Returning to 12 Cars – and Winning!

It’s a long time since I navigated on  12 Car, 2212 days in fact, or a little over six years. it was 2464 days since I had last navigated Matt on a 12 Car. Anyway, you get the idea; it had been a while.

Matt had been looking for a navigator for the Oxford Motor Club Brackley Bash 12 Car for some time, but without success. I was in the office on the Friday and didn’t think I’d make it back in time, so I didn’t want to commit. Come 3pm on the Friday, I’d had all the meetings I needed to and realised I could accomplish everything else I needed to by working at home that evening and over the weekend. I called Matt and offered to nav for him, to which he said “don’t feel you have to, you have a cold, we can stay in” and in my typical stubborn way I said I would do it but it had been a long time and we would just have to aim to get around. A quick call to WH Smith of Aylesbury determined that they had the map needed, so once I’d picked that up and some travel sickness medication from the pharmacy, I was good to go.

I had to work before heading out, so once Matt came home and picked me up it was off to Brackley we went. I’ve never bought a map so late before, and map prep was done over dinner before we signed on for the event. There were no pre plots, and I learnt the navigation was to be done by individual envelopes to be opened at the control, which was new to me (and of course makes things harder!). There wasn’t much time to think about the event so a quick read of the regs and it was time to head off.

In the short time between heading from home to the start, the fog had truly come in. We were in the countryside quite quickly at a crawling pace, it’s a long time since I’ve been in fog so dense. I managed to plot the first section ok, but we dropped time going into TC1, but given the conditions we could only presume everyone else was too.

The following sections I managed to plot ok, some taking more than others, and some really got me thinking; direction of departure over gridlines, rather than junctions, was a new one to me for example, as was plotting a route via “avoid” grid references and spot heights. We had a few wrong slots, but we were getting around steadily, and finding code boards and controls which is always a good sign.

Trying to remember the rules of navigating was interesting, and code boards written in pen, map annotated in pencil, and juggling things in a standard car not really set up even for a 12 Car (no pen holders etc) made for an interesting evening. Matt had forgotten his potti, so I was navigating by head torch and trying to remember not to look at him and blind him.

We got to the finish, and everyone was full of tales of fog and comparing how we had found the navigation etc. Then, it was time for the results. I thought we had gone the right way, and I hoped we had found most of the code boards (it turned out I actually had an additional one which was a house number, but when I’d written it down I thought it was better safe than sorry!).

The results started in reverse order, and our name wasn’t called… until last! Meaning, we had won the event and finished 1st overall – not a bad result when we were aiming to get around and were rather rusty, or at least I was in the left hand seat. I was delighted with the result and to have got us round. We finished on 0 fails and 30 minutes, over 25 minutes ahead of the second place crew.

Was it luck? Who knows, but we both had to work hard for the result, and it was one I am very happy, but surprised, to sign off the year on. The MG’s not got a bad record so far; every time I’ve competed in her she’s won her class.



Marshalling on The Preston

The Preston was the first ever Road Rally I competed on, but not one I had marshalled on. As someone who loves a good night’s sleep, I was relieved to find the forecast was considerably warmer than I expected so it would be sleep deprivation not sleep deprivation and cold to fight with (although, as I have been heard to say before, there is no such thing as it being too cold, only being inadequately dressed…).

It’s a couple of hours drive from ours to the start and once we had signed on we headed off for dinner before catching up with friends. Our first control was less than ten minutes from the start location, so we arrived in plenty of time and got set up. It was good to be marshalling on an event where all crews were friendly and said thanks for being there.

After our first control closed, it was a 25 minute drive to our second location. We arrived and got set up, and I said I would stay in the car whilst Matt was out at the control location. Half an hour later I woke up, and then it was all go for our second control. Matt was at the control location the whole time so everything was covered, but I hadn’t quite expected to nod off! The gaps in the field were getting a little greater by the time of our second control, but we saw everyone we were expected to, and that was it.

We’d decided to do two controls rather than three due to the distance/other things on and felt we were still giving something back to motor sport, which we take so much from. We made it home around 0430 and snatched a few hours sleep before waking up to check the results, and carrying on with the rest of our weekend. Would I go back? Yes, I would…


Testing head torches on the night…