After years of people telling me that the Myotis was a must do rally, I finally got a chance this year as my first non-endurance Nat B road rally (and only 5th “proper” rally driving ever), and what an amazing and unique experience it was! Devizes and District motor club are very fortunate to have the use of Salisbury Plain and hold an all-night road rally every year, covering an area the size of the Isle of Wight and containing 100’s of miles of gravel tracks for tanks to practice war on, it is truly an amazing venue. 120 miles of gravel rallying for £90? Yes please!
With Nick Clarke in the nova with me for the first time we had a good start with only one slight miss slot that was easy to miss due to some cones half way across the correct track. As soon as we got to the 1st test we could see that there was going to be carnage due to the 1 minute starts and people doing second runs filtering back into the queue, there was no way everyone from car 15 back wasn’t going to end up OTL, 30 second starts next time please! We enjoyed the first run as it wasn’t to dusty but on the 2nd run we followed about 4 cars around the whole thing in a cloud of dust, so were very slow L. The poor girl doing the lollypop control was still smiling, not that we could really see her though the dust! Thank you to all the marshals who got coated all night, you are very much appreciated!
On the 2nd run though the test the nova started to misfire, and 5 miles into the next competitive section died completely, we had bounced a HT lead off, easy fix but it still wouldn’t start, found an intermittent spark on 2 cylinders and so had a good look at the dizzy but no obvious issues (unlike the Ross in 2013 where we destroyed a rotor arm), we changed the rotor arm for a spare just in case and it fired up first time! Due to being OTL we then cut to petrol where we were the 10th car in.
As we thought we had missed so much of the route we even thought about going home, glad we didn’t as it would turn out that after the rally that the sections we missed would be scrubbed due to most the cars also being OTL and cutting route after the delay at the test.
So, we carried on just for the crack, really enjoying some lovely little tight sections through some woods and some amazing fast wide open tracks with epic cambered 90 deg turns, only a few times did we find ourselves looking for junctions or code boards. We seemed to be as quick if not quicker than the cars around us (now we were running 10th on the road) and those who were quicker seemed to be going the wrong way most of the time!
Got to the end knackered and coated in dust, but with some big smiles. After getting to the hotel we saw the results at petrol where we were about 4th from last (which didn’t have the sections scrubbed yet) and decided that there was no point hanging around. I am ever so embarrassed by this decision now and wish to apologise to the organisers and other competitors who did stay until the end.
On the drive home (in the nova – no trailers here) the heavens opened up 12 hours too late and did a good job of cleaning the outside of the car for me, just need to work out how to remove the 5kg of powdered Salisbury Plain from inside the car now . . . .
After a few hours’ sleep I had a message saying congrats on coming 3rd overall, quite a surprise for sure as I’m pretty new to this driving game. No doubt that it was mostly down to Nick who did a faultless job all night and managed to guide us perfectly through the dusty carnage.
Goes to prove that it is worth keeping going whatever happens, as you never know what is going to transpire, and you might be having a bad night but everyone else’s might just be worse!
Being brought up navigating on the original endurance rallies and events like the Wessex “Funky Elephant” I can’t say that I thought the tracks were that rough, a quite a few pot holes out there but most could be avoided with a bit of care, and in general the tracks were very good. Maybe a few arrows might help with some of the missed slots but at the end of the day it is a “navigational rally” so the navigator will always be important, and going the right way is always going to be more important than being the fastest!