Hail, wind and rain hit competitors on the 25th Anniversary Le Jog today. Following the battering teams took yesterday afternoon and throughout the night from gales and heavy relentless rain, more of the wet stuff soaked cars, crew and the route on Sunday.
A late casualty in the early hours of Sunday morning was Bill Cleyndert and navigator Leigh Powley who had been putting on a storming performance in their 1928 Ford Model A Special. Running the first car on the road and back into the gold medal positions after slipping to silver with an error yesterday morning in a car that affords it’s crew little or no protection from the elements at all, both Bill and Leigh had been unaffected by the deluge that battered them and the other seven Vintage rally machines. However, after the last ‘Time Control’ section last night the Ford may have dropped a valve, the machine struggling back to the Ewloe HQ last night and into retirement.
Twelve cars are either being repaired or have retired so far. But not all are out yet, Germans Gabi Kottenbach and Sascha Paasz remained in Preston trying to get their Triumph TR4 IRS fixed so they can rejoin on Monday. Sadly not starting today were the stars of the RAC Rally of the Tests Paul Wignall and Mark Appleton who have 11 wins on that event between them and on many more. Paul’s wife Jayne, however, continues at pace in her own Alfa Romeo navigated by Kevin Savage in their efforts to win the Hero Cup. The duo flung the Alfa Romeo around the test in Hooton on the kart track near Vauxhall Motors and again in Preston later, both looking in a very determined mood.
Roger Bricknell is aiming to try and win the Golden Roamer Award for navigators but he and his son Thomas had a bit of a scare last night that could have badly affected the result. Thomas; “We were trying to pass another car but they didn’t quite give us enough room, we had to take to the grass but unfortunately, there was a rock in there which gave us an instant puncture. Luckily we only dropped around thee minutes which is a penalty of 45 seconds so we were lucky, it could have been a lot worse. Roger has got two leg wins so far so he is on course but we have only done 30 hours so far, there is a long way to go.”
With crews still less than halfway to John O’Groats, most are aware that this tough event takes no prisoners. None more so than Paul Dyas who moved up into the gold position with navigator Martyn Taylor yesterday, Paul; “ We are well aware that we are not even half way yet and so many things could happen but it is going well. The car is perfect, just added a half litre of oil, a quick service and it’s ready to go! I thought last night was awesome, four hours flat out rallying in Wales in some of the worst conditions, you cant beat it, I loved it!” Martyn and I made the usual poor start and then started building up again.”
One the many international competitors on Le Jog is Belgian Kurt Vanderspinnen in his 1959 Alfa Romeo Guilietta Sprint navigated by Bjorn Vanoverschelde. He is a bit like Paul Dyas in as much as he is really enjoying the conditions. “ I am absolutely loving it, even the wet yesterday and the TC section at the end of the day, it was great, so much enjoyment. We are doing OK, we were in the silver medal position this morning.”
Spare a thought for the Vintage crews, many of whom are competing in open tops despite the weather. Emily Anderson who was drafted in at the very last moment to navigate her father explained the size of the task. Emily; “The water is really deep, I have been thrown in but we haven’t made any massive errors, partly due to the status of others around us. I am trying to concentrate and read the map and not look at any animals but it has been so wet, we just cant keep dry, the logistics of it all are awful, then we had hail today!
Dutchman Rob Jeurissen who is navigated by Englishman Robert Ellis is also driving an open top Bentley Derby, but he has his own solution to the weather issues. “ We are having a good time and so far so good except the most complicated part is we get a permanent shower, water outside, inside everything. I have two pairs of gloves, the ones that get wet stay on then I have a dry pair for the next day. I told a friend of mine what I was doing, driving in the UK in an open top Vintage car and he said ‘I’ve got something for you’. He is a biker and gave me one of his suits which helps me keep dry. They even have a little heating system! (as Rob pointed to the little plug on the edge of the suit.)
Susan Holyoake is relatively pleased with progress towards John O’Groats for her 1950 Land Rover; “ Steep hills are not great for the Land Rover, for some of the really steep ones I am having to take first gear! We also have a few charging issues but otherwise, generally, it’s slow but steady, but we will get to John O’ Groats.
There were five tests and five regularities today. Leg four and five which will now take crews all the way to John O’Groats with just a two hour break in 36 hours, boasts a combined total of five tests and 11 regularities before anyone can think about crossing that famous line in JOG.
Photos by Will Broadhead