, 3rd trying to find grip 4th then it dug in. But now needed to stop and it did amazing onto the race track and it was going well. Feeling how much grip I had and were catching a car then into a chicane and we locked up on ice and hit the bale and stalled. The bale fell over so hit it quite hard. After a quick reverse we were back up to speed and through to the finish. Position 1st with a 9sec lead was rather pleasing.
With the front bumper having had a bit paint knocked off the yellow tape soon repaired that for the day.
Stage 2 Repeat of SS1 but the stage had polished in places. Chicanes were a big problem, due to lack of grip the car kept stalling when I pulled the handbrake to get it to turn and struggled with turning in despite the team altering the front diff at service to try and make it turn better. However gear changes up and down were now sorted after advice from Tony. So despite 2 stalls and a reverse we were 35seconds slower than SS1 but turned out to be fastest taking another 3seconds from 2nd placed Kevin Proctor.
Stage3 had a couple of different bits added which included 2 tight hairpins and extra square off circuit.
This was a fun stage, still little grip. Good first lap which included Caroline calling one section square left into square left. My interpretation – ‘Long hairpin let’s do some drifting in the untouched snow. Passing cars was now getting to be fun but as Caroline instructed “get him” (or slightly less lady like words actually) I went to the snow to pass an Evo on the outside as it also moved over. Pulling more gears this Fiesta was so easy to pass! By the finish we had caught our 30sec guy, passed the minute man, caught the 1m30car and caught the 2m car. Four cars went through the FF in line but then came a mix up. We were given a time a time 14sec slower than Proctor but should have been 2sec slower. Unable to prove it, We dropped to second overall.
Stage 4 and it had started to snow. One way to fire me up is say “you’ve dropped to second” Probably the best stage the snow giving more grip but one issue was snow coming in through the closed roof vent. The other issue was giving a straw bale a rather big hit thinking there was more grip than there was. 9 seconds faster than Proctor put us back into the lead. A long lunch break and change the direction round the circuit. Snow was now blizzard conditions.
Stage 5 was interesting catching cars despite now running 5th car on the road. A lot of the stage was loose snow. Extending the lead by another 6seconds and the next stage was to be the last.
Nerves started to rattle. One stage to a rally win, with a 13sec lead over Procter than a 2min gap to third. Was going to go for a walk round the service area but was told do you have to, you’ll just get wet then it’ll steam up even with the heated screen. Everything was set for the last 4mile. Then came the comment. Don’t back off you haven’t won this. Procter will go out and hit everything to win it. Tony said get the lights on main so if catch anyone they see you coming.
On the stage it didn’t go quite to plan. Early in the stage in front of the spectators a slid wide clipping tyres then didn’t handbrake at a hairpin and had to reverse then stalled. It couldn’t get much worse. Calm down.
Then it was flat out with some high speed drifts and late braking one point was all locked up towards a chicane and steered through thankfully it went through.
Back to the spectator area and the two hairpins now rapidly catching Procters nephew in a Corsa. I thought about a late lunge up the inside into a square left but was just to far back. So went wide to get the cut into a hairpin but he was as quick then the next hairpin I was inches off him. Only one car wide with nowhere to go, then it widened into a 90 left he went for the inside. Ok we’ll go for the loose snow then and we did! Round the outside ploughing the snow. To the finish and almost out braked the last corner. Was it enough? We didn’t know, probably not. Then two spectators came over by their watch we were only one second down. Then thanks to the internet and quick results the times were up. We had won by 12 seconds dropping only 1 second. Nigel & Helen had finished 55th Overall and 11th in class so it had been a good day for Spadeadam.
I can’t thank everyone enough for something I never expected to ever happen. Steve Petch for the use of his pride and joy, and the services of his whole team – Ritchie, Tony, Marty & Robert who couldn’t do enough to make the win possible. Stephen Petch, for some tuition and I quite enjoyed sitting in with the BTRDA champion. Colin & Ian, the championship co-ordinators for a great year. Steve Bannister & Callum Atkinson for passing the prize to second place. Caroline for being her professional self despite not being well, I still do exactly what I’m told, she’s the boss! Jonathan for servicing on the events that enabled us to get the points to qualify for the prizedrive. Helen, Michael, Yvonne, Martyn, Graham, Shaun, Kenton, Geoffrey, Nigel for being part of the weekend and special mention to Jon Stynes – He saw we were leading after SS2 and drove over to be part of it.
Sorry for the long report but its realistically the only time it will happen, winning a rally – Unless anyone fancies investing in a car I could drive…