Girls just want to have fun!

Chelmsford MC announced a new, multi-venue Targa Rally for September and Matt and I discussed whether we’d enter. We have two road rally legal cars, but for various reasons including tyres (or lack of suitable tyres in our current stock) and bits and pieces we decided we wouldn’t enter together. We thought we’d either enter and navigate for other people, or volunteer to help. A quick scan of the entry list showed Claire Gillies as not having a navigator lined up and having had a laugh many years ago double driving our Micra, a quick text saw us team up for this event.

With Southampton playing on the Saturday at home, and Matt offering to run a test, we both headed to Southampton so I could go to football. It was then time to head cross-country where Claire had dinner waiting having scrutineered that afternoon, before a look at the paperwork she’d collected and bed.

An early start on the Sunday morning saw us head to the start where I signed on and started thinking about the day ahead whilst getting my paperwork in order. The first test was at the hotel/start venue, and after the compulsory briefing it didn’t seem that long before we were lining up. Claire had recently bought a 106, and it was good to get the first, short test out of the way and on with the rally.

There were too many tests to list them all in detail, but it felt like we were going well as we caught cars on various tests having started at least a minute behind them. There was an unfortunate moment where we caught someone and I thought I’d tap the horn with my foot to let them know we were there. Unfortunately the horn got stuck on which resulted in me shouting “it’s broken it won’t shut up” and Claire telling me to “get off the horn” and thinking I’d developed anger issues, which wasn’t the case!

At lunch we could see the results were going well for us, but there was still a long way to go. We carried on with our “keep going” philosophy and whilst the car was making some funny noises, it seemed to be going ok and we were still in the event.

By the end, we found we were 4th in class and 17th overall, a result I think we would both have happily taken pre event. The car might not have been happy if we’d done the rally again the following day, but I’m sure we could have improved on that result with more seat/crew time together! It was a thoroughly enjoyable event and good to compete with Claire again, over six years since we first competed together.

Thanks to M&H Photography for the images.

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Wethersfield. Time for an expensive rebuild…

Wethersfield. One of my favourite venues. One of my least favourite rallying days.

Sometimes, things go wrong and you have to wonder if staying in bed would have been a better option, and perhaps Wethersfield was one of those occasions. When the highlight was the pre-rally carvery the night before with friends, perhaps that is saying something.

We headed to Wethersfield the day before the rally, and passed scrutineering without any issues. However, the noise test was due to be held on the day of the rally. I was happily waiting in service only to see Matt coming back from noise shaking his head and saying we’d failed noise. My “pardon?” wasn’t a pun, just more in disbelief. We were servicing next to the Newtons who had Ian Mepham servicing for them, and thanks to their SuperTrapp and assistance, we just in the nick of time managed to fit the SuperTrapp to the car, get back to noise, pass, and get all our paperwork in order ready to rally for the day ahead.

Things started off ok, and I was enjoying being back out at Wethersfield having helped organise events there in the past. We weren’t setting spectacular times, but the stages seemed to be flowing, Matt was driving with commitment and things were going ok. Nothing spectacular, but we were getting round. Then it was time for SS4, not even half way through the day. Part way through the stage Matt eased up and “no clutch” came across the intercom. We limped to the finish, keeping out of the way of fellow competitors, and pulled into service.

We don’t have our own trailer, or access to one, so then came the discussion about getting home as we drive the rally car and service car to and from events. There was oil coming from somewhere, and I completed the necessary paperwork whilst Matt packed up from the rally. Matt decided the car was driveable, but he’d avoid motorways and take the longer, more scenic route, home.

By the time he made it home, the gearbox was making horrific noises and having started to take the car apart, the engine needs a rebuild too. Not something we had planned, and a rather expensive time coming up I fear… A day to forget.

Thanks to M&H Photography for the images.