Rallying with my Sabre Six

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Re: Rallying with my Sabre Six

Post by GavinR » Thu Mar 23, 2017 2:17 pm

Good luck Chris and Steve, hope it goes well and that I'll see you out on other events this year :)


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Re: Rallying with my Sabre Six

Post by chrisgallacher » Fri Mar 24, 2017 5:38 pm

Driving back from our recce in Wiltshire last weekend I had a stone hit the front of the car hard. I couldn't see any windscreen damage, and at home I checked everything over and didn't spot any problem - so I thought nothing more about it.

Then doing some final checks on the car a couple of days ago and I glanced down at the drivers side headlamp. Oops - now I know where the stone hit:

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Figuring this probably wouldn't endear us to the Scrutineers on Saturday (tomorrow!), I needed a replacement quick as I had no spare. It's a standard 7" lamp assembly for common halogen H4 bulbs, but with a side-lamp pilot as well. They're available for peanuts on ebay but I needed something in the next day or so. Luckily Nigel at QRG had a pair of decent Wipac units with bulbs which arrived safely earlier today by courier and I've now fitted them with no problem. Thanks for helping me out of a tricky spot Nigel :)


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Re: Rallying with my Sabre Six

Post by chrisgallacher » Thu Apr 06, 2017 9:52 pm

Well, Steve and I had a good weekend and a great day’s rallying on the North Yorks Classic Rally on the Sunday, even if we didn’t set the field alight come the final reckoning. It was my first rally for almost 10 years, and Steve’s first ever attempt at navigating – and we barely knew each other. We were in almost (but not quite) the oldest car on the rally, had probably driven the furthest to get to the start and in the end out of 56 starters we were eventually to finish in 46th overall. But that doesn’t tell the whole story…

Leaving Hampshire early on the Saturday morning, I met up with Steve in Marlborough, Wiltshire and we headed north towards Yorkshire in brilliant spring sunshine. Coffee stop somewhere near Doncaster:

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They're not our empty Red Bull cans btw!

It’s asking a lot of a car 50+ years old, but we had no problems at all. The old girl cruises quite happily all day at 65-70mph – any faster (officer) and we wouldn’t have had any fillings or hearing left by the time we reached Yorkshire. Even so, by the time we reached scrutineering near Easingwold north of York I’d already driven almost 300 miles and we hadn’t started the rally yet…

The noise test and scrutineering was a formality, and then it was on to sign-on at rally HQ – a country-house conference centre - just south of Easingwold. I’d cleaned the car before leaving, but 300 miles later it was looking a touch grubby:

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We collected all the paperwork and Steve got plotting the parts of the navigation (mainly some bits of the early Regularities) given out in advance. By the time we’d done all that, joined in a (very useful) Q&A session for Novices, fuelled up, calibrated the tripmeter over the measured distance and grabbed a pub meal we were both completely knackered by the time we returned to our B&B for the night.

Eyeing up the competition:

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More to come…
Last edited by chrisgallacher on Thu Apr 06, 2017 11:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.


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Re: Rallying with my Sabre Six

Post by chrisgallacher » Thu Apr 06, 2017 10:48 pm

On the Sunday the rally started with a series of driving tests at a couple of venues including the former WW11 RAF airfield at Tholthorpe. These were each over a set route (around cones, stop-astride, that sort of thing) against the clock. Sounds easy, but when the cones aren’t really where they appear on the diagram and you can’t easily spot which cone is which things get interesting… Still, come the final reckoning the penalties for touching or even missing cones weren’t that great, so we muddled through, trying to figure out the best approach to the tests. It felt to me as the driver that we were doing poorly over these first few tests, but looking at the final results later it was clear we were OK and right in the middle of the field at this stage.

Which way now? Looking one way, driving the other:

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The first Regularity also went pretty well, Steve doing a sterling job on the maps and we picked up around 3 minutes of penalties. Definitely mid-table stuff.

But it was clear that we were in the company of almost all pretty experienced, well-prepared crews who knew what they were doing – and that this was the most technically-demanding event that I’d taken part in. We knew beforehand that sticking to the correct route was everything; penalties for hitting cones, or being a few minutes late at an intermediate Regularity timing control (IRTC) paled into insignificance against missing a Control altogether which attracted a mandatory 30-minute penalty.

