Last day, last opportunity to climb the leader board or throw the lead away. Keep calm, this is supposed to be fun, after all. Four regularities to sort the final order. Keep it steady, nothing rash, you can’t win it on the first regularity after all, but you can sure as hell lose it. No time in it at the top, no time to lose, this is going to be fun…
In fact, this is fun, Summer Trial fun. An event pitched at those intermediate and beginner drivers, pushing for something more, trying to raise their game to something a little more difficult. A weekend that has so far seen some of the tightest competition all season, with the lead switching hands almost as quickly as the miles have ticked over on the trip. Whilst the positions on the leader board haven’t been consistent, the one constant all weekend has been the smile on competitors faces, as they have rattled around the Lincolnshire countryside on a very enjoyable Summer Trial.
Big smiles under big skies, skies often filled with sun that glinted off of finely polished classic rally cars. Big performances too, from new-comers and those with a little more experience. But what of the final positions? Who would finally claim the slippery podium positions? Well, before that could be decided there was still some competition miles to contest.
Heading south today, the resplendent Belvoir Castle filled the horizon as the first regularity began, although many competitors would be about to curse it, as a dog show (whatever you’re into), was causing traffic chaos as the doggy devotees had ignored the signs to use the main roads to approach the castle. It wasn’t just the canine crowds that were causing consternation, the beautiful weather had also bought out the cyclists. Malcolm Dunderdale and Anita Wickins were one such crew to fall foul of those on two wheels, and even with their joker played they had seemingly fallen out of the race for the podium, though they were now odds on for the class win.
The second regularity quickly followed the first, just a few miles form Melton Mowbray, as the rally made its way into Leicestershire. A tricky road crossing, with a classic ‘long way around a triangle’ built into it was confusing more competitors, with car 42 one of the cars falling foul of the devilish junction. Anyone that had got hot and bothered by the crossing would soon have a chance to cool off, as the road descended into a ford with plenty of water in it, something that the number 40 Triumph crew of Lee and Max Clarke used to great effect after their morning had gone array. The podium hopefuls had dropped to sixth by the mid-point of the morning, and they weren’t the only changes in position, as Tim and Mel Green had continued their upward march in the Mini, taking over in second.
Constant Busch and Najib Nakad were still out in front though, but with the longest regularity of the day still to come nothing could be guaranteed. Indeed, the times were so close that results wouldn’t be declared final by the timekeepers until after 3 pm, more than two hours after the first cars started arriving back at the finishers arch.
Constant would no doubt be nervous, as during the last Summer Trial the wheels quite literally fell off of his weekend at the death, as a broken half shaft caused one wheel on his Volvo Amazon to buckle under the car on the last test, within sight of the flag. There would not be a repeat though, as he and navigator Najib held firm until the finish, taking eventual victory by a narrow 11 seconds.
Constant Busch: “We were flabbergasted that we were even on the podium, then absolutely delighted to win. Like many others we are sharing our home with a Ukrainian family, and it is days like this that make you realise just how fortunate we are to be able to enjoy ourselves like this.”
Najib Nakad: “The last regularity it felt like we were serving for the match at Wimbledon! It was a great event all round, in a part of the country I did not know before.”
Elsewhere on the podium it was all change again, with third place finally being awarded to Nigel and Sally Woof, in another Volvo, this time a PV544. The couple had been there or thereabouts all weekend but had outperformed everyone on the final day to snatch the third-place prize, a just award for a team who have been steadily improving over the past couple of years. Second place would go to Rod Hanson and Clare Grove, beating the Woofs by just a couple of seconds. “We got held up by a white van” said Clare at the finish, “But it’s my best ever finish so I’m really happy.”
At the end of it all though, the times were still incredibly tight at the top, on a route that has embraced what the Summer Trial is all about, challenging but not breaking crews and all whilst having fun in classic cars, in the beautiful June sunshine, with the added backstory of an entertaining and unpredictable tussle for the win.
*The Shires host Round Two as the Challenge Increases