A class win at Clacton

I’d never made it to the Chelmsford MC closed road stage rally at Clacton (Corbeau Seats Tendring and Clacton Rally), as when it ran in 2018 and 2019 I was taking part in the London Marathon. We had entered in 2020 (when it was cancelled) and the event didn’t run in 2021, so this was our first chance. It was agreed Matt would drive with me in the left hand seat on the pace notes.

We headed over on the Friday afternoon, so we could complete scrutineering, documentation and recce on the Saturday before two special stages on Clacton sea front on Saturday night. The programme tipped us for the class win which was somewhat of a compliment! We had dinner with friends on the Friday evening in Clacton and it was lovely to see so many familiar faces.

The Saturday start wasn’t too early, and having collected some paperwork, we then went through scrutineering and headed back to the sea front for documentation. With everything complete, it was time to go and recce (the first time either of us had done this). We planned and managed to complete two passes of the stages, then it was back to service to change and get ready for the evening stages which were run in reverse order.

The short evening stage went well, and my phone started going off with messages from friends watching us on the live stream. We watched a few of the top crews through the stage and then headed back to our hotel where friends told us they’d sorted dinner for us which was nice not to have to think about it! Then it was an early ish night ready for the main day, Sunday.

The first loop of stages went ok, with little needed in service. I could see the live times and our stage times looked good in class with us leading. A couple of small moments and one cancelled stage were all to report. We went back out for the second loop and again all seemed ok but there was an occasional noise from Muriel, which at this point we hadn’t traced. We came back into service where Matt, Mike Thomas and Ian Mepham had a look and we were starting to get more concerned. We couldn’t find or do anything, so back off out we went but it was getting worse.

The afternoon went from enjoyable rallying to strategic management of trying to finish. It was not until we were within pushing distance of the MTC aka the last control (and still under our own power) and when our timecard was handed in and signed, that we felt relieved! To top off the issue we had (a banging when under power on lock), the alternator failed on the last loop which certainly adding to our stress levels.

From the finish control, we headed to the seafront to collect our awards – we had won our class by over two minutes on our first closed road stage rally! Matt said I was spot on with the pace notes all day which was pleasing. I’d put quite a lot of effort into prepping for the weekend (with the help of a couple of friends, one who also kept an eye on things and messaged helpful info during Sunday) and it all felt useful to be prepared. We also had help over the weekend in person and are grateful to those friends too.

Muriel is rather sick, with gearbox oil over the drive when unloading although the trailer was dry. The driveshaft has popped out and we are wondering if there is diff damage as well as alternator failure, but somehow we made it to the end of the rally. During the rally a friend put an entry in for us for Down Ampney (entries opened whilst we were on stage) with me driving, so it may be a frantic month ahead!

When we said thank you to a marshal for marshalling and he said “no, thanks for letting me marshal for you it’s good to see you competing, you do so much for motorsport” – well it warmed my heart.

Onboards for all the stages we have are at http://www.youtube.com/mattendeanrallying

Photos thanks to friends, family, some of our own and on stage by M&H Photography.


A midweek 12 Car

Oxford MC were once again running one of their midweek 12 Cars, and we entered with Matt driving and myself in the left hand seat.

They were running slightly different classes for this one compared to previously and the navigation was a little harder. One section involved map tracings (I don’t carry tracing paper) and they were ok to translate but took a little time.

We seemed to be going ok, there were a lot of code boards but we managed to clean some sections and only drop a little time on others. We were given an odd time at one control but we tried to reassure ourselves that it would be the same for other crews too! Spotting code boards should always be on the driver, but there were a couple in the verge which Matt missed and I just managed to spot, so some good teamwork.

We finished the night with all code boards but having dropped a little time, meaning we finished 2nd in class and 3rd overall which was a good result.

A Mini weekend in Yorkshire

I was expecting my first historic rally to be in June, but a message from Claire Gillies asking if I fancied the North Yorkshire Classic brought plans forward. A bit of a refresh on regularity in the week leading up to the event (I’ve only done it once, last year on a 12 Car) and it was time to head up north. Saints were playing away at Leeds on the Saturday and I was already planning to go, so having seen a 1-1 draw I headed over to Easingwold, near York, to meet up with Claire. She had been through scrutineering and so we completed documentation before doing the measured mile.

There was some navigation given on Saturday night, so having had dinner we returned to the room so I could plot it. With it down on the map, there wasn’t much else to do, ready for an early start on Sunday. From the start hotel, there was a short drive out to the first section. The navigation for this was given at the start hotel and I had it plotted by the time we arrived at the first regularity start so we were ready to go.

We seemed to be doing ok, a little early at controls but not too much and I was happy with our times and we found our rhythm, with me navigating, given speeds/distance, adjusting time as I felt necessary and pressing stopwatch buttons between us as needed. One regularity down, and it was time for our first tests. A bit of a challenge at the start, but we got sorted and round ok in the end. And then off for more regularities!

A clever bit of nav briefly caught me out in the third section, but we retraced our steps and found the difficult slot and picked up a code board, proving we’d made the right decision to go back as we avoided a penalty which we would have had if we missed the code board. The event ran a “joker” system, meaning we could drop our worst penalty, and I hoped we wouldn’t need it anywhere else in the event having dropped three minutes!

We were getting into a better pattern on the tests (Claire wanted things called slightly differently to what I’m used to – it’s always down to the driver and I took a little time to warm up!) and we were setting some top ten test times which were pleasing. We got to morning coffee after we should have left, and so quickly went to the toilet and made up as much time as possible. It was a similar situation at lunch; a quick toilet break, Claire got me lunch and I had been given more navigation to plot so I focussed on that. I could not get one bit to work, and of the 60 plus crews I only knew one other. I managed to find and ask them and it turned out they had the same issue (there was a mistake in the navigation). I’d plotted the only route I could make work with the information given which was correct, but it was reassuring to find out it wasn’t me. I didn’t find time to eat, but managed half a sandwich on the next regularity. Claire also kept finding flapjacks, both at coffee and lunch, and giving them to me – I never ate them but emptied my pocket of flapjacks late that night!

Unfortunately, the afternoon tests were to prove our undoing – and looking at the results afterwards, we were sat 2nd in class and 19th overall which for my first historic was very pleasing. Some tests in a quarry on gravel saw us lose our exhaust. We tried to repair it, and elected to miss a test and go slowly through the last one (the only way to exit the quarry) but it wasn’t to be. Thanks to the Ravens for some extra equipment to try and help us with our repair when we waved them down. We were only one test (out of thirteen) and two regularities (out of ten) from the end. So near, but so far!

We headed back to the finish, handing in our paperwork to say we had retired and loaded up. We both had a long way to travel home and had dinner before starting the long journey to our respective homes.

On test photo thanks to Phill Andrews, rear view photo thanks to the Ravens. Other photos by Claire and I.