A couple of weeks after the sprint at Hethel I was meant to be doing a Targa Rally at Debden airfield however military movements lead to this now hopefully taking place in November.
This ended up being a good thing, as during this down time I found a front spring had snapped. So a new pair of front springs were duly fitted, thanks to Matt Humphris of Oxford for holding them in stock and helping with the swapping of the springs.
Next up then was the stage rally at Wethersfield Airfield, a venue I know well from other types of events, but never a stage rally. The venue is good for staging as it offers both fast flowing sections, and tight technical bits – a real test of car and driver.
The day started off warm, and set the scene for the rest of the day. We were close in a class battle for 2nd in class. 1st in class being miles away with the Newtons even more lightweight Nova. It was a good Chelmsford MC battle between us, Jim Bowie & first time nav Antons, and David Lobb and Lizzie Pope. With us all in roughly similar specced cars, it proved to be a day long battle.
The stages were good fun, I especially enjoyed the fast flowing sections near the hangers where you were cornering flat in 4th gear (80/90 mph).
The hot weather though good for the marshals (thanks guys) was not good for out tyre wear and mid-way through stage 4, the front tyres fell apart leaving us driving on cords. This un-surprisingly lowers the grip levels and thus, meant a load of time lost.
Over lunch a new set of Hankook’s were purchased from Slicks tyres, in an effort to try and make back the time lost and get back to 2nd in class. The class positions on this event being critical to the AEMC / ASEMC Regional Championship I am chasing this year.
Stage five started off a little slow, as the new tyres needed a bit of time to bed in and for me to adjust to them. By the end of stage 5 we had 13 seconds to try and make up on 2nd in class (David & Lizzie).
So on the start line of the final stage, I decided to really try and go for it. I have never driven the Micra so so hard during that stage, all thoughts of how to drive the car home, or saving tyres (like I was trying on SS2 & 3) all went out of the window. There was a clear improvement in my pace as it took the very fast 1600 Escort of the Dawsons nearly a lap to catch and pass us, but on the previous stage they caught us within a few corners. Ben commented to me at the end the real change in pace. By the end of the stage we both agreed there was nothing more that could have been given in that last stage. However we only made back 7 seconds, leaving us 6 seconds short of 2nd in class….
At the time this felt like real blow, and I really cursed those tyres letting go with no warning costing us a whole heap of time. However the whole day was great fun and a great challenge and in the end the 3rd in class should be enough for me to secure 1st 1400 in the AEMC / ASEMC Regional Championship.
(c) M&H Photography