It was a return to Rushmoor which last year didn’t end well with an early retirement due to a snapped driveshaft.
As we are doing a stage rally at the same venue in December it made sense this time to use the Micra. The micra has roughly the same power to weight ratio as the ZR, and although it is smaller the handbrake really does lack any real bite so handbrake turns aren’t really possible. As ever in life it is swings and round-abouts…
This event doesn’t allow List 1B tyres (and we didn’t have any!), the venue allows for some short and sharp challenging tests.
The day went smoothly and we found our way round all of the tests without too many issues. There were a few moments, like catching a kerb, a few slides and lock ups, but generally quite smooth and efficient. Throughout the day we were always in the top 3 or two positions. At lunch we held the overall lead by two second, after the next set of tests Ben Griffin had made back four seconds. This meant we had to find at least two seconds to tie for the win going into the final two tests.
The final two test were run in the dark and on the start line I found main beam wasn’t working, so I had to do these tests on dip beam. Luckily the micra headlights are good, so this wasn’t too much of an issue. The last two tests we pushed on as hard as I could and we had a few moments including a large tank slapper in the bushes but we got away with it. Over these two tests we made back seven seconds, which over less than two miles is very pleasing, in the end we won by 25 seconds as Ben missed a code board which carries a 20sec penalty.
It was very pleasing to finally win a Targa Rally and many thanks must go to Suze my nav for keeping me calm and going the correct way.
A collection of Andy Manston’s photo’s made into a GIF
It was once again it was back to Wethersfield Airfield for a rally. This time for a targa rally in the ZR. In the build up to the event it was very wet, and the morning was wet and cold. So we opted for some List 1A tyres with far more tread than the sticker List 1B tyres we had to use up. The first sets of tests were good fun, and in places very muddy and gravely so you would imagine they were the best tyres. However the stopwatch doesn’t lie and it was crews on the List 1B tyres who were topping the time sheets.
The rest of the day was a lot dried and with a lot more grip available with us now using the List 1B tyres. The tests were good and flowing and good fun. The bomb dump test was my favorite as it was a good mix of fast and flowing and some technical sections and a chance to try and be brave. During the day I manage a few top 5/10 times which was pleasing. At the end I finished up 12th overall driving with Suze on the maps.
It was back to Bovingdon for what could be the last Saturday morning event, as the planning permission for the events has run out. The organisers are hoping to be granted with a new one but for Sunday’s.
(c) Brian Catt
The day started off damp and cold, but with a clear sky and a fair wind the surface soon started to dry out. However it wasn’t quick enough drying for my first test which was running on the ‘driftworks’ area, where they pour vegtable oil on the concrete to reduce tyre noise and also grip…. mixed with the damp the oily surface on my first test was like driving on ice. The event split drivers up so those who got to run on this later on did gain a real grip advantage. That said by the end of the first set of tests I was lying 3rd in class and 3rd overall.
As the day progressed, I was mixing times with the top 4 crews on all the tests and finished up 3rd in class and 3rd overall which was an improvement from the last autosolo at Bovingdon.
I had heard a lot of good things about this event (a multi-venue autotest) run by Maidstone and Mid-Kent MC. Once it became part of Ian Mepham’s Stag-Do weekend an entry was duly dispatched.
In the lead up to the event I did wonder what it would all be about, the few videos I had seen showed some tight looking tests on tarmac but very little other detail or info. So I ensured the handbrake was as tight as it could be and with plenty of air in the rear tyres, some ‘testing’ in the local lanes proved it should just about work well enough.
The event was split into two groups with all of us ‘stags’ in one group there was a great social side to the event, sharing tales of how the tests went throughout the day.
The first test we went to is known as the ‘prison test’ as it literally runs down the perimeter fence of a prison! This gravel track was great fun, though it did mean the car floor took a hammering… With this out of the way it was on to the tougher tarmac tests. There is no time to walk or practice the tests, you arrive have a quick look and then get on with it, with no navigator either. The tests although they looked on paper complicated, were in truth all very flowing and easy enough to remember. Throughout the whole event I only got one wrong test, and this was on my second run and was down to brain fade rather than anything else.
The day was rather full on, with lots of driving between venues, and by the end of the day I was rather knackered. At the finish we had no real idea of how we were doing during the day as the results are all collated at the end of the event. So apart from a bit of comparing times with each other ,we all had no idea of the results. In the lead up to the event I suspected the nature of the event, and the lack of lock on the ZR would result in a poor result. However I was very pleased to finish up 5th overall and 2nd in class, just 10 seconds off the overall win. It was also very pleasing when reviewing the results to see I had taken two fastest test times during the day and was generally within the top 5 all day. Definitely an event to do again!
It was back to Wetherfield but this time with the Micra for a stage rally. This would be the first stage rally of the year, and my first time driving the Micra on tarmac since the end of last year.
The entries in our class (A) was very strong with a number of high powered 1400 cars so we were in for a battle in our road rally spec car. The weather was glorious sunshine all day, although this did make it rather hot both in the car and for the tyres. The stage were all about 10 miles long, and made use of most of the airfield. This gave a great mix of twisty stuff in the bomb dump and really high speed flowing stuff. The twisty stuff really suited the Micra, and although we lacked ultimate power the flowing nature of the high speed parts meant it was a real challenge to keep the momentum and carry speed through the high speed parts. It was a great challenge dealing with the back end of the car stepping out round a corner when you are flat in 5th!
During the morning we built up our nice lead for our position of 4th in class, however a change of front tyres was required and the next set where nowhere near as good as the previous ones. So over the lunch break I went with a split tyre strategy to try and give better grip and confidence in high speed turn in. We went into stage 5 really needing to make back some time, as we couldn’t afford to lose as much time as we had in stage 4. We had a full-on charge in stage 5 with nothing left to give anywhere. Thankfully this worked and we started to increase the time between between us and 5th in class (another Micra). You can see on this stage below we were just a few seconds of the pace of a C2R2 Max, equal with a Fiesta R200 and faster than many other cars like M3’s and an Impreza!
By the end of the day we finished up 4th in class (as best as we could have expected really) and 23rd overall. Our overall position shows us much higher than many other more high powered cars, which is pleasing and shows just how competitive the 1400 class is.
It was back to Debden for another targa rally. This timed I teamed up with David Lobb navving for him in his Focus ST170 and him navving for me in the ZR.
The organisers had found access to new parts of the airfield and had altered some of the more traditional tests, this was pleasing as the previous events had used the same tests for quite a while.
Luckily for me I got to drive second, though this does of course put the pressure on for me navving. Luckily we got round all ok with me navving. Going as a second drive does give an advantage as you get to see where you are going. By the end of the first test of tests, I was leading. However I suspected this would change during the day as the second driver advantage is reduced and others would get faster.
The day went by quickly with well designed tests flowing nicely and only short delays to the start of the tests. These short delays actually made the day more social as it gave a chance to chat to the other crews seeded around us.
By the end of the day I didn’t drop down the order as far as I thought I might, and I finished up 3rd overall and 2nd in class. It was pleasing when checking the results to see I had set 3 fastest test times, and many top 5 test times.
This would be the first time this year I had been able to get along to one of the Autosolo’s at Bovingdon. Being so local I like to do these events as they are great fun and are less than 30mins from home, and you are done by lunchtime so they don’t take over the weekend.
(c) Nick Cook
Overall I had a good run, though some rain compromised a couple of runs and a spin on one test did cost me a bit of time. Still it was a good fun event and a chance to get out in the ZR once again.