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.