What kind of exciting things can happen on a one day event based on an airfield near Worcester? With us competing, anything!
This was the first of three events that we have hired the HERO Arrive and Drive BMW 1602, we decided that we needed to practice in the same car to prepare ourselves for the tougher events that end the year, Rally of The Tests and LeJog.
I picked up the BMW from South Wales and drove it to Pershore to meet Elise from the train staion, so that we could both get a feel of the car especially as it is left hand drive. Luckily for us, HERO had a training day on the Friday with a practice test that we could drive around a few times to get a real handle on the car.
Being the crazy challenge chasers that we are, we decided that we would try the national B event so whilst everyone on the clubman were given the whole route at signing on, in the form of jogularities and tulip diagrams. We were only given some of the route with some regularities being descriptive and we would require speed tables. Well we needed the practice!
Throckmorton is pretty straightforward, in the fact that you have 5 tests on the airfield, then you go off to do a regularity and this is repeated 3 times during the day. However, we were still pretty nervous at the start line, waiting for our minute to start the first test but once the marshal had counted us down and I hit the throttle, the first test and the following 4 tests straight after went by in a bit of a blur. miraculously we managed to complete all the right way picking up handicap points in our class from 13 seconds to 32 seconds.
Before we know it we were on our way to the first regularity start, a relatively simple jogularity with tulip diagrams. With Jogularities you are given the time due at each junction and landmark so the navigator can work out how early or late you are running in accordance to the average speed you should be maintaining. Considering the difficulty we have had with timing , the first 3 timing points were fantastic, we were 3 seconds early at the first one, 17 early for the second one (I may have been a little over zelous with my average 24mph) and the 9 seconds late on the third Then we met the car in front of us, who were a little behind their schedule and with no room to pass we came into the last timing control 30 seconds late. Comparing that to our previous regularities where we have dropped minutes at each control, we seemed to be heading in the right direction.
Back to the airfield we headed for a quick cup of coffee (tea for Elise) before starting the next 5 tests. The tests started to get a little tricky as they were the same layout as the previous 5 but you had to take different directions around the cones and they started to get slightly longer. I also started to get more confident with the car dropping our handicap to 16 seconds on the 6th test, which means we were 16 seconds slower than the fastest person in our class, and 21 on the 7th test. We did mange to slightly miss a stop astride because of the gravel surface and gained 5 penalty points on the 8th which gave us a total of 31 seconds. No penalties on the 9th test but a 19 second handicap and we were onto to the last test of this section, one of the more complicated tests with four cones acting as a garage that you have to enter from 2 different directions during the test as well as negotiate the other cones, I was very pleased to find that we were the fastest in our class, achieving our first gold standard on a test. Woo hoo!
No time to celebrate as it was straight out for the next regularity, again a jogularity but this time with descriptive route. Things seemed to be going well as we picked up a 6, a 1 and a 3 on the first three timing points but as usual when things go well for us, something always goes horribly wrong. We reached a junction and I asked which way?, to which Elise replied “I have no idea” we were lost! Now don’t get me wrong we go the wrong way all the time but Elise always knows where we are or where we went wrong, the unusual thing was, this time, she really didn’t know. We turned around to retrace our steps only to find another car had just done exactly what we had (makes it a little easier to bear). As we made our way back along the wrong route Elise shouts turn left, it’s here I know what happened! That was that we were back on the right route although we did drop 5 minutes at the next control and because we couldn’t pick the timing back up another 28 seconds at the last one.
Lunchtime! We do love our food so we had been looking forward to lunch, hot pork baguettes with apple sauce, lovely. After lunch it was onto another set of tests on the airfield, we took them nice and steady, completing all without penalty and picking up handicaps of 15 – 32 seconds. The last test of the day was rather exciting, as we entered the ‘garage’ we slid sideways toward the cones, not wanting to pick up any penalties I hit the brakes, stopping millimeters from the cones, but as I tried to put the BMW into reverse so we could carry on I realized the car had stalled, I know I’m a girl but before you ask yes I did depress the clutch! We think it was a fuel surge that cut the engine from the rather abrupt stop. So it was Marshals to the Rescue, they gave us a push so I could drop start the car, but it was to no avail. Elise and I jumped out the car to help push her out of the way of the next lot of competitors but as we are pushing her backwards one of the Marshals jumps in to try starting her backwards. Success! Thanking our saviours we jumped in the car and completed the test with no penalties! (just a large time handicap).
With just two more regularities to go we could almost see the finish line, the first of these regs was back on public roads and this time using speed tables but something must be working as we picked up a 6, a 3, a 4 and then an 18 at the timing controls. Getting better!
The last regularty of the day was on the airfield itself which means it was on private land, a fact the organisers used to place controls as close together as the want, on public roads they have to be at least 2 miles apart. We had heard about this ‘Sting in the Tail’ as Clerk of the Course Peter Nedin calls it and decided we would concentrate on the direction more than the timing. As we began the regularity, things were going well I was maintaining the average speed well and as we rounded the corner to see a Marshal Elise said we were bang on time, we very nearly cleared the first timing point, but came away with 1 second instead, the second timing point we picked up 9 as it was quite close with some tight corners, but again at the third we picked up just 1 second (Yeah Baby!) from that point in the navigation got very tricky so we gave up on the timing and just drove the route, we dropped quite a few seconds but did manage to go the right way and out of everyone on the event, nearly 100 cars we were 18th on that reg.
Then it was over we came 4th in class and 28th overall picking up the Top All Ladies crew at the Awards. All in all a great day and we learnt a lot, which will hopefully help us on the tough events to come. As always a big thank you to all the Marshals (especially the ones who gave us a push) everyone who organizes and makes the events possible and those who support us too.