Down Ampney was not a venue we planned to compete at when we planned our calendar at the start of 2017. However, the event was a round of the ACSMC championship and having entered that, we decided to head to Down Ampney. We had competed there once, in 2014, with myself driving and Matt co-driving but due to the championship we entered this event the other way round.
Matt completed scrutineering on Friday night, but it was still an early start on Saturday morning as the gates shut at 0815. Our due time at the first control was 0927 so after the compulsory briefing, we had some time sitting around and to get ready for the first stage. Then, it was time to head to SS1. We negotiated it successfully and nothing more than a cursory check over was needed before SS2. Out we went on SS2, and we improved our time and things flowed better as we both settled in.
We were 3rd in class after the first couple of stages, with a gap to the two leading cars and a cushion to the car in 4th place in class. Unfortunately the class leader blew their engine on SS4, which promoted us to 2nd in class – a better position, but we’d all rather improve our position by our own speed than the misfortune of others.
We had no real moments or drama to speak of; the stages kept going well, we had no real moments, and no car issues to worry about. After Snetterton, we had ordered some new brakes to resolve our issues. They were due a couple of weeks before the event, then it became the week of the event, then it became “sorry we’ve realised they won’t fit” a couple of days beforehand. Being conscious we may have issues, we couldn’t fully push during the day but it was better to be out competing than not.
At the end of the event, we finished over a minute behind the class winners but with a 6 min 20 second lead over 3rd in class, so a comfortable position for us. We both enjoyed the rally, and now the next steps are to re-investigate and resolve the brake issues in time for our next stage event later in the year.