By Barry Lindsay
This event had followed a summer break in the SG Petch ANECCC championship. Caroline and I had done the Pendragon a non-counting round to check the 106 was straight following its rejig after the last visit to Otterburn. So, with championship in mind I had worked out that between the next three rounds I needed an average finish on one, but Caroline needed two good scores if the opposition won his class on the remaining three. However, when I said to Caroline we need to finish this one she replied ‘yes but were still going to push on aren’t we!’ In my head I thought we might be 4th in class as it was a really strong class entry. Phil Jobson & Jerry Hettrick had entered in the tarmac Escort to see if the electrical problem was sorted before the bad weather sets in.
To the event the Saturday recce we altered more notes than normal adding bumps, holes and corners we could cut but the route was the same roads as Tyneside so majority of the opposition had done them in the summer.
The morning dawned damp and dark clouds and the rain started as we left the start thankfully on part worn wets.First stage went well tyres soon warmed up. The car in front stalled on the start line so was less than 30sec when we followed, and I was now in hunting mode! Notes were working, and we got the gap down to 10 seconds with a 7m01 time (2nd in class) though we didn’t know what the opposition were doing till after service after SS3. Stage 2 Riverside is a favourite and Caroline doesn’t get much time to breath it is just constant note calling.
2m40 was 10sec quickest in the class and only 9 seconds down on Peter Taylor in his Fiesta WRC. Stage 3 started on the grid where disaster struck on the Tyneside so after inspecting the three sizable chunks still missing from the grass bank we went into the stage. This stage has long uphill sections and wasn’t as wet so was expecting to loose time and with what could have been an interesting moment when a chicane after a right hander came up quick and for a good job a previous car had hit the bale as we would have done!
Back at Service in 14th Overall and a 19sec class lead. Decided to do the next loop with same tyres which had worked. Only a 20min service then we were back round the same loop. Phil & Jerry were in 35th struggling with cut slicks in the wet weather.
Stage 4 I wasn’t far into the stage when I realised we were going to struggle on the part worn front tyres. They weren’t moving enough water.
Battling on we caught the Subaru in front at half way. Exiting a 4-bale chicane we were rubbing paint luckily both bumpers were similar yellow only for him to miss a gear but I was too close to react! Thankfully he realised and soon pulled over. We’d gone 16sec slower and hoped others had too. Riverside2 Caroline double tightened her belts and took a deep breath and fired out the notes. Less standing water but some muddy sections where cuts had been. We had a massive moment approaching the finish 90mph two-wheel cut turned the car to 90degrees thankfully I got it straightened up without lifting but I did earn a sore leg with a slap/bat from Caroline as we crossed the finish. 3 seconds slower with 2m43 which turned out to be only 3seconds off fastest time and 3rd Overall time! Stage 6 and it was now snowing and heavy rain. Again, slightly slower time but unaware what others were doing.
Back in service and new Pirelli tyres had to be fitted and a spanner check. We were up to 8th Overall and now had a 1m52 class lead… Phil & Jerry had suffered windscreen wiper failure and had no dash display and dropped to 56th Overall but all would be sorted in service.
Stage 7 was delayed, and it stopped raining. We dropped a little in the class with a 6m25, but we could take it easier…. Phil & Jerry were happy now they could see with a 6m42.
Now followed a long service, as stage 8 was cancelled and told to stay in service till SS9 was ready.
Stage 9 & 10 were a change of roads so again now’s the time to push…or we could take it easy. Despite the sun making an appearance the roads didn’t dry and the issue now was the low sun reflecting off the wet tar and judging braking areas. Peter went off within sight of the start of SS10 for over a minute.
Final service and now 7th Overall following two fastest in the class stages just to keep a rhythm… Phil & Jerry were up to 47th.
Last two stages we were still ‘trying’ even though we were going to drop to 8th that was a battle we didn’t need try to win.
Soon after we finished, I worked out we were both SG Petch Champions. The opposition had been leading their class going into the last loop and had played their joker to double the good score which would have tightened things up. We had won our class and played the joker at Greystoke. However, they had a big accident on the last loop. So didn’t score. While three other crews either got very few points or had also retired.
8th OA 1st Class Barry Lindsay & Caroline Lodge 106
43rd OA 4th Class Phil Jobson & Jerry Hettrick Mk1 Escort