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Event Reports and Results from The 19th Classic Marathon

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Leg 7 – Balestrand to Balestrand

Andrew Newman and Mike Hope - Ford Lotus Cortina

The Lotus Cortina of Andrew Newman and Mike Hope at the Balestrand finish of the 19th Classic Marathon

After a week of almost unbroken sunshine we woke up to a steady drizzle but as the day went on the sunshine did occasionally make a breakthrough. Some of the open cars put the hood on but the Austin Seven Ulster of Roger Gourd and Terry Davies and the Morgan of David Cook and John Topham don’t have that luxury and are probably still trying to dry themselves out.

Despite the assurances that it was an easy first regularity there was a degree of nervousness amongst many crews at the OUT control, all were aware how even the slightest error may be enough to lose them a position, a class place or in the case of Andrew Newman and Mike Hope the chance of another Marathon victory.

The regularity was run along a “main” road with hairpins, even so crews were expecting it to be quite hard to achieve the average. Unfortunately roadworks meant that the section was curtailed. The next regularity was reasonably easy to navigate so most crews were able to get close to the ideal times.

The final regularity had five speed changes and included sections on gravel and very small tarmac road so again it was going to be more of a struggle to keep to the average speeds and with the small differences in penalties any wrong slot would be costly. The second timing point was perfectly placed and many crews took an educated guess and what the ideal time should be and will be awaiting the official ideal times with interest.

Jayne Wignall and Kevin Savage - Sunbeam Tiger

Jayne Wignall and Kevin Savage starting the final leg from Balestrand on Friday morning

For many the final timing point of an event is a bit of an anti climax. After seven days of constant competition it is suddenly all over bar the short drive back to the finish on the quay at Balestrand. No longer does every minute and second count and the pace of life returns to a more normal level.

Their will be inquests for many as to why they didn’t do better but all seemed to enjoy that it had been a magnificent event – excellent routes and well organised efficient marshals meant that if a penalty was incurred it was fairly awarded.

Provisional results will soon be published but it looks like there has been no major changes to the top three of either category.

Thankfully very few cars are showing too much sign of having done a tough week’s rallying – the Healey of Jeff and Ian Hooley has a collapsed rear spring but the sweep crew are trying to resolve that for the crew to be able to drive home. On the day of rain Terry Powell’s windscreen wipers gave up the ghost and again the sweep crew are working to try and find a solution. We had thought that Paul Bloxidge and Dennis Greenslade were out of the event but some judicious spanner work had them going again in their Volvo 123GT.

At the finish line crews were highly complimentary of the event and many said it was the best event they had ever done. Anthony Preston and Keith Baud’s route planning was exceptional and tireless work by the marshals meant that all points were manned. It will be a hard act to follow in future years.

2008 represents the 20th Anniversary of the Classic Marathon and the anniversary event will be visiting many of the venues and routes from the early events. It will start from Ieper in Belgium on Saturday 7th June and finish one week later in Cortina d’Ampezzo.

 

Leg 6 – Fagernes to Balestrand

Andrew Newman and Mike Hope - Ford Lotus Cortina

Masters Route leaders at the end of Leg 6 - The Ford Lotus Cortina of Andrew Newman and Mike Hope.

A few competitors would disagree with Keith’s description of the first regularity of the day being “easy”. Amongst them would have been Helen and Richard Scott in the Morris Minor who decided to go on a sight seeing tour of the glorious Norwegian scenery.

This was followed by a driving test at a kart / rallycross circuit, by all accounts it was as interesting for those queuing to start as it was for those on the test. Quickest on the test was Tipping and Jolly in the Masters and Liddell and Ignatowicz in the Clubmen.

Finding the start of the second regularity proved a challenge for some including the Volvo 123GT of Bloxidge and Greenslade but as they are now faced with a rapidly failing differential so any penalties are likely to be irrelevant at the end of the event tomorrow.

Once the regularity started it didn’t get any easier and part way through there was a complicated junction with the correct route passing through a gravel dump! Needless to say several competitors now know how to identify a NO board! The leader board was to be well and truly shaken up.

