In between Christmas and new year two events came up which gave a chance to get out over the holiday break and blow away the cobwebs.
It was an early start to head of to Curborough, this is normally a sprint circuit but it also makes a for a great autotest venue.
There were three tests all setup, walking through the tests it was interesting to see a different clubs setup of tests. The tests were a good mix of tight and twisty to more open and flowing. With clever use of lapping on the tests the tests were quite long meaning you had to work hard in the car. With the circuit being used for sprinting the smooth surface made for some good grip levels but also minimal tyre wear which was pleasing.
By the end of the day I finished up 2nd in class and 7th overall.
You can see a sample of all the tests in this video
The very next day it was an even earlier start to head south in the Micra for a stage rally at Deepcut Barracks. This was to be my first stage rally driving in the Micra for over a year. This was a small venue with not a lot of space for service, luckily the Newtons (out in their new Nova) saved us a space next to them. The class A battle would be lead by them, with us facing challenges from others in the class.
The venue featured a short 3 mile stage, a holding control and then the same stage in reverse. This setup worked well, the organisers worked hard to accommodate this different system, and even provided coffee to keep crews warm during the short wait between stages. The stage had a mix of almost everything you can think of, tight hairpins, high speed sections, mud, grippy tarmac, kerbs etc.. Sadly no photos or videos are allowed due to it being a live MOD venue but it was a real challenge. Sadly the kerbs caught out a number of cars including a mini in our class on the very first stage. It was not a day for taking chances especially under braking on rarely used slippery roads.
We had a good clean run all day, with more than a few people commenting on the speed of the Micra (making up 30 seconds on a C2 GT 1600 in one stage was good fun!) and the speed being carried through smooth driving. Sadly for the Newtons in their newly built Nova they lost their exhaust on one stage, which was an annoying teething issue for them. But it did give us a chance at the class win. By this point in the event we could see that they weren’t taking large amounts of time out of us, and others in the class either had kerb induced car issues (ZR) or were way off our times (other ZR ~30 secs+ per stage). So after an early lunch (usual burger!) it was a case of continuing with the same pace but not taking any real risks.
Going into stage 7 out of 8 we had a good lead in class. On stage 7 I pushed on to try and secure a decent lead into the last stage. By now the other in a ZR had found a curb, so it really was just a case of getting round to secure the class win.
We finished up 1st in class and 12th overall, the pace overall was pleasing with some stages where we were only a handful of seconds of the pace of a number of Evo’s.