After the last two stage rallies were held in a very heavy rain, the next stage rally being held on a bank holiday weekend would normally mean more of the same. However the day of the event turned out to be very hot. So for the first time this year, it was heat and not rain that would be the issue.
We have competed at Down Ampney a few times before. It is a true clubman, old WWII airfield on concrete. The venue is only used for rallying three times a year, and the rest of the time for farming, so the roads are quite muddy and bumpy.
The layout of the stages meant there was a real mix of very fast and flowing sections, and some tighter and twister bits – ideal hunting ground for a Micra!
After the first couple of stages all was going well, and in the change of stages it gave me a chance to check my pre-event repairs to the rear beam which had found some rust and cracks. The high speed bumps of the venue meant that the repairs would get a real testing. Luckily my repairs held up during the day, and the nearside rear wheel didn’t shift from where Nissan intended.
As the day went on the temperature went up, this then lead to a new problem which was difficulty in selecting third gear. We think it is related to gearbox oil temperature, as when it was allowed to cool down the symptoms went away. So for the rest of the day, we cooled the gearbox after each stage using some water.
The rest of the day was good fun, the afternoon stages used some very long 5th gear straights which gave some exciting moments. Plus a low speed moment altered the panels on the drivers side (wrong side I know!) when a pallet got a bit close.
By the end of the event we finished up 33rd overall & 5th in class, and we collected some good class points in the ACSMC championship.