As always with Norway even the road sections are a joy to drive with good flowing roads and very little traffic but there is always a need to watch the speed limits which sometimes seem amazingly slow for the quality of roads and volume of traffic using them.

The highlight of the day for many was the opportunity to have a closed road test on the Stalheimskleiva road. Unfortunately the hill proved too much for a couple of cars and the Morgan / Towers Alfa Romeo Guilia broke a half shaft and rumour has it that the I’Anson’s Jaguar is also out with a failed clutch. Today seems to be the day of retirements as we have also seen the end of the rally for the Austin Healey 3000 of the Weirs with broken welds on a suspension component. The Porsche 356 of David Peebles and Martin Crook has also been retired. This is their first time out together and as the week went on they were starting to make more sense of the regularities – poor Martin had been having bad dreams earlier in the week about what to do if the watches stopped, they wrong slotted etc. At the end though it was tyre problems that caused them to retire.

Roger Gourd and Terry Davies - Austin Seven

The remarkable Roger Gourd and Terry Davies in the tiny Austin Seven.

Another retirement was the MGB of Tony Arnold and Cath Woodman, Cath has stayed on and helped out with the marshalling so there is an element of poacher turned gamekeeper. Amazingly it looks like we have made no mention of Team Flymo – the Porsche 911 of Messrs Edward and Wood but although they don’t seem to be causing their usual stir on the road Jon Edward was seen today enlisting the help of the sweep crew to gain access into his suitcase!

Last year’s Clubmen winners Klaus Uwe and Hans Guenter Schaffrath have moved up to the Masters category this year and have a good run with seemingly no major problems, they are always good company and tonight I witnessed, Hans joking with Greek, French and Welsh competitors – how’s that for international rallying.

Talking of our French competitors our regular French entrant Jean-Pierre Maisonneuve is doing his best to introduce more French competitors to us – it seems that every event he does with CRA he brings a new co-driver. They moved up to third in class today and bearing in mind they have about seven minutes lead hopefully they should still be receiving that award at the end of the event.

Tony and Pauline Mather are in the beautiful Citroen DS Decapotable (cabriolet to the lay man!) They always run with the hood down and make a splendid sight, it was nearly the end of their rally though when the door accidentally opened and Pauline’s maps, folders and timecards all went flying out of the car.

Alastair Caldwell and Catriona Rings - Rolls_royce Silver Cloud

Best performance on Leg 6 and now in second overall the luxurious Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud of Alastair Caldwell and Catriona Rings.

The final regularity even featured a timing point within a tunnel! Not sure that has been done before, thankfully with only about 50 cars to time the marshals did not have to spend too long in there. The final timing point on this regularity was also a tricky one as it was tucked away round an obscured junction.

The run into Balestrand was far from an anticlimax – a climb up a hairpin staircase was followed by a descent past a stave church to the ferry across the Sognafjord and a convoy run into Balestrand and the fabulous Kvikne’s Hotel – featured in 1000 places to see before you die! Oh well only another 997 for the author!

It was a bad day for Pickering and Nagle – they made a couple of mistakes and dropped from first to fifth place – you’d have thought they would have tried harder today knowing that their wives were waiting in Balestrand for them! Newman and Hope move up into the lead and they will be looking to tray and maintain this lead and replicate their Marathon success of 2005. We are still amazed at the combined talents of Caldwell and Rings at getting the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud into second place – just think what results they would have achieved if they had brought a more suitable car with them – their biggest grumble today was that the CD player had stopped working – serves them right if you ask me, surely a car of that period should have an eight track player. Jayne Wignall and Kevin Savage are in third but with three more regularities to be run there is scope for changes yet.

In the Clubmen Category Tom’s new boots were not enough to keep him in the lead and the TR4 of Liddell and Ignatowicz now have a 10 second lead. A couple of minutes behind them is Robert and Janice Price in the Volvo Amazon. Their place is not safe though as the cars behind are not far away – no pressure on Janice then!

