Well that was a proper adventure!
Graham, Rob, Charlotte and their army of organisers, marshals and helpers pulled of a massive task and organised a whole new Endurance Road Rally event from scratch al Bovington training grounds, which has to be one of the most unusual venues around. If you don’t know, this is where the army go to teach soldiers to play tanks. Graham had managed to find over 110 miles of tests inside the grounds alone with more to come for next year.
And what an amazing venue for messing about in cars with your mates it was! The place had everything, fast concrete, gravel, sand, grass, fast, slow, open, twisty, technical, everything you could want on an endurance rally really. Some of it did cut up but until you chuck a load of cars at something how is anybody to know what will happen. All the issues were sorted quickly and I’m sure will be learnt from for next time.
We had a great start to the rally and enjoyed getting the mandatory road rally regularity out the way early (not my favourite part), having to stop for 4 tractors in 15 miles of road rally must be some kind of record? Either way the only time lost was our own fault, so no complaints there.
Really enjoyed the first loop of tests at Bovington and particularly the Woolbridge test with its perfect twisty gravel track full of flowing 2nd gear 90 degree turns. We were pleasantly surprised to see that we were running 9th after 8 of the 21 tests!
Onto the second loop, we were going really well catching a few cars here and there until on selective ten I ran out of talent and lost the back end in a lovely wooded part near the start, we hit the bank quite hard and unfortunately there must have been a stump or rock on the inside as it destroyed the driver’s side lower ball joint, bent the rear suspension beam and ripped the rear tire sidewall to shreds. Luckily I had a spare ball joint in the car (as they are known to be weak) and once everything had cooled down I managed to change it on the side of the track. In the end we missed three further selectives to cut back to within OTL but had a car that could be driven, albeit a little crabby.
The next couple of tests were spent learning the now very interesting handling. With about 20 degree rear toe out on the driver’s side, right hand bends were ok but as soon as you turned left the back end tried to come around, lots of fun and not as bad time wise as I thought it was going to be.
We were really just carrying on for the laugh and had a ball on the last tests, catching people left right and centre, however there was a lot of bulking going on costing us several minutes stuck behind people, and this was only made worse as our horn had fallen off at some point. An air horn is on the list of things to buy now! We had the pleasure of following a classic mini for part of the last test, and they were great in moving over so quickly when we caught them. We were having a “take the brains out” last selective of the day and set 9th fastest time!
We also had a fantastic drag race down the wide tarmac with Jeremy Harris in his 106 rallye which is actually my old road car that I sold to him over 6 years ago. Unfortunately the old nova lost that particular battle, but the marshals seemed to like it!
So with 4 maximums and several tests taken very slowly just after the impromptu suspension rebuild we still finished in 20th place out of 42 starters and 34 finishers, but most importantly with big smiles on our faces! When we crashed we were running in 11th place and our times after the incident were still close to that kind of pace even with the damage so it’s one of those famous cases of what could have been