And so the season begins. This being Nicks first event as a driver and my first competitive event in the co-driver’s seat since 1994, it’s the start of what could prove an interesting year.
We set off for Weston on a cold Friday morning with the temperature showing minus 3. As this was our first event we booked an early scrutineering slot and were surprised we were 3rd in the queue and really early. To our relief we had no problems with the checks and made our way to Brean Leisure Park to get a good spot in service. After erecting the gazebo and sorting out the van, we proceeded to our holiday home within the park to have a relaxing evening. Our Service crew (Craig ,Lee and our guests Chris and Claire ) arrived late on, after we had a very good bar meal and a couple of beers.
Saturday morning turned out to be very cold with a mixture of heavy showers and sunshine. We arrived at the arrival on our due time only to be advised of a delay to an incident on stage. Not helping with our pre stage nerves, we finally started the stage to realise how slippy and intricate the venue was. I was impressed how quickly Nick got to grips with the car and we got through with a respectable time and most importantly no dramas. As we expected our stage times improved rapidly throughout the first few stages.
We then were brought down to earth with a” bump “ literally on stage 4 . Being a little exuberant going into a 90 left, the rear LH wheel just caught a 50 gallon drum filled with concrete and the car was totally uncontrollable as we had bent the rear beam putting the back hub about 30 degrees out of line. We were forced to pull onto the infield with our spirits through the floor. A marshal guided us to a short cut to the finish, as we had gone past our maximum and were now last on road. Realising I had still got my time cards in my hand I arrived through the finish control and took a maximum. At the PC we were given an arrival time to next stage.
Not believing our luck, we went to service to survey the damage. With the help from another service crew car99, and the efforts of our own team a brainstorm exercise was under way and as the beam could not be straightened we decided to pack the front of the hub mounting with washers until it looked straight. A quick test round the service area and we were off and running again. We went through stage 5 not giving any respect or caution and were rewarded with a spin and still a competitive time. Stage 6 left us both in high spirits after we took 54 secs off our previous time, so much for Nick nursing the car to get a finish (NOT)!
After a hot meal we returned to the holiday home in high spirits but totally Knackered.
Sunday greeted us in the worst way with the weather being heavy rain, which was to continue to the end of the rally with no respite. We kept our improvement going all day and started to gel as a crew, which will get better as the season progresses.
Stage 12 finished with both Nick and myself making hysterical noises in the car as we had finished a really tough event , in which we overcame major mechanical damage issues and some of the worst weather we could possibly encounter. Thanks to our service Crew Craig and Lee along with Chris and Claire for enduring the real s**t weather for 2 days. What a result !!!! 44 places above start seeding.
Roll on the next round ( AGBO)