The final Balestrand to Balestrand day is not expected to be too taxing but at the same time nobody is going to relax until the final car has crossed the finish line on the quay at Balestrand tomorrow afternoon.

 

Leg 5 – Geiranger to Fagernes

Life was a lot quieter last night as there were no night freight trains in Geiranger. The hotel coped well with over 130 rally people plus a couple of coach loads of Japanese and Australian tourists.

Peter and Pat Neville - Volvo 122S

Peter and Pat Neville storming to a best time up the Dalsnibba hill in blizzard conditions.

The competitors didn’t have chance to gradually build up for the day as almost straight out of the hotel was a regularity section, Anthony Preston had devised a route that cunningly used sections of the old gravel road to mix things and ensue that accurate arrival times were a challenge. Many crews decided that the intermediate timing point was the end and pottered up to the summit some even stopping for photographs! This led to several maximums at that timing point. Though some, mentioning no names, did the same but managed to be almost on time irrespective. There must be a good troll looking down on them.

A short road section led up to the foot of Dalsnibba for a hill climb. It was snowing, windy and very cold, but still several crews went up with the hood down, something about the bracing air adding to the satisfaction of trying to achieve a good time. Quickest up the hill was the Volvo 122S of Peter and Pat Neville in the Masters and David Liddell and Karen Ignatowicz took the Clubmen title in their TR4. Both crews suffered at the evening awards presentation with the drivers being presented with Viking Helmets and the co-drivers fresh underpants……..

After the cold of Dalsnibba a welcome run along the valley road to the Fosseberg Hotel at Lom for a TC and coffee. A few competitors have now also received a warning letter for excessive speed as a secret check was run on this section. Shortly after the TC was another regularity run along a pleasant green valley with plenty of hytte and capital and just to finish it off on the final timing point was Keith Baud sitting there in his deckchair modelling the latest in Viking helmets – it suits the new bearded image.

After a good lunch at the Turtagro hotel it was more regularity sections before a scenic section giving views across the Norwegian Alps. The final regularity of the day looked quite simple on paper and for many it was but there were a couple of junctions that caught some crews out who tried a bit too hard, sometimes a better result is had if you relax and follow the most obvious route but knowing the mind of our route designer he will be aiming to throw in a few difficult slots to shake the order up on the final legs.

Helen and Richard Scott - Morris Minor

Follow my leader - in this case the Morris Minor of Helen and Richard Scott.

Harvey and Jan du Cros are working their way back up the classification and had a good day today in their Austin Healey 3000, ahead of them in the class is the father and son team of Michael and Sebastian Haberl, they have come all the way from Austria to compete on the event in their Porsche 911.

Robin Morgan and Chris Towers are having a good run, and have no dramas to report, currently they are in sixth place but only seven seconds behind fifth so they will be looking to narrow the gap even more on the final legs. However, as they were both seen going out on the town earlier tonight with a couple of the locals perhaps an early morning alarm call may be in order to remind them of their start time….

In the “MGB” class the lead has now gone to Marc Tipping and Tony Jolly, just 14 seconds ahead of second place. Fellow MGB GT crew, the father and son team of Paul and Matt Heal are fourth in class, a further 30 seconds back. Just three seconds ahead of the Heals are our roving reporters in the yellow peril Sprite, now running without an anti roll bar let’s hope they do better on tomorrow’s Kart Circuit – last year they had to use a fence to stop!

Maryjo and Mark I’Anson are in thirteenth place but Mark is not sure the car will hold out for the last two days, the suspension is making strange clunking noises but worse is that Mark fears the engine is saying enough is enough. Marathon Regulars David Cook and John Topham are currently 4th in the FIA Category E Class and would be looking to improve on this and get amongst the class awards by the end of the event. Just over two minutes further back in the class is another father and son team – Jeff and Ian Hooley. It is good to see a bunch of new young navigators being introduced to the sport. They learn very quickly and will soon be mixing it with the old hands.

