5th & 6th March 2016 - Bovington Stage
District Car Club
Venue: Bovington Tank
Stages: 12 Stage Mileage
Overall position: 2nd
Picture Courtesy of Mark
Chappell - Gasmark Media
The Toyota Rally Team ended
their weekend on a high after finishing 2nd overall
on the Bovington Stages Rally.
It didn’t come easy though
after battling against a strong 100 car entry made up of
Impreza’s, Evo’s and other powerful rally cars. ‘The Team have
done a fantastic job this weekend and kept the car going to the
end. We’re absolutely delighted’ said co-driver Carl Sorensen
It didn’t come without it’s
challenges though with a 1st Stage near disaster. ‘We
were flat in 6th gear at about 125mph and Carl had
called a ‘flat left over crest - 150 into chicane’. We hit the
brakes and the car just locked all 4 wheels’ said Gary. ‘somehow
after various angles and looking out of both side windows we
eventually came to a stop up against the chicane but luckily
most of the speed had been scrubbed off. A quick spin round on
the handbrake and they were back off in the right direction!'
Carl’s language was a little
more colourful after the incident and said something that rhymed
with ‘clucking bell’
The 1st day was
made up of 8 special stages and after their early incident Gary
and Carl were in 4th position overall. Their Toyota
Corolla World Rally Car was really going well and after some
suspension modifications the pairing were setting regular top 2
Stage times. Their day ended in joint 3rd overall.
The next day would see a
further 6 stages, each one about 8 miles in length. Gary and
Carl instantly got off to a flying start and moved up to 2nd
position. 1st place was out of reach so maintaining 2nd
would be their goal.
Going into the final stage the
crew had what would be their final big moment of the day with a
massive sideways slide at about 80mph. ‘the tyres had completely
gone off and I thought it was goodnight Vienna’ said Carl.
The pair made it safely back
to the pits and collected their 2nd place overall
trophies at the awards ceremonies.
Gary and Carl will be out
competing again on the Coronium Stages Rally in April.
Gary would like to thank their
Service Crew Bill, Charlie, Rob and Scott for their extreme
efforts and their sponsors for
their continued support.
3rd May - Corinium Stages 2014
Venue: Down Ampney,
Stages: 8 Stage Mileage
Overall position: 1st
Picture Courtesy of EDP Photography
Team returned to Down Ampney (probably one of Gary's favourite
venues) to see if this year the Corinium Stages would be kinder
to him than in previous! In 2012 Gary was in 2nd place
behind Damien Cole and pressuring him hard when a driveshaft
failed and then in 2013 a 'cat and mouse' situation developed
with Triston Bailey's Mitsubishi who took top honours from Gary
on the last stage by just three seconds!
So what would 2014 hold in store?!
Well, another strong entry headed this year by our regular
rivals Martyn and Dawn England and Manx Champion Aaron Newby and
Tom Woodburn. The event this year consisted of eight Special
Stages covering 52 miles on the Co-Operative owned disused
Airfield at Down Ampney. Every year there is speculation
surrounding this venues closure so all the more reason to try
and get a good result.
Corolla got off to a good start on the event setting fastest
time on SS1 by five seconds ahead of Aaron Newby in his Subaru
Impreza closely followed by Martyn and Dawn Englands Mitsubishe
continued between them with Martyn pulling back two seconds on
SS2 & SS3 and then a further five seconds on SS4. This meant
that after SS4 Martyn and Gary were now tied on equal
time with Aaron Newby only two seconds adrift.
Sadly though, the Englands Mitsubishi was forced into
early retirement after damaging the rear suspension and failed
to start SS5.
co-driver Tony Bassett
set fastest times on the remaining four stages
but only by a very small margin and eventually took the win by
11 seconds ahead of Aaron and co-driver Tom Woodburn. Third
place went to Josh Payton and Marcus Mizen in a Ford Escort.
would like to thank his Service Crew on the event Scott Barnes,
Charlie Bole, Rob King and Bill Paynter for their extreme
efforts and the Teams Sponsors Goodridge Fluid Transer Systems,
4Kam On Board Cameras, Acumen Promotions and PCS Furnishing
23rd March 2014 -
Tour of Caerwent
- Organisers: Forresters Car Club
- Venue: MOD Training Camp - Caerwent, Wales
Stage Mileage: 65
Overall position: 3rd
was the 20th anniversary of the first 'Tour of Caerwent' run by
Forresters Car Club following the MOD's decision to stop using
the base as a munitions store in 1993. The event is part of the
Welsh National Tarmacadam Championship, Cotswold Motor Group
Stage Rally Championship and the GwynneSpeed Rally Challenge
morning, with damp conditions the road surface was extremely
slippery especially on the perimeter roads having had very
little usage since last years Patriot Stage Rally in September.
SS1 didn't go too well with Gary struggling to cope with some
handling issues and then taking a wrong turn into a cul de sac
having to do a U-turn costing the Team approximately 15 seconds.
Back into Service and some adjustments made from the Epynt
settings the Corolla went back out and felt much more balanced
and after a good clean run moved up to 7th place. Previous
winner of the event Dave Willett in his Escort Mk2 wasn't having
such issues and had already opened up a 24 second lead over
Steve O'Leary in his Darrian T90. However, SS3 saw Gary set
equal fastest stage time to Willett with the car really getting
to grips with the tight and twisty stage. SS4 also saw Gary
setting fastest time taking a second off Willett which moved
them up to 5th place 10 seconds behind Richard Merriman in 3rd
and still six seconds behind Martyn and Dawn England in their
Mitsubishi Evo 9 in 4th position. SS5 the Penultimate Stage was
the Corolla's best stage of the day again setting fastest stage
time taking 20 seconds out of Merriman, 15 out of the Englands
and 9 from Willett moving them up to 3rd place. With O'Leary too
far ahead to challenge on the last stage Gary took a more
cautious approach as Caerwent is notorious for taking many a car
victim with all those kerbs but they still managed to set equal
fastest time with O'Leary!
you could say - 'A Good Day was had in the Office!' coming home
3rd overall and setting four fastest stage times out of the six.
So without the mini excusion and handling issues on SS1, things
may have proved to have been very different!!!
9th March 2014 - Tour of Epynt
Organisers: Port Talbot
Venue: Epynt Military Ranges
Stage Mileage 76 - Road
Overall position D.N.F.
The Tour of Epynt is always the first round of
the REIS MSA Asphalt Rally Championship and unlike last years
arctic conditions with temperatures plummeting to -9°
degrees, the conditions were almost tropical with glorious
sunshine and NO RAIN!
Saturday morning was spent making adjustments to the notes on
the Recce and then off to Llandovery cattle market for
scrutineering in the afternoon.
Since the Brean Stage
Rally, the Corolla had undergone some suspension modifications
and after a day in mid-Wales testing with Graham Middleton and
adjusting the set-up, the cars handling had much improved.
Sunday got off to a steady
start with Gary and new co-driver Tony Bassett getting to grips
with the new set-up over the ranges. After SS2 with confidence
growing and gaining momentum the Team had moved up to 15th
overall when they came back into Service. Back out onto the
ranges ready for SS3 when news came through of an accident
involving Colin Price and Phil Cook in their Darrian T9 with
both crew members being airlifted to hospital. So after a
lengthy delay, the stages eventually went 'live' again but with
the cancellation of SS4 whilst the incident was being
investigated. Thankfully, both of the crew are making a good
recovery. SS5 and SS6 saw the Corolla moving up to 11th overall
setting a Top Ten time on SS6. No problems in Service and the
crew headed off to complete the final stage SS7 but on the Road
Section the Corolla stalled and they were unable to start her
back up. Upon investigation when back in the workshop, it
transpired that the crank shaft sensor had failed.
A frustrating end to what
would have been the best result for the Corolla on the Epynt
ranges. The event was won by Damien Cole and Elliot Edmondson in
the Focus WRC 05 by one second after a very close fought battle with Peter
Lloyd (Subaru S14) and Steve Simpson (Subaru S12).
25th- 26th January 2014 - Brean Stage Rally
Organisers: Club Rally
Venue: Brean Leisure Park
Stages: 12 Stage Mileage
Overall position 4th
After the final event last year the Regency
Stages, the Corolla was completely stripped out to be re-sprayed
and have the suspension, driveshafts and diffs all rebuilt. But
it's amazing how whenever you think there's always plenty of
time to get everything done, with the Christmas festivities,
time just seems to run away! So, the weeks prior to Brean saw
Gary working almost continually getting everything back together
and having to re-apply all of the many decals that the Corolla
adorns! The new Sponsor Goodridge Fluid Transfer Systems are
based in Exeter so it was arranged for the car to visit the
factory prior to scrutineering in Weston-super-mare for the
staff to view the car. Seemed like a good plan except due to
lack of time, the Corolla still hadn't been road tested and the
only movement since last year was from the workshop onto the
trailer! So naturally the Team was very apprehensive and
accepted that this Rally should be treated as a Test but
thankfully, when the car was driven from scrutineering to Brean
Leisure Park (Rally HQ) everything felt fine. With the Corolla
wrapped up in her all weather cover the Team headed home ready
to commence battle the following day.
This was the first event that co-driver Tony
Bassett had sat alongside Gary so naturally everybody was
feeling the pressure. With the car seeded No. 5 surrounded by
Subaru WRC's, taking everything into consideration, they decided
to take a cautious approach in the very damp and slippery
conditions. SS1 and SS2 caused alot of problems for many of the
competitors with the overnight standing water and grease on the
tarmac, Gary & Tony were surprised to find themselves 3rd
overall. The car was handling well and so Gary continued with
the same tyre choice and played a little with the settings. The
remaining four stages of the day went without drama and the
Corolla came into Park Ferme sitting
4th overall only 2 seconds ahead of Steve & Yvonne Furzeland's
Subaru S12. The top three positions overnight were Peter Lloyd
(Subaru S14) followed by Rob Swann and Aaron Newby. Sunday
brought a new meaning to the words 'wet & windy'. Alot of heavy
overnight rain had left the stages waterlogged so an obvious
tyre choice was 'wets'. This under normal circumstances would
have been perfect except the Corolla had other ideas. The
handling was atrocious and Gary just couldn't put the power down
without the risk of losing the back end. Having struggled all
morning to get the set-up right after SS10 the Corolla was lying
5th overall being hotly persued by Rob Swan so Gary decided to
revert back to Saturdays choice of tyres and settings.
Thankfully this was affective and they improved their stage
times and the Team managed to move back up the leader board and
finished the rally after SS12 4th overall 8 seconds ahead of Rob
Swann. The rally was won for the seventh time by Peter Lloyd and
co-driver Carl Sorrenson.
Thanks go to our Service Crew, Rob, Bill and
Charlie who worked tirelessly in extreme weather conditions and
certainly deserved a beer or two! Also our Sponsors without
whose help we wouldn't be able to compete at this level and Tony
for doing a good job on the notes and settling into the Team so
12th October 2013 -
Regency Stages Rally
Weston Super Mare Motor Club
Bath & West Showground
Stage Mileage: 45
- Overall position:
nice to be heading back to Shepton Mallet for this years Regency
Stages, we finished 3rd overall on its first running
two years ago but missed last years event with an early engine
first stage kicked off at 10am with Martyn and Dawn England
heading the 66 strong entry with us seeded just behind. We had
chosen a Pirelli Inter as the stage was still wet from morning
rain. There’s little grip at this venue as the roads used are
really paths and see no traffic other than farm animals and
machinery. Our choice of rubber was therefore a gamble but was
to turn out to be spot on, in just four miles we emerged 18
seconds quicker than the nearest car, Oliver and Philip Hopkins
in their Mitsubishi Evo 6, one second slower was Martyn and Dawn
in their Evo 9, matched by Josh Payton in his quick Mk11 Escort.
