Despite turbulent weather, stormy seas which delayed ferries and buffeted aircraft, everyone made it across as 46 cars started the Three Legs of Mann from the famous T.T. course pit lane on the Island of Speed.
From the tarmac which has supported so many famous riders in past epic T.T.’s, crews started their own two day contest in the HERO Cup for drivers and the Golden Roamer Award for navigators.
The competitors went straight from the pit lane into two tests behind the TT Grandstand on a mix of tarmac and concrete.
First away were one of the event favourites, Howard Warren and Iain Tullie in their orange Porsche 911 danced its way around the course. Paul Crosby and Ali Procter pirouetted their way around the tight markers in the distinctive 911.
Ed Abbott and Paul Bosdet in the XJS 12 made the impossible look possible as they powered the big Jaguar around the course.
Onto the end of Marine Drive around the dramatic piece of road hugging the rocks with the Irish sea on the outside for company. A real test for crews here as they dodged the kerbs and rock face, sprinting to the finish but not before a tight slalom called for controlled driving just before the finish.
Cleyndert and Taylor were clearly enjoying the handling delights of their Morris Mini Cooper S on this test, the first time on the Ilse of Man for Bill and the first time he has paired up with navigator Martyn Taylor. The VW Golf GTI’s of Thomas and Roger Bricknell, Richard Isherwood and Ian Canavan both looked fast and could just be the dark horses of the rally.
Neil Wilson with top navigator Matthew Vokes alongside looked smooth and fast in the Porsche 924 as the exited a fast right hander on the closed road test. The BMW 2002TII driven by Richard Broughton and navigated by Elise Whyte looked sure footed as it urgently changed direction in the slalom before the finish.
Tony Sheach and Rachel Sheffield were loud and powerful until the alternator failed, cooking the battery, rendering the trip meter useless in their Triumph 2000. Resourceful as ever, Tony bought a new battery from a car showroom and managed to get the car to lunch halt for some attention by mechanical crews who were changing the alternator.
John Kiff reached the end of the test with a very high revving VW Beetle engine so he jumped out to find the linkage had come adrift and made a temporary repair. He also made it to lunch for further attention.
Car 20, the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint sounded crisp and rorty, the distinctive long grey locks identifying the driver as Rob Dance with navigator Bob Rutherford alongside, but then the car kept stopping and proved difficult to start as Rob said “I think it’s electrical,” as he took the distributor cap off. He made it to the lunch halt after the test at Port Erin to receive mechanical assistance. A new component fixed the misfire.
Back at the TT Grandstand for a further two tests during the morning, Darren Everitt and Susan Dixon were spectacular as they whirled the Triumph 2000 around in a haze of tyre smoke. Darren was working hard at the wheel but still wearing his sports jacket despite the efforts.
The VW of Richard Harrison and Peter Boyce was spraying fuel from the filler as it slewed round the course whilst the low slung Mercedes 190E of Malcolm Dunderdale and Anita Wickens squealed tyres as they were tortured around the test. Matthew Abrey and Claire Gillies were really pushing their Mini hard at the Grandstand as their tyres were smoking at regular intervals.
The Provisional overall positions at TC 1/4 Abbey, showed Thomas and Roger Bricknell leading in the VW Golf GTI with Matt Warren and Ryan Pickering hot on their heels in the Ford Escort. At that point Bill Cleyndert was up to third on his first visit to the Isle of Man navigated by former Golden Roamer Award winner, Martyn Taylor.
With many long hours of hard driving to go through until midnight Porsche driver Howard Warren summed up most people’s feelings, ”It’s been great so far, really enjoyable but there is a long way to go.
NEWS JUST IN: The Golf GTI of Thomas and Roger Bricknell have dropped out of contention for the win due to diff failure. They are desperately trying to source one locally so they can get back in the rally. If you can help, please contact us and we’ll put you in touch with the crew.
With the Bricknell’s dropping out, for the time being, that means that the crew of Howard Warren and Iain Tullie in the orange 911 have UNOFFICIALLY taken the lead.
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