In the Clubmen category the entry is dominated by mixed crews, John and Moira Hilbery have an immaculate MGB and will be keen to try and improve their current fifth place, desperate measures are being taken at the top. Tom Hayes invested in a new pair of “racing boots” at the Lom COOP today – lets hope that they allow him to drive a bit quicker as their lead is down to one second, perhaps tomorrow we’ll see Kieron going into the opticians for some new glasses!

In the Masters Pickering and Nagle still lead but the gaps between the leaders are still quite small and a wrong slot may well cost a place so there is going to be some nervous co drivers around tomorrow.

 

Leg 4 – Oppdal to Geiranger

It was a stunning day today and many reckoned that it was the best “driving” day ever with spectacular scenery and bright sunshine making the early start well worthwhile. There were a few murmurs about the night freight trains passing through Oppdal but that was soon forgotten as the day started with a drive around the Rennebu Kart Ring. As usual there were some that decided a quicker time would be achieved if they took to the grass and some spent so long on the grass they may as well have become vegetarians. I hear it was a Jaguar but my source has not revealed which of the two Jaguars it was…..

Jeff and Ian Hooley - Austin Healey 100/4

Jeff and Ian Hooley on an early morning Leg 4 regularity section in their Healey 100/4

The first regularity caught a few more out with a difficult to find turning early on. Rumours were circulating that the marshals carried post boxes around to disguise proper roads as driveways. The remainder of the section was good smooth gravel through scrubland with scattered small holdings. A further regularity followed, starting from Å – as small as its name suggests. This also marked the most northern point of the event. A pleasant transit section led to a short ferry crossing and a break for coffee. The small local garage struggled and probably sold more petrol in an hour than they would normally sell in a week.

After the break the Masters Route led up to Litledalen. A checkpoint at the bottom of the hairpins caught a few cars. A good gravel section across high tundra took us to a Preston and Baud special: a regularity descending a hanging valley which seemed impassable. The route actually descended in a spiral tunnel – many crews struggled with poor lighting and slowed to a walking pace to avoid a collision with the rocks.

The final regularity in Isfjorden was a real challenge: junctions to negotiate and speed changes all within a matter of metres. As always inaccuracy was punished and some crews became more acquainted with the byways and gardens of this quiet town.

After the final time control crews were free to climb the famous Trollstiggen: numerous hairpin bends and a waterfall climbing from sea level to 3000ft. The views from the top marred only by some building works. A trivial point that Keith failed to mention in his route narrative is that it is illegal to carry a parachute here – presumably so you are not tempted to jump!

A final ferry crossing saw the Rolls-Royce left stranded whilst smaller cars sneaked aboard, then a downhill run into the picture postcard village of Geiranger.

The sweeps had a slightly quieter day on the road but there was still plenty to do when they arrived at the hotel but crews are also getting better at helping each other and there is quite a trade in spare parts. The Austin-Healey of Martyn Hayward and Andrew Coventon was seen having it’s silencer repaired with scrap cooking tins from the kitchen being cut up to provide some plating. Team mates Keith Phillips and Oyind Lager in the Morgan had an easier day of it and rumour has it they spent some time visiting Oyinds relatives who lived close to the route. Keith had spent many long hours in the weeks leading up to the event getting the ex racing car into rally trim and his work has paid off with it proving very reliable so far but perhaps still needing some more work to make it suitable for long distance rallies.

David Liddell and Karen Ignatowicz - Triumph TR4

David Liddell and Karen Ignatowicz - Triumph TR4 - second placed Clubman route car after Leg 4

Ian Swift and Jon Sandilands are having a good run in their MGB and are currently leading their class, Paul Wignall and Fred Bent have worked their way up to fifth place, the Giulietta running much better now than it had on the way up to Newcastle when it managed to use a tank full of fuel in 100 miles. Not far behind is the big Mercedes 300SEC of Richard and Jo McAllister. This is virtually a debut event for the crew in this car and the smooth flowing roads suit it but it must be a handful on the tighter tests. There is still plenty of scope for changes and just 31 seconds separates fifth to thirteenth places so expect more changes in the line up tomorrow.

