Mini Girls Rally Team – Manx National Rally 2019 Report by Louise Thomas.

“Excited is an understatement! It had been a long time since our last rally in November last year, and we were so exited for a few reasons, one to get back into the car together and feel the high that the Mini gives not just myself and Heidi, but joy it gives to others.

This was our first rally with our new main sponsor and support crew J and S Handling Ltd (Forklifts) and Elk Training Solutions owned by Antony Elkes. Our New Support crew is Antony, Ian Clare and Rob Belcher, all mechanics and competitors. The connection Mini Girls have with Ian and Antony is they competed against us last year in the HRCR Championship, but due to a nasty accident on the second to last round resulting in both breaking their backs, they can not compete for twelve month, so a partnership with Mini Girls was formed, we are delighted to have their first class support, all bring so much to the team, and luckily as well as their management and mechanical skills they all have a fantastic sense of humor, the most important quality to be part of The Mini Girls Team.

We also have the continued fantastic support of Mini Sport limited who have once again provided the team with an engine for this season.

Another new sponsor is KDH insurance Brokers Ltd.

We are a lucky team and could not do what we do with out the support of them all!!

The Rally, as always we have to travel many miles, Two ferries this time, one from Mull to Oban and one from Liverpool to Douglas isle of man, plus many miles via Mini Sport in Padiham, to put the Mini on the rolling road, a test at Three Sisters Race Circuit in Wigan, and the Mini being transported from its new home in West Midlands.

We landed on the wonderful Isle of Man, and were allowed two days of reconnaissance, I had the first day Wednesday with Antony checking the notes with me, as my left hand woman Heidi didn’t fly in until Wednesday night, he tried to feed me Wine Gums, but they didn’t have the same effect as the usual Fruit Pastilles! I mean really!! Wine Gums!! Not a trace of Wine as far as I’m concerned! But we had a good recce even if we disagree on sweets!

Second day of Recce and Heidi to my side, with an endless supply of fruit pastilles, a sharpened pencil and Snoopy and Woodstock on board, we covered all the stages and adjusted the notes to suit, The Manx roads are second to none, a lot of very fast flowing tarmac, but also a lot of technical and extremely brumby stages! Proper rallying!!

Whilst out on Recce the crew set up our service area and put the car through Scrutineering and Noise test for us, No Problems.

Friday and we did three runs of the shake down stage, all went well and the mini felt great, so good to be back in the office. There was a great buzz about the service area with so many people passing comment on how good the Mini and setup looked, we were interviewed by Manx Radio, then we relaxed in the sun ready for the evening Stages.

19.28 due at the first control, lets do this!! So, off we went, The first 2 stages were as described in the notes! With every other call being bumpy!!

We met the crew at management service on route and all was good no problems. Off we went again to stage 3 and 4, fantastic airborne moment on stage 3! And the Mini was handling brilliantly and I was gaining confidence, leading the class at one point.

Next Refuel and service, only for 20 minutes, not a lot of time but no problems with the Mini, the crew checked the Mini over, we stocked up on fuel and sweets and away we went to stage 5.

Stage 5! And it wasn’t to be! Two thirds through the stage I selected third gear and nothing, no drive, forth gear nothing, so nursed the mini to the end of the stage in 2nd gear, and we made the decision to call it a day! We had another three stages to do and they couldn’t be done in second gear and we didn’t want to do anymore damage.

Our crew collected the Mini and we put her to bed, nothing could be done! Rally over!

But it doesn’t end there! Nothing like Sausage, chips and curry sauce at 2am in the morning, back in the service area, and time for reflection! We were of course very sad not to complete the rally, but on reflection this is Mini Girls first rally not completed out of 17 rallies, think that’s a pretty good record, we will remember this rally in our usual way, extremely positively! We had so much fun, and created fantastic memories with our new support crew, they are second to none!! And we thank you so much for all your support and great laughs!

The Mini is now safely back at Mini Sport to get the gearbox gremlins sorted, that’s what we called them! (Love the movie)

We will come back stronger ready to fight the boys on our next rally, Down Rally Ireland on 20th July.

Thank you to the organizers of The Manx National Rally and all volunteers, Mini Girls will be back!

And a huge Thank you to J and S Handling Ltd(Forklifts, Mini Sport Ltd, Elk Training Solutions, KDH Insurance Brokers Ltd, Sure Signs, Antony Elkes, Ian Clare, Rob Belcher, Dad aka Diddy Dave, And last but by no means least my number 1 partner in crime Heidi Woodcock.”

Blog written by Louise Thomas – Mini Girls Rally Team

Photos by MG Photography & Manannan Photographics.