After hearing great things about the Bath Festival Road Rally in 2014 I was very keen to get an entry on what is becoming a must do event, the plan was to join up with Nick Clarke again and try to recreate our success on the myotis last year, unfortunately Nick was sadly side lined at the last minute due to illness. So on the morning of the event I put a call out to all and sundry to find a navigator, step forward Rich McLachlan who having been a regular driver and a navigator in the past fancied a run out.
After introductions Rich and I got down to the epic job of pre plotting the intricate route from the 8 pages of grid references! This took a good 2+ hours in total but meant the rest of the night would be about the lanes and not any tricky instructions. Just before the off we thought it would be a good idea seeing if Rich could fit in the diminutive Nova with his tall 6.2” frame, after some adjustments we got him in. Then a quick change of tyres to some £35 2 year old knobblies I had with me as that’s what everyone else was running – proper cheap motorsport!
We were seeded car 30 out of a great 60 entries including some hotshot welsh crews, no one can deny that the southern road rally scene is having a bit of a revival at the moment! 22:30 came around and we were off! To start there were 4 short tests around a showground, a farm and a small forest, we didn’t go mad but were still faster than some of guys we regularly compete with in our 1400 endurance cars. Rich seemed to enjoy himself with the nova nice and sideways everywhere.
Then onto the rally proper, this event used regulatory sections and for those not familiar this means sections can be timed to the second and you get double penalties if you are early (if you want more information please ask at the next club night) what it does do however is to make the poor navigator work hard as they have to be very sure on entry times into controls, we got a bit excited at the beginning after being late into the first few controls only to check in 56 seconds early at the next giving us a 1:52 min penalty, Lesson learnt!
The lanes were slippery, muddy, wet, dry, tight, open, cold, icy then to top it off foggy right at the end when everybody was getting tired! Add in a few farms and other off road excursions it added up to a formidable 100 mile route. Most the dropper sections were a few miles long with passage controls, code boards (number plates), give ways, RLO’s, triangles, farms and time controls. All designed to make you drop time, fast and frantic is the word!
After the 3rd timecard (out of 4) we were an amazing 14th overall, only 11:52 minutes behind the leader. However in the cruel world of rallying a marshal didn’t countersign one of our code boards on the very last section of the night, we didn’t spot it and the onus is on the crew to make sure it happens every time, this gave us a fail, which dropped us down to 21st overall out of 43 finishers, still a respectable result in the company and on my 2nd ever Nat B Road event driving but without the fail we would have been 13th for sure! Rallying is full of if’s, but’s and maybes!