Robin Shackleton worked hard to assemble a team of cars for the event and they all now sport “Shackleton Expedition” teamware, sponsored I believe by the Chmuras Southern Aircraft consultancy – team members are Shackleton and Lodge, Rover P6, Powell and Powell, Rover P6, Gilmore and Gilmore plus Hilbery and Hilbery in MGBs and Secker and Secker in an MGC and Chmura and Chmura in the Citroen DS – come on then Robin how come you are the only one who has come without your wife! Appropriately as Team Captain Robin and Ralph are leading the pack in 15th place.

In the overalls Pickering and Nagle had another good day and are the only crew on less than one minute penalty, Newman and Hope still have second with Wignall and savage in third but back into fourth place is the Rolls of Caldwell and Rings.

The Clubmen lead is still held by Hayes and Hayes with Liddell and Ignatowicz chasing hard, just eight seconds down whilst slightly lower down Gourd and Davies in the Austin Seven Ulster can go home and tell their friends they are beating a Porsche 911!

We haven’t yet had chance to mention the exploits of Messrs Ridley and Davies, Mike is normally accompanied by wife Marjie who has been left at home this year but she has been following the words of the scribes from the Yellow Peril and editor and did actually take the trouble to write and thank them for their efforts. However Tony had a bad day today and so perhaps next year Marjie may be in her correct seat and Tony will be back where he belongs with Stan Williams!. Tony did however have the satisfaction of being presented with the Troll of the Day award.

It’s a blast up the Dalsnibba toll road tomorrow to start things off and lets just hope the weather is as good as today.

 

Oppdal Options
Leg 3 – Lillehammer to Oppdal

After a start from Lillehammer in early morning showers the sun soon came out and those with soft tops were seen to be basking in the sunshine. The first test of the day was unfortunately cancelled as it would have coincided with a school trip but crews still had the opportunity to drive around the Olympic Park – built for the 1994 Winter Olympics, many had never been this close to a ski jump before it’s quite a daunting sight when you look up from below.

Barbara Morris and Sylvia McCrae - Volvo P1800

Barbara Morris and Sylvia McCrae - pirouette their Volvo P1800

It wasn’t long before tarmac was left behind and the first gravel section was tackled, the overnight rain had left the surface very slippery. A secret check followed to keep crews on their toes. The first regularity of the day was quite challenging and showed how as the event progresses the sections get harder. This one had hills, woods and multiple junctions some of which were actually on the map! The timing point caught many out but that is how the event is won or lost. Some of the old hands are working their way back up the leaderboard. Kevin Savage was heard to comment that it was not good to peak too early…. He and Jayne are obviously preparing themselves for a gradual climb to the top spot by the end of the week. Jayne was one of a handful of crews who found the test at the Liens Øvingsbane not to be a very grippy surface and did a graceful pirouette in front of the waiting competitors. Another to spin was Barbara Morris in her Volvo P1800S, affectionately known as Rodney. Sister Sylvia was seen giving a wave to the even larger crowd that witnessed this spin, shame the crown had not been given points boards to display for artistic and technical merit.

Lunch was welcome if a little late after the test was delayed but it was only the later runners who struggled to find bowls and spoons for their soup! Straight after lunch was a very short regularity which caught out many. It was the next regularity that really sorted the competitors out with 25% of the field missing the first timing point with many others wrong slotting along the way.

The afternoon scenery was dramatic with good smooth gravel roads. One of the afternoon TC’s had a sight that fooled many competitors – a 1950’s fuel station preserved in all its glory but unfortunately for those running low no fuel!

Simon Parsons and Trevor Cattermole - Austin Healey Sprite

Simon Parsons and Trevor Cattermole - Their smooth drive at Liens Øvingsbane equalled the fastest time on the very slippery surface.

The finale of the day was a long regularity with multiple timing points and run mainly on more smooth gravel roads that the Norwegians seem to excel at building. The day finished with the sight for many of an almost perfect double rainbow and some more slight rain as they drove into Oppdal for the night halt.

One of the great features of the Marathon is the spirit that develops between the competitors and it’s also great to see many family entries – I reckon that 25 of the 54 crews that started the event are related in some way, we have husbands and wives, sisters, brothers, father and daughter and a couple of father and sons teams.

