Three of four – Down Ampney Stage Rally

Once again it was another event which started with a long and dull drive down the M4 in the rally car on a Friday evening. Not the most fun way to get around, however the trip wasn’t too bad and I went straight into scrutineering which was easy and straight-forward.

On to the event, it was as usual an early start but the weather looked to be staying dry. So I fitted the rally slicks., which was a bit of a shame as some wet weather may have helped with the lack of power. The first stage was a bit of a reminder of the venue, and driving around broken and bumpy old airfields after a number of smooth race track events.

The one thing I did have to keep in mind were the brakes. After our experience at Snetterton we had done a lot of work with various companies to try and get a set of AP 4-pot calipers fitted to the Micra. This would be easy if we changed to 14″ wheels, but this would mean a big investment in new wheels and tyres – so not an option. We thought we had a solution which would work with our wheels, but in the end this didn’t work out. So we were running the same brakes as per the sprint, just with increase brake cooling ducting. This meant during the rally I had to always be thinking of the brakes, and not do any really heavy braking during the event. This meant I had to adjust my driving style, which probably made my driving smoother than it normally is.

The stages were a good mix of tight and twisty parts, as well as some fast flowing parts which required some good commitment. As the day went on it became clear that we were on course to finish up 2nd in class. We had a good lead over 3rd in class, but a little way off the class win. Who knows if being easy on the brakes could have made the difference…

However rallying is never a given thing, and during the event plenty of other crews proved that the nature of the venue meant that you can’t take anything for granted. So we pushed on, but not giving that last percent to ensure a finish (and to be able to drive home!). We finished up 39th overall and 2nd in class. Next weekend we are off to Woodbridge for a targa rally where we are seeded at Car 4.

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