Welcome to Guy Woodcock's column in HEROICS, straight-talking with more than just a hint of passion, Guy is always thought-provoking.
HAPPY NEW YEAR
Well! This year has started off with a bang, two days in our Kenfig office greeted me to continue with the planning of this year’s (and those after!) events. Alongside this was meeting and welcoming new staff following Jeremy’s decision to move on to new challenges, I wish him all the success in the world and I guess he will have his hands full as a Grandad soon as well!
The back end of 2016 saw a massively successful RAC Rally of the Tests with the result coming down to 12 seconds after three and a half days of challenges, a well deserved win for Andy Lane and Richard Crozier whilst other challengers had issues that could have made the event’s outcome so different, nothing can take away the achievement from the relatively new pairing. On a rare weekend at home I decided to venture out in my road / historic rally spec Mark II Escort “PHF” on the Farrington Road Rally, this is an event which I have organised in the past and it is notoriously tricky with local knowledge playing a good part. It was a mixed night on both sides of the car initially with me running out of talent at one point and my navigator, Andy Pullan, needing to buy a calculator, we thought it had all gone awry. However, we stuck at it and I have to say that my ‘visit to the scenery’ (how photographers know that you are going off at exactly THAT point mystifies me) was on the only section of the night I was a tad unfamiliar with. We managed to win the event outright despite both of us making mistakes, there’s a motto in there somewhere! The next outing for PHF is the infamous Carpetbagger with Paul Bosdet on the maps, an event I am really looking forward to.
Without much respite it was straight into Le Jog and again all seemed to run smoothly — even Caerwent which I think the crews enjoyed before the rest halt this time, giving them chance to relax and rest before the night section. Freezing fog and ice were interesting in Scotland but it wouldn’t have been a Le Jog without that, again well done to all the medal and riband winners on a tough event.
I have just returned for the Isle of Man with George Mullins and the Three Legs of Mann is now all sorted with some 16 regularities, a 70 mile TC section and over 20 tests planned over the three legs, it will be a tough yet very enjoyable event I am sure. I’d like to thank all the people on The Island who have helped with and embraced the event, we are now virtually full but might be able to squeeze in a few more entries if you would like to sample some of the best driving roads in the UK and Europe.
Plans for the rest of the year are all coming together, Scottish Malts and Le Jog as you have probably read are now open and we are hoping to announce opening dates for the Classic Marathon in Greece and more, updates on the website will follow soon.
Hope to see you at Gaydon for the HRCR Open Day.
Well, after a remarkably successful RAC Rally of the Tests I have just about had time to drive the length of the country doing the final route checks for this years LE JOG!
Since the last article, the Rally Isle of Man in the MkII Escort BDG turned out to be one of great fun (which let’s not kid ourselves is why we all do it) initially – and then despair when the oil pump drive snapped in the engine while battling for first historic crew. The blow was softened somewhat with a bizarre call on a Friday night from Matt Warren asking did I want to drive his Escort on the Devils Own Rally, which I gratefully accepted (alcohol was involved!) and this resulted in a great day / evening with young Mr Pullan on the maps with a win. The car is getting a bit of a name for itself now as it seems it’s not who is in the car it’s just the car that just keeps winning as Warren Senior and Iain Tullie took it to victory on the next HRCR round – The Palladwr!!
RAC Rally of the Tests loomed next and 18 months of hard work by Anthony Preston paid off it seems, we looked long and hard at the route especially the condition of the roads used, the amount of plotting crews needed to do (especially as we had a high percentage of newcomers this year) and the timings. The prologue and day one saw the crews battling over seconds but with some crews having issues on tests and others having problems with traffic (and falling foul of the route instructions), it saw the leaderboard shaken up but with the usual suspects near the top. The day two restart from the RAC Headquarters at Bristol saw a crowd of 250 plus people assembled to watch – along with a further great turn out at Shelsley Walsh Speed Hill Climb where they had nearly 400 people attend. The final day, Sunday, saw a similar number at the Rednal Karting circuit near Oswestry which means the sport is getting to the public, but we need to be mindful that in these days of safety we are realistically stuck with these motor sport venues or where the owners are happy to provide barriers etc. which is not an insignificant cost.
The event came down to just the eight seconds difference in the end with a popular win for Andy Lane and young up and coming navigator Richard Crozier who withheld a late charge from Paul Crosby and Andy Pullan who overcame some mysterious misfires. As well as this, last year’s winners, Howard Warren / Iain Tullie could of won once again if they hadn’t had issues during the event, but that’s rallying as the saying goes!
Next year’s event will see crews starting form Chester in the tradition of trying to start where we finish and onwards then up to Harrogate, The event takes place on and between the 9th and 12th of November, this brings me onto the heading of this piece. We announced the dates at the dinner at the end of this year’s event but our planning means we had booked and contracted to hotels back in the summer months (you try finding a hotel with circa 180 rooms) which is now what the event needs in a location which allows you to use the best roads! The week after the announcement the Roger Albert Clark Rally announced it was also due to run that weekend in a not to dissimilar area – so we (and I) have a dilemma, one; I have a great affinity for the Roger Albert and have done the last six / seven with some great success and two; more importantly, to the RAC Rally of the Tests. Having spoken to Colin we have spent the last two weeks looking at alternatives, both dates (no-go with the current contracted hotels) and areas – but with no suitable hotels of the size we require. So we have no alternative to stick with our plans and contracted hotels, to cancel these bookings would be financially prohibitive anyway.
I appreciate this will put a strain on marshalling resources for the weekend but I hope HERO working with the Roger Albert organisers, motor clubs and our band of marshals will be able to come up with a solution.
Thanks for reading