To say day two of the Summer Trial was a soggy affair would be somewhat of an understatement, as rain battered down all day long, accompanying the cars in all corners of the county on the longest day of the rally. 171 rain-soaked miles were completed by the time the 72 remaining cars made it to the final time control of the day to complete the leg. 73 began, but car 6, Nigel Grice and Peter Stratford had retired the stunning Aston Martin DB2/4 midway through the day.
The rain had no doubt added an extra level of difficulty to the job of the crews today, and those in the cars could have been forgiven for thinking it was November and they were on Rally of the Tests with the water they were having to sail through. But this was most definitely July and the Summer Trial, although the tests today were plentiful, punctuating the days six regularities and providing wonderful fun for those with a penchant for sliding cars around kart circuits.
There were some that pushed the limits of their adhesion, or perhaps talent, a little too far on the slippery circuits, Michael Moss in particular slipped off the final test of the day in spectacular fashion, clouting the tire wall and sending part worn rubber all across the circuit. Still, it didn’t seem to dampen his enthusiasm and certainly amused the small crowd of spectators that had gathered despite the inclement weather.
Spectators had been in evidence throughout the day, including very first thing when seemingly the entire village of Londonthorpe had turned out to clap the cars through as they travelled to the first regularity of the day, that was perhaps ironically named Castle Hill’s. No major calamities occurred, despite a road sign that had particularly similar place names pointing in different directions that could have confused a fast-glancing navigator as to which direction to take.
A test followed and then two further regularities as the roads took the route north. Each mile was just as wet as the last, and the standing water was ford like in many places. Praise must go to the marshals, stood stoic against the weather, timing the cars through each timing point whatever the clouds threw at them.
More tests preceded the middle of the day, just as wet and slippery as the first of the day. These included a Jacobs Ladder style test, where the driver must navigate a test that is laid out like the rungs of the ladder, crossing each imaginary line once, and only once in whatever way they see fit. The fastest car through this test was no 42, with driver Chris Day beating the bogey time by a clear second. Second on the test, and perhaps more praiseworthy considering his tender age at just 19, was Archie Holt, piloting the BMW 325i to a time of 20 seconds, equal to the bogey.
At lunchtime not much had changed results wise, more penalties had been accrued of course, certainly many more than yesterday, but the top three were static. Post lunch though and the mistakes would start to occur, mistakes that influenced the positions in a big way come the end of the day. The second timing point of the regularity immediately after lunch was an infamous long way around a triangle, with the timing point on the opposite as it were. Now, these can prove tricky, but this particular triangle had a ‘NO’ board on the hypotenuse, in essence directing the cars straight to the timing point. This was seemingly all too much though, with many driving straight past the timing point altogether. Car 34 was one of these, Chris Lacey driving straight on as the marshal at the timing point waved her clip board at him in despair, but to no avail. Suzanne Barker, best navigator of the day on day one, also dropped 15 seconds on this section of the regularity, but the biggest casualty was car 52, David and Sally Ward who had been second up until now. The timing point was missed completely, and they would end the day in 33rd place.
After one more soggy test and two more regularities the results of the day were calculated and first place still belonged to Paul O’Kane and Iain Tullie, in the bright orange Porsche 911, a valuable splash of colour on a very grey day.
Paul O’Kane: “It’s been a very wet day, we’ve been fast on the tests and so far, accurate on the regularities, although we have almost come in a little early on some. Hopefully we can keep that going tomorrow.”
Iain Tullie: “Spirited is how Paul has been described on the tests by a marshal! Big thanks to the marshals, it’s been very tricky in the rain. The rain has meant that there have been no other summer road users to deal with, and we’ve had good luck with traffic on the regularities so far, hopefully that continues tomorrow.
Their lead is 9 seconds from Nick Maris and Ian Canavan in second, just three seconds ahead of Dick and Harry Baines in third place. Ian also praised the marshals for their endeavor in the rain and praised his driver, Nick, as well, who hasn’t competed since London to Lisbon last year. Despite the weather everyone seems to be enjoying the rally, Malcolm Dunderdale described how navigator Anita has laughed the entire way around, particularly when he has been sliding his big yellow Merc around on the tests, and the mood was jovial at the afternoons coffee halt as everyone enjoyed fresh ice creams in the rain.
The spirit of the rally is at least alive and well in Lincolnshire, even if the summer sun has gone for a holiday elsewhere. Tomorrow there is just half a day left to consolidate performance or seize victory, time will soon tell who will win out in the rain.