By Barry Lindsay
Grizedale has been the final forest rally of the year for many a season for local drivers. A lot of memories amongst most drivers of the forest of 1000 corners. Caroline and I took part this year despite having already won the ANECCC championship of which this was the final round. Caroline’s local event from before she left her home town. Whilst I have memories from my first year in 1993 in a Sunbeam, then my first class win on a rally in 1998. Things have moved forward a lot in 20 years from when I competed in a Peugeot 205 1600, that year was extremely icy, and we finished 11th O/A.
Back to 2018, the top twenty were almost all 4×4’s and the weather wet. Phil Jobson & Mark Casey were seeded at 29 in ‘Snowy’ the Mk1 Escort after its summer break since the Pirelli while Phil took to tarmac events in his Mk2. Caroline & I were in the 206 seeded at 31. Darren Martin & Pete Johnson were back at 67 this time using a Mk2 Escort. Rob Graham & Helen Harkness were at 70 in the immaculate Mk1.
Image © Ashleigh Blunt
Following the ceremonial start in Coniston crews entered the forest half way down the water side. The stage then worked its way around in the forest heading south then north, west then east more north, then west. The result was a stage 17 miles in length and used most roads in the complex!
Mark & James set the pace quickest in the 1600 class with 22m01sec, Caroline & I got 22m19sec despite the windscreen starting to mist up and then we got a bit of a surprise near the end to come across Phil & Mark pushing the Escort just round a corner. A quick visit down the inside ditch. Rob & Helen getting 23m38. Darren & Pete were having a nightmare picking up a 10min early penalty at TC1a and then in Stage One getting a time of 32m08. Phil & Mark retired when the gearbox stuck in neutral, something that it has done before so they know how to fix it.
Back to service at Skelwith Fold, for a spanner check, fuel, tyres etc.
Now two short stages at Dunnerdale. Twisty little stages with lots of turns on crests and used every year. Stage 2, Caroline & I now armed with new Pirelli’s and had time to make up. We double tightened the belts like we did on the Riverside stage at Otterburn. 2min54 sec was quickest in the class 2 seconds ahead of Mark & James on 2min56. Rob & Helen getting 3m10 ahead of Darren & Pete on 3m12.
Stage 3 We were quickest again this time with 2m52. Mark & James getting 2m53 then Rob & Helen on 3m08 and Darren & Pete on 3m15.
A quick management service in now torrential rain before heading back for a second run through the 17miler.
Conditions were much worse, the loose gravel had gone to soup!
Mark & James took the class with a time of 22m33 and were 2nd two-wheel drive car in 14th Overall. Myself & Caroline pushed hard but conditions weren’t favorable the front wheel drive was hunting for grip and we had water getting in which was turning to steam. However, the biggest time loss was catching the Skoda R5 in front. We had taken a minute out of them and ended up following them to the finish.
Rob & Helen getting 24m47 and were probably wondering how they would ever get the Mk1 clean again. Winter rallying doesn’t have problems with dust, but the mud and dirty water gets everywhere.
Darren & Pete retired in the last stage, reason unknown.
14th 1st in class Mark Shaw / James Coxon Sunbeam 50m 22
16th 2nd in class Barry Lindsay / Caroline Lodge 206 50m 38
33rd 4th in class Rob Graham / Helen Harkness Mk1 54m 43