This meant that the golden rule if we were unsure of the route was to stop, forget the clock, take our time and get back on the correct route. That’s what the theory says, but in the heat of the moment with the clock ticking hindsight is a wonderful thing. And of course after the morning coffee halt what did we do? We got to a tricky bit of the route, tried to press on – and missed an IRTC. Of course it wasn’t carelessness – this was a forced error designed to catch out the unwary, but we fell for it! We weren’t the only ones and the rest of the Regularity was fine, but we’d picked up the maximum dollop of 30 mins penalties with that one mistake.

Next came a series of Tests at another WW11 airfield, Sherburn in Elmet. Many if not most crews felt that the tests were too tight and complicated and they were right, but it was the same for everyone:

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Some tests had loose surface and enough space to open the car up a bit, which was great fun:

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Photos on this post courtesy of Phill Andrews Photography.

More to come…


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Re: Rallying with my Sabre Six

Post by chrisgallacher » Fri Apr 07, 2017 9:28 am

The navigation on the Regularities was now getting a bit more tricky, with at least partial navigational instructions being provided only shortly before the off. Not quite plot and bash, but no time to over-think things. The final Regularity of the morning was going well until we reached the lunch stop – and realised we had maybe missed a further IRTC. Sure enough we had, this one on a narrow white detour easily missed. Oh well, another forced error – and a further 30 mins of penalties.

Lunch followed by a further two tests were at Askham Bryan Horticulture College, again rather tight and on tarmac where it was difficult to get the Sabre moving around – but other crews were finding the same and we held our own.

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Then it was on to three further tests in the grounds of Murton Livestock Centre. Again, all rather complex but we weren’t the only car to get bamboozled by the cone layouts and we came out OK. And bumped into Brian, aka b.c.flat hat who was watching the fun and confusion. Nice to say hello Brian and thanks for popping across – only sorry we had to dash to the next and couldn’t stay and chat!

The afternoon completed with a further three Regularities, all of which we did pretty well on. The final one was a monster with nine IRTCs, with the navigation for the next section only handed out upon arrival at the previous IRTC. This plot and bash was really challenging and Steve did a wonderful job plotting the next section in real time as we were driving, against the clock. Each section used different navigation clues – spot heights, OS map symbols, herringbone, tulip, OS grid lines etc. It’s all a bit of a blur now, but I remember driving through the grounds of Castle Howard of Brideshead fame. We scored well on all the IRTCs, apart from the final one where the navigation was particularly tricky. But this time we did the right thing: stopped, thought about it, turned round – and ended up dropping just 4 mins rather than picking up another 30 mins max for missing a control.

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So that was our rally! In the end we finished 46th, but it was those two missed Controls and the resultant 60 mins of penalties that really cost us a mid-table finish. But that’s OK – it’s all part of the learning curve and we had a great day’s sport.

The car never missed a beat, sounded lovely and I lost count of the number of people who came up to ask about the Sabre. So it was back to rally HQ for the early-evening buffet and a chat with the other competitors, and then we jumped in the car and drove all the way back. I arrived home at about 2am Monday morning completely exhausted :)

Next up, the Hughes rally in Kent in early June where we’ll try and put into practice all that we learned in North Yorkshire!

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Re: Rallying with my Sabre Six

Post by philhoward » Fri Apr 07, 2017 9:38 am

Having been in the passenger seat a few times with Geoff (RIP), I can totally understand the dilemma of stop-and-think or plow on! The main thing is that you finished in one piece, and learned a lot along the way.

Well done on your first venture in a decade, Chris, and also to Steve!


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Re: Rallying with my Sabre Six

Post by Edzed » Fri Apr 07, 2017 9:52 am

Great write up Chris! Spotted GUE at the oddly named 'Crotch Cooler' classic car meet in Alton last Sunday. Unfortunately, you were not around so couldn't introduce myself.

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Re: Rallying with my Sabre Six

Post by CNHSS1 » Fri Apr 07, 2017 3:11 pm

Some great pics Chris 8)


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Re: Rallying with my Sabre Six

Post by Old and Slow » Fri Apr 07, 2017 10:14 pm

Good to see the Sabre Six out in anger!!
Well done.


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Re: Rallying with my Sabre Six

Post by b.c.flat hat » Sat Apr 08, 2017 8:14 am

Chuffin' 'eck, rallying's a frantic discipline! Popped along to see yer at York and was amazed how busy it was in the cockpit! Those tests around the cones looked anything but easy and they were really tight for lock.

Still I enjoyed the variety of machinery on show and twas good t' see yer, well done wi' finishing! B C.



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Re: Rallying with my Sabre Six

Post by GavinR » Mon Apr 10, 2017 3:14 pm

Glad to hear you enjoyed the trip to Yorkshire!


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