Whickham and District Motor Club meet every Wednesday evening from around 8:00pm at the Kibblesworth Workmens Club, a local village venue offering a friendly welcome and extremely reasonable prices...........................................................................................
 
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The Lake District Classic Rally – 25th June

The Lake District is one of the original and most popular historic rallies with tests, having been running for around 25 years. Holidays and other commitments have meant that Peter and I have not been able to do the rally since we started doing historic events back in 2011, but this year the date fell right and an entry was placed as soon as the regs were published.

Wigton Motor Club always seed their events by age of car with the oldest running first, so we were allocated car 3 in an entry of 35 historic and 25 Targa cars, plus reserves. The advantage of this is that there's usually little hanging around to start tests and you're amongst the first to lunch and dinner. The flip side is a very early start (a 5.15am alarm call) and a long wait between finishing and results going final.

The event was based at the Penrith Truck Stop, which also hosted the lunch halt and 3 of the 17 tests and after troublefree scrutineering we signed on and plotted the route. This was all by map reference with a degree of repetition - one mini roundabout was used 4 times during the day from 3 different directions of approach.

The morning leg included 9 tests and generally ran to the west of Penrith towards Keswick, with the afternoon leg heading to the south of Penrith for a further 8 tests.

At 10.06 we left MTC1 and went straight into the first test. A mainly slalom affair round the truck park where the main hazard was avoiding the myriad of AW Jenkinson wagons that lined the test. A trouble free run and a top 10 time was a good start to the event.

From here we went to Kirkbarrow Farm, a tight, Mini friendly test, with a covering in parts of bovine effluent to keep you on your toes. No problems here and it was on via a long link section through Pooley Bridge, alongside Ullswater and over Dockray to Test 3. The lake and fells looking stunning in the early summer sunshine

Test 3 was Thorngill, a quarter mile forest track with a chicane in a lay-by, a convoluted 180 turn at the end and return to the start. The surface had a liberal covering of marbles which gave rise to a strange 'floaty' sensation and saw two cars visit the ditches.

From here it was on along the A66 for a couple of miles to Test 4, called simply 'Bridge'. This was a twisty single track private road with a viscious hump bridge that led up to the A66, followed by a 3 point turn over 2 stop astrides then return to the start. Peter admitted he didn't really get to grips with this one and we were only 16th fastest.

Test 5 more than made up for this, a fully loose test up the access road to the old Threlkeld Quarry, a loop round the quarry and back to the start. Really good fun this one with plenty of opportunity for hooning around!

Then it was a long wait to turn right back onto the A66 - the world and its mother seemed to be visiting the north lakes and the residents of the north lakes were leaving to make room for them! Once we'd got across the A66 it was into Threlkeld village for a test called Grapevine. A straightforward auto test round an industrial unit occupied by a wine merchant.

A long road section then took as back towards Penrith, first on the A66 and then onto the yellow former old road which runs parallel to the new road - accurate plotting was required here to make sure you got the code board that was cunningly (but predictably!) placed on the yellow - on through Greystoke village and back onto the A66 for a couple of hundred metres before turning off into Penrith Auction Mart for Tests 7 & 8.

Test 7 was in a high level car park, accessed via an Alpine style uphill hairpin right and exited via an even more fun downhill hairpin left. The test felt strangely slow but was good enough for 2nd fastest overall. Test 8 was a longer run round the perimeter of the site and at this point Peter decided he could do better by driving and navigating. The conversation half way round the test going something like this:

Me: "Left of K, 3 cone chicane and 90 right on exit."
Peter (by now on the 90 right): "What about those cones PP over there?"
Me: "What? They're for later, ignore them!"
Peter (by now practically on top of the next cone): "What now? What now?"
Me: "Left of N 180. No, left of N! Left of N!! STOP!!! Bo**ocks!!!! Reverse...."

Needless to say it wasn't a good time.

 

2017 Lake District Classic Rally

A short run took us back via a quick fuel top up to the truck stop for Test 9, a repeat of Test 1. We had a short delay here whilst we waited for the last of the Targa entries to complete their first test, one of the disadvantages of a 60 car entry at 2 minute intervals being that it takes 2 hours to pass a given point. Once into the test we were a second quicker than the first run and went into the 80 minute halt for a lunch of sandwich and cake, a spot of watching the later cars do Test 9 and a chat with our rivals. There were no interim results posted before we left lunch so we had no idea how we were doing.

The 2nd half started with a return to the Mart for a repeat of Tests 7 & 8. After another short wait to allow the last Targa cars to finish their first runs, we were a second quicker in the Alpine car park and then Peter kept his mouth shut and we nailed the next test. We couldn't have done it any quicker and were 15 seconds faster than the morning run and 3rd fastest.

Heading south of Penrith took us onto the Lowther Estate and a test called Highfield on the old concrete WW2 tank storage area. This included some gravel and grass and more bovine effluent. The only issue on this one was the location of cone E, which was nowhere near where it was shown on the plan and a couple of seconds were lost as we re-orientated ourselves.

A further link section took us through Askham and past Lowther Castle and then onto the A6 down to Shap village and the next test at Water's Farm. This is a stalwart of northern historic events as well as being used on national events such as the Rally of the Tests and Flying Scotsman. It was also the only test I had any prior knowledge of, having watched the Flying Scotsman there a few years ago.

The test starts with some closed road style single track lanes between stone walls, with a couple of codeboards to record, before a tight section through the farmyard, then climbs and opens up before turning onto the Hardendale quarry access road and finishing on top of the bridge over the M6.

Lack of knowledge hampered our speed on the early part of the test, but the more visible latter half could be attacked with gusto. From here a short link took us further along the quarry road to Test 14, a 100% loose affair using the quarry road. The last time Peter and I used this road competitively was on a late '90s Westmorland Road Rally, when it was dark and we couldn't see the drops in to the quarry!

A short loop took us back to a second run round Water's Farm, this time with a modified route through the farmyard, then it was back north up the A6 to return to Highfield where we arrived in the middle of the Targa entries, so we were held whilst they all did their first run to stop the field being dragged out even more. With our notes modified to reflect the actual location of cone E and a clean line emerging through the cow muck we were 9 seconds quicker than our first run.

All that remained was a return to the truck stop for the final test, a shorter run between the trucks, which passed without incident and into the final MTC to finish.

Results for the first half had been posted by now and we had been 7th overall and first in class with a class lead of over 30 seconds. We knew the second half had gone well so it looked like a class win was in the bag, it was just a question of if we had picked up any overall places. When final results were posted we had risen one place to 6th overall and our 1st in class was confirmed.

Another great result - 3 top tens and 3 class wins out of 3 events this year for Peter. The car didn't miss a beat all day again, although it was starting to make some ominous droning noises on the way home.

We have a short break now before our next scheduled outing on the Doonhamer in Southern Scotland in September.

Guy Wickham

 
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