The Clubmen category has been shaken up today and whilst Tom and Kieron Hayes are still in the lead up into second place is the Triumph TR4 of David Liddell and Karen Ignatowicz, into third goes Colin and Ronnie Weekley. Both these crews being Marathon first time pairings. Former leaders Lowes and Dobson dropped back to fifth place following a problem with the HT leads.

In the Masters category Pickering and Nagle are still in the lead and consolidating their second place are Newman and Hope, Jayne Wignall and Kevin Savage are up into third, just eight seconds back. Amazingly Caldwell and Rings are only three seconds further back. Local crew Aasmund Kleve and Tore Fredriksen have moved up to seventh place and with less than one minute separating places three to twelve there is plenty of scope for further changes.

The sweep crew have had a slighty easier time today, their major task being to repair some problems on the back axle of Mike Spindle and Andy Belcher’s Austin Healey 3000. Andrew Johnson and Richard Sears are back in the running with a new radiator but were looking slightly jaded at the realisation that they were last in tonight and out again at 07:00 tomorrow. It’s quite a long run across to Geiranger tomorrow and the inclusion of some ferry crossings for the first time mean that extra time must be allowed.

 

Leg 2 - Telemark to Lillehammer

Competitors awoke to a frost on the cars and a clear blue sky at the Skinnarbu Hotel, set high in the Telemark mountains. It’s still in the same family ownership and the owner admitted that she was quite worried what sort of group we might turn out to be but thankfully everybody behaved themselves and I am sure we’d be welcomed back in the future. By the start the vast majority of cars seemed to be running OK due to some late night repairs by the Banham and Inskip trio.

Malcolm Pickering and Simon Nagle - Sunbeam Alpine

Masters Route leaders at the end of Leg Two - Malcolm Pickering and Simon Nagle - Sunbeam Alpine

After a long chilly descent past the famous heavy water plant competitors drove into a valley which it appears rarely sees the sun. After the surfeit of sheep yesterday as they were drove down from the mountains on the traditional day today it was more of the human population causing the hold ups. The bright sunny day seemed to have woken the locals up and there were a few incidents of the “Norwegian Sunday driver” in evidence. Competitors were also being ultra careful in the villages as they had been warned of the very high on the spot fines that the police give speeding drivers.

Multiple timing points on the regularities were introduced today as well as speed changes so crews were being kept on their toes. There were many tales of crews going in the wrong direction but thankfully nobody met in the middle!

The coffee break saw what some thought was a leak from the Rolls-Royce built in Jacuzzi but it turned out to be Alastair cooling down his brake hubs before retrieving an errant bolt.

The social activities of the day continued with the lunch halt which was a fantastic picnic by the side of the lake – the only thing missing was a glass of Pimms and a game of croquet but thankfully both were absent – the former because of the Norwegian zero alcohol tolerance for drivers and the latter as there wasn’t time and most of the drivers would probably end up aiming at the wrong hoop!

The first test of the day was a mixture of tarmac and gravel at a rallycross track and seemed to favour the brave! The second test of the day was at a kart circuit complete with hairpins but this didn’t seem to worry last year’s Marathon winner Jayne Wignall as she hurled her Sunbeam Tiger around the test, Claude van Overtvelt the FIA Observer was heard to remark that this was the first time he had seen a Rolls-Royce do a handbrake turn!

It was sad to see the Aston Martin DB2/4 of Andrew Johnson arrive on the end of a tow rope – the fan had holed the radiator but hopefully somebody in Lillehammer who will be able to renew the core and they can re join later in the day.

Tom and Kieron Hayes - BMW 2002Tii

Clubman Route leaders after Leg 2 - The BMW2002Tii of Tom and Kieron Hayes

The last regularity of the day looked to be tough on paper and was even harder on the ground – there were three speed changes to suit the changing road conditions and this combined with a couple of difficult junctions has shuffled the running order for the Leg Three from Lillehammer to Oppdal.

