Returning to Debden

It had been quite some time since I’d last competed at Debden on a targa rally. Work and other commitments meant I’d missed a number of events there and Matt had competed with other people, so aside from remembering there was lots of gravel, it all felt a bit unfamiliar.

Our day started off with an amusing start as we parked up and Luis Gutierrez-Diaz looked up saying… “I’ve dropped my wheel nut down the drain.” Matt has one of those magnetic extending poles so having rescued Luis’ wheel nut, we scrutineered and signed on ready for the day ahead.

As well as the gravel, Debden does have tarmac but the gravel/tamac ratio has more gravel than other venues we tend to compete at. There were lots of “bus stops” and the quickest way really was to use the handbrake, but I’m not sure I’ve done that many handbrake turns in one day before!

Our day was going well and Matt in particular was on the pace and as high as 2nd overall at one point. Unfortunately his “cone magnet” seemed to be on and he picked up five cone penalties which equates to 50 seconds. Whilst he finished 5th in class and 7th overall driving with me navigating, those penalties really did make the difference between a great and a good result.

I picked up a couple of cone penalties and normally I know when I’ve hit them, but I didn’t on this day and I finished 3rd in class and 17th overall. I think a little more recent familiarity on gravel would have helped, but it was an enjoyable, and very dusty, day. Matt had insisted we flew back from holiday a day early in order to make the event so it was good to both finish and be able to drive the car home again afterwards.

Photos thanks to M&H Photography.


Stage rallying at Abingdon

Having never driven at Abingdon, and only co-driven once for Matt, we decided to head there again this year. It’s one of our most local rallies and given it was a round of both championships we’re doing (ASEMC/AEMC and ACSMC) it was a good opportunity to try and pick up some championship points.

All signing on and scrutineering takes place on Saturday, so we headed over on Saturday afternoon and got ourselves all sorted. It was by far and away the biggest class I’ve ever competed in with 40 competitors in Class A, thanks in part to 22 classic Minis also partaking in the event as a round of their championship.

We’d had brake issues (i.e. a lack of brakes…) the last time we competed at Abingdon but have upgraded things since, and whilst it was a warm day, we were hoping the Micra would put up with the heat. We had solid stages, and nothing too spectacular to report; I was trying to keep it neat and tidy but unfortunately couldn’t keep up with the class pace. There were people around me though all trading times, so plenty to try for!

Going into the final two stages, I was tied on time with a Ford Fiesta in our class. A push on from me and I pulled 30 seconds ahead of him on the last two stages, which was good. The event was the inter-association stage rally and I was part of one of two AEMC teams entered. The AEMC B team came 1st overall, and we came 2nd, so a good result!

We finished 10th in class which was better than I could have hoped for at the start of the day, although I’d have liked to have been a little more on the class pace. More commitment through the corners is needed really, but good to know what I need to work on in the future. I remember hitting a hole at one point and pleased everything seemed ok, but afterwards it did become apparent I’d bent a wheel when we got back into service.

We’re not planning on competing on any stage rallies for a couple of months now, but have two to marshal on instead.