The organisers of possibly the toughest road rally in the UK stated that the 2019 ‘Bagger Rally would be the last time it would run. So I thought I should try and get back for another try at this legendary event.
Entries were at a premium, and with a full 75 car entry. Many crews who would normally be seeded in the top 5 were down in the 40’s were we were as well. This showed the class of the field, and it was said to be the best entry on a UK road rally in many years.
I teamed up with Kevin Ablitt who I attempted the Carpetbagger rally back in 2010, this wasn’t a great night with a trip into a field and a puncture after cutting parts of the route. Our plan for 2019 was to try and improve and get all the way round the route.
Scrutineering all went very quickly and smoothly, and then it was off to the start. Once we parked in the very muddy car park it was signing on and for Kevin many hours of work plotting the route. This in itself was no small task, but he managed to get it all done before our start time.
After extracting the ZR from the now very boggy car park field, where my recent car trial experience came in very handy. It was into the rally…
The actual rally now feels like one big and long blur, with a route of 180 competitive miles there was very little time to catch your breath. The only time between the start (about 11.30pm and the finish about 7am) we stopped was for fuel twice and only at the second fuel stop did we have about three minutes of rest. Apart from the runs in/out of petrol every section was competitive. The route was very cleverly designed, made great use of the miriade of roads in Devon/Somerset. It was an endless route of junctions, rough roads, a few whites, very muddy roads, more junctions. We had a few wrong slots as a result of errors on both sides of the car.
I did wonder at the start was running on Michellin PS3’s (a fast road/race tyre) a good move, but a couple of years of running them on targa rallies convinced me they would work and they did. No punctures, despite what the event threw at us, and plenty of grip on all but the muddy’est of whites.
Kev did a fab job of keeping the maps under control. Towards the end of the event we had a number of marshals commenting how few cars they had seen, and when one marshal said we were running 14th car on the road I got thinking we could be on for a result. By the end of the rally we finished 12th overall, which given the quality of entries which included many top Welsh Road Rally crews including the current Welsh Champions was a very pleasing result. We completed the whole route, got all the boards, all controls and from second petrol onwards held 12th overall.