Gary had driven a perfect stage in tough conditions, the tyres,
settings, and driver all working in harmony.
next stage was a repeat and again we were quickest by 12 seconds
to Martyn England who had nipped into 2nd, with Josh
Payton just behind the Hopkins pairing now all separated by 3
seconds. We had a 31 second lead after just 8 miles but sad news
soon filtered through that a later car had left the stage and
had hit some spectators. The stage was immediately cancelled and
all times scraped whilst the organisers dealt with the incident.
a case of déjà vie as I retrieved my blue book with the page
still open at the correct page from Caerwent two weeks ago,
however this was slightly different circumstances and after the
organisers had decided to stick to the stage being cancelled we
agreed to respect their decision and not contest the
a very lengthy delay whilst the Health and Safety people were
satisfying themselves it was okay to continue we headed out to
Stage Start now running first on the road as car 1 had
discovered a broken manifold and retired. The stages were also
shortened slightly to avoid the corner where the incident took
place but this didn’t affect the stage variations. This next
pair now at just under four miles each saw us on slicks for the
first time as it was now mid-afternoon and the stages had well
and truly dried out in the delay. We were trying Hankooks for
the first time and the car felt very different but we still set
fastest time by 8 seconds.
5 and 6 saw the tyres
working better as they started to wear but we just couldn’t lean on
them like we can with the Pirellis. Two more fastest time though
saw us with a healthy 42 second lead, but you can never count
your chickens till it’s over as the last pair were longer,
reversed, and in darkness.
the light pod bolted on we blasted off into the evening and
straight away was confused with the layout as we tried to turn
into a road between two buildings, after a few seconds and some
frantic shouting and pointing we were quickly on our way again,
with the drivers concentration now broken it was a difficult
stage but we emerged unscathed and in the knowledge we had time
in hand. Josh Payton clawed back 7 seconds, with Graham
Middleton second fastest showing he has not lost any of his
talent jumping up 3 places into 5th overall.
the final test with a comfy 35 second margin all we had to do
was drive sensible through the stage and we would emerge
victors. Rallying is a funny game and always springs up surprises
and this was to be no exception and certainly not one we wish to
repeat. After competing in over 200 stage rallies, 60 with Gary
we had a rallying first. About a mile into the stage after
exiting a fast corner setting ourselves up for a hairpin left
through a gate we met a vehicle coming the other way up the
stage. A minibus had managed to find its way into and access
road we were using; I’m not sure who was more surprised, us or
the other driver being blinded by the Corollas light pod.
Thankfully he obviously saw us coming and slowed as we just
managed to avoid hitting the bus or the large gate post. Unsure
what to do we carried on knowing there were plenty of marshals
at that point, hoping they could stop them before the next car
entered the stage a minute behind. You can imagine the
conversation we were having in the car and as we headed round
for our second lap thankfully the marshals had indeed stopped
the minibus now parked on a grass verge with about 15 bemused
faces peering out the windows now being forced to spectate.
finished the stage in disbelief of what had just happened and
we’d obviously dropped time but only eight seconds which was
enough to still give us the win, thankfully we had done all the
hard work in that opening stage.
What a fantastic way to end the season but it wasn’t without its
29th September 2013 -
Patriot Stage Rally
- Organisers: Forresters Car Club
- Venue: MOD Training Camp - Caerwent, Wales
Stage Mileage: 66
- Overall position:
Picture courtesy of EDP Photography
our previous non finishes on the last two rounds of the REIS
Asphalt Championship we were keen to make amends and at least
finish the this round at Caerwent. This is a venue which both
Gary and I enjoy and suits the car well and we were hoping for a
good result, but we didn’t get a good start we were hoping for
and had a spin within a mile of the start. The venue is a huge
army camp with a maze of roads that enables the organisers to
run six, eleven miles stages with no split junctions, with each
stage containing on average around 90 junctions. For once it was
dry so onto soft slicks for the first morning stage, and
straight from the off Gary was on a mission, the handling felt
okay but the Corolla was moving about under hard braking as we
explored the grip levels. Unfortunately about a mile in, a small
bump upset the Toyota whilst braking hard for a ‘T’ junction and
the Rear End got away and we spun into the Junction collecting a
small brick pillar on the way which we hit with the rear wheel
as it came round. This immediately stopped the car as we
scattered broken bits of brick all over the road. It felt and
sounded really bad and I was convinced we had taken the wheel
off or at least broken the suspension but amazingly Gary managed
to turn the car round and after a few seconds wasted ensuring
the car behind wasn’t coming we carried on into the Stage
expecting the car to be unbalanced, but testament to the
Corolla’s strength all seemed fine and amazingly the tyre was
still inflated. We finished the stage in 15th place
and estimated that we’d lost around 25 seconds which would have
been good enough for 6th.
Service no one could believe that the tyre has stayed inflated,
as a four inch part of the rim was missing along with a spoke
and another broken. Luck was on our side for once and after a
full inspection of the suspension all that was found was a crack
in the hub, nothing we could do about that except hope it would
last the rally so off we went to SS2.
errors here and we actually caught and passed James Harvey who
had started ahead of us, but felt the tyres going off towards
the end. We had gone 40 seconds quicker than our SS1 time so
back to Service for a change of rubber and see if we had
improved on our position. We found we had jumped up into 9th
overall, a big reward for a driver that had pushed really hard.
Some small changes were made to the set up and harder compound
tyres bolted on we headed back out. SS3 had seen a good clean
run setting eighth quickest time but the Toyota was pushing on
in the corners with under steer. Some small tweaks to the
setting would cure this for the next stage. We were now in eight
place and catching the car in front so a big push on SS4 was
needed. Realistically 7th would be the best we could
do and unlikely to catch 6th placed man and class
rival John Stone in his Skoda Fabia WRC.
Corolla was now handling better than ever as we set 7th
quickest time and had taken 8 seconds from Ian Kenvin ahead with
us now only 5 seconds apart. However further behind in the stage
James Harvey had hit a large rock in the quarry road, knocked
his front left wheel off and had blocked the stage so that no
one could pass. The Stage had been stopped and because of the
time it took to remove him the stage got cancelled. The
Organisers decided to cancel all the times through so all our
hard work had been undone. At the front of the event Peter
Lloyd had just lost his lead to Paul Bird with a puncture in
this Stage, but with the cancellation would see him still
leading. Fifth placed Dave Willet had also punctured losing four
minutes which meant without the
cancellation we would have been moved up another place. This is
where we co-drivers earn our crust and out came the Blue Book
with several crews not happy with the decision to cancel all the
times, we felt it better if a notional time was given to those
who had not been able to complete the stage. We headed into SS5
not knowing the outcome of our plea, so we decided to act as
though it would be cancelled and try again to catch those in
front. We pushed the settings further forward than we have ever
done before and pushed the Toyota really hard. Wow what a stage
we had found a massive 15 seconds, we set fifth fastest time and
took 26 seconds from Ian Kenvin !!.The best news was that the
Organisers had reversed their decision and our times for SS4
were given so we then went into the last stage in 6th
overall. Another good time was set and we emerged this final
Stage as we started in 6th overall and 5th
8th September 2013 -
Prima Motorsport Stages
Bournemouth Disctrict Car Club
- Overall position:
Gary and Paul brought
the Corolla WRC home to 2nd overall at the Prima Motorsport
Stages which was held at Upottery Airfield in Smeatharpe.
recent run of bad luck The Team were very pleased with the
result as this followed two retirements one at Otterburn and
the other Epynt. The Event was a round of the ASWMC Sealed
Stage Championship and covered a distance of approx. 45
miles and was supported by 54 crews from around the UK.
The event was won by
Steve and Yvonne Furzeland from Plymouth in their Subaru WRC
S12, thirty two seconds ahead of the Corolla with third
place going to Martyn & Dawn England in their Mitsubishi Evo
The event started with The Furzelands taking
the immediate lead with their more modern machinery and it
was clear from an early stage that Gary's main aim of the
rally would be to try and hold off the Mitsubishi of Martyn
& Dawn England.
The Toyota took a one second advantage from
them on SS1 which was immediately retaken back by Martyn on
SS2. The next two stages saw Gary move six seconds ahead but
then they set joint times on three of the remaining six
before the Corolla finally pulled away and gained a 15
second advantage over the Mitsubishi.
Gary would like to
thank his Service Crew Rob, Bill and Charlie for all their
hard work on keeping the car going throughout the day. Also,
special thanks to Neil Jones whose Chard based Engineering
company Redstart Design quickly designed and manufactured
some new parts for the Corolla that were successfully used
on the event.
25th August 2013 -
Event Signs Mewla Rally
- Organisers: Epynt Motor Club
- Venue: Epynt Sennybridge Ranges
- Competitors: 104
- Overall position:
After our woes of Otterburn two weeks ago, our main objective
for the weekend was to make sure the Corolla was handling
correctly and that all the repairs and geometry were back into
order. Friday afternoon was spent setting the car up, however it
was raining so the road testing was done with a soft setting and
wets tyres. The car felt good on the road but as we all know
this is not done at rally speeds or anywhere close to the test
that the car would receive on the ranges itself. Saturday
morning saw us complete a very productive Recce before
Scrutineering back at the Builth Wells Showground. With the
forecast for Sunday now being dry we decided to put the Toyota
into its hard setting and give it a quick run up the road to see
how it felt and to bed in the new tyres. A lengthy road section
from MTC 1 at the Showground to the first loop of stages via
Emergency Service on Mabian’ s Way allowing 10 minutes to make any
final tyre changes.
In the early morning SS1 at four miles was tricky with some very
fast bits through the quarry. The car felt glued at the front
but soft at the rear and was making the Corolla nervous over the
jumps. A short road section before SS2 with a nasty uphill
start, here we could see 2 seconds lost to those ahead with
launch control! This stage at 2.39 miles ended on the notorious
Burma Road. No problems there so straight into SS3 from
Piccadilly to the end of the New Road via the German Village.
This stage is fast with not too many technical bits or jumps so
the car felt better but again a cautious approach saw us in 20th
after the first loop, but at least we had got through unscathed.
The second loop was a repeat of the first three stages so any
changes made to the handling would be apparent. We softened the
front and stiffened the back which made the car feel better but
was under steering; the result over the stages was an
improvement of just one second per stage, so although it felt
smoother we were not going any quicker. More head scratching in
Service and we made some more changes to the Corolla before
heading out to SS7. This stage at 13 ½ miles again started at
Piccadilly but headed the other way using the Burma Road in the
opposite direction before returning to the New Road at Four
Ways. Things felt much better, the car felt the best it has for
a long time and we recorded 13th fastest time and
felt we could have gone quicker as we regained our confidence in
the cars ability.
In Service before we turned around to attack the ranges in the
other direction our Service Team found a leak from the clutch
hydraulics, a seal had failed and fluid was dripping through the
clutch and bell housing. We topped up the reservoir before we
left and again at the stage arrival, stage finish etc. hoping it
would be enough to get us through the next pair of stages. Half
way through SS8 Gary reported that we had completely lost the
Clutch with the pedal on the floor, not a problem in itself as
we don’t need it to change gear in the stage but at the finish
control it’s knock it into neutral and coast to the stop line or
stall the engine to stop, either way I have to get out and push
to bump start the engine then do my stunt man bit and jump back
in as it fires up! Then we had to do the next road section
without stopping until we got to the next arrival control where
again I got out and pushed us into the control. Then got our
time and pushed us to the start line. I asked the Marshal for a
minute so I can get back in and belted up, this was done in
record time before the count down. Gary put it into gear and
used the starter to get us going luckily not before the clock
turned green. It was all a bit of luck really but the Toyota
fired up nicely and off we went into SS9. No problems in the
stage until the finish line where again we stop and the process
is repeated again and again. Once into Service we tried in vain
to regain pressure into the system, but with the fluid empty and
the leak worse it was agreed not to attempt the final loop.
