Leg 1 – Friday 22nd June 2012
Rally of the Midlands is our local rally and our first multi-venue event and my first event on Pace Notes, a huge learning curve! Headquarters for both servicing and scrutineering were held at Mallory park on some stages on Friday and Saturday.
Friday proved challenging for us, the car decided not to start in the queue for scrutineering, forcing us to bump start the car in the torrential rain, much to other competitors amusement!
We managed to reach the service area to set up, sharing this area with another competitor.
We had changed a coolant hose prior to the rally due to it weeping from a joint. This proved to be more difficult than anticipated and we ended up using a spare metal oil breather hose that fitted perfectly! We then attempted to fix the starting issue . We changed the crank speed sensor and coil pack but this didn’t solve it. We then ran out of time so once we had managed to start the car we headed for the ceremonial start in Camp Hill, Nuneaton.
After bump starting the car, giving a terrible interview and amusing the crowd with an exuberant start, we made our way from the ceremonial start to the first stage of the rally.
The first two stages were run through Arbury Hall. The first, taking it easy as we were warned it would be slippery. The second stage was a bit quicker, too quick over the jump as we landed so hard on the front that the car came out of gear! Stages 3 and 4 were held at Mallory Park, fast stages, with a technical bit in the middle. We cut one of the corners that I thought we would be able to and smacked the kerb, luckily we got away with it.
I was now settling into the pacenotes and we were enjoying it. On the road section, our alternator light came on and we started losing power, we couldn’t use the wipers and headlights at the same time, and did our best to save power.
The final stage of Friday was Argents Mead, a popular location with the spectators, with tight areas for racing, embarrassing should we get it wrong.By the time we reached the time control, the charge light was on all the time. We had to bump start again and hope it survived to get back to service. We were on the handbrake on every hairpin and set a reasonable time, it wasn’t as bad as we had feared.
We got into the evening service and managed to fix the charging problem (It turned out to be a lose connection on the starter motor). Once the car was in Parc Ferme, we headed home for pizza and bed.
Leg 2 – Saturday 23rd June 2012
Morning service was a quick re-fuel and then out to the service park to Arbury Hall for stages 6 and 7 which were repeat stages of the ones run on Friday. Stage 6 went was successful with fair times set. At stage 7 we had a 3rd gear spin, the corner was a 4 right caution slippery, and I cut it on the approach. This caused the car to snap sideways, I thought I’d rescued it but we did a full 360.
Thankfully we survived and only lost 5 seconds. After Arbury Hall, there was a 45 minute road section to MIRA for stages 8, 9 10 and 11. Stage 8 was fantastic, although we struggled with the straights due to us having a low powered car. Stage 9 and 11 were cancelled due to an accident, and Stages 10 and 11 were a repeat of the previous ones.
Stage 12 was the first through Merevale, a short stage that caught us out on the first chicane as we locked up and overshot the junction. We didn’t hit anything, but lost about 4 seconds. Stage 13 again, took us through Merevale.Back at Arbury Hall, stages 14 and 15 were held. These were dryer than before, so we were able to take them faster , and the jump much cleaner.
We were back at MIRA for stages 16 to 19.Stage 17 was very fast and time was lost due on the long straights.
As the tyres warmed up we struggled to handbrake turn as the back would not slide costing us more time through the tight hairpins.
Stage 18 led us to a massive spin, the scariest moment I have ever had in a car! We came through a fast narrow section that comes into a tight hilly section lined with Armco. We were going too fast and landed a jump hard on the front causing the car to snatch sideways and rub along the Armco!
We were in 3rd and I was sure we were going to either roll or hit the Armco and go over the edge! Thankfully we survived that too!
Stage 19 was another run of the very fast Higham, we managed to get the car to slide through the hairpins this time.Stages 20 & 21 were run in reverse, a much better setup for us and the car. There was then a final run through MIRA for stages 22 and 23.
Stage 23 was our favourite stage of the rally, naturally - as we were 10 seconds quicker than our last run. We returned to Mallory Park for final service, all our friends and family were there to greet us. We gave the car a quick spanner check and headed for the final stage.
Both of us were nervous as we knew that we had nearly a 2 minute lead on the next car behind us in our class. If we just drove the stage neatly we would get 3rd in class.
We finished 36th overall and 3rd in class! We would like to say a huge thank you to our sponsors; Lifeline for the new door mirrors and Old Hall Performance for the parts that were donated and the use of the van.