On the reserve list…

During Covid-19, we’ve found event entry lists fill up quicker than ever – often within minutes. We’d missed entries opening for the Harrow Car Club sprint, and by the time we entered we were both reserves. We were contacted by the Entries Secretary and asked if only one of us had an accepted place, who would compete, and we decided Matt as we were using the event as a shakedown for the Micra before a stage rally the following weekend.

Of course, this became the reality! As I was first reserve and the car was going to be at the event, we decided I would still turn up but that I would take my car in-case I had the option to go home again. I signed on and did everything I needed to in advance so if a space became available I was signed on and ready to go.

Just as I started to walk the course, the Entries Sec found me and said – you’re in! Someone had become ill overnight and someone else had found their car would not start coming off the trailer. I walked the course, changed and then it was time for me to compete.

My runs went well in practice, with me sitting second in class behind a Davrian with Matt third in class. I was finding more time each run, especially as the timed runs start. Going into the final timed run, I was leading the class (first time on a sprint!) and found nearly a second. Unfortunately, me leading only seemed to fire Matt up and he found pace that hadn’t been there earlier in the day and took the class win by 0.73 seconds with me in second, and the Davrian 0.81 seconds behind me.

Events are like buses…

…none for ages and then two in quick succession (yes, this was because of the pandemic, but you get the sentiment!). We entered the South Oxon Autotest at Bill Gwynne’s Rally School, the first time we had been to the venue.

This was the sort of event where the MG definitely feels sooooo much longer than the Micra! All scores counted (i.e. no “two runs at a test, best run to count”) so it was a day where it was really important to be clean, with no cone penalties or wrong tests and with a tight course, the MG length did feel more significant. The surface is loose gravel too, to make it more interesting!

Originally, Matt and I had entered as solo drivers but we had decided to change and enter the passenger classes instead, and I’m glad we did! The tests were long and despite walking them, there was a lot to remember. I think we were both glad of a “passenger” who really we did use as a navigator. The idea of moving to the passenger class originally had been me saying I wanted to sit with Matt and see how he gets the car working better than I can, particularly using the handbrake. Ian Mepham of Performance Automotive has recently upgraded the handbrake and brakes to help them work more effectively but I knew I hadn’t been getting the most out of them previously.

It was a long, hard, hot and dusty day; challenging, but worth it. I finished 3rd in class and 4th overall, beating Matt – my best result on an autotest to date. Unfortunately I threw away a position by clipping a cone on the last test which dropped me a position, but still a good result. Matt’s position had been compromised as he got a wrong test early in the morning; although he had gone back and corrected the mistake immediately, he had gone around another cone in the process so was given a wrong test (something to us to learn for next time as it can be penalised slightly differently in different clubs).

The sprint last week had used text messages to update on timings and results (as results cannot be printed/put on screens etc to stop congregation) and this event used a timing app, available on mobile phones. Both seemed to work well and good to do something very different to the previous weekend.