Our thanks to everyone who helped in the preparations in getting
the car ready for this weekend and special thanks to our Service
Crew Rob, Bill, and Charlie who worked so hard to try and keep
11th August 2013 - Tyneside Stage
Organisers: Alnwick &
District Motor Club
Location: Otterburn Ranges
- Overall position:
Any retirement is hard to deal with and this event was no
exception mainly because of the distance and time it takes
just to get there. For us in a car it is just over 7 hours
at 385 miles directly north of our south coast home. It’s
considerably longer in a van towing the rally car to get to
Otterburn, 25 miles North West of Newcastle.
Having said that, it is well worth doing the trip as the
ranges are not for the faint hearted and are very rewarding
for both driver and co-driver with very long fast undulating
stages usually very slippery in the changeable conditions.
We have done this rally 3 times previous but have only
finished once - both retirements coming on the 5th
stage – this year was to be no different.
The weather was dry, but the stages still damp in places
from overnight rain. We headed out to the first of three
stages that made up the first loop. A six mile road section
to warm everything up in preparation to attack the first
seven mile stage. The car felt a bit twitchy over the jumps
but otherwise felt good with the Toyota pulling nicely out
of the corners and hitting top speed with the brand new
Pirelli’s gripping well. About half a mile from the end the
Corolla just got airborne over a small crested ‘K’ left and
landed with the rear offside wheel just off the road hitting
a large bit of Northumberland granite resulting in breaking
the wheel and puncturing the tyre. The impact then pulled
the front off the road and Gary had to man handle the Toyota
back onto the road avoiding a culvert in the process. We
finished the stage with only a few seconds lost but the
Corolla was crabbing and we expected the worst. The finish
marshal’s expression was a picture that told us not all was
well with the rear, his only comment was we had a puncture
but Gary and I knew it was far worse. We had to drive a mile
of the next 3 mile road section as the stage finished on
gravel and had to find some flat hard standing area so we
could stop and inspect the damage.
We changed the wheel as a matter of course and Gary had a
quick look to make sure everything was still attached which
it was, if a little bent, so we simply buckled ourselves
back in and headed off to SS 2 a tricky 3 miler called
Riverside that crosses a stream on a wooden bridge with lots
of tight corners and blind crests. Our game plan was to now
just get through these next two stages and get back to
Service to hopefully repair and replace the damaged parts.
Gary was going as fast as he could as he hung on to the
steering wheel for dear life whilst he grappled for control
as the Corolla was trying to pitch us of the road with its
rear wheel steer. On our way to the 3rd stage we
had a 4 mile road section through a forest on a fairly rough
gravel track, we thought if something was going to break it
would be here but all was okay and we completed the next
seven mile stage, and to our surprise we were not caught by
the car behind, in fact our stage times were not too bad
Into Service our Team jumped into action and after a careful
inspection it looked as if the impact had only dislodged the
strut in the top mount apart from the obvious tracking
issue. The only other problem found was that one of the
lower arms looked bent. This is testament to the Corolla’s
strength and build quality as from inside the car it sounded
and felt a lot worse. So with repairs done and tracking put
right (the best that we could under the circumstances), it
was onto the second loop which was a repeat of the first
three stages. On the road section we experimented with the
cars new handling and it didn’t feel too bad.
Over the jumps again in SS4 the Toyota was bouncing around
on landing so Gary had to lift before the jump to settle the
car before take-off. We then arrived at the corner which we
went off earlier (now with a triple caution in the notes!).
I didn’t think the car was handling too bad but Gary was
complaining of bad under steer on left hand corners and was
suspecting that may by the front tracking had been knocked
out of alignment. Into SS5 and on a tight square left over
another of Otterburns many blind crests we under steered off
the road and as the corner fell away and by the time we
stopped we ended up along the side of the road with a ditch
between us and the road quite a way past the corner with no
chance of turning round or reversing back up the hill, the
only option was to continue along the edge of the road to
find another way back on. The ground was getting softer and
the grass taller and we ended up getting stuck in a bog with
soft peat up to our axles and even with four wheel drive we
were stuck fast. In true spirit of rallying we were not yet
ready to give up, so with several spectators a tow rope and
even jacking the car up and putting rocks under the wheels
we weren’t going and further.
An incident further into the stage caused a permanent
stoppage which led to a lengthy wait before we were rescued
by a Landover which winched the Corolla carefully on boards
backwards over the ditch.
Once we were back onto the road again we drove the car back
to Service but understandably had gone well and truly OTL so
sadly, that was the end of our rally and the beginning of a
long drive home!
7th July 2013 - ALMC Stage Rally
Organisers: ALMC Motor
Location: Co. Meath, Ireland
Stages: 9 Stage Miles 69
Road Mileage 90
Overall position: 21st
What can be said about our weekend except – to be sure we had a
Our preparations for the ALMC started with an unscheduled round
trip the previous weekend to Germany for Christian our engine
builder to check over the engine. We’ve been plagued with an oil
leak since the winter rebuild and we were struggling to identify
the problem and with the risk of the oil damaging the clutch
this seemed the next best route to take if we were going to go
with any confidence to Ireland. After a good inspection a small
plug in the oil gallery was found to be the culprit and so once
replaced, we left Germany and returned to England. It’s not the
easiest of tasks to undertake but over the next two evenings Rob
(King) and Gary put the engine back in, got her running and then
loaded up ready for commencing the six hour journey.
So, the next few days unfolded as follows:-
– set off in the afternoon to Holyhead, Anglesey.
– Irish ferry to Dublin to be met by Noel (another
Toyota specialist & Goodwood comrade). Back to his yard in Co.
Meath to check over the car and take some momentous photographs
together alongside Irishman John Reids Forest spec. Corolla.
– Collected Service crew Rob King and Bill Paynter from
airport. Teamed up with Enda Shiels (John Reids navigator) for
the Recce. Then off to Scrutineering and then into Parc Ferme at
Dunboyne Castle to be followed by an evening Ceremonial Start in
the centre of Dunboyne. The number of spectators and
well-wishers on route was quite remarkable and it certainly can
be said that the Irish do love their rallying.
– Rally Day - (Weather conditions – warm but cloudy).
After an early start, Gary and Enda left Park Ferme and into a
short Service to make the final tyre choice before proceeding to
the first loop of stages. Each loop consisted of three stages
with a total of 37 stage km and 48 road km.
On the first stage the new crew decided to take a cautious
approach until they’d got a feel for the Irish lanes. All was
good until unfortunately, a few cars behind Mark Jasper and
co-driver Don Whyatt had a huge accident in their Metro 6R4.
Remarkably, both crews managed to walk away from the scene and
were very badly shaken but thankfully not seriously hurt. This
resulted in the Stage being stopped and all remaining crews
being given a notional time which had been recorded by local
driver Michael Curran 24 seconds faster than Gary and Enda
leaving them after SS1 one place off the bottom of the leader
board – not so good! Most of the other crews were delighted
with the time given including Enda’s son who was navigating for
John Reid in his Historic Escort and was 24 seconds ahead of his
Dad without even leaving the start line!
After completing the next two Stages on the first loop, Gary was
starting to find the pace and had managed to get back to 42nd
Back into Service and with no problems, the Corolla was given a
thorough inspection all round. The good news was, it would
appear that the oil leak had been rectified, there was no sign
of oil on the sump guard at all.
Back out for the next loop of three stages and the road
temperature getting warmer, the new Pirelli’s were working well
giving good grip and hardly wearing at all. You could tell by
their facial expressions that they’d had a good clean run and
they returned into Service having moved up eighteen places to 24th
overall. Again a trouble free Service and staying on the same
Rx5’s Gary and Enda headed out for the final loop.
The pair were thoroughly enjoying the stages and with their
increasing confidence started to push the Corolla hard and set
some very good stage times (even faster than Kevin Barrett on
SS9!), clawing their way back to 21st overall. If it
had not been for the timing issue on stage 1 and they had
received the notional time as did over 60 other crews they would
have finished 16th overall – but rules are rules!
.........Finally, we’d just like to say that to
participate in this Rally meant a lot to Gary and Penny as Mick
Eiffe from Co. Meath had helped Gary collate a lot of the parts
to enable him to build the car in 2010. Mick had never seen the
car competing and would have been so pleased for the car to come
to Ireland. Sadly, Mick passed away in February last year after
a battle against Leukaemia but the irony was that three times on
the road section of the rally, the Corolla drove past his house
and workshop. He was a unique character liked by all and a man
who is sadly missed and will never be forgotten. With the Irish
flag from his workshop flying in our Service vehicle, we hope we
made him proud - God Bless you Mick.
23rd June 2013 - Three Counties
District Car Club
Stages: 10 Stage Mileage
Overall position: 2nd
Report to follow soon
4th May - Corinium Stage Rally
Venue: Down Ampney
Stages: 8 Stage Mileage
Overall position: 2nd
taken by EDP Photography
The old World War Two
Airfield at Down Ampney was extremely slippery on SS1 due to
overnight rain so an Intermediate tyre was chosen. The venue is
mainly concrete with some areas broken up making it very tricky
Martyn and Dawn
England in their Mitsubishi EVO9 headed the 70 strong entry we
followed into the stage 30 seconds later, with Tristan Bailey /
James How behind in their later spec 04WRC Mitsubishi.
Our intention was to
attack right from the off and all was going well until we came
through the merge to start our second lap right on top of
another car leaving the stage start. Unfortunately a
misunderstanding as to who should be ahead at the next corner
meant us having to take evasive action to miss hitting the
Escort which then saw us sliding quite hard into a one ton hay
bale. The only damage apart from pride was the Toyota’s Bumper
but a stall and trying to select reverse cost us around 15
seconds. A spin later in the stage trying to regain some lost
time just added to the frustrations and we finished up in 4th
spot 4 seconds behind Bailey. Martyn England had a clean run and
was a massive 17 seconds ahead but he wasn’t leading as Spencer
Chard’s Subaru went 1 quicker.
Stage 2 was full on
as Gary tried to make up some ground in the damp conditions. We
managed to set the fastest time taking 8 seconds off the leader.
Bailey went second fastest leaving us behind by just 2 seconds.
As the venue was
drying quickly it was time for the slicks in stage 3 and set
another fastest time the Corolla. We had jumped ahead of Bailey
by going 4 quicker; however we were now 2nd as
Spencer Chard had retired with a broken gearbox. With Martyn
England now leading just 6 seconds ahead we decided to stiffen
up the Toyota’s Settings in the hope of challenging for the top
spot, but as we left the Service Area it started to rain. Three
minutes later as we sat on the start line it was fully raining
leaving us with the knowledge that our challenge may have to
wait and just get through this next stage. Bailey had left his
Mitsubishi in soft mode and reversed the deficit to take back 2nd
spot as we both took time out of England, 3 seconds now
separated all three of us.
The afternoon stages
were now dry again and longer at 7.5 miles so were hopeful of a
great battle. England had a costly spin in SS5 of around 14
seconds dropping him behind us and Bailey who matched each other
A hard push in Stage
6 saw us claw back 1 second leaving us now 1 second behind. This
was achieved by catching and passing a slower car. England was
now too far back to mount a serious attack so settled into 3rd
The penultimate stage
again saw another hard charge and with a clean run we went
quickest again by 2 seconds.
Going into the final
stage we led the rally for the first time by 1 second. Our hopes
of a win though were dashed with a half spin early on, so knew
it would be close, but we again caught a slower car into a
series of corners and had to wait before we could go our
separate ways at the split junction. This obviously cost us
another few seconds and we emerged 4 seconds slower than a
clearly delighted Mitsubishi driver!
If it wasn’t for our
first stage incident who knows what might have been, but 2nd
is still a great result, and a lot of fun was had along the way.
