Falcon MC were running a testing trial, which was billed as a mix of classic trial sections and an autotest. We hadn’t done anything quite like this before (the closest thing would have been the Weald Trial many years ago, which was car trial sections and autotests) and so we decided to give it a go in the Golf.
One of the key differences between a car trial and classic trial is that classic trial sections often have stop/restarts on them – normally part way up the hill at the last possible point you would want to stop! The other key difference was that the hill sections were pass or fail, rather than being a score of 12 (high) to 0 (low and the ideal) as on a car trial.
Unfortunately, we did not get off to a good start. On the first test, coming around between the 11 to 10 (the hills still were numbered 12 down to 1 for self reference), the test went between two trees. Matt was driving first, and I told him not to worry about the bodywork thinking the test would be wide enough, although it was going to be tight. Unfortunately it wasn’t, and there was a crunch. Matt reversed out, abandoning his attempt.
Then it was my turn to drive, and I thought I’d try a slightly wider line to swing in (it was a 90 right uphill before the trees) and knowing it was tight, thought well I’ll just increase the dent. That I did – but there was also a horrible shattering sound as the rear window went. Time for me to abandon my attempt, and reverse out too.
To do this on the first test was somewhat disheartening, and other cars a similar size to us saw what happened and elected to take a fail rather than attempt the test and risk damage. Having cleared the glass and taped the window, we carried on with the day. Heavy rain in the days running up to the event hadn’t made life any easier for the organisers, and there were a lot of people getting stuck and needing assistance, us included. Although we’d dropped tyre pressures, on one of the autotest type tests we couldn’t event get off the start line, adding to the frustration.
The final results showed I was quicker than Matt on the autotest sections, but passes/fails on the hill sections were counted first. He had one extra clear compared to me (I’d driven first and only made it to the 3, he learnt from watching my driving!) and so he beat me unfortunately.
We know the Golf isn’t the ideal trials car and it was good to try something different, although I’m not sure I’d do an event again with very narrow woods (even on other tests we were having to handbrake turn to get through!) and the pass/fail system didn’t really suit us. The one solace is even the specials found it tricky!