Current leaders in the Clubmen Category are Tom and Kieron Hayes in a BMW 2002 but they only have a two second lead over Ken Lowes and Diana Dobson in the E Type whilst third place is held by Robert and Janice Price in a Volvo Amazon. Providing great entertainment value for the spectators is the Austin Seven Ulster of Roger Gourd and Terry Davies. They are regular Marathon competitors and despite knowing that it will always be very tough for them when up against more modern machinery with larger engines still keep turning up and their smiles never seem to diminish.

Now leading the Masters is the 2006 FIA Regularity Rally champion Malcolm Pickering, out this time with Simon Nagle in a Sunbeam Alpine. In joint second place are Jake van Beest / James Ewing and Andrew Newman / Mike Hope just seven seconds behind the leaders. Today also saw the retirement of the Frank Fennell / Monty Karlan – a problem with the air suspension was not repairable so the duo left the event and headed for Monty’s home in Oslo and no doubt Frank will be back home in a couple of days, hoping that his Alfa Romeo will be more reliable when debuted on November’s Rally of the Tests.


Leg 1 - Stavanger to Telemark
The Viking Classic has started…
Kenneth Jack and Ian Grant leave the Stavanger Start

Kenneth Jack and Ian Grant leave the Stavanger Start in their Alfa Giulietta Sprint

Not even Messrs Banham and Inskip could help with the fact that the ferry from Newcastle was running with only one engine so we arrived nearly three hours late and in the rain! However the organising team soon had it all re arranged and an amended schedule was prepared omitting one test – had we arrived at the later time we’d have been mixing it with the military tanks on the test at a local driving instruction centre and it was decided that this was not a good idea.

The start was held at the TS Vintage Tractor Museum where host T…… greeted all the competitors and there was much local interest. After lunch competitors set off for a simple regularity – single speed on tarmac but it was raining to add to the interest!

Several crews were clean on this regularity including Shaun Arnold and Howard Wilcock, Richard Prosser and Andy Gibson, Warren and Jean Chmura and locals Aasmund Kleve and Tore Fredriksen. The day brightened up as we headed inland through dramatic glaciated scenery meaning that at last the open cars could drop their hoods down. It was great to see the beautiful Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud of Alastair Caldwell bowling along but Catriona really does need to practise her regal wave – looks like she is pretty hot on the regularities though as at the end of the day they were joint leaders with Jake van Beest and James Ewing in the Porsche 911 – James was keen to remind your editing scribe that he’d had a good day having been the but of some comments on the first day of last year’s event.

Ken Lowes and Diana Dobson - Jaguar E-Type

Ken Lowes and Diana Dobson - Jaguar E-Type - leading the Clubman Route Category at the end of Leg One

The next regularity involved speed changes so was a little more difficult and only one crew was clean – the Volvo Amazon of Paul Bloxidge and Dennis Greenslade.

The final regularity was run mainly on gravel and the low evening sun caught out at least one crew who ended up pointing nose down into a ditch, they were pulled out by our medical crew Rick and Kerry Bate in the trusty Navarra – proving that it’s not only people that they look after.

As usual there was a great spirit of camaraderie at the end of day hotel with the mechanically minded crews helping out those with less knowledge. Barry Weir needed the help of a welder and the hotel receptionist was busy phoning around trying to find a local to assist.

The Banham and Inskip combo will no doubt be kept busy into the small hours attending to the usual first day dramas. I won’t dwell on too many of the problems but one that does show the willingness of locals to get involved was with the Porsche 911 of Allan and Tina Rogers – they had a fan bearing fail and the owner of a local company got the bearing supplier to open up especially and then drove over an hour to deliver it to them.

Current FIA Champion Jason Fotopoulus had a marathon trip just getting to the start and was probably the only crew who was glad that the start was delayed as he would have probably missed it! The car was late being delivered to a rendevous point which meant that he missed two ferries but he was happy to be at Skinnarbu and looked forward to catching up on some sleep.

With thanks to Simon Parson for competitor contributions from the Yellow Peril Austin Healey Sprite.