19/20th April - London Rally for
Picture courtesy of Rowan Harrison
Organisers: Southern Car
Venue: Rushmoor, Brooklands,
Minley, Bramley, Deepcut & Montgomery
Stages: 21 Stage Mileage
52 Road Mileage 158
Overall position 1st
finally arrived after a busy week of preparations, with me
watching the Patersons DVD, ploughing through the road books and
stage notes, whilst Gary was working on the Corolla after a late
scare when the gearbox oil pump drive gear broke. The Toyota was
finally put back together and only road tested again Thursday
night before travelling up to Brooklands Motor Museum the
been seeded at Car 1 so we had to be on our best behaviour
before being flagged away by the Defence Secretary Philip
Hammond MP at the Ceremonial Start. With no stages on the Friday
it was then back onto the trailer and off to Rushmoor Arena, nr
Aldershot (the new rally HQ) where Service would be based until
returning to Brooklands for the final two stages and Ceremonial
decided to go home overnight so it was a 4.45am start to get
myself back to Rushmoor Arena for our 07.21 start! The weather
looked fine although there had been an overnight frost with
freezing fog so we decided to go straight out on the Pirelli
rx9’s. We knew if we wanted to do well we were going to have to
be right on it from the off, so with two quick blasts around
Rushmoor Arena (the Spectator Stages), that’s exactly what we
did and set fastest times on both runs.
headed off to SS3 Minley with a slender 2.3 second lead over
Martin England in his EVO 9, then Richard Edwards 2 Litre Escort
in 3rd spot just ahead of Mark Welch in his Escort
Cosworth. BRMC pairing of Paul King & Alicia Miles were in 7th
place at this point.
knew we would struggle in Minley playing road sweeper and nearly
lost the lead to a fast charging Welch who went 5.1 quicker than
us jumping him into 2nd overall, with Edwards (being
co-driven by my son Andrew) setting 2nd fastest time
keeping them in 3rd place. Only 4.4 seconds separated
the top four cars after the three stages.
next two stages were through the old Ammunitions Camp at Bramley
Woods nr Basingstoke. We set quickest time through both stages
extending our lead to 10.1 seconds. On the second running we
caught and passed Steve Rockingham’s Subaru just before the
finish at the same time catching the car that had started a
minute ahead, the marshals witnessed all 3 of us crossing the
finish line simultaneously!
lengthy road section (going via the M3) back to Service, where
we found a leaking oil pipe which was quickly sorted by our very
overworked Service crew! Then we were straight back into the
next loop of six stages. News filtered through that King and
Miles had retired their Escort with a clutch problem.
Another two runs through the Spectator Stage at Rushmoor saw
Martin England winning the first and on the second run we
matched identical times. Welch and Edwards were swapping seconds
but remained in 2nd and 3rd place.
pair of stages was next in Deepcut Barracks nr Frimley. Gary
described it as a 3 mile Autotest, I described the notes as
being one long sentence which I struggled to read quick enough!
Again our game plan was to gain an advantage on the first runs
through these stages and again we were quickest through both
pairs taking another 4 seconds from Welch.
next two stages run at Montgomery Barracks would be the only
visit there and it can only be described as a mini Caerwent. The
stage was extremely green in places and with a split junction it
was possible traffic might be a problem so our plan was to push
hard before the split to have a clear run on the first half of
the stage. Two very fast stages saw us take 22.1 seconds from
Welch extending our lead to 40 seconds as we headed back to
Service. Welch was still second pulling clear of Edwards who
had struggled through the Montgomery stage with worn tyres.
been a nonstop morning but very pleased to be leading and maybe
a little surprised by the time we had gained on this second
loop. It did mean we could now just try maintain the gap and not
take any risks so we decided to stay on the same tyres as the
next set of stages being a repeat of the first loop with an
extra run through Minley would not be too hard on the part worn
we arrived at the start of Rushmoor there was a lengthy delay as
the stage had not yet been turned around allowing us to have a
rest. Edwards and Hollingham jnr. took their first stage win
here narrowing the gap back to Welch to 15 seconds. However we
put the record straight by taking 0.01 back on the repeat!
Rushmoor delay meant that SS14 the first Minley was cancelled,
to which we were glad as this was our bogey stage. Proved when
we only managed 6th fastest, perhaps being a bit too
cautious in this tricky stage. The next pair was back at Bramley
Woods again being run in the opposite direction. We again
extended our lead by winning both runs, the only drama was that
we had now completely destroyed our tyres so it was back to
Service for a change of rubber before heading out to the final
six more short stages lay ahead with the first two again through
Rushmoor, however the first of these was cancelled as the
organisers tried to make some time back from the earlier delay.
Royston Carey in his front wheel drive Clio was putting in a
giant killing act and was now third nearly 2 minutes behind
Welch after Edwards picked up a puncture. With another long road
section via the M3 and M25 it was off to Mercedes Benz World for
the final two Spectator Stages on the test track. Two 1.76 miles
of lovely smooth Asphalt allowed us to use the Corolla’s grip
but actually thought we might be at a disadvantage to the quick
escorts, however we were again fastest on both runs taking
victory by 1 minute 10 seconds. We were so excited when we
crossed the final control just 400 metres from the neighbouring
Brooklands complex in the knowledge that we had just won our
first major multi-venue event.
Motorsport news titled it to be an easy win, but we can assure
you it was nothing but easy, with crews enduring 9 hours in the
car covering 52 miles through 21 short but tricky stages joined
with 158 miles of road sections. This is probably one of the
toughest events we have done but it all came good in the end and
the champagne tasted ‘Oh so sweet’!
Tour of Epynt 10th March 2013
Picture courtesy of Rally Gallery
Organisers: Port Talbot
Venue: Epynt Military Ranges
Stages: 7 Stage Mileage
Overall position 16th
Weekend in Arctic conditions!
Having not been to
the Epynt ranges for a couple of years we decided that the key
would be to work very hard with the notes and the Recce. We
arrived in Wales on the Friday afternoon and we got straight to
work at running through the notes and watching some previous
onboard footage. Gary and I highlighted some areas we felt that
needed some improvement.
Saturday dawned with
low cloud and our fears of not being able to see the road ahead
were confirmed when we arrived a Dixies Corner for the Recce to
find it shrouded in mist. This was not part of the plan, however
once we started our convoy runs heading east the conditions
improved and on the second run over the ranges the cloud had
lifted enough to view the road ahead.
smoothly and only a tyre choice to be made before the first loop
of stages in the morning.Over night the winds had picked up and
Sunday morning although looked brighter with no low cloud but it
was bitterly cold, with temperatures not much above zero but the
wind chill was about -10.
We had decided to
drive the rally car to the ranges about 12 miles away, this was
a good move to get everything warmed before the off. We set up
our Service Area before making our tyre choice. As it was
mostly dry with no sign of rain, there was only one real option
to go for, in our case the softest rubber available that was
A short road section
from the service area in the quarry to Stage 1 arrival at Dixies
was just about enough to get everything warmed up. Stage 1 then
was only a short three and a half miles, but technically one of
the hardest sections on the ranges. Starting at Deers and Devils
leap although slowed with chicanes we headed over the jumps down
to Llandeilo Fan triangle, up the narrow and slippery Burma Road
and finishing at Bamfords triangle. A safe start at 17th
quickest with a time of 3.39. This next stage was just under 13
miles and started off heading the wrong way back towards
Bamfords, but went the long way around a tricky triangle before
heading east again up a road not often used before joining the
usual route missing out the German village. The stage then used
the more common route via Four Ways, Irish Village, Telephone
Exchange, Quarry Bridge, and Davrian Bridge, finishing up the
new road. 20th quickest this time leaving us 19th
overall. A long road section back to service via the B road past
Drovers and a Timed Passage control at the start of Mabians Way
before the very muddy forest bit and the relief as you rejoin
the ranges at Tirabad rifle range.
Twenty minutes in
Service was just enough time to check over the Toyota, refuel
and make the all important guess with the weather. Each loop
takes about an hour and half and the furthest point is 15 miles
away across several valleys, so making your tyre choice can be a
bit of a gamble. We decided to stay on the same rubber and with
some small changes to the setting headed out for a repeat run of
stages. SS3 went very well shaving 10 seconds off our previous
run at 3.29 again 17 fastest time. But in Stage 4 the Toyota
seemed to lack its punch, it wasn’t jumping out of corners or
pulling up the hills something wasn’t quite right although it
didn’t feel too bad it did show in the times. Although we went
11 quicker we only managed 30th fastest time and this
dropped us to 22nd overall.
A bit longer service
time allowed us to discuss in depth what was wrong, we noticed
that we hadn’t used any water so possibly the water injection
wasn’t working, which may have caused the anti lag not to work
hence our lack of grunt. We were not sure if this was caused by
the extreme cold weather or if there was another problem. The
cold weather was certainly a contributing factor in our decision
to leave it alone until after the next stage as clearing the
injectors is a fiddly job and with only ten minutes left in
service, and with already cold fingers and hands this would take
Stage 5 at just over
15 miles was stage 1 and 2 combined with a slightly different
bit in the middle, this time using Piccadilly hair pin, and
running in front of the German Village. The anti lag was
obviously working and seemed the Corolla was back on song with a
really good 13th fastest stage time at 13.53. We had
jumped up to 16th overall and headed back to service
feeling pretty confident at attacking the afternoons reversed
stages. Again tyre choice would be lottery as this time we had
the long road section back through the forest before we could
start stage 6 at the other end of the ranges. Although there
were signs of the dreaded white stuff falling it was still dry
so stayed on the same tyres and hoped the conditions didn’t get
A bit of a scrappy
stage with the rear moving about meant an interesting ride with
Gary pushing hard to extract the most of the Toyota’s power and
explore the grip levels of the Corolla. This was made more
interesting with a miss read pace note from the co-driver.
Even I make the odd mistake! Gary managing to hang onto a
big slide going wide on some gravel on a 5 Left. A 15th
quickest time @ 13.56 pushed us up another place to 15th
overall, 3 seconds ahead of a recovering Geoff Kitney in is
A small scare saw us
stop on the way out to the last stage in the forest and the cars
engine just cut. We noticed that the Fuel pump switch had popped
out. We put this down to the roughness of the forest road but as
a precaution we switched pumps and tuned of the ignition cut.
Once we made the smoother asphalt of Mabions Way we reversed the
switches and all seemed okay, panic over.
Stage 7 again a
repeat saw us trying to improve on our position, we had made a
few adjustments to the handling to stop it sliding. This stage
did seem to be even more slippery than the last probably because
of the cold. Another scare towards the end of the Burma road, on
a fast downhill section we got airborne over a crest and landed
very heavily with my side of the car completely off the road, I
definitely felt it but kept reading the notes so didn’t actually
see what happened, Gary explained that it had been a massive
moment but thankfully the momentum had kept us pointing in the
We finished the stage
4 seconds slower than our previous run, we could not work this
out as it felt better and certainly much smoother so put it down
to the grip levels getting worse with the colder weather. This
meant that Geoff Kitney had got past us pushing us back to 16th
Considering the high
quality of the Entry, we were very pleased with the result.
26th- 27th January 2013 - K & R
Mitsubishi Stage Rally
Organisers: Club Rally
Venue: Brean Leisure Park
Stages: 12 Stage Mileage 52
Overall position 4th
After four attempts we finally finished a Rally
Andrew and I travelled down to Somerset early on Friday morning
to help with final preparations. We left home just before 7am
and arrived shortly after 9, amongst the remaining snow that
lined the sides of the roads. After a few hours we were ready to
take the Corolla out in the lanes to put some more miles on the
freshly rebuilt engine. Gary and I ventured out into the lanes
which to be honest felt like we were on the Monte, albeit at
much slower speeds. The car felt stable on its new suspension so
all was left to do was to get the tracking done before loading
the Toyota onto its trailer and travel up to Brean for
scrutineering. This was done with no problems, so we headed back
to Gary’s for supper and a good night’s sleep.
