At 08:30 exactly, Steve Entwistle and Bob Hargreaves left the main control in the picturesque Vale Golf Club, Bishampton. It was a case of nerves for Hargreaves as he openly admitted the pressure of starting at car one, the first crew to sample all of the tests. The lead up to the event has been dramatic, several crews failing to make the start due to mechanical maladies, this included seasoned campaigner Tony Sheach who’s TR4 cried no more whilst travelling to the event. Kevin Haselden and David Kirkham are another well known crew who couldn’t make the start, we are unsure of the reason why. Richard Watton and Tal Lambert had brake problems prior to scrutineering, their MGB having a pressure release valve problem leaving them just 35 minutes to complete documentation and scrutineering.
The crews taking part on this year’s Throckmorton Challenge are in for a demanding days sport, the rain started early this morning, several fords in the area have risen notably, the ford bottoms being treacherously slippy. it is the first time in five years inclement weather has been a feature of the Throckmorton Challenge. First crews will be arriving back for lunch around 12:20, the updates will continue as soon as we have them.
Heading out from The Vale Golf Club, competitors were into the first regularity within a mile, the narrow lanes around Bishampton providing the first challenge, Charles Colton and Niall Carroll had an error here, Niall reading the roadsigns instead of the tulip diagram to send the Porsche pair wrong on the very first section. Many crews have commented on the Fords, Keith Davis and John Youd were seen to have a slippery moment which resulted in several spectators having to endure an unplanned and very cold shower as they made their way through. The tests have been as slippery as the roads due to the large amount of water being deposited from the heavy downpours during the morning. The route headed north through Rous Lench and Inkberrow before looping back to the west of Flyford Favell and heading south again. By-passing Naunton Beauchamp, crews were treated to a visit to Seaford Ford, the slippy road passing through it creating some tricky moments for the unwary
The vastness of the complex at Throckmorton lends itself to fast and flowing driving tests, this morning was centred on some of the longer parts of the airfield, the tests being over 1 Km at times, really allowing the drivers to push their cars on and show their capabilities. Steve Entwistle and Bob Hargreaves appear to have taken time out of Howard Warren & Ryan Pickering, Warren having an uncharacteristic bad day at the office due to a poor tyre choice on the day. Other crews really enjoying the tests were John Kiff & Steve Potter, the ex- Motoring News competitor enjoying his first taste of competitive historic rallying and getting into the swing of things straight away. Other Motoring News round stalwarts were in attendance, John Bloxham took the chance to shake down his MK1 Escort Mexico for Rally of The Tests, a bemused Nick Bloxham wandering into the coffee halt with a snapped windscreen wiper, meaning that the following test sections were taken with visibility for the driver only. The tests claimed the first official retirement of the day, quick thinking from Mervyn and John Beasley after hearing the engine of their Mini Clubman starting to rattle, saw them pull out of the Throckmorton Challenge to avoid further damage.
Stephen Owens & Dale Errock’s day got off to a bad start, they missed a turning into the Throckmorton Airfield Complex and arrived at coffee without finishing the first regularity, couple this with meeting several tractors and a local hunt in progress meant a swift turn round and a dash for the line enabled them to stay in the competition.
We are awaiting the competitors return for lunch and will be hopefully able to process the interim results soon after, it appears to be shaping up into a superb batlle with all crews having a great time in the slippery conditions, as this is written, the weather is improving rapidly, it may be that the wet morning has allowed the less powerful cars to shine, the afternoon is all about regularity, will that be the decider?
An epic battle is going on between Father and Son in the National B section of this year’s Throckmorton Challenge, Matt Warren is leading his Dad, Howard by just two seconds as they enter into the final section of the event. All the tests have been run, the format for the afternoon is two regularities, one held totally on the airfield at Throckmorton. The final regularity held on public roads once again started from The Vale Golf Club, but this time headed south before heading west past Wyre Piddle, nipping through the village of Pershore, the route then became more rural as it skirted Croome Park, Kempsey and Littleworth and Abbotswood before heading back via Pinvin to the final regularity at Throckmorton.
Darrell Staniforth/Les McGuffog slipped down the order slightly as Howard Warren overtook him. Clive Baty/Henry Carr were driving the socks of their Renault Five still, but a mistake from Martyn Taylor at a timing point early in the day cost he and John Abel 25 seconds. They lay in joint fifth with Baty/Carr. Further down the field, Paul Crosby/Andy Ballantyne were struggling on the tests, a grass fault amongst others dropping them down the order.
In the Clubman section, Lotus mounted Graham Walker/Sean Toohey are proving to be the class of the field, leading by over 30 seconds from Justin & John Lawson in their MGB, who in turn are narrowly holding on to their position from Patrick & Hubert Lynch in a Mini Cooper ‘S’. Last year’s winners Chris & Fred Winter couldn’t find the form they had last year but relative newcomers James and Deborah Ashworth had slipped from a fine third overall to lie in seventh, but holding a well deserved first in class.
The event is really hotting up now as we enter the final phase, interim results are indicating a turn round in the overall order of the national B section, but we will declare these as soon as possible.