Rally of the Tests Report – Part 5
Continued from Part 4
Sunday morning dawned bright and a bit blustery, MTC3 out in the morning being situated up the road in another hotel, the Belsfield. From here it was a run south on some very flooded main roads , you came over a brow to find a foot of standing water across the width of the road which made life interesting, but at least the sun was out. The first regularity of the day was ‘South Lakeland’ and we did excellent but a 48 second penalty at a control spoilt what was otherwise a really good run for us, considering we finished just nine seconds off the class leader, a missed opportunity here in hindsight. We then turned north again for the ‘Killington’ regularity with the last bit through a bit of forest we know well, very steep and loose to start with, climbing to the top then fast downhill to the finish with the bends getting tight to the end. Bob did a cracking job here, third overall, four seconds off the best and ten seconds better than Frank and Cath. In fact we could easily have beaten everyone here as a slight mix up on seconds had me easing off at the end, the lost seconds costing us a ‘clean’. Ah well!
From here it was on to the first test of the day but this was cancelled as the farmer had locked a gate after the first few cars, so we had a fast run in convoy with half dozen cars back up on to Warcop for four tests. The first one was a very enjoyable one, fast and twisty through a wood, fastest in class and third overall behind two 911’s. The next was very much a power test and we and Lenehan were equal fastest in class, and only four seconds off the BDA and the fastest car, a 911! What an advert for a well-built 997! Next was another suited to 911 Porsches but we again had a class win, three seconds up on the next in class Lenehan. From here it was off to a time control at Brough Castle. By now it was midday and the sun was shining, the afternoon regularities would take us past the Tan Hill Inn the highest pub in Britain and through the ford that used to feature in the opening of the programme ‘All Creatures Great and Small’.
‘Downholme’ was very tough with six controls and the best crew dropping one and half minutes, we were over a minute down on Lenehan here. From here it was on for more MOD land, this time Catterick Camp for two super tests. The first one very slippery and quick saw us one second behind Lenehan and the 997 Cooper’s only two and three seconds behind the BDA which was pipped by a 911!
Next was a longer one, a cracker with cattle grids, several junctions and two downhill hairpins most of it on loose gravel. We had a storming run, in the top five overall, fastest in class by six seconds from Lenehan and one second off the BDA, its Dutch owner was impressed by the little Orange Mini!
Staying on Catterick we started the last regularity of the event, which in reality was just like the night time sections on MOD land, ie flat out. With more junctions on the road than on the map, gravel all the way the little Orangebox was sideways, airborne and flat out all the way, we still dropped two minutes.
From here, with Bob muttering about it being “mental in there!” we made our way to a meal and time control at the services at Leeming Bar on the A1. Suitably fed and watered we made our way to Tockwith for three more tests, the first ‘Jacobs Ladder’ had many people scratching their head, we had worked it out, but could we do it quickly? It was a test from the very early days, basically four ‘boxes’ marked out by cones, which totalled thirteen ‘sides’, you had to cross every one but not more than once! We did the test with Lenehan watching us and as we came off it he gave me the thumbs up! He beat us though! We were third overall on this test. Next was another Kart Circuit where Lenehan beat me by four seconds, followed by one and half laps of a proper Race Circuit. This was fun, though Bob started to look worried when we had it on two wheels, bouncing off the curbs to straighten the corners! Fastest in class for us here, with 911s at the top of the times again.
This was the last part of the event and the last couple of tests which I had been looking forward to at Harewood Hill Climb, I had watched virtually the same stage on more than one RAC Rally as a kid, stood with my Dad. Run twice, it ran round the paddock area and down the access road, then on to the full hill climb. Fastest in class on both runs , both times Lenehan was second fastest, with him three seconds slower on the first before both of us going quicker second time, though we pulled four seconds out on the last run.
From here it was a run on busy roads in darkness to the ceremonial finish in Harrogate at the Old Swan Hotel, with photos and interviews. I was quite elated to get to the finish and for a moment or two got quite emotional while waiting to drive under the finish ramp, we had done it! The black tie dinner was very enjoyable, I never seemed to buy a drink as people just put them in front of me, and we were a merry, happy gang who staggered off to find our rooms at the end of the night!
Final results put us 9th overall and second in class, very, very happy with that. The McClean Anglia did amazing to climb back to third in class and although a long way behind us, the last car in our class over five hours behind us in penalties. I had set out and done what I always wanted to do, and the little car performed superb, really proud of the little car. Of course none of this would have been possible without several people, Bob for his skills, sense of humour and enthusiasm, our wives Suzanne and Hazel for tolerating it all, my parents, Jon Wood, Neil Johnson and Chris Day, and of course all the guys at MINISPORT Padiham, without their help it would not have happened. Want to do it again now…..