Saturday dawned wet and early as we had about a forty minute
drive to the venue to ready ourselves for the ten o’clock start.
All was good as we headed off to the first of the days six
stages. We opted to go straight for the Dunlop slicks but with a
wet setting, whilst others played safe on wets. The set up
wasn’t too bad maybe a bit loose at the back. We were having a
good first stage until we were flagged down by marshals and
finally had to stop in stage as car 8, Kev Carr in his 2.5litre
mk2 escort had come a cropper on the notorious middle road. He
had spun and bounced of the scenery hitting all four corners and
was left blocking the stage minus his near side rear wheel -
About fifteen of us made our way back to service in convoy
before the stage was resumed. This meant we were given a
notional time equal to the slowest time of the seven cars that
had completed the stage. Peter Lloyd was quickest with a time of
4m36. Second was Aaron Newby in his ex Mark Higgins Subaru at
4m52 with third place going to Micheal Threlfalls’ Evo 10 with
4m55. We were all awarded a time of 5m13 which was set by Subaru
man Karl Broad; however he had spun twice and stalled, so we all
felt this was an unfair time given.
Because of our poor seeding of 12 we had suffered because of the
stoppage and now we were already eighteen seconds behind the top
three, and to be honest felt robbed. Several crews included us
put in a query to the Clerk of Course to see if the time awarded
to us was unfair due to Karl not having a clean run on the
stage, to be awarded the next slowest time which was set by
Steve Furzeland at 5m10 , however he had also spun – on the very
first corner witnessed by all, so we also felt this would also
be an unfair time, so it was asked if we could be given the next
slowest time of 5m00 set by Martyn England in his Evo9. This
argument would go on all day and not be resolved till after
this ultimately meant was that after stage one, eighteen of us
were equal 21st overall ! Because the stage was
restarted it had meant that lower number cars had set a quicker
time than we were given. This just added to our frustration so a
very fired up Corolla crew set about putting the record straight
by setting a 4th quickest time for stage two with a
time of 4m39 – Enough said !
had jumped up to 9th overall but only managed to get
to 8th by the end of ss4 due to the intermediate
conditions and trying different settings that weren’t quite
working. So with the final two stages now completely dry and
with a better set up the Toyota was much more stable and again
we were able to set a couple of decent times, in fact we were 3rd
fastest on both pushing us up into 6th place
overnight. With reseeding on the next day’s six stages this
would be important for us to keep out of trouble.
Heavy rain and high winds overnight had left the venue very wet,
even by ten o’clock when we set of to Stage 7 we were on full
wets with a slightly different wet setting to the previous day.
This again improved the handling and was doing really well until
the merge next to the start line where we caught a slower car.
It took quite a time before this older style Subaru finally
moved over to let us by. It felt like we had lost loads of time
but had still set 4th fastest time, and by the end we
had moved up to 5th overall as event sponsor who was
lying ahead of us overnight had not restarted due to illness.
Stage 8 was again a repeated run, so not wanting to get baulked
again we really put the hammer down and managed to come through
the merge in front, however our bad luck was to continue as we
caught a slow moving Dave Parnell in another Subaru who was
suffering with turbo failure, we followed him all the way up the
‘middle road’ amongst his blue smoke before he could pull over
to let us past, more time lost.
had been chasing Aaron Newby for 4th and had taken
six seconds of him on this pair, and were now only ten behind.
The conditions were drying fast so it was now time to bolt on
again the x22 which we had used all day yesterday. Mr Newby had
bolted on some brand new rubber in his bid to keep us at bay.
Stage 9 was a slight variation of the previous pair and half way
through we couldn’t believe our eyes as we came across our old
friend in his Subaru, but this time we couldn’t get past and
followed him for nearly half a stage with the horn full on. This
had cost us loads of time but to our surprise had still set 3rd
fastest time, and taken another four of Aaron – so what might
have been if we had had a clean run. As we were servicing next
to the finish line We were about to speak to the driver of the
Subaru when the CLO came over and said he would deal with the
baulking incident as he had been watching the stage and had seen
what had happened – probably just a s well !
Stage ten we had a reasonable run but this time had lost a
second to Aaron as we had probably now had the best from the
worn Dunlop’s. It was decided to go up a compound and push the
setting to full dry, but a worrying black cloud was looming over
the rally. All of the top ten were on slicks as we queued up for
SS11. But as Car 1 left the start line it started to rain.’
This’ll be interesting’ I said as our start time approached.
Only two minutes after Peter Lloyd had started the stage just as
we left the start line the venue was hit by what could only be
described as a mini tornado with a deluge of heavy rain, hail,
and high winds. As we launched ourselves into the stage the rain
was so heavy we couldn’t actually see where we were going !
Because we had just changed tyres etc. we slid and under steered
all around the stage but escaped with only one half spin,
however our fight for 4th was over as we dropped 16
seconds to the man in front. We had a two minute gap to the guy
behind us so it was decided that we should play safe and just
get through this last stage to secure our first ever Brean
finish. In service the news filtered through that Peter Lloyd
had retired with a blown turbo so on went the wets and with the
settings again pushed back we entered the last stage in 4th
only managed 7th quickest time but we had done enough
to finally get to the finish of this rally and with all the
trouble of the previous days timing issues and our holds ups
today we headed home very happy with 4th overall, and
2nd ASWMC , and more importantly with a Toyota that
was performing very well.
go to Rob, Bill, Charlie, Andrew & Penny who looked after us all
weekend in some extreme weather conditions!
Sorry no Reports in 2012 -
25th September 2011 - Patriot Rally
- Organisers: Forresters Car Club
- Venue: MOD Training Camp - Caerwent, Wales
- Competitors: 100 Stages: 6
- Stage Mileage: 64
- Overall position: 7th
The penultimate round of the REIS MSA Championship at Cearwent started wet and early! Gary and I have not experienced this tricky venue in the rain so were unsure what to expect. On the way to the Service Area we surveyed the roads which looked to be damp with not too many puddles. The weather was still unsettled with periods of full rain, drizzle and dry so decided to play safe with full wets.
Into SS1 and a good start, the roads were damp with no standing water with the corners at this early stage being clean from mud and gravel; however it was still extremely slippery in most parts as we were soon to find out. A costly overshoot meant a stall and what seemed an eternity to restart the Toyota , find reverse to back up and on our way again costing around 15 – 20 seconds. We were pleased then with 6 th overall and to be leading our Class as the two protagonists battled it out in front with Cole and Mauger both matching each others times .
A change for the next pair of stages but with so many roads and junctions the drivers don't actually know where these changes are and just follow the maze of roads being called by the voice in the intercom.
Our main objective was to concentrate and learn where to make cuts and more importantly where not to!! I was marking the don'ts whilst Gary was finding the cuts.
After lots of deliberation in first Service we decided to stay on the ‘wets' as the rain started to fall again. Probably a good choice although in the main it was grippy enough for Inters there was certainly more muck in the corners that had been pulled onto the road from the 90 or so cars that had passed through Stage 1.
A pretty good time on SS2 saw us moving ahead of Paul Swift into 5 th on equal time with Mark Straker's Darian and three seconds ahead of Bob Fowden. We opted for cut inters for the next stage which was a gamble because of an accident on stage 2 had caused a delay, so everyone had to make their choice then wait for over an hour in the Arrival Time control. It rained, it stopped, it rained, it stopped and so on. We could see the good weather coming but it was still raining when we left the line, but the grip level was good and we put in a good time but dropped two spaces as Straker went one quicker and a fast charging Escort piloted by Steve Leonard was matching the front runners after a stage one error.
A longer service allowed the roads to dry in the welcome sunshine so slicks were now bolted to the Corolla. The next pair of stages was the first to use the tight twisty bit known as Quarry Road and it certainly lived up to its reputation for being extremely slippery but is only about a mile long. Before we got here, we had made a silly mistake by turning up the wrong road, Gary was unsighted with mud and water on the screen from taking a big cut in the previous corner and turned in too early. The situation was made worse when realising the mistake the handbrake was applied to spin the car around but it just gripped and we stopped sideways across the road. Again causing the Corolla to stall, so this time we had to restart do a three point turn before we could get on our way again. This obviously cost us loads of time, (nearly 30 seconds) and a deflated crew emerged dropping yet another place overall and handing the class lead to Bob Fowden.
Stage 5, (a repeat of Stage 4) was successfully negotiated this time and a massive 45 seconds quicker, Gary obviously pushing that little bit harder in the now completely dry conditions. However everyone ahead of us had the same idea so only a small progress was made on the leaders.
Because of the lost time earlier in the day with the accident, Stage 6 was now to be the last, so only one more ten mile stage to mount a serious comeback. Nevertheless we tried very hard with another good time on this final stage but it wasn't good enough to improve on our 7 th Overall and 2 nd in Class which is still a great result at this level of rallying.
June 2011 - Rally of the Midlands
Picture taken by Mark
Venue: Argents Mead, Bramcote Barracks, Merevale,
Arbury, Higham MIRA and Lindley MIRA.
Stage Mileage 82 Road Miles
The Rally of the Midlands is one of our favourite events,
having led on two occasions and finished 3rd overall
on our first attempt in 2007. We were overnight leaders on the
first day in 2008, then in 2009 we retired with a broken
propshaft whilst leading. We missed the event last year (due to
being in-between cars).
This year’s event was again a two day format, however the
entry was far greater than we have experienced before on this
rally due to it being a round of the REIS MSA Asphalt
Last years winner Damian Cole (Ford Focus wrc) led the
field away from the town centre start in Hinckley for the first
of six stages to be run on the Friday evening.
The first stage was Argents Mead a very short blast or
should I say ‘Autotest’ around the car park in front of the
council offices. Two years ago we actually beat the bogey time
here but this year’s course was much tighter but none the less
we set a time of 37 seconds which to our delight was fastest so
at least we were leading the event after SS1.
Stages 2 and 3 were around the barracks at Bramcote, again
another of our favourite venues, and Gary didn’t disappoint the
crowds as we attempted to stay on top of the times sheets.
The first run through included a few small errors pushing
very hard with 5th quickest time, then an improvement
on the second left us in 4th spot.
The next two stages were at Arbury, a stately home stage
with the usual mix of narrow roads, speed bumps, cattle grids
and a hump back bridge. With the changeable conditions we were
very cautious and dropped to 7th before the final run
back at Argents mead where we again set the fastest time of 37
Unfortunately SS3 times were cancelled due to timing issues
and as we had set a good time there we now dropped to 9th
Day two started at 06:50 as we left Parc Ferme and headed
for a quick ten minute service before the mornings first pair of
stages again at Bramcote Barracks.
The weather was looking again changeable so we opted to
stay on the Inters we had used the previous evening. This first
loop would see us out for nearly 4 hours, doing 32 stage miles,
over 9 stages at 4 different venues, so tyre choice was a
lottery with the unpredictable weather!
No reseeding for day two so we were still 7th on
the road, David Hardie was the overnight leader in his Subaru.
Gary and I wanted to try and close the 38 seconds gap so
threw caution to the wind and really attacked the Bramcote pair,
however the conditions there were much dryer than expected but
we still managed a 2nd and 3rd fastest
We were only bettered by Steve Simpson who had now taken
the lead from Simon Mauger. Hardie who had spun in the first
stage was 3rd. Damian Cole forth, John Indri in his Darrian was
fifth, Iain Pritchard who won this event in 2008 was next, then
SS9 and SS10 were at Arbury and again we attacked hard with
a big jump over the hump back bridge, leaving the stages still
SS11 was a new 2 mile stage at Mira using the high speed
straight and banking. John Stone in his ex works Skoda Fabia wrc
unfortunately had his engine let go, possibly something to do
with one of the straights being nearly a mile long, we ourselves
were flat in sixth for over ten seconds.
