The final round of the HRCR Championship was finally upon us. Although we were too many points behind the novice leaders to win there was a chance that we could battle for second overall novices. After scrutineering the night before and setting the trip, we thought we were ready, but with no route to plot or planning to be done, were we being lulled into a false sense of security.
Saturday 25th October, we headed for the start at the Ardlingbourne Country Centre near Chichester, where did the final noise test before getting our documents. However, we weren’t in the right mindset. Seren drove the car to noise and I parked my modern car up in the car park. Suddenly I receive a phone call saying I had our scrutineering form. Our idea of getting there early was so that we could get the books early, which didn’t quite go to plan. Hopefully that was the only ‘brain fart’ of the day.
After half an hour of plotting and deciphering, we were ready to take to the road. As we were waved off the start line, Seren panicked, as I hadn’t started the stopwatch, however, I kindly reminded her that we were not a regularity, we were on a link section driving to the first test at Goodwood. I couldn’t blame her, though as I was searching the car for speed tables at the time, soon to realise we had left them at home! I didn’t know what to do, so as we drove to the first few tests, we calculated the times for 20mph, 24mph and 30mph. At least it was something.
As we turned into the area designated for the first few tests, I started to feel the pressure building up – I needed to make sure I called them right and we went the right way. The tests were varied and fun, the first one being on tarmac with a few 360’s around cones and we made good time. The second test was again on tarmac but finishing up on mud and leaves. As we sprinted over the crest to the finish we slide towards the marshals, luckily stopping just before them, still astride the line and not hitting any cones.
Soon we were off on the road to begin the regularities and luckily whilst queuing for the first reg we were chatting away and mentioned we had forgotten our speed tables. Amazingly, the organisers had some spare and saved me a lot of calculating. Thank you ladies! The regularities on this event were extremely difficult for me, making the perfect finale of the HRCR championship. They were a combination of pre – plotted and plot and bash, making the navigators have to think about everything.
The first regularity seemed quite simple with us only picking up a few penalties, however, then it was back to the tests at Goodwood. We repeated the same tests but this time we were adamant we would beat our time and indeed we did, by at least 5 seconds each time. This felt like such an achievement especially as they are all on different surfaces such as grass, mud and gravel.
Straight after these few tests, it was time for a plot and bash. I think because I spent ages worrying about it, I actually found the first one quite easy and we sailed through the reg picking up only a few penalty points. In fact this was our best timecard of the day coming 2nd Overall. I wish the whole rally was based on this one timecard as we only picked up 37 seconds over 2 regs, halving the time of some of the top crews!
The final selections of tests were held on an industrial site. Now this doesn’t sound that great, but it made the perfect venue to throw the car around. I could tell Seren had great fun on these tests and she even caught up with the car in front. I think Guy Woodcock’s lessons helped and we whizzed around to do the tests one more time before heading out for the final Plot and bash reg.
The last regularity was a complete plot and bash reg. I was completely thrown by the directions as we had to pass over grid lines and it didn’t make sense. Finally Seren pulled over and explained it was a rough guideline, not exact direction and I was able to calculate the rest of the route. This was the most challenging plot and bash to date as we were handed the route in three parts over the reg but some of the information needed for part C was given in part A meaning you had to remember what was for what. I was getting myself completely confused by the speed tables because of this but soon realised the speeds were for the whole reg and not just the first part. PHEW!
When we made it to the finish, we didn’t know how we had done, as we felt it was a challenging yet rewarding rally. The final results were posted and we were joint 13th Overall and 7th in class (bearing in mind there were 15 in our class). It was a fantastic rally and definitely a dark horse to finish the HRCR Championship on.