Navigating on the Harvest Rally

For our third weekend of competing in a row, we headed down to Newton Abbot for the South Hams MC Harvest Rally. Having not finished a similar event earlier in the year, I wanted a finish under my belt before 2019 was over which saw us put in an entry.

Map 202 is Matt’s “home” map and I had heard lots of stories about what a difficult map it was to navigate on. I was a little apprehensive after the Carpetbagger but after some intensive plotting, we had everything on the map ready to go.

The first timecard went ok, we were working well together and didn’t miss any slots and I didn’t get lost on the map which is always a bonus. Unfortunately though, I was feeling rather travel sick and we ended up cutting time card two which was a shame. Having seen the results up until the end of timecard one we weren’t first and weren’t last but respectfully in the middle so it was a shame to have to cut and miss a chunk of the route, but I felt it was the only way I was going to make the finish given how I was feeling.

Devon’s definition of lanes is somewhat different to mine (think pure mud and ruts!), having grown up in Hampshire and Wiltshire, but once we got back on route at petrol things went well. I had a double espresso cold coffee drink, had lots of fresh air and the rest of the event went well for us. Again the lanes were tricky but we didn’t get lost or have any wrong slots which was really pleasing. With lots to juggle from the map to special not as map junctions (NAM) we did unfortunately drop a couple of code boards where I didn’t spot the NAMs and there’s a plotting and map marking lesson for me there in the future.

We finished 8th overall on the National B rally (16th overall with the Nat B and Clubmans combined) but most importantly we finished and had a good night as a crew which was the aim.

Bouncing back at Rushmoor – overall winners!

In 2018, a retirement at the Rushmoor Targa Rally led to us calling a friend and asking to be collected on a trailer. It was the turning point that led to us buying our own trailer, and one of the lower points of us competing.

With the announcement of a stage rally at Rushmoor in December, which we entered with me driving, we decided to change our entry from the MG ZR to Muriel (our Micra) as it was a chance for me to get a bit more seat time in her and some more confidence ahead of the December event. From our experience the previous year, the tests are not as tight as the other FDMC event at Bramley in March, and so we were hoping the lack of effective handbrake on Muriel would not be an issue. The tests are a mix of tarmac, gravel and mud with 1A tyres only so an interesting challenge.

One of the keys to any targa is collecting code boards and ensuring the driver and navigator work together as a team, going the right way. The early tests showed penalties for many other crews who had not gone the right way, had hit cones or had missed boards, but Matt and I were both having a clean run and things were looking ok whenever interim results were published. We had both made a few little mistakes, but things seemed ok.

I knew I was challenging for my best result ever as a driver, but I was trying not to think about that and just enjoy the driving and get round. There was a section through some woods which I knew I was losing time on but I just tried to keep the momentum and push on where I felt more confident. The final two tests were run in the dark and I felt I lost time driving, but it was ok just nothing special.

However, then the attention switched to ensuring I sent Matt the right way and kept him calm. We knew we were about two seconds behind Ben Griffin (who was leading overall) going into the final test so it was all to play for. On the start line for the final two tests Matt found main beam wasn’t working which made me a little concerned but he was sure all would be fine. Going through the woods we had a bit of a moment but Muriel came back and all was fine. I remember shouting at him to keep it flat as we came to the finish and encouraging as much as I could but there was little else I could do.

In the paddock, we exchanged times and knew it was going to be very touch and go for our first ever targa rally win. In the end, we found that we had made back seven seconds meaning a five second lead. Ben had unfortunately missed a code board (which is not how we would want to win and thankfully was not the deciding factor) meaning we won by 25 seconds, but the time we had pulled out alone was enough and we took our first outright win with Matt driving and me navigating!

We also discovered I’d pedalled well as a driver, and I won the class (as Matt won overall I was promoted to first in class) and came 5th overall, by far and away my best result as a driver. An absolutely epic day.

 

Bonfire Targa Rally

After nearly six weeks without competing for me, it was time to head back to Wethersfield for a Targa Rally in our MG ZR. I was navigating for Matt, and he was navigating for me as per usual.

Having used some 1B tyres ineffectively in the cold and damp/wet at the Gurston Down hillclimb, and having been told there was some standing water, we opted to go for our 1A tyres for the first loop of tests thinking with more tread we would have more grip. Unfortunately, the test times showed this was a mistake and we both spent the rest of the day trying to make up lost time from the first loop having switched to the 1Bs.

There was nothing too spectacular or key of note, just trying to make up as much time as possible in our last targa of the year in the MG (next week we’re competing at Rushmoor but have swapped to the Micra as we’re doing the stage rally there in December). More seat time was good, and we enjoyed the day, just not the best results we’ve had!