Only 2 seconds slower than the leaders we jumped Hardie
Next up was a pair of 8.7 milers in Mira itself which
included the handling circuit and again some banked curves. Two
miles in we came across a chicane with a destroyed hay bale and
then half a mile later saw the retired Darian of John Indri who
had damaged his radiator on said hay bale! This moved us up to 5th.
When we finished the stage we then came across Simpsons
stricken Subaru with a broken alternator belt. So now we had
jumped to 4th overall.
We were also in trouble as we had no rubber on the tyres
left, whilst pushing hard in the earlier stages we had worn out
our Inters. We had prayed for some rain to dampen the stages a
little but the early morning sun and wind had dried everything
up, and now with no grip we prayed that the rain would stay
away, but no, on our way to the final pair of stages it rained.
It couldn’t have come at a worse time for us as they were
through Merevale, another stately home which is very tricky at
the best of times. We lost about ten seconds a stage but still
managed to remain in 4th as we headed back to service
for a well earned cuppa.
After only a 30 minute Service we were back on our way for
the middle loop of 7 stages feeling good with our achievements
and now with some new rubber this time soft Slicks we were
hopeful of consolidating our position and maybe push for a
Back to Bramcote this time the stages reversed and another
pair of cracking times. We equalled 2nd fastest time with Cole
on the first and then quickest on the next, one second ahead of
Cole and three off Mauger!
No Arbury this time so straight into Mira with the short
stage first and again we were quickest equalling Maugers time
and taking 5 off Cole. This was achieved despite taking an
unintended massive jump over the 1 in 3 ramp and landing the
Corolla heavily nose first. With no time to get out and check
the car we went straight into the pair of 8.5 milers with one
eye on the temperature gauges. Here Mauger and Cole were able to
stretch their legs and increase their lead whilst we matched the
times set by Pritchard who maintained a 50 second margin.
Two more runs through Merevale safely saw us again heading
back to Service.
Our luck ran out here as the Toyota suddenly started to
lose power and cough and splutter along the road section and
with about 3 miles to go the Corolla stopped with the ‘read out’
saying low fuel pressure. We changed pumps fired it back up and
got about half a mile before the same happened again.
We played around for a bit trying to work out what the
problem was checking all the fuses etc.
I jumped out to direct the traffic around our stricken car
as it was on a busy main road with Gary frantically trying to
resolve the problem.
A faulty wire to the pumps in the rear near the fuel tank
was to blame, and now we had a race on our hands to get it
sorted and get back to service as we were already several
minutes into our lateness. We clocked in at 14 minutes and 20
seconds; phew we had made it just in time.
There had been a few stoppages earlier in the day so the
organisers reduced this Service to 20 minutes, so everything was
a bit of a rush to get us back out on time. The boys worked
wonders with tyre changes and refuelling, whilst Rob checked
over for any damage we may have done from our earlier flying
experience. Penny and Tracy fed and watered Gary and I, and soon
we were on our way for the final two stages back at Mira. A
delay before the first of these allowed me to check the
regulations to see if there was to be any penalties for our
lateness. I then had to break the news to Gary that the lateness
on this event was only ten minutes instead of the usual fifteen.
Our game plan was to carry on because of all the earlier
delays on the event, we were hopeful that the road penalties
would be scrapped. This happens on a lot of events and in any
case you continue until told otherwise. We had a good lead over
5th place and no real chance of catching the car in
front so decided to just get through this pair without risking
all and see what happens later.
We were 5th quickest on the first run through,
but half way through the final stage we punctured the rear
offside tyre. It thankfully stayed on the rim and we managed the
finish line dropping around 40 seconds. We changed the wheel
before driving the final 8 mile road section back to the
We had finished 4th overall, won our class and
were 3rd in the MSA Championship. We then headed back
to Service and Rally HQ to await the official results; however
our hearts sank with the news that we had indeed gone OTL.
A bitterly disappointing end to a hard fought tough rally,
but the one consolation was that we left with the knowledge that
we can mix it with the ‘big guns.
Our next event will be the Event Signs Mewla Rally over the
Epynt Ranges where we again hope to perform well against our
May 2011 - Launch Motorsport Stages
Picture by EDP Photography
Enthusiasts Motor Club of Stonehouse (Emcos)
Venue: Down Ampney,
Stage Mileage 68
Back at Down Ampney Airfield for this years Launch Motorsport
Stages, a venue Gary and I know well having won here previously.
Last year however we broke the Celica’s gear box whilst leading
so were back to try and regain our crown.
Early morning drizzle and low cloud was our only concerns as
we went through scrutineering at 6am. By 8.20 we left the
service crew to put on our tyre choice as we headed to pre event
briefing. We were running at Car 2 so had little time to warm
the car ready for our 8.42 due time.
Although it was constantly raining it was only fine drizzle
which left the predominantly concrete surface damp and not wet
so we chose very soft inters. From experience this venue is
extremely slippery when went so a softer suspension was set
before we headed of to the first stage. The stages were run in
pairs with the first being 5.5 miles and one split junction.
Last years winner Matt Green in his Subaru led the field away
with us starting 30 seconds later. A cautious start was planned
as this event was really a shake down for the forth coming Rally
of the Midlands and to see if the flat shift and water
injections problems had been cured.
All was going well, until braking for a square left the car
was slowing nicely down through the gears till about ten metres
before the junction the car suddenly aquaplaned straight on into
a one ton hay bale guarded by pallets and tyres. The Corolla
just ploughed through this head on and stalled. It fired up and
we were on our way again watching the temperatures but
thankfully all seemed okay.
Once through the split junction we came out behind Rob Dennis
in his potent mk2 Escort who was clearly struggling in the
conditions with only rear wheel drive. With four wheel drive we
were able to use our extra grip to go past Rob as he moved over
to the left side to let us past, however we were already making
a pass on that side and to avoid an accident we had to brake
hard a swerve to miss putting the Corolla into a slide with the
rear of the car in the bushes. Gary managed to hang on to it and
both cars made the chicane intact. Rob graciously then let us
pass before the next corner with no more dramas.
We obviously didn’t think we’d done very well on the first
stage but were actually pleased to find ourselves in 2nd
place only two seconds behind Mark Ellis in his Subaru with Matt
Green in 3rd place one second behind.
The drizzle had stopped and started to wind dry the stage, so
we opted for a safe option and stayed with the same settings and
tyres. Again Mark went quicker this time by only one second to
keep a slender three second lead. Matt was ten seconds slower,
so looked as if it was going to be a two horse race. The next
pair of stages were longer at seven miles each. Gary decided to
have a push on the next one as it was much dryer. We stayed
again on the inters which was a good choice as
¾’s of a way through
the stage we had actually caught and over taken Car 1. The stage
had gone really well everything was working on the car with the
driver happy with the settings and the grip level, this was
until the last set of corners a square right into a square left,
hand brake into the first to set the car up for the square left
and the car just went straight on, so had to select reverse.
This allowed Car 1 to regain his position and with around 15
seconds lost and more importantly all our hard work had been
lost. To our surprise we were still 2nd fastest again
and had only lost 4 seconds to Mark.
SS4 we tried again, this time Car 1 had opted to let us run
first on the road, with not having to get past we had a good run
and went fastest by nine seconds to take the lead of the rally
by two seconds. SS5 and SS6 were again shorter stages at 5.5
miles the first of which was now totally dry so opted for
slightly harder compound tyres but left the settings the same.
This transformed the car with less roll and gave Gary much more
control and confidence; so much so that we were again quickest
but had taken a huge 15 seconds of our nearest rival.
As we finished the stage it had started to rain again, but
opted for the same tyres as it only dampened the surface. As we
got under way the rain started to come down heavier and didn’t
take us long to work out we were totally on the wrong tyre and
in this repeat stage went 50 seconds slower ! Luckily for us
most other crews had done the same, the crews that got the
choice right were too far behind to be any real threat.
With our lead now at 21 seconds we didn’t hesitate to put on
the safe option of full wets for the next pair of stages the
longest at 7.1 miles. Mark pulled out all the stops here as he
stayed on inters and took 3 seconds back, however we were happy
for him to do this as we again opted for the save option. SS 7
had actually dried more than we anticipated so Gary threw
caution to the wind and drove the car sliding it around like it
was an Autotest. We both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves here
entertaining the Marshals and actually took back the 3 seconds
lost on the previous. Mark was complaining that his inters were
going off whilst we destroyed our wets !
The final pair again at 5.5 miles each was the first to be
completely dry with the sun shining for the first time. We
decided to change back onto the harder tyres that had worked
well in the morning. The car felt great, and over this pair we
managed to double our lead by taking 25 seconds off our rivals
in just 11 miles.
This was our forth win at this venue but our first win in the
Corolla, hopefully the first of many. Our thanks go to Rob,
Bill, and Andy for having to work in miserable conditions, and
to Penny for keeping us fed and watered.
March 2011 - Tour of Epynt
picture courtesy of Chris
- Organisers: Port Talbot Motor Club
- Venue: Epynt Ranges
- Competitors: 100
- Stages: 7 Stage Mileage: 84
Road Mileage: 90
- Overall position: 18th
The last few weeks since
our last event have been hectic preparing the Corolla for what
looked to be a hard start to the REIS MSA Asphalt Rally
Championship, as 46 crews from the 87 starters had registered to
do battle across the treacherous roads of the Epynt ranges. The
whole team was looking forward to the Tour this year as we
missed last year’s event being in between cars. Saturdays Recce started in a disappointment as the first passing
was hampered with stop/starts due to meeting other conveys and
also the Military were on manoeuvres with soldiers walking up
the roads and slow moving army trucks. This was made worse as
the chicanes were not yet laid out which made it difficult to
note their exact locations and layouts. The second run over was
much better so we left the ranges feeling fairly satisfied with
the task that lay ahead the following morning. Overnight
rain meant the first loop of two stages was going to be slippery
and although the sun was out by the time we set off to MC 1 it
was still bitterly cold. We chose a very soft tyre with
some extra cuts with a soft setting to cope with the damp
conditions. Gary and I had not used these tyres before and were
concerned with how they would last the 18 miles. The first stage of this loop was 7 miles, with a tight and
twisty start, passing through Dixies and over Dears and Devils
leaps, (slowed this year by chicanes). Up the Burma Road, round
two triangles on the main road and finishing at the Piccadilly
hairpin.A stall on the first junction hand braking around a bale
hindered us to 21st quickest 3rd in Class
just 3 seconds behind Class rival Mark Worley’s Subaru.
A very short road section was no rest bite before being thrown
straight into SS2. Starting the other side of the hairpin at
Piccadilly heading towards four ways junction avoiding the
German village and ending on the New Road at just under 11 miles
via a few more chicanes and triangles. 16th quickest
moved us 3 places into 18th and jumping Mark Worley
to 2nd in class. John Stone was leading the Class in
his Skoda Fabia wrc and was lying in 4th place
overall already over a minute ahead! A 25 minute road section back to service was plenty enough time
to contemplate our efforts and to discuss how we should improve
things. The tyres felt as though they had ‘gone off’ especially
under braking on the fast down hill parts, so we decided to up
the compound, especially as the sun had dried everything out and
the temperature had warmed to about 8 degrees.
Not everything has been resolved since our last event with the
water injection seemingly not working resulting in power loss
and the flat shift/gear change intermittently causing what can
only be described as a chronic misfire. This misfire was to get
worse throughout the day and hampered our advance up the leader
board. Into the second loop which was a repeat of the first pair of
stages, now dryer we went 38 seconds quicker. The tyres took
some time to get heat into them so we were careful to start but
once warmed up went well over the remainder of the stage. We
finished SS4 dropping a place to 19th because Mark
Worley had got back in front of us. Coming into the arrival control at service the cable that allows
you to select neutral broke. With only twenty minutes and other
more pressing jobs to do we didn’t have time to repair/replace
the cable, not a problem in itself but we could not select
reverse gear so had to make sure no overshoots followed.
