Back to Targa Rallying…

The Chelmsford MC Bonfire Targa Rally date had been in our calendar for many months. In 2015, we found all of the targa dates across all of the local clubs clashed with other events or commitments that we had, and we really wanted to be back competing on a targa this year.

We entered the rally car, rather than the MG, and decided a hotel the night before would be better than the early start needed to make it to Wethersfield. I hadn’t driven the rally car for some time, competitively or otherwise, and the first time I drove her was pulling up to the start of test one. Having looked after the event, the last time I had driven her competitively was August 2015 so some 15 months ago, and that was on an autocross so a rather different type of event.

We started with Matt driving and me navigating, and going back to targas was a bit of a shock to the system initially. We both took some time to find our rhythm, myself calling and giving Matt information and Matt listening to me (perhaps a long term issue not confined to competing?!). By the end of the first loop of four tests, we were getting back into it, and then it was my turn to drive.

Having not driven the rally car “in anger,” I forgot how much fun she is to drive. I sit here now and think “why have I not driven her for so long?” but I think it’s easy for me to forget that a considerable amount of time away from driving competitively myself has been down to illness over the last 12 months. That made driving competitively myself impossible, and life a little challenging for some time, but touch wood I’m now back on my feet and life is back to the “new” normal.

Halfway through the first test I had a huge grin on my face and told Matt how much I loved Muriel, and the grin didn’t disappear. I made some mistakes, nothing catastrophic and I didn’t hit any cones, and at times I was in danger of overdriving a little, but getting back into the car and getting used to her and pushing both Muriel and myself once again was enjoyable. You can’t film on targa rallies (I always find onboards useful to review to highlight my mistakes!) but I know I improved during the day and what I did ok, and what I need to work on.

After the first loop of tests I had a four second lead over Matt, although he got quicker throughout the day and finished ahead of me by the end. My test times improved during the day, with the highlights being a 10th fastest test time (sadly on a test that was later removed from the results!) and a 15th and 17th fastest time on other tests. Matt got quicker throughout the day too, with a number of top ten test times including a second fastest overall, slower by just one second than the quickest time.

The day started off dry but very cold and bitter, and by the final loop of four tests heavy rain came down; not fun for the many marshals out there allowing us to compete. It was an enjoyable day, and having been off the pace in the morning as we found our feet, to finish 2nd in class and 9th overall navigating, and 3rd in class and 17th overall driving, was a really pleasing result. Hopefully it won’t be so long until I’m next back out on a targa!

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Photo courtesy of M&H Photography.

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A week at Wales Rally GB

Having competed on Wales Rally GB in both 2013 and 2014, in 2015 we joined the team in Rally HQ volunteering alongside the IMS staff and helping with signing on for both the International and National events, as well as staffing the rally office and assisting with competitor and other queries.

We were asked if we’d help again in 2016, to which we said yes, and it was off to Deeside for a week. The 2015 event saw rain and high winds but the slightly earlier in the year October date for 2016 saw a very mild Wales in comparison.

Whilst competing on the event would of course be the pinnacle, being there is a good alternative and you still get the buzz and atmosphere of the service park. Whilst there wasn’t an opportunity to see any of the cars on the stages, we were part of a display in Chester on the Friday afternoon. After the National cars had been through the control and over the ramp, a group of cars including ourselves in Muriel went over and were interviewed to show the diversity of rally cars that have competed, alongside some iconic rally cars.

The area we had displayed in had been relatively quiet with a few conversations with the public, but once we passed the control and turned 90 right onto Eastgate Street, the crowds and noise were phenomenal. Everywhere we looked there were people waving and cheering, with the street level crowds many people deep and many lining the numerous balconies that are a feature of the picturesque town. It was really some experience, and great to be a part of, before we passed under the famous Chester clock.

We filmed our experience live and streamed it on Facebook, so whilst it might not be the best quality, it gives a good view of what it was like for us; Muriel in Chester.

After Chester, which was one of our highlights of the week, it was back to Rally HQ for a couple more days. Once the rally is underway, the office becomes quieter, until cars and crews come back to service at the end of the day and queries start coming in. It was good to catch up with a number of friends (and see them finish the National rally!), perhaps we’ll be back out in the Welsh forests ourselves one day

 

 

 

Bedford Car Club Gravel Autotest – class win!

Keeping with our plan of doing more in our new car, we heard about the Bedford Car Club gravel autotest. At £10 for a full day of competition, and just over an hour from home, it seemed too good to miss given we were available.

We had managed to buy some 15″wheels after the car trial (the eBay auction finished the night of the car trial, so a little late for that event…) and these were fitted to Minnie for the autotest. The club ran classes as Beginner, Novice and Expert with the definition of Beginner being “any Competitor who has taken part in less then 3 previous Autotests or PCAs in the last 3 years.” I had competed on two, the Oxford MC grass autotest in July 2013, and the West Suffolk MC tarmac autotest in April 2014, so it was back to the Beginner class for me.

Having not competed on an autotest for a while, and having not done any “memory” motor sport events (i.e. remembering the course), I was hoping it would all come back to me. Matt and I decided to enter the Production Car Autotest (PCA), meaning a passenger could be carried. Neither of us had done a PCA before but I thought sitting alongside Matt could benefit my driving, and him sitting alongside me could also provide me with some valuable feedback. We agreed we would not speak to each other unless the other person asked for help and was about to go wrong, but it was good to have that security alongside.

Bedford Car Club ran eight tests, with one which included reversing. Whilst there were two simple sections of reversing, it was still a bit of added pressure!

The day felt like it was going well, with no wrong tests or cones hit on my part. The MG’s handbrake is a bit unpredictable but when it did work it worked well, and competing on loose was really enjoyable. By the end of the day, I finished 1st in class and 9th overall, as well as Best Lady, which is a result I would happily have taken at the end of the day; my first ever autotest class win. With Matt finishing 3rd in class and 4th overall, it was a successful, but most importantly enjoyable, day out in the Endean household.

Onboard videos are available on YouTube.

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