Ross Traders Historic Rally - 19th July 2014
After the last event there wasn't much work required but I did change the loose U/J, reshimmed the steering rack, replaced the broken indicator switch (thanks to Phil) and tried a proper Reliant window winder in the passenger door (thanks to Geraint)
This year the Ross Traders had a good entry of 52 cars with George and myself seeded at car 12, and the Scimitar Coupe of Richard Prosser and Andy Gibson at Car 7. As is usual on this event, there were 6 regularities with some navigation given out an hour before the start and some along the route. There were fewer tests this year, only 7 instead of the usual 15 due to the unavailability of Chepstow Racecourse, but the biggest difference to previous years was the interesting weather
After the briefing at the start, we plotted the navigation and with about 5 minutes to go, George tried the new improved window mechanism - she wound it down and it wouldn't come back up. With a lot of heavy rain forecast this would be a bit of a problem, so I hopped out and grabbed the top of the window, managed to pull it up and just left a few inches gap at the top to pass the clipboard to the marshals...
The day started nice and bright with a short test in Oakenhill Wood, a good forest track with 30 cones to slalom around and it was very slippery at the edges of the track (where they put the cones). Our time was ok but we clipped a couple of cones on the way through. Out on the road, the first regularity was already plotted and we were going well until we got to where we thought the 4th control would be, but there was no one there (you don't know where the controls are, but you get an idea with the distance from the previous one). We carried on gently while George checked the route, which was correct, so we continued until the next control who confirmed the marshal hadn't turned up for control 4. The other problem was we didn't know what speed we were supposed to be doing at control 5 as the speed change was based on the position of control 4. All very confusing and it does make you doubt that you have done it right. We sorted ourselves out and completed the section, 10 controls in total. We were rather early at the last couple, but by this time we were being followed by Car 2 who was doing exactly the same speed as us, giving us confidence we were on the right track.
Then we returned to Oakenhill Wood to complete the first test in the reverse direction. Our time was very similar and we only clipped one cone this time. Two more regularities followed, both plot and bash, but George got them down quickly and we had a good run through until the final section of Regularity 3. We came out to a T junction which didn't look right to me and a bit up the road I convinced George we must be on the wrong road, so we turned round and went back and tried the other way, which didn't work either. So George was right and there wasn't enough distance to the next control to make up the lost time, and we dropped 3 minutes here.
The next 2 tests were in a large car park of a factory and lunch was in their social club. About 5 minutes before we arrived, the heavens opened and we attempted the test in torrential rain with thunder and lightning overhead. Although the wipers were working well, the screen was very misted and I was having trouble seeing the cones. It was one of those situations where you had to laugh - George was laughing so much she could hardly tell me which side of the cones to go
And when we got to the finish we had to do it again
Anyway we were quite slow round here but didn't hit any of the cones, and lunch was very good.
When we left lunch, we were 12th overall and the organisers decided to cancel the next 2 tests in the same car park due to the conditions, so we went straight to the next regularity. The Scimitar would demist ok on the road with the quarterlights open, but every time we stopped it would steam up again! We'd plotted this one over lunch and got held up on the first part by a local who was only doing 24mph when we wanted to do 26mph (!) and then forgot a speed change later on which cost us another 18s. The final 3 controls were on private land at Goodrich Castle which George knows well from competing on the Ross Endurance Rally for a few years. We got 2 of them right but the final one of 1/2 mile at 30mph was impossible to do in the time (as designed by the organisers) and we dropped 20s compared to the fastest cars time loss of 13s.
Next there were 2 more regularities - regularity 5 started well but the 2nd marshal's clock had broken so he resorted to using his wristwatch, but unfrotunately this was about 1m30s early leading to a lot of confusion for everyone. Regularity 6 went well all the way through and finally the weather was clearing up and we got to the final test at Goodrich Castle in beautiful sunshine. Although George had a diagram, she called all the bends from her memory of previous runs through and we set 5th quickest time which was a great way to finish the event
At the finish in Ross on Wye there was a good buffet dinner while we waited for the results. Due to the missing marshal on Reg 1, 3 of the 10 controls had to be scrubbed, and we (along with a couple of other crews) queried the marshals broken clock on Reg 5 and 2 controls were scrubbed here as well.
When the results went up, we were pleased to be 6th overall, a good improvement over 14th place in 2013
Richard Prosser and Andy Gibson had a good day, setting similar test and regularity times to us, only spoilt by failing to write down a codeboard on the route which cost them a 5 minute penalty which put them down to 11th - without this they would have beaten us to 6th by 18s
Well done to the organisers and marshalls for coping with the conditions and very well done to George - when there are less tests, the navigator has a much greater influence on the result
It was good to do a localish event, despite the delay with the results, I was home, had washed the car and was relaxing by 9pm