Day three was intended to be the shortest of the event with crews due at the final test at the Worcester Racecourse at approximately 4pm. The first car having left the Worcester Whitehouse Hotel at 08.30 that morning. Unfortunately, car 2 the Lancia Lambda of Tim and Ann Riley had succumbed to distributor problems. Tim had worked in the hotel car park the night before to replace the blown head gasket, only to find that the engine wouldn’t fire when the distributor had been replaced. The car was still giving problems when all other competitors had booked out and Tim decided a replacement cap was needed. His only spare was found to be too tight a fit. Ann then discovered that next to the hotel was a specials engineering company who provided some fine emery cloth which allowed Tim to ease the diameter of the cap and eventually they were able to continue.
Once out of the city, crews started on the first of the day’s regularities which took the competitors east across the M4 to Inkberrow. A link section via the main control just to the North East of Stratford upon Avon was followed by two further regularities before the next main control at Great Rissington. Crews by now realising that the day’s route was taking them in a large circle around Worcestershire, Warwickshire and Gloucestershire before finally taking them back to the city of Worcester.
The fourth regularity of the morning was followed by a late lunch at the Royal Oak at Gretton, a wonderful country pub near to the Prescott Hill Climb. Competitors were not only provided with a sumptuous lunch, but the spectacle of steam trains running along the edge of the pub garden as the Royal Oak is adjacent to the Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Steam Preservation Railway line. Soon after the class AB cars arrived a loud cheer arose as Tim and Ann Riley appeared, with Tim’s hands and arms covered in oil. So keen was he to get going once the distributor problem had been cured that he did not want to delay further by getting cleaned up.
The weather had improved considerably and the day remained generally dry and bright throughout. This meant that many crews were able to enjoy their lunch in the hotel garden.
The final regularity of the event took the crews to RAF Pershore at Throckmorton for two of the day’s three tests. The Pershore site is due to host the HERO Throckmorton Challenge in October, and so crews were able to gain an insight into how much space is being made available to HERO for the October event. Once the two tests had been completed, there was just the link section to the final test at the Worcester Racecourse before the crews crossed under the finish banner just after the test.
Tim and Ann Riley’s problems continued and a very sick Lancia succumbed just before the finish line. Determined to get the vehicle under the finish banner, a number of competitors gave the car an almighty push which provided enough momentum for the car to cross the line. The fault was eventually traced to one of the ignition leads. Once replaced the engine fired up and ran perfectly. Tim and Ann were later awarded a well deserved Spirit of the Rally award – Tim was later to admit that he had a nasty burn caused by catching his bear arm on the manifold. Problems occurred for other crews with the gearbox failing on the MGC GT of Simon and Mark Jarman just before the finish.
Howard Warren accompanied by Cath Woodman (car 17) had failed to improve enough to gain a points advantage over Charles Colton (car 18) navigated by Howard’s son Mathew. Howard and Cath having to settle for second place behind Howard’s close friend Charles very ably navigated by Mathew Warren. Third place being taken by Graham Walker and Sean Toohey in the Lotus Elan.
Amongst the special awards, Charles Colton picked up the award for best performance on the tests, and Mathew Warren collected the award for best performance on the regularities, showing just how consistent they had been throughout the event.
Full details of all the awards, including the names of the four gold medal winners, together with the final positions can be downloaded as a pdf file.
Everyone commented on how much they had enjoyed the event and that The Summer Trial had been a great success for novice and experienced crews. Plans for the 2011 event have already started and the dates and venue will be announced before the end of the summer.
A full gallery of images from the event will appear within the next few days.
Day two was to be the longest leg of the event with the crews starting from Worcester at 08.00 and not expected to return before 18.30.
Friday’s route took the crews through some of the most spectacular scenery Wales could offer and along some of the best known road-rally roads in the principality. Heavy rain overnight continued into the morning but by the afternoon the weather had improved considerably.
Before embarking on the first of five regularities and four tests, crews were supplied with early morning coffee by Holdens at their headquarters at Bromyard. With a world wide reputation, there can’t be many owners of historic vehicles who are not aware of Holdens vast range of special supplies for classic and vintage vehicles.
