Play time in a new car

I was staying at my parents’ and Dad asked me to put in an entry for him for the Devizes Autosolo at Kemble (because he knows I’m normally quick at doing entries and it was expected to be popular!). I cheekily said “ok, if I can enter your car too” and he agreed – what a surprise!

With the MG’s engine rebuilt (by Ian Mepham of Performance Automotive) and back in situ, Matt also entered to give the car a shakedown. I hadn’t driven the Clio for many years, and that was on the road never in competition, so it was a short drive from the paddock to the start of the first test not really being sure what to expect.

The Clio handles nicely; the reality is I wouldn’t want it as a road car (it’s not comfortable enough for long journeys), but it’s nimble enough around the tests. I got quicker in it as the day went on and it felt good.

With double driving, and not being particularly gentle on it, there was some tyre wear; but that’s why Dad took spares to ensure he could change them and drive home legally!

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Deputy Stage Commander at the Three Shires Stages

Having planned to be on holiday in September, things changed and I had some free time. Then came a request to Chelmsford MC as to whether the club could help fill some gaps on the Three Shires, a closed road stage rally. We were asked if we could provide a Stage Commander, Deputy Stage Commander and Safety Officer for the Gospel Oak stage and a small team (Gary Nicholls, Matt Endean, Tony Clements and myself) was formed less than two weeks before the event. I also became the event’s Safeguarding Officer, so there was plenty to do in advance!

I spent the Friday at cricket in London, and headed over early on the Saturday for stage set up which was well underway with a team of familiar and new faces when I arrived. Our stage was initially looking a little low on marshal numbers, so I was grateful to those who travelled from near and far to help, to ensure our minimum numbers were met. Having taken on the role of Deputy Stage Commander, part of my role was marshal numbers and allocations which certainly kept me busy, as well as it being my first time using the RallyStageTeam system which took a little learning.

Needing more hands, even my Mum turned out to help by running the stage recce on the Saturday and then helping at the Stop control on Sunday – I think she is now converted to rallying! It was a long and hard weekend and buildup but overall, we were happy with how our stage ran (although always room to improve of course…). Coming in at the last minute added an extra dimension and many late night/early morning finishes to get everything sorted.

We had the most brilliant farmer (Andy) on our stage who did our bales and was a resident liaison officer in his own way. He made such a positive difference so on the Monday after the event, I set an alarm for 0445 and went to help him milk his cows – I’m not a natural farmer but I learnt a lot. I also checked the stage again (for any bits of tape or equipment left behind etc) and by 0830 I was all done.