By Barry Lindsay
Only a week after Grizedale this year due to resurfacing on Croft the Christmas stages were brought forward (and the Jack Frost has moved back to February).
Several Spadeadam crews were at the event and as always, the weather added its Christmas sparkle, this year in the form of ‘Ice rain’ the day before. Getting to the event proved challenging with Stainmore closed some had to travel via Newcastle.
Image © Martyn Petry
After a week of getting the 106 ready, by swapping dated items such as seats, belts, fire systems from the gravel 206 to the tarmac 106 Caroline & I were seeded at 12 out of the 90 crews tacking part. Barrie Thomson & Jerry Hettrick were at 29 in an Evo9. Nigel & Helen Harkness were at 82 in the Corsa followed by Darren Martin & Martin Steele at 90 in an Escort Cosworth.Cold wet tarmac welcomed the crews on Stage 1, the first corner catching out one or two. We were quickly up to speed getting 10th fastest and quickest in the class with 7m 06. Barrie & Jerry were learning the Evo getting 7m30. Nigel & Helen got 7m53 ahead of Daren & Martin who got 8m34 following a spin and getting amongst some tyres marking the route.
Image © Martyn Petry
Stage 2 was still damp, but the low sun was now dazzling crews. Caroline & I went quicker with 6m58, still leading the class. This did involve letting rally leader Kevin Proctor pass going into Tower Corner. Think even he was surprised to see the 106 have a look at passing back on the exit of the corner when we kept a tight line and he oversteered. Then he clicked a few gears and was gone… Barrie & Jerry improving with 7m16. Nigel & Helen getting 7m41 ahead of Darren & Martin on 7m57.
Stage 3 We had an unlucky stage and fell foul of a good seeding. Tony Bardy’s Focus blocked a chicane after we had been through it on two laps but on our third lap the marshals moved tyres to allow us through. Unable to move the Focus all the following crew didn’t do the chicane on all three laps. 8min 29 was our time, loosing 14 seconds to the class opposition. It was one of those situations where nothing could be done. Barrie & Jerry getting 8m19.
Stage 4 We had to take risks!! This usually involves rubbing a few bales, gaining a few black marks from tyre stacks, and often costs mirrors! We stuck on the soft slicks and with the chicane put back in hopefully it would be a level playing field. 8min33 was our time but it was drier and we took back 4seconds in the class; this was going to be a tough fightback. Barrie & Jerry got 8m26 but by that time the rest of the Spadeadam crews were out. Nigel & Helen exited in a big plume of oil smoke and steam mix in front of the spectators when the engine expired on Stage 3. Darren & Martin also retired on the same stage with mechanical issues with the Escort Cosworth.
After a lunch halt for the Organisers to change the course direction, which gave the sun time to start cooling down. Caroline & I got 8m47 but we dropped 6 seconds in the class. One of the rear shockers had developed a leak. Barrie & Jerry just behind on 8m51.
Stage 6 followed a quick service, enough time for Jonathan & Kenton to change both rear dampers. 8m41 was an improvement but we still dropped a second while Barrie & Jerry went slightly slower getting 8m55.
|Image © Martyn Petry|
Last two stages and it was now dark, everyone with extra lights added, now was road rally experience time.
Stage 7; we caught a car on the first lap but as he went to the wrong side going up the straight to the chicane I got alongside on braking and it was an opportunity I never miss. Quickest in the class with 7m08 but not by enough we were still behind the 14sec we lost on SS3. Barrie & Jerry got 7m31. Final stage and were catching a different car but some people are frightened to have a 106 behind so they let us through quickly. We could only manage 7m10 which was the same as the class leader…We finished second, ironically by the 14sec. Barrie & Jerry getting 7m33.
Christmas Stages 2018 Results
10th O/A 2nd Class Barry Lindsay / Caroline Lodge 106 62m52sec
20th O/A 12th Class Barrie Thomson / Jerry Hettrick Evo 64m21sec
Rtd Nigel & Helen Harkness Corsa Engine
Rtd Darren Martin / Martin Steele Escort Mechanical