Two Regularities and a visit to Hay on Wye via the Toll Bridge were followed by the challenging Abergwesyn regularity. A link section via Tregaron took competitors to the first of two long tests at the Dolebolian Motorsports Centre at Pontrhydfendigaid, a favourite with competitors on past Summer Trials.
Lunch at the Hafod Hotel at Devil’s Bridge was followed by a long section through the Elan Valley where levels in the reservoir were the lowest they have been in years. The clerk of the course had driven the section an hour earlier to find himself staring into the cockpit of a Hercules Transport plane doing low flying manoeuvres across the valley.
The afternoon regularities were interspersed by tests at the Kinsham Raceway. So popular was the Kart circuit in 2009 that the test was run twice – not enough for most crews as they asked for a third and fourth attempt.
All 23 of the day’s starters reached the final control of the day, although a few had almost not made it. Mark and Sue Godfrey’s Escort suffered when their alternator failed. HERO ASSIST got the vehicle started but problems continued and eventually the vehicle was towed to a garage. Mark and Sue were lent the garage owner’s car and took the faulty alternator to a small electrical repair shop about ten miles away where the owner stripped and rebuild the melted unit. The alternator was quicky refitted and the crew rejoined the event.
The Lancia (Car 2) of Tim and Ann Riley gathered a crowd at the Hotel at the end of the day following Tim’s decision that the head gasket needed replacing. Tim rolled up his sleeves, got out his toolbox and promptly started to dismantle the engine. The car was soon under repair. Tim may have been spurred on by the memories of the giant bumble bee that had fallen from the sky before lunch and landed between his legs at a crucial point on regularity. Concerned that they would lose valuable time by stopping to deal with the bee, Tim risked getting stung in a very delicate spot, although his determination won through and the bee was quickly dealt with.
Overall lead at the end of day two remained with car 18 Charles Colton and Mathew Warren. However Howard Warren and Cath Woodman (car 17) had risen to second place, with third overall being occupied by the Lotus Elan of Graham Walker and Sean Toohey (car 20)
Of the 23 crews that started from the Worcester Racecourse on a blustery Thursday morning, all returned to book in at the end of day control situated after the final test – a reversal of the morning.
It had been an enjoyable but eventful day for many.
Chris Newman, the last minute replacement co-driver for Tomas de Vargas Machuca (car 26) was heard to comment that she had failed to see a single cone on Test 1 as Tomas drifted the Porsche around the very tight test at the racecourse.
Their day was almost brought to a premature end when a ruptured fuel pipe pointed towards the crew being OTL at the end of day control. Fortunately HERO ASSIST was on hand to repair the fault and despite being the last crew to complete the final test, Chris and Tomas managed to book in within time.
Clare Nedin (with Brian Whyte – Car 21) on her first event managed to shut her new stop watch in the car door. Despite the case being in pieces and held together with tape, the watch continued to work.
Competitors weren’t the only ones to encounter problems – as one senior official discovered he had locked his keys in the boot and needed help from the RAC to retrieve them.
Mark and Sue Godfrey in the Mark l Escort had started the day with serious fuel problems, and had not expected to complete the day. The problem was traced to the twin chokes having stuck fully open at the start of the day causing the engine to run very rich and consuming fuel at a rate of about ten miles to the gallon. Once cured the car and crew performed as expected and finished the day in second place.
Honours at the end of the day went to car 18, the Porsche of Charles Colton and Mathew Warren, with Mathew’s father, Howard (accompanied by Cath Woodman) claiming 3rd place – rumours abounding that Howard was about to disinherit Mathew.
Interim results for day one can be downloaded as a pdf file.
Crews will re-start from the White House hotel, Worcester at 8am on Friday for the longest day of the event – through Wales.
All the competitors on this years event have signed on and had their cars scrutineered, they are now all tucked up in bed ready for an early start tomorrow.
8.30am will see car one tackle the first test at Worcester Race Course before heading off for the first of several regularity sections in and around Worecester and Malvern.