Sprinting at North Weald

We normally do at least one sprint at North Weald a year, but the car we use varies. For this event it was the MGZR, which was somewhat feisty and rather tail happy!

I was a couple of seconds off the pace in practice, but sitting comfortably mid class. There were four timed runs, and I consistently improved, still sitting mid class but a little off Matt. I went out for my final timed run and improved my 1.02 seconds (my greatest improvement of the day) but it wasn’t quite enough – I finished 0.05 seconds (five hundredths) behind Matt – agonisingly close!

We finished 4th and 5th in class (out of 10), both beaten by an S2000, Fiesta ST and an Integra.

A comparison of mine and Matt’s best runs can be seen here. Whilst my best time came on my final run, Matt’s was on timed run two (out of four); he was red flagged halfway through his initial second timed run due to a broken down car on the course and so had a re-run. Even he said if he hadn’t had that re-run, who knows what the result could have been!

Photos by Nick Cook.

Running a walkabout

Having won the South Oxon Car Club walkabout / treasure hunt in 2021, it meant it was down to us to organise the 2022 event.

We decided to run it in Bicester, as it was easy for us to get to and hopefully accessible for fellow club members. We needed to be able to get there easily on week nights to plan the event, and with a quiet high street and free parking we thought it would work well. It only took one evening in Bicester to plan which was a bonus, having set aside a couple of evenings to go there.

We set 50 questions of varying levels of difficulty, and Matt checked them quickly on the night before we started. The answers were all on signs, shop windows, drain covers or higher up and all bar one question worked, so the scores were out of 49. Instead of setting tie break questions, we said the tie break would be who completed it the quickest if teams tied on number of points.

Six crews turned out with the winning score being 48 out of 49. Matt had told me some of my questions were too hard and I was a little apprehensive seeing people taking time for the first few answers, but it worked!

Example – who do you ask about medicines? Kay!

British Grand Prix 2022

In 2021, I was asked to run the P2 marshal welfare team for the British Grand Prix and in 2022, I was asked back to look after the marshal welfare team again. With Covid-19 rules changing, there was no longer P1 and P2 teams and we were one big team instead, made up of 13 people.

As in 2021, it wasn’t without challenges but with the ethos “a picture tells a thousand words,” here are a few images from the weekend. It doesn’t show the late nights, hard work and so on which went into the event, but perhaps gives some slightly different views.

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.

Back to a targa rally at Debden

It’s been over six months since my last targa rally at Debden, and for this event I was teaming up to double drive with Cath Woodman for the first time. We’ve known each other for a long time, and she’s a very good navigator, so I wondered when I was navving for her what tips I might pick up!

I was driving first in the MG, and we had a good first loop, picking up all the code boards and secret checks which the organisers had thrown in to keep us on our toes. Then it was my turn to navigate for Cath in her BMW, and being back in RWD made me smile. We had a clean run as well and got round happily.

My driving runs were fairly clean; I had a half spin, but I was happy with my pace. Debden is a mix of tarmac and gravel and it was one of those days where the MG and I felt nicely in tune with each other. Cath was spot on with all her calls and it really helped to give me the confidence to push on. For our first time competing together, it just clicked which was great.

Going into the last loop of tests driving, I knew it was very close to make the top ten overall. Although I tried hard, we didn’t quite make it and finished 8th in class and 11th overall, just two seconds off a top ten finish. I almost made a mistake a couple of corners from the end on the very last test but a shout from Cath to get me going the right way (she’d called it correctly originally, I just had listening issues!) sorted us out for a good day’s rallying.

Photos by M&H Photography.

Double driving at Kemble

I’d never driven at a Targa Rally at Kemble, but have driven on an autosolo and navved as course car on a historic and competitively on targa rallies. This was a single venue event and part of the ASWMC targa championship, so I’d entered navigating for Mike Thomas and also as a driver with Rob Thomson alongside. Rob hadn’t competed on a targa before but I’d persuaded him to marshal on both the Exmoor and the Bath Festival, so it was good to give him the chance to try one.

I was driving first with Rob alongside, and we got around ok with a couple of pauses to ensure we went the right way. Then it was my turn to nav for Mike. We were about half way through the test, hit a bit of a bump and something was clearly wrong. It turned out the top arm in situ adjustment had ripped the thread out (or in simpler terms, the suspension arm was damaged and we had a wonky wheel!). Less than two minutes into the rally, and we retired.

As a driver the day was a little better. Kemble tests are very busy with lots for Rob to call and code boards and passage checks as well. We had a wrong side of a cone in the afternoon (20 second penalty) and finished 4th in class and 7th overall.

On display at Coventry Transport Museum

In 2021, I saw that Coventry Transport Museum were planning an exhibition on women in motorsport for 2022.

Having spoken to the curator, Liz, I shared the information with fellow female competitors, volunteers and officials who I’ve got to know over my years in motorsport. I was pleasantly surprised to find I know over 50 women and many of them contributed to the exhibition.

As well as putting people in touch with the museum and providing some information on my motorsport involvement, I loaned a couple of my items to the exhibition. I’d never been to the museum so it was a good day out; slightly surreal seeing myself on display but interesting to learn more about transport history, too, with lots of interesting vehicles on display. My Great Grandfather worked for Francis Bennett motorcycles in Coventry, which added another interesting family angle.

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.