After spending all of 2018 driving on stage rallies, we wanted to do an event for Matt to drive on and this new event at Deepcut aka the Mini Tempest Stages fitted the bill. The Newtons arrived before us and saved us a service space, right by Rally HQ, the food wagon and the toilets – perfect!
We knew the stages were short but technical with a holding control at the other end, before tackling the stage in the other direction to come back to service. It was our first time doing an event set up like this and it worked well. The stages had a little bit of everything and were definitely a challenge, but good and well suited for the Micra, with them being tight and twisty.
We didn’t really have any dramas to speak of, bar finding SS3 blocked due to the car in front blocking the stage but we got around them and carried on. We managed to catch a 1600cc car which started 30 seconds ahead of us and were on their bumper as we came across the finish line, not too bad for a three mile stage. We were on and off the pace with the Newtons in their new car; I think at our closest we were four seconds off them, but sometimes they’d pull out 12 seconds. They had a problem on SS2 and lost time (the exhaust came loose), meaning we inherited the class lead where we stayed for the rest of the day.
After a second in class for me as a driver at Wethersfield in September, once we had that class lead, we didn’t want to lose it! We knew we had a healthy gap (over a minute) to the car behind which was increasing, so it was a case of keeping on it, doing what we were doing and not making any silly mistakes. Matt was driving well and pushing on, and come the end of the day, we finished 1st in class and 12th overall.
Whilst winning the class was a great return to driving/co-driving for both of us, the 12th overall represented our best ever overall stage result in the Micra as well. The stages definitely suited us, but it was a really enjoyable day out to fill the festive period and also enjoyable to compete on two events in two days, after the autotest the day before, and do something different. There were lots of familiar faces marshalling as well, so good to see lots of people and a really good way to finish the year.