Six cent metre, quatre-vingt dix gauche…

Another Friday, another 12 Car! This time it was back into the left hand seat to navigate for Luis Gutierrez-Diaz again, as his normal navigator was unavailable. Unfortunately, this 12 Car was again the other side of Colchester so over 100 miles for me just to the start.

This event had some pre plot, so scrutineering and signing on completed it was time for a quick dinner and completing the pre plot information (quiet zones and black spots). There wasn’t much spare time and before we knew it, it was time to head off. This time, Luis was in charge of sweet purchases.

This 12 Car was probably the most enjoyable I have done recently, which was in a large part due to me getting back into 12 Cars and getting better at cracking navigation. I tried to plot and bash to save time, and it showed on our timecard; 1 minute dropped here, no time there, etc. When I managed to get two sections plotted during one section, I was particularly pleased! We had no wrong slots and no getting lost, so we felt like it had gone well. However, the French electrics were being somewhat temperamental and there seemed to be no logic as to what they were (or weren’t) doing. As the car was running and we had lights, we decided to continue.

As Luis is Spanish, his English hymn knowledge is somewhat lacking so passing churches gave me the opportunity to educate him. It also turns out he can speak some French (and my school girl French just about passes), and it was childishly fun for an English and Spanish person to be communicating in French on the final section. Maybe you had to be there…

At the finish, I was delighted with 1F and 14 minutes putting us 3rd in class and 6th overall. Whilst disappointing to drop a board, it made no difference to the class position and only one place overall (and the dropped board was due to a plotting error by myself).

It may be some time until I’m out on a 12 Car again as the lighter nights start, so it was a good finish and result.

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Back driving on a 12 Car!

Having recently returned to 12 cars, we decided it was time for Matt to navigate and I would drive after a few years away from sitting in those respective seats. Boundless by CSMA were running a 12 Car starting half an hour from home and it seemed a good opportunity.

After purchasing another map (we really don’t have the right areas and/or latest editions!) we headed to the start. I hadn’t driven the MG for some months so I drove it to the start just to get used to the car again. Signed on etc, it was time to head into the Hertfordshire lanes.

Matt was cracking the nav quite quickly, and with the exception of a “yellow yellow yellow” section which I helped him with, it felt like we were going well and not dropping too much time. It was a wet night, and coming into one control the wipers were making a horrific noise. We stopped and fixed them, which thankfully lasted the night.

Come the finish, we were 2nd in class and 4th overall which was a very pleasing result and good practise for the 20/20 in April.

Navigating for a new driver

In a moment of potential madness, I agreed to enter another 12 Car. The main challenge was this time it started on the other side of Colchester…

Luis Gutierrez-Diaz was looking for a navigator and I was thinking about it. A bad run on the Boundless 12 Car had me hesitate, slightly, but it’s always better to get back on the horse asap. A new map was needed, and with some Percy Pigs in hand it was time to head to Essex.

Luis and I had never competed together before and having scrutineered and signed on, we adjusted my belts and then it was time to head off. The first section was relatively straight forward, and so it went on, and on. A navigation section relating to “Greens” had me briefly flummoxed and we dropped a couple of minutes, but things seemed to be going ok. We were working well as a crew, enjoying sweets and hadn’t got lost.

By the time we got to the finish, we felt like it had gone ok. It turned out we had missed a couple of boards through missing a couple of small loops, and missed a couple of boards despite being on the correct route – frustrating! It was an enjoyable event, and one to build on for the future.

A challenging Snetterton Stages

Snetterton is somewhere that for me holds fond memories, having taken my ARDs there back in 2007. It’s not somewhere that I get to visit very often but given the 2017 event was a round of the 2017 AEMC/ASEMC stage rally championship, which we’ve entered, it was a good opportunity to do a stage rally there.

The event seemed to come around quickly and with an overnight in Telford to make things easier, it meant we could complete noise, scrutineering and signing on the day before to save things to do on the Sunday. Soon it was time to head to SS1, which went well with no dramas. We pulled back into service and were going over the map with any annotations for SS2 when the people next to us started shouting “your car’s on fire!” I’m not sure I’ve ever unplugged/unbelted and jumped out so quickly, but by the time I got round to the front right there was smoke and no flames; the caliper slider bolt boot had caught fire but had gone out quite quickly.

The next few stages passed without much drama. We caught a few cars, Matt took a “keen” cut on one of the sausage kerbs seeing a two wheeled moment, and things seemed to be going ok. We were in a “solid” position in class; likely to progress if others found misfortune, but with a comfortable gap behind.

Then came SS6…

Matt and I have competed together for long enough for me to know when his driving changes and when something is wrong. Asking if everything was ok on SS6, to be told “we have no brakes” was not a nice feeling, particularly not at somewhere like Snetterton which is quick with heavy braking needed for man made chicanes. The calling changed at that point; easy brakes, need brakes, setting him up for what was coming both with corners and with braking expectations. We cruised to the end of the stage knowing we were dropping time, and were welcomed by a crowd of people as the smoke had been radioed through and marshals and officials duly reacted just in-case needed (thankfully they weren’t).

Back in service we found the issue; the brake pad had disintegrated on the front right, welded itself to the caliper piston in the process, and popped the caliper piston out causing brake fluid all over the brake disc meaning lots of smoke. After some time and a run around service seeing if anyone else had the right spares (Matt thought we had what we needed, we didn’t), Matt told me to hand the damage dec in. I refused, saying we would wait until we were OTL, and then the co-driver next to us thought he could fix it so we decided to give it a go as pistons and calipers are his day job. An angle grinder and hard work later, and we were just ready for SS7.

We agreed we would see how it went, because we would not endanger ourselves or others, but everything seemed ok. This time we got to the end of the stage to find the finish crew stood up and clapping; we had got back out against the odds, but only thanks to the kind actions of many within the service area. The feeling of finishing the stage with one left to go was fantastic and we believed we could do it and finish the rally.

SS8 came and went, and that was it. 5th in class and 51st overall; not one of our best results, but one of the ones we have had to work hardest for, and only possible thanks to the help of both old and new friends. They say you know who your true friends are in motor sport, and this event emphasised it once again.