Marshalling with HERO at Bicester

It may have been a weekend off from competing, but it wasn’t a weekend off from motor sport as we volunteered to help run tests at Bicester as part of the HERO Challenge. It was an early alarm call at 0515 to be at Bicester just after 0700. We were allocated Test 4, “Spitfire,” with Matt as Test Commander and us running the start.

Before the cars reached us we saw some of the normal activity of the airfield with bi-planes departing, before a busy couple of hours followed with cars arriving at least every minute, or in some cases, in little groups.

We had no real dramas to speak of, one car broke down on the test but fixed himself and got going after some time.  Some of the crews were new to rallying and had attended HERO’s training day the day before, and whilst new to rallying, everybody seemed to know what they were doing by the time they reached us.

The tests were only run once so we were home by lunchtime after an enjoyable morning.

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A soggy day marshalling

After all the weeks with a recent heatwave, when it came to marshalling at Bovington for the stage rally things had definitely turned! Whilst we only marshalled on the Saturday of the two day rally, I understand things were worse on the Sunday but the Saturday still meant full waterproofs all day with a mixture of constant drizzle to heavy rain.

Our marshalling point was between a 90 left and a 90 right bend and the changing conditions made it interesting. Nobody went off where we were, or even spun, but there were definitely some moments with some more spectacular than others. As it got wetter, it was noticeable how much quicker the four wheel drive cars were compared to the Escorts so it was no surprise to see at the end of Sunday, with wetter conditions, that a four wheel drive had taken the overall win.

We might compete at Bovington later in the year but in the meantime, it was good to be out marshalling and giving a little something back. With Saints playing at home on the Sunday, I stayed down south which worked out well and was a good weekend combining motor sport and football.

Marshalling at the Festival of Speed

For the last 12 years plus, I’ve marshalled on the rally stage on the Friday at the Festival of Speed at Goodwood. I’ve only missed one year, which was 2017; the FoS date changed thanks to the F1, and I had an existing commitment which couldn’t be changed.

We stay in Rustington and did the same again this year (with our normal chip shop dinner on the beach!), and had an easy drive in to Goodwood on Friday morning. Having signed on and collected our white overalls, we were ready for the day.

Other than one driver deciding the stop line and clear “stop” signage didn’t apply to him, our time on the stop line was very much run of the mill with nothing too exceptional to report. At the end of the day with overalls etc returned, we headed home without our normal stop for pizza in Midhurst. The traffic was kind, and we were home just after 9pm ready for the weekend ahead and having given a very little back to our beloved sport.

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Waiting to start our marshalling duties.

Marshalling on a 12 Car

Just as I enjoy competing, it’s also good to get out and marshal as people marshal when I compete, allowing me to enjoy my motor sport.

Boundless were running a 12 Car about 40 minutes from home so having done my London Marathon training run, we headed off to the start venue. Signing on completed, we drove over to TC3 which was our control for the night.

All eight cars came through mainly on their time schedules, and then it was time to go home having seen the course closing car and handed over our check sheet. With working over the weekend (VSCC marshal forum and dinner and a meeting for the Welsh Association of Motor Clubs meeting on Sunday) it’s a busy motor sport weekend for me!

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Marshalling on The Preston

The Preston was the first ever Road Rally I competed on, but not one I had marshalled on. As someone who loves a good night’s sleep, I was relieved to find the forecast was considerably warmer than I expected so it would be sleep deprivation not sleep deprivation and cold to fight with (although, as I have been heard to say before, there is no such thing as it being too cold, only being inadequately dressed…).

It’s a couple of hours drive from ours to the start and once we had signed on we headed off for dinner before catching up with friends. Our first control was less than ten minutes from the start location, so we arrived in plenty of time and got set up. It was good to be marshalling on an event where all crews were friendly and said thanks for being there.

After our first control closed, it was a 25 minute drive to our second location. We arrived and got set up, and I said I would stay in the car whilst Matt was out at the control location. Half an hour later I woke up, and then it was all go for our second control. Matt was at the control location the whole time so everything was covered, but I hadn’t quite expected to nod off! The gaps in the field were getting a little greater by the time of our second control, but we saw everyone we were expected to, and that was it.

We’d decided to do two controls rather than three due to the distance/other things on and felt we were still giving something back to motor sport, which we take so much from. We made it home around 0430 and snatched a few hours sleep before waking up to check the results, and carrying on with the rest of our weekend. Would I go back? Yes, I would…

 

Testing head torches on the night…

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A week at Wales Rally GB

Having competed on Wales Rally GB in both 2013 and 2014, in 2015 we joined the team in Rally HQ volunteering alongside the IMS staff and helping with signing on for both the International and National events, as well as staffing the rally office and assisting with competitor and other queries.

We were asked if we’d help again in 2016, to which we said yes, and it was off to Deeside for a week. The 2015 event saw rain and high winds but the slightly earlier in the year October date for 2016 saw a very mild Wales in comparison.

Whilst competing on the event would of course be the pinnacle, being there is a good alternative and you still get the buzz and atmosphere of the service park. Whilst there wasn’t an opportunity to see any of the cars on the stages, we were part of a display in Chester on the Friday afternoon. After the National cars had been through the control and over the ramp, a group of cars including ourselves in Muriel went over and were interviewed to show the diversity of rally cars that have competed, alongside some iconic rally cars.

The area we had displayed in had been relatively quiet with a few conversations with the public, but once we passed the control and turned 90 right onto Eastgate Street, the crowds and noise were phenomenal. Everywhere we looked there were people waving and cheering, with the street level crowds many people deep and many lining the numerous balconies that are a feature of the picturesque town. It was really some experience, and great to be a part of, before we passed under the famous Chester clock.

We filmed our experience live and streamed it on Facebook, so whilst it might not be the best quality, it gives a good view of what it was like for us; Muriel in Chester.

After Chester, which was one of our highlights of the week, it was back to Rally HQ for a couple more days. Once the rally is underway, the office becomes quieter, until cars and crews come back to service at the end of the day and queries start coming in. It was good to catch up with a number of friends (and see them finish the National rally!), perhaps we’ll be back out in the Welsh forests ourselves one day