A very good afternoon from the Vale Golf & Country Club, Bishampton which is once again the base for the Throckmorton Challenge 2015. We are 25 minutes away from opening scrutineering and many of the crews for both the National B and Clubmans sections are arriving to complete documentation prior to checking their tripmeters on the measured distance.
The weather is beautiful, we have bright, warm sunshine and there is a real air of excitement and anticipation for an event that will differ from past years, competitors will explore lanes that are a little further away from the Airfield at Throckmorton. There will still be the customary tests at the ex-Vulcan Bomber base, but there will also be a visit to a hallowed piece of tarmac that we are sure all competitors will enjoy.
Ninety two crews have made the start of the Throckmorton Challenge 2015, split in to two groups, National B and Clubmans, with thirty five in National B and fifty seven in the clubman section. There has been a slight change to previous formats with the route having a rangier feel to it – the customary tests on the airfield are there that allow the crews and cars to stretch their legs – but the lanes used are a little further afield.
Leaving the Vale Golf and Country Club in Bishampton at 08:00, first car away was last year’s winner Howard Warren in his 356 Porsche, partnered by Iain Tullie the plan is to use the event to shake the car down in preparation for Rally of The Tests, fuelling problems caused some concern on the journey down but this seems to have cleared with Warren commenting on how solid and easy to drive the car feels.
Bob & Sue McClean are going well, the past few events have been unkind to their Ford Anglia, Bob reporting that the car still feels a little ‘fluffy’, setting the fuel / air mixture a little richer to overcome any problems.
Three tests at Throckmorton Airfield got the competitive day underway before a short run out via Pinvin and Upton Snodgrass where the first regularity wound its way around Oddingley before its end at Smite Hill. Several crews battled it out here with top crews in the National B section; Warren / Tullie, Buzzard / Lyne, Duncan Wild / Steve Skepper and Crosby / Pullan all posted four seconds penalties with some of the fancied crews in the event struggling straight out of the start. Unusually, the ultra-consistent James Griffiths / James Howell and Martin Neal / Richard Dix made errors that saw them drop considerable penalties straight away, however, Keith Davis / Tyler Barker had a great run to drop just seven seconds.
On to Shelsley Walsh, we are awaiting the Clubmans section’s arrival, Crosby / Pullan were swiftest up the hill followed by the wonderful sounding Sunbeam Tiger of John Abel / Andrew Duerden – a pair of black lines being left as the V8 departed up the hill.
The Clubmans section is arriving at Shelsley Walsh with Ryan Pickering / Neil Pickering in first – they have posted a superb three second penalty run to lead by four seconds at morning coffee. Not faring so well are David Hankin / Rachel Wakefield who have had misfire problems and been baulked by local traffic and horses. The third timing point on the first regularity section has caught several crews out, Colton / Carroll and Perkins / Johnson being two that have been caught out on a turn of the page – two closely spaced junctions proving the downfall of them and many others too.
National B Section
Regularity times show Warren / Tullie tied with Crosby / Pullan
A streak of tigers sandwich Crosby / Pullan away from the top spot as Throckmorton Challenge National B results come in before lunch. John Abel / Andrew Duerden are proving to be the class of the field -holding a narrow three second lead over the Porsche pairing. In third are Jayne Wignall / Kevin Savage who are pulling out a lead over Jonathan Hancox / Richard Lambley in their TR4, these results are pre-test penalties so may change. Duncan Wild / Steve Skepper are having a superb run in their Mini Cooper, holding off much more powerful machinery to hold fifth overall by means of engine capacity from Andrew Buzzard / Robb Lyne.
Recovering from their early morning wrong-slot are Martin Neal / Richard Dix, they are coming under pressure from Tony Sheach / Rob Kiff in their TR4 however but hold a slender eight second lead. In one of the most unlikely vehicles on the event, Simon Mellings / Richard Crozier lie twelfth in a Rover 216, the Ludlow man only recently purchasing the Honda powered vehicle after selling his trusty Nissan Sunny. Tom Purves / Peter Foubister are really struggling on the tests in their TR3A, they have had some great regularity times but the very first timing point on the second regularity saw them lose 1:19 – it is a feat that has been repeated by several crews that either mis-read the instruction or missed the control altogether.
Leaving Shelsley Walsh and heading south, the second regularity of the day took place in the beautiful Malvern Hills and went past HERO founder John Brown’s home where he lived as a child. Old Strridge Common formed the backbone of this section before passing Brockamin and dropping into the End of Regularity two in Bransford. Croome Park was the name of the third regularity and would lead the competitors back to Throckmorton for three tests before lunch, it was a similar length to Reg two, the thirteen miles or so not causing the Nat B competitors too much consternation.
Ryan Pickering / Neil Pickering head out into the afternoon extending their lead over John & Peter Dignan, newcomer navigator Nicky Staniforth is getting into the swing of things guiding Dad Darell to a well-deserved third after lunch, it is incredibly close in the top ten with just 43 seconds separating these crews.
Pete Dalton / Rob Faulkner are still in a purple patch lying in front of Nigel perkins / Pete Johnson who in turn lead the ever consistent Simon Harris / Russell Joseph in their Golf GTi.
National B Update 15:39
THROCKMORTON CHALLENGE 2015
PROVISIONAL RESULT: TOP FIVE, these are subject to change and test penalties.