The Summer Trial 2023 makes a return to Lincolnshire after a successful first visit to bomber county for last year’s instalment of the annual event. Whilst in ‘22 it was virgin territory, the largest county in England has plenty more of unexplored roads to get to grips with, on a route that is almost wholly brand new tarmac. With two days of competition, spread over three days this ever-popular rally, which is aimed at beginners and often introduces novice crews to the joys of multiday competition, will expose those entered to everything the county has to offer, and there is more to Lincolnshire than meets the eye…
It’s true, Lincolnshire isn’t exactly top of everyone’s places to head for in terms of great driving roads, and indeed the most likely sort of elevation encountered within its boundaries is more likely to come from the fast jets that are stationed at the various air bases here, rather than fluctuations in the topography, but don’t let the shallow gradients of the landscape fool you into thinking it is all straight and level.
This year’s route has been masterminded by Seren Whyte, a lady that knows a thing or two about a good route. She’s excited to get out into the beautiful arable landscape and the fens, on roads which she describes as wide and open. “The wide-open roads actually work brilliantly” she tells me, “As there is plenty of opportunities to safely pass any traffic that might not be on the same pace”.
Advantageous indeed, particularly as the traffic on these roads is more than likely agricultural and not likely to be too concerned about a horde of classic cars making their timing points on time. Whilst there might be a bit of extra farm traffic about, the traffic density on Lincolnshire’s roads is some of the lowest in the UK, there aren’t too many people living here and it isn’t a thoroughfare to anywhere else, a perfect place to enjoy our sport in relative peace then! This is certainly good news for those in our midst with a little less experience, as becoming held up in traffic is an unwanted distraction when you’re doing your best to get to grips with trip and tulips.
There are plenty of newbies with us as well, no less than 20 competitors that were on this year’s ‘A Novice Trial’, which is brilliant news for the sport, and they will no doubt benefit from the more experienced crews that are entered. There are plenty of those as well, as the event attracts people back year after year. But what can those ‘ST’ veterans expect from this year’s event? A couple of new test venues for starters, including a kart track that Seren describes as “a lovely little circuit” and there is also a Jacobs Ladder style test to get to grips with as well. The route too largely enjoys brand new roads, with only a small amount of unavoidable crossover with last year’s rally, as Seren puts it, “There are only so many roads you can use to get out of the same hotel we used last year.”
One thing that crews won’t have to worry about is any route planner tricks, “this is a classic Summer Trial” says Seren, “but whilst there isn’t anything included deliberately to catch people out, to do well the crews will have to maintain their concentration for the duration of the event.” A small warning then for anyone lulled into a false sense of security by the green grading of this rally. Green it might be, but there will be those that are less green that will be hoping for success during the weekend. Crews like the Baines’, who know this part of the world perhaps better than most and the Woof’s, who tasted podium success last year and will no doubt be keen to do better again this time out.
There will be others who have now been competing consistently for a few seasons wanting to do well too, such as John and Tracy King, David Creech and Chris Wilks, Pete and Jo Johnson, Owen and Jill Tyson, David and Sally Ward and Messrs Tullie and Canavan, who are tucked in the mix. Some will just be satisfied with getting round though, and the Summer Trial provides a fabulous opportunity to get to grips with a multiday event in a relatively relaxed environment. This isn’t a smash-and-grab RAC Rally of the Tests, nor a Le Jog slog. It will be competitive of course, but first and foremost it will, and should be, fun, and there is perhaps no better way to enjoy a weekend in your classic car than on The Summer Trial.