MGJ Engineering Brands Hatch Winter Stages 2016

So we competed on a Tarmac Rally!

My son Tom navigated for me on last year's (2015) WyeDean Rally. Unfortunately we broke the gearbox and blew up the engine on Stage 2 (see photo to the right) so I wanted a fairly 'easy' Rally for him that we would hopefully finish!

Tom, Jack & I arrived on Saturday afternoon with the Rally Car on a trailer behind my brother's Motorhome. (Thank you Martyn x x)

We completed Scrutineering without any issues. So far, so good.

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Breaking the car on the 2015 WyeDean!!

Then we waited for the Service Crew to arrive...

Instead of driving in through the main entrance at Brands Hatch Kev & Rob managed to navigate to the Industrial Estate at the rear of the circuit, and as it was fairly late the gates of the estate were locked behind them as they searched for a route into the circuit! After around an hour of Tom and I running around, we eventually managed to find a Security Guard to unlock the gates.

After a Bar Meal at the Thistle Hotel, we settled down to a cold night in the Motorhome as the heating stopped working! It was all going well so far...

 

Sunday - Time to put all the issues behind us and get on with the Rally!

Stage 1

It was very wet! The sensible thing to do? Put on your wet weather tyres. One problem - We didn't have any! We fitted the 'big orange' 18" wheels with slicks. What could go wrong? Ok, so we spun 3 times. On the plus side, we didn't hit anything! By the time I arrived back at service, the boys were ready with different tyres because they could see that we had no traction. Around 57 Seconds into the video below, you will see me having a heart attack attempting not to hit the sponsors' Escort Cosworth!!!

Stage 2

We had some 'Winter Tyres' which I assumed would work better because they had lots of tread. Wrong!!! Just watch (or more accurately listen to) the video below.

Stage 3, 4, & 5.

Obvioulsy we had to take off the Winter Tyres, but we still had the dilemma that the 'Big Orange' wheels had very little grip as well. We had one more set of tyres on wheels, so we tried them. They had more grip than either of the previous 2 sets, so we left them on the car for the rest of the rally. As the circuit dried, we even managed to set 24th fastest time on Stage 5!!!

Stage 6

I think I had started to become a little over-confident because I had a 'little mishap' on Stage 6, hitting the same chicane twice! Being the honest people that we are, it also cost us a 20 second penalty as we declared the impact on our 'Damage Declaration' Form at the end of the event.

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Stage 7

This was to be the last stage of the event, although we didn't know that when we set off! The circuit was actually beginning to show a dry line and I even managed to get round Druids without understeer! Tom and I were just settling in for an enjoyable stage when we were stopped by a waving Yellow Flag and an Impreza on it's side in front of us. Luckily, the crew were extracted without any apparent injury but the organisers decided to cancel the rally as it was 'too dangerous to continue. The only thing that I can think may have changed is that the Impreza could have splilled fluid on the stage, but we were bitterly disappointed as we were given the time of the 'last clean' car through the stage and didn't have the opportunity of making up time on the last planned stage as the circuit dried.

All in all, I didn't enjoy the rally although I did love competing with my son in the car. I really don't mind slippery surfaces (in fact I prefer them) but I have realised that tarmac rallies are very much about having the right tyres.

Ironically, the tyres in my Blog about tyres would have been best as they are intermediates but I had removed them from my rims!!! Next tme maybe...

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