Competing on the East Anglian Classic

A year ago, I’d never competed on a historic rally or even done regularity. Having navigated for Gavin Rogers as Car 0 on his historic rally in August 2021, and having tried regularity on his event, I found myself intrigued and interested by a discipline I’d always thought wasn’t for me. Some conversations, learning and so on and Gavin and I entered the East Anglian Classic in his Reliant Scimitar SE5a.

It was my second historic, having unexpectedly found myself out with Claire in April on the North Yorkshire Classic. To finish the East Anglian Classic 4th in class and 6th overall was a top day’s rallying. We both had to work for it, but to drop 32 seconds over 19 regularity controls, consistent top 10 test times (our best was second fastest) and to be the best crew on the last regularity was a testament to Gavin’s teaching, some good teamwork and things coming together.

Rather than write my own version of our event, as Gavin already has written it up, here’s how it went…:

It’s been a few years since I’ve been over to the East Anglian Classic but everything worked out this year and it was good to be back on familiar territory. Run by the usual Chelmsford Motor Club organisers, the event was based in Bury St Edmunds with 5 Regularity sections and 11 Tests at farms and on farm tracks in Suffolk and Norfolk.

I had a new navigator this time, Suze Endean, on her second Historic Rally. Suze has been involved in all kinds of motorsport for 15 years, including driving and navigating on rallies, but only started learning about Historic Rallies when she helped me out on the Cotswold Historic Rally last summer. Her husband, Matt, has been involved with the East Anglian Classic for many years, so it made sense to compete on the event. There were 48 cars competing and we were seeded at 8.

We were given the first 4 Regularities to plot one hour before our start time and got everything plotted with time to spare. 

The first test was a few miles from the start, nice and simple with a few cones on a farm track. Onto the first Regularity, going smoothly and thought we were just a few seconds late at the first control but the marshal gave us a time 15s late which caused some confusion. Our mileage was correct so as we continued we had to assume that the marshals clock was wrong and that the organisers would correct the error, so we did the next section 12s quicker to make up for the incorrect clock. 

This turned out to be the right decision and the rest of the clocks were showing the right time and we were within 2s at the next controls.

Onto the second Test around a large farm / storage area with a lot of buildings and a nice smooth surface, following by a welcome coffee halt.

The second part of the morning started with 3 Tests, a short one around a building on a loose surface where we were 2nd quickest, then a long one on farm tracks and around fields which was great fun except for a very large hole nearing the end – we went through it quite fast, bounced out the other side then there was a loud crunch as the suspension settled and the chassis scraped the stony ground! We were one of 14 cars to beat the bogey time on that one. The last Test was around some more farm buildings and the edge of a field but I remembered using this a few years ago and we were fine, 8th quickest here.

The second Regularity took us to lunch and we were close at all the controls with a total of 10s dropped. Over lunch it started to rain and we had a good 30 minute break.

Interim results were published and we were happy to be lying 7th at this point, but it was very close throughout the top 10.

The afternoon started with the 3rd Regularity and we got back into the same rhythm, dropping a few seconds here and there. This took us back to the longer farm Test run in the opposite direction. The organisers had added more marshals to slow us down and halfway through the test it felt like the Scimitar started misfiring and we lost a bit of time here. I parked on the road section and checked the plugs leads were attached, then looked underneath and found the exhaust manifold had been flattened and was blowing from one pipe, hence the strange sounds.

We continued onto the next Test which was at the same farm, then effected a temporary repair with a drinks can and some wire to reduce the noise. The 3rd farm test followed and everything was fine on this one, and we were still 7th but on the same time as an MX5 behind us.

The final section started with us going back to the smoother test around the buildings, then the 4th Regularity where everything worked very well and we only dropped 1s at each of the 3 controls.

The final Test was back at the first venue, slightly quicker than the first time, and the event finished with a harder Regularity, 35 tulips for Suze to plot as I was driving along at a steady 26mph (or something similar!)

We were both dreading this section as it can make a lot of difference to the results but Suze got it all plotted in the first few miles, and checked it a few more times. We got slightly confused at one point going through a very large farm / lorry yard, but trusted the map that said there was a public road through there, came out the other side and were spot on at the next control.

Concentrating hard on the right speeds, we were spot on at the 2nd control, then just 2s early at the 3rd control, which was a great way to finish the event.

All of this moved us up one place to 6th overall, just 2s ahead of the MX5.

We had a very good day – except for the exhaust problem, neither of us made any mistakes and we were lucky not to meet anyone in the wrong place out on the roads.

Many thanks to the organisers, marshals and especially Suze who is now keen to do some more.

Photos by M&H Photography.


Stage rallying the rebuilt Micra

After issues on Clacton (new diff and alternator required) and lots of work by Matt, Muriel was back up and running a little over a month after breaking on Clacton. It was my turn to drive her and it was off to Down Ampney, a venue I’ve competed at a few times on stage rallies both driving and co-driving.

On SS3 I thought I had wheel spin, just the once, whilst using up some old worn Hankooks; I thought perhaps I was too heavy with my right foot. On SS4 I knew it wasn’t with the clutch repeatedly slipping… it was a new clutch too.

This event was the longest of the three run at Down Ampney, being ten stages and 75 miles. It wasn’t quite the day I had hoped for, but still a useful exercise as it required a new driving style to nurse her home and really made me think about my driving and adapt to the situation. We finished, 7th in class out of 13 finishers / 19 starters, but one of those days where finishing felt an achievement in itself, with many retirements and our own issues to manage! Never quit…

It was an enjoyable sociable day servicing with friends, but clearly now more work to be done. We don’t have any plans for Muriel for a few months so now time to get to the bottom of the issue.

Videos from the event are available here; SS4, SS10.