July 6th, 2013
Sunday Sun Day Fun day
Sunday’s Turnbull Trophy rally at Albemarle Airfield near Newcastle, was fillied with incidents and stories of what might have been, with 55 entries tackling eight stages over 80 miles of mainly grippy tarmac but also some crumbling surfaces that offered the extra ‘bonus’ of blinding dust that made committing to some corners and chicanes more than a bit tricky.
Murray Coulthard and David Crosbie were on event number three and starting at 33 were up for it, despite the searing heat that swept the country and made sitting inside a roaring, speeding car a bit more uncomfortable. They didnt have long to seek their problems anyway, as the Nova cut out on stage one with fuel starvation, Murray saying he wasn’t at all happy with that start to their day. Stage two was ever so slightly worse as they hit one of those fekin big bales head on and damaged the radiator which thankfully was able to be replaced back at service. Incidentally there are literally hundreds of cones used to mark out the stages and big roon bales to mark the chicanes, with £30 being charged for a destroyed bale, while cones carry a tariff of £10 !!.
Albemarle has a notoriously abrasive surface and the outcome was six totally scrapped tyres that had struggled to maintain grip and if fact, there were several spins flat in top gear that on the Coulthard Nova equates to 109 mph. Murray said he was glad of David (known as Bing in his house, which is helpful since dad Ian is also known as Bing) sitting alongside, because he acts very nicely as ballast in a spin situation and keeps the wheels on the road!.
At the end of the day the boys took 27th overall and 3rd in class, Murray calculating that the points scored were enough to put them second in class in the Scottish Tarmac Championship. Murray experimented with left foot braking which he felt really stabilised the car. There’ll need to be a gearbox rebuild before the next event though, as he was suffering gear selector problems.
Another crew making their first visit to Albemarle were Son and Father team, Chris and Stephen Kemp from Cample. The long build up to this event included two tarmac testing days and being as prepared as they could be, they got off to a good start, Stephen commenting that Chris was driving well. Up to lunch time they were lying 33rd despite the stages getting chewed up and pretty rough in places. They also experienced the dusty conditions and found it impossible to overtake any slower cars they caught.
After lunch they set off into stage five and this is where it all went Pete Tong. To quote Stephen, “we had a spin, hit a straw bale chicane and then the car filled with smoke, all within 500 metres!”. They carried on, thinking the smoke was coming from a tyre rubbing against the wheel arch after contact with the bale but then the engine died and they had lost all the engine oil. They now have a nice half inch hole in the side of the block, out of which came some of the chain links from the oil pump linkage.
Both were really gutted that this happened on their first event but as Stephen says “onwards and upwards, we will be out again soon”. The length of time of the rebuild will determine what their next event is.
Warren Gillespie discovered that Machars Car Club were running a concrete autotest on Sunday and made the long trip to North Barsalloch farm near Port William to compete. He was made very welcome and says he had a great day, with eight varied tests tackled on several levels of concrete farm yard available to the organisers. Warren took FTD and won his class and it was a shame there were only six entries, mostly due to there being loads of things taking place in the shire on the same day. His competition onthe day were a Min Special and a Corsa with multiple drivers. Perhaps Machars CC would like a return match??.
Gordon Clendinning and I were competing on the Lakeland Classic Rally, a 20 test event that started and finished in Penrith. Driver and Chevette were in perfect harmony from the off and throughout the day, we clocked up several fastest and equal fastest times on the tests, although running on tarmac tyres on an event with so many gravel tests was a real drawback. I have to say that if my memory had been working better I wouldn’t have volunteered to navigate on this event, as travelling in a car that switches direction in a heartbeat means my stomach is still going left long after the car’s gone right. Nonetheless a leisurely lunch break allowed me to collect myself andf off we set to tackle the remaining eight tests, some of which which were more like stages but without the need to wear a helmet !. Seriously !!
I feel the need to say something radical here. What the hell is the need for regularities?. These are daft tests where you are told you must drive at a set average speed and arrive at controls on the exact second. In my view they just spoil a good test and frankly, if they didn’t exist already I cant imagine anyone coming up with the idea. I’m sure some folk enjoy the mathematical challenge but not I. This is why you wont see any regularities on the Doonhamer.
Late on in the event, the petrol pump became audibly louder and Gordon decided we couldn’t afford to risk attempting the last three tests without topping up. Working on our due time at test eighteen and then adding the 30 minute lateness, we shot back to Penrith, topped up and got back to Lowther Park with ten minutes to spare, only to find the closing car had been through and the test had been dismantled, as had test nineteen which was just through the gate.
Yeah we were very dissapointed but as the regs stated that you had to attempt every test to be classified as a finisher, we were stuffed. However there was still test 20 to tackle and to prove a point we went for it and set fastest time!.
All in all it was agood day out and despite the over zealous closing car crew, it was a slick event, run extremely well by the Wigton Motor Club. Now that Gordon’s done the Lakeland, I wouldnt be suprprised if he goes back with his newly found local knowledge and challenges for a win next year…. but with a different navigator.