We decided to stiffen up the Corolla’s suspension as Gary was
feeling the rear was lifting in the slow corners and this may
have been why we thought the earlier soft tyres were going off.
SS5 was the first pair of stages joined together at just under
18 miles. The handling improvements really transformed the Corolla and
Gary was able to attack the Ranges with more confidence, but our
troubling misfire was once again hindering our progress. We
tried to resolve the problem mid stage by trying different FAS
settings, switching fuel pumps and finally turning off the flat
shift. We only managed 21st quickest here actually 13
seconds slower than the previous pair put together. A longer
Service meant we could repair the broken selector cable and also
gave us a chance to clean out the water injectors for the water
spray as this was still not working. SS6 was in the opposite direction and was 15 miles. This was our
worst stage of the rally with the misfire/flat shift problem
making the car difficult to drive and we were unsure whether or
not we could even continue. We turned everything off and just
drove through the stage. We still managed to catch up the car
that started 30 seconds ahead of us but couldn’t get past so
followed them for the last mile or so, with a bit more time
lost. However due to our slow start in the stage the car behind
had caught us up so the three of us finished SS6 nose to tail.
Only 23rd fastest saw us drop to 19th
overall. Another short service before the final stage, a repeat
of SS6 saw us shuffling around in the time controls so no-one
caught anyone. This was then our best stage of the rally, with
everything switched off Gary just drove the nuts off the Corolla
having to change gear by lifting and reverting back to right
foot braking. We were 14th quickest on this
occasion.The stage ended at Dixies with a very long road section
to Brecon for the final control before we found that we had
moved ourselves back into 18th overall and 3rd
in class.With such a strong entry we were aiming for a top 15 but were
pleased with the result considering our problems.
19th February 2011 -Kynaston Autos Stage
Alot of pressure
washing needed after this one!!
Organisers: South Hams Motor
Venue: Upottery Airfield,
Stages: 8 Stage Mileage: 45
Overall position: 2nd
It dawned damp and misty and
having had heavy overnight rain the early stages looked to be
very slippery, especially since the old airfield is storage for
several large piles of dung !We chose full wets for the first
stage; being seeded at car 1 is always tough as everyone else
watches what you’re up to.The tyre choice was a good one, as
half the stage had running slurry across it.However this was not
our main concern, as the Corolla was misbehaving with the engine
electronics cutting in and out and a time consuming stall on the
start line. We struggled through the stage finishing only 7th
quickest and in just 4.5 miles had lost 19 seconds to the
leader, Martyn England in his Mitsubishi EVO 9. We had similar problems on SS2 but not quite as bad but only
managed 4th quickest, 9 seconds behind the leaders.
This doesn’t sound much but its 2 seconds a mile which in
rallying terms is a life time. SS3 was much better after we
decided to switch to No. 2 fuel pump and this seemed to
alleviate the problem but at the finish we turned too early
around a line of hay bales which meant a quick spin round on the
handbrake before we slotted into the correct line of bales.
Another stall during this manoeuvre just added to our time and
frustrations of a bad morning. Our only saving grace was that
several other crews also made the same error at this point as
the stage diagram was confusing. This 6.5 miler was repeated
again before the lunch halt, and with a dryer line we opted for
soft rubber with extra cuts. Now pushing hard to make up for
lost time Gary had to make a huge save when we ran wide on some
slurry when braking from 6th gear in a long right
hander narrowly missing a large pile of dung covered in tyres.
We set equal fastest time on SS4 with leader Martyn England and
2nd place Mark Ellis (Subaru) and had at least done
enough to push ourselves up to 3rd at this half way
point. With the afternoon stages now drying out and the pace
increasing, most crews had a few hairy moments on the parts of
the stage that were still very slippery. The changes made to the
Toyota’s handling were certainly being put to the test and
seemed to be working well as Gary turned in through the chicanes
with confidence, and was getting quicker as the day went on. SS5
we were again equal fastest with England, taking three off
Ellis. Going into the final pair we were only 3 seconds behind
Ellis and determined to make amends, but he was equally
determined to keep us behind as we matched his times on the
penultimate stage. Into the last with a real push we emerged
winning the stage and set a time eight seconds quicker than the
Subaru moving into 2nd place overall. Congratulations to Martyn and Ian England who never put a foot
wrong all day. Second is a really good result for a hard day,
the best so far in the new Corolla and if we can start next
months Tour of Epynt in the same way we finished here then we
can hope for good things ……………… can’t wait !
28th September 2010 - Patriot Stages
Picture courtesy of EDP
Forresters Car Club
Venue: MOD Training Camp - Caerwent,
Stages: 7 Stage Mileage: 70
Overall position: 3rd
last event on the Epynt ranges the car has undergone more
suspension tweaks, such as lowering the rear trailing link bars
and having David Appleby Motorsport setting up the wheel
alignment to try and improve the Corolla’s handling.
an off on the very first corner of the first stage nearly ended
our chance to find out how well the improvements had been!!
brakes, cold tyres and carrying too much speed was the cause of
our straight on into an earth bank. Not really the start we had
in our game plan and we both thought that was the end of our
rally. Luckily the Corolla has a strengthening bar just behind
the bumper that protects the intercooler and radiator,
consequently this then took the full impact which allowed us,
(to our relief) to carry on. Continue we did, now a little more
cautiously and watching the temperature gauges we still managed
7th fastest time.
Service we found the lower bar to be bent but no other signs of
damage apart from the obvious bits of bumper missing! We thought
the cars handling was good so made no changes in Service and
stayed on the soft rubber as the morning was still quite cold.
pair of stages was again just over 9 miles and included 93 of
the 130 junctions of Caerwent! SS2 we were 3rd
fastest, then 4th fastest on the next after changing
to medium compound tyres. This moved us up to 5th
SS4 and 5
varied slightly around the countless junctions but also included
the infamous quarry road, a narrow tight twisty lane that
threads its way along the old quarry face, a real co-drivers
nightmare as the road books scale is too big to show all the
detail, so the driver has to work extra hard for this ¾ mile
section. We lost some ground over this pair, probably due to the
tyres being very old now and not wanting to repeat our stage 1
briefly back to 7th again on ss4 we soon gained a
place back on ss5 when event leader Peter Lloyd in his old car
(Subaru S12b ) retired with gearbox woes. In Service we decided
to go back on the softer tyres for the remaining pair of stages,
the longest at just under 10 miles and again using the quarry
road. SS6 went well with 4th fastest time which
gained us another place when last years winner Steve Leonard
also retired with a failing gearbox.
headed off into the final test only 3 seconds behind class
leader Steve Hollis (Mitsubishi evo9) with us now in 5th
place overall. It looked as though we were going to have to
push really hard if we wanted to make any further progress up
the leader board as 2nd to 5th was only
separated by only 16 seconds.
did, (maybe a bit too hard) as a half spin early on avoiding a
rock that had been dragged into the road, was followed by a big slide coming out
of the quarry, narrowly missing a telegraph pole! We kept it
going though and ended the stage setting joint fastest time with
Adrian Brown who remained in 2nd place overall.
surprise and delight we had jumped up 2 places and finished the
rally 3rd overall and winning our class. Event winner
Simon Mauger was too far ahead for us to mount any sort of
challenge but we did get a consolation prize as his co driver
wasn’t registered for points, so I took top honours and maximum
points in the BTRDA / MSA Asphalt Championship with Gary taking
2nd placed driver.
tough rally and our best result so far in the new car, and
certainly one of our best results to date.
August 29th - The EventSigns Mewla Rally 2010
Picture taken by Martin Taylor
- Organisers: Epynt Motor Club
- Venue: Epynt Sennybridge Ranges
- Competitors: 104
- Stages: 8 Stage Mileage: 85
- Overall position: 17th
crews lined up ready for the start at the Royal Welsh Show
Ground in Builth Wells the weather was steadily getting worse.
It was dry when Car 1 left the line but by the time we left
eight minutes later it had started to rain. We had a 40 minute
road section which took us through the Service Area on Mabians
Way where most crews including us called in for a quick tyre
change. We chose intermediates as we didn’t feel it was wet
enough for full wets.
honest by the time we had finished the first loop of stages
totalling 20 miles there wasn’t really a correct tyre to be on
because the weather went from dry, to drizzle, to full on rain.
The SS1 was a very slippery eight miles and mainly used the top
part of the ranges which is more technical and twisty than the
main stage through the new road. The car was under steering
badly as we struggled to get heat into the tyres and Gary was
finding it hard to keep the Corolla under control, unable to use
Anti-lag and not wanting to push too hard and throw it all away
finished Stage One with no time to reflect on our progress as
within three minutes we were off into Stage Two, 11.21 miles
over the faster and flowing ‘new road’. The standing water, dry
areas and very slippery damp parts made for an interesting ride,
but we escaped without incident just happy to be on our way back
to Service for some much needed head scratching on how to
resolve the handling.
realised that the front anti-roll bar was on a hard setting,
which probably contributed to the under steer, so it was
adjusted to medium. And the low speed and rebound were both
softened up and set off to Stage Three on the same tyres as it
had stopped raining and started to dry out.
Three was SS1 and SS2 joined together with a distance of 19.75
miles, but when we reached the arrival control there was a delay
due to a couple of accidents on the previous loop. Whilst
waiting, the heavens opened again but at least being on inters
it wasn’t so bad for us, some crews had opted for slicks!
half of SS3 again was extremely slippery but with the changes
made the car was handling much better, albeit with no grip from
the tyres! On our way back to Service we were handed results for
the first loop at passage control and were surprised to find
ourselves in 23rd position.
Service the rain had now stopped and looked like drying out so
we opted to keep the same settings and tyres and headed off to
SS4, (a shortened version of SS3) at 13.34 miles. It was much
dryer in the stage and we had a good run but did hit a pot hole
half way through which knocked the steering out, so in Service a
lower arm had to be changed.
afternoon stages consisted of two loops of two stages in the
opposite direction. SS5 and SS7 were 11.26 miles finishing just
after the German Village at Piccadilly. With a short road
section to SS6 and SS8 at 3.79 miles (a horrible stage which
finished near Llandeilo hairpin, over a nasty jump into a
gravel chicane, down to a very tight junction and finished on a
gravel road), followed by a 13 mile road section back to Service
through the forest.
run through was good, the car was handling better in the drying
conditions and we felt we could possibly have used slicks on SS5
but then SS6 was more slippery and the inters proved to be the
right choice.Moving steadily up the leader board we were now
heading and aiming for a top 20 spot.
sun shining for SS7, we reverted back to the dry settings and
put soft slick tyres on and headed off to complete the final
loop. This felt much better and we could now push really hard
and actually use the Anti-lag for the first time all day (as it
had been too aggressive in the wet) and we set a top ten time.
final stage Peter Lloyd in Car 1 (the rally leader) had a wheel
lock up and spun backwards sliding off into a ‘bog’ so yet
another delay meant we were in the car on the last loop for over
two hours once we’d completed the long road section back to the
final time control at the showground.
always very fast in the dry but treacherous in the wet and
although we struggled in the damp conditions we learnt alot
about the car. We came away happy with 17th overall
and an added bonus we actually won our class against similar WRC
machines. At the awards ceremony Gary was also awarded the John
Horton Motorsport Management award for ‘star drive’ for his
achievements with the new car, after all it was only our 3rd
event with it.
14/15th August 2010 - RICHARD BURNS MEMORIAL RALLY
puncture SS2 puts the presssure on!
Kings Lynn Motor Club
- Venue: RAF
- Stages: 8
Stage Mileage: 105
This two day event is a must for any
rally fan whether competing, marshalling or spectating, there’s
something for everyone.
Apart from fantastic viewing areas for the spectators with live
commentary there’s also fly by’s including an RAF Tornado which
starts the rally on Saturday morning to the Lancaster which ends
the event on Sunday afternoon. In amongst the service areas
there are also static displays to amuse the young and old. A BBQ
is laid on for Friday night’s scrutineering and a party on
Saturday evening so the marshals and crews can chat about the
heroics of the day over a drink and the hog roast and maybe
spend some money in the auction for the Richard Burns
With the flat lands
of Norfolk being notorious for rain (with no warning) always makes
tyre choice a nightmare. Into the first stage then with inters
on seeded at 5, start the stage in 3rd and finish the
stage 1st. This happened because cars 1 and 3 who
started before us both punctured and had to stop and change due
to the RAF not allowing you to run on a flat so not to damage
the runways. Sixth fastest was a good start as we had not had a
chance to resolve the flat-shift and water injection issues from
the last event. However the car was not handling very well in
the slower and tighter parts of the stage with the rear of the
Corolla acting more like a gravel car, and the front under
steering. In Service, we had time to bleed the brakes and clutch
and make some small adjustments to the suspension but noticed
the front right was a bit loose, possibly a bearing but we had
no time to change so headed off to Stage 2. The front wheel held
okay but our luck run out half way around the stage when we also
punctured and had to stop and change the off side rear .............This was a new experience for Gary and I, it’s
something neither of us has ever had to do before! The wheel change itself
went pretty well but we then
lost another minute or so getting back in the car because you
must be buckled back up before you set off again, (not easy when
you’re exhausted). This was not helped when Gary couldn’t get his
intercom re-connected and with still 7 miles to go we didn’t
want to lean on the rear corner and chance another puncture. We
lost around six minutes and ended the stage in 68th
With the front wheel bearing replaced in
service we put in a good time for stage 3 with the under steer
now cured, however the rear was still loose so some more tweaks
were made for stage 4. This the last stage of day was good with
the improvements we had done and even got away with another
puncture when we hit a pot hole at speed which broke the wheel
but thankfully the tyre stayed up.
With day two being reseeded we had
clawed back 22 positions in two stages and were lying 46th
overnight, so day two was going to be interesting!! Sunday was
dry so the plan was to press on and try and get the car handling
properly. We had sorted out the high speed handling so needed to
concentrate on the low speed. The two morning stages at 12 miles
each we recorded 4th and 3rd fastest
times, looks like our adjustments had worked, and not bad
considering we overtake 11 cars to achieve this. SS7 was
not so good as the tyres were getting very worn and the brakes
were suffering with the long stages. Our charge up the leader
board was hampered then when this stage was abandoned due to an
In service we went back to our previous
settings to conserve the tyres and this seemed to work very well
as we posted 2nd fastest time on the final stage and
ended the event in 14th.
Although not the best result we left happy with the advances we
have made and are looking forward to our next event over the
Epynt ranges in a fortnights time, and hopefully we can resolve
the other issues and have the car up to full power.
31st July 2010 - Fat Albert
photo by EDP Photography
Tavern Motor Club
- Venue: Keevil
- Stages: 10 Stage Mileage:
The start of the week was spent with some
final ‘Running in’ procedures but the car felt too hard for
Gary’s liking so some softer springs were fitted. Then Wednesday
having the car aligned and set up at Dave Appleby Engineering
after which Gary felt much happier with the way it felt.
Myself and Andrew arrived on Thursday to
assist in final preparations for the weekend and my first chance
to ride in the car.
After spending the day calibrating the fuel
levels with the trip, fitting the intercoms and adjusting belts
amongst other jobs, we managed a few more road miles for Gary to
try and get used to the sequential gear change and being left
hand drive. This was more important as the flat shift was not
working properly and we were awaiting a new gearbox control box
which hopefully would arrive in the morning to allow us to refit
and use on our test session booked for Friday afternoon at
Friday morning was mainly spent packing the
service van and sorting tyres, putting on decals and awaiting
the new control box, but as this hadn’t arrived by 2pm we made
the decision to cancel our trip to Llandow as logistically we
couldn’t get from Somerset to Cardiff – test and then back over
to Keevil all by 6.30pm! So an alternative location was found
nearby at Westonzoyland and although it was only big enough to
get up to 3rd gear it was a great opportunity for
Gary to try out starts and see how the car braked and turned. We
set up a small loop of corners and a chicane using road cones
and had a very successful hour spent seeing what the car would
do.We then headed off to Keevil and as the car had not long been
Log Booked we had no real dramas at scrutineering so headed back
home ready for the car’s debut the following morning.
Over night rain had left the airfield damp
in the morning and we probably could have used slicks for the
first stages, but decided to be cautious with our first time out
and use some very soft intermediates. Into the first stage then,
off the line well, 200 to a square left onto a narrow lane, 40
‘K’ right over a nasty bump, 100 down to a handbrake hairpin
right through gates. Approaching nicely knocking down the gears
into first, apply handbrake but not enough revs and the
electronics cut the engine !! Hit the starter but she wouldn’t
fire back up, struggled to select neutral and try again and
finally after nearly 30 seconds it fired into life and off we
went. Not the start we were hoping for! Another stall again
later in stage which cost a few more seconds but at least the
car restarted straight away this time.
Into service with relief that at least we
had finished the first stage in one piece, we had thirty minutes
to try and work out what was going on. We think the stall was
due to the flat shift problem and Gary was going to have to
learn to drive around the problem, be brave and give it more
revs when hand braking. Other apparent problems were that the
car was under steering badly, we think possibly down to the
tyres, so we changed to medium compound slicks and reset the
front roll bar to a harder setting.
Stage 2 was a repeat of the first 7 miler
and we emerged smiling, the adjustments at service had really
improved the handling and as the miles ticked away Gary was
growing in confidence all the time. We were 55 seconds quicker
!!! We bled the brakes in service as we felt they were a bit
soft and adjusted the bias slightly, and headed for stage 3. Not
a bad time but the car was sliding around a bit so decided to
change the front tyres for another pair of part worn Pirelli’s.
Again this was a repeat stage, but Gary was now experimenting
with pushing the car to see what it would do and after shall we
say ‘a lively stage!’, we went 6 secondss quicker.
My job was also to monitor fuel consumption
as well as watch water and oil temperatures, which went a bit
higher for some unknown reason on that stage. I had also noticed
that the water level was not dropping. We were concerned that
the water injection or spray was not working, so a quick phone
call to the people that know confirmed this was okay as we were
not using the anti-lag system.
Gary now wanted to see what it was really
like, so he decided it was time to bolt on some brand new BF
Goodridge’s and push the brake balance further forward to see
how far we could brake into corners and chicanes. We clocked a
very good stage time of 8.46 for this 8 mile stage and emerged
very happy with the progress we had made.
Two of our service crew had been monitoring
the noise levels and reckoned we were one of the quieter cars,
especially over the escorts and the three wrc Suburu’s that were
popping and banging on gear changes. So for the next stage we
decided to use phase 1 of the FAS unit. This allows the water
injection to work and therefore gives more power but isn’t as
aggressive or noisy as phase 2 or 3 which we certainly couldn’t
use at Keevil with the noise limits. We really enjoyed this
stage, probably our best so far; it transformed the car as it
wasn’t now being ‘held back’ and the Corolla was happier being
driven this way. We went 16 seconds faster on this repeat stage!
Unfortunately on the stop line with the
clutch fully down the car was creeping forward, and I had to
jump out at the passage control so Gary didn’t need to stop. He
went straight into service and luckily we had 45 minutes to try
and rectify the problem. We could only make adjustments to the
clutch and after attempting SS7 it was apparent we were not
going to go any further, so decided to retire rather than risk
any more damage.
After our bad start that left us in 24th
position we had steadily improved and were currently lying in 6th
when we pulled out.
Overall we had a mixed day and were
expecting teething problems, but left happy in the knowledge of
doing 50 stage miles and had learnt an awful lot about the car
and the whole Team is excited about the next event Richard Burns
Memorial Rally in two weeks time.
29th May 2010 - Co-OrdSport Stages
Enthusiasts Motor Club of Stonehouse (Emcos)
- Venue: Down Ampney,
- Competitors: 65
- Stages: 10 Stage
The team was hoping to use this event as a
shake down for their new Corolla, but sadly news filtered
through from Holland that the car was not going to be ready in
Rather than pull the entry it was decided
to dust off the Celica and use it once again. This decision was
made to get back out rallying again after a six month break,
especially after having just received exciting news that the
team had been invited once again to compete in this years
Festival of Speed at Goodwood.
Whilst preparing the Celica for the rally
it was found to have some play in the rear wheel bearings, so
some last minute preparation was needed including the fitting of
a new clutch just to be cautious. The car was given a good road
test on the eve of the event and this put paid to any worries
and the car felt good.
Saturday morning started early, leaving the
hotel at 6am we headed straight to scrutineering which was
completed with no problems. We then set up our service area and
awaited the 8:50am start with only our tyre choice to be made.
Light rain had been falling and although
the conditions were wet it wasn’t that heavy. I suggested to
Gary that we went on inters, but that was quickly over ruled as
he wanted to take the safe option of going out on full wets!
Into the first stage and with the venue
being mainly concrete and extremely slippery, it was soon
realised that Gary’s choice was spot on as we emerged seven
seconds clear of the field.
SS2 was even wetter as the rain fell
harder, but with the knowledge gained earlier our time was 12
seconds quicker than our first run, again setting fastest time
by four seconds over our nearest rival Matthew Green in his
Subaru Impreza. Third place was last year’s runner up Ben and
Alice Williams in their Mitsubishi another 27 seconds behind.
Off the line on stage 3 the Celica
developed a loud knocking noise, a driveshaft, or diff maybe ?
We weren’t sure so took the first part of the stage quite
cautiously and to our surprise we were still quickest by 11
seconds doubling our advantage in one stage.
But our dreams of a 4th straight
victory were soon dashed as the service crew diagnosed the
problem to be the gearbox. ( drop gear missing a tooth ) , so
the decision was made to retire rather than risk doing further
Congratulations to Matthew and Louise who
continued were we left of to take a well deserved victory by 40
seconds over Eric Weaver’s Darrian.
We shall have to return next year and
try to regain our crown !
co-driver Paul Hollingham
22nd November - Carfax Stage Rally
- Organisers: Oxford
- Venue: Longcross Vehicle
Test Track, Surrey
- Competitors: 70
- Stages: 10 Stage Mileage: 55
- Overall position: 4th
When the Finals arrived we were shocked to see that we were
heading the field at Number 1!
This rally is always very demanding and challenging in the
wintry conditions and with the last two stages run in darkness,
this year was to be no exception!
The organisers had decided not to honour last years winner
with the top spot, so Richard Edwards was seeded at 3, with
Simon Gudgeons 6R4 between us. Mark Ellis’s (Subaru) at 4, Rob
Dennis (Escort) at 5, and then Guy Wigley back in his old 306
Maxi. A late entry by Tim Wilson in a brand new Escort left us
one short in the Service Crew as Andrew was called up for
With us running first car on the road it meant a cautious
start tip toeing through the leaves on the infamous snake
section and although the outside perimeter roads were damp, the
infield area was extremely wet with lots of standing water.
would then be critical and would play a major factor in the
result of this event, so we opted for a soft compound with cuts,
whilst others chose inters or full wets. To be honest, I don’t
think there was a correct choice!!
Perhaps they should have put Edwards at one because he and
Ellis set equal fastest time on SS1. Gudgeon, Wigley and Wilson
all 5 seconds behind with us another second slower in 6th.
A dry line now on SS2 saw Edwards again quicker, but Tim
Wilson got over excited bouncing his new toy over one of the bus
stop chicanes, getting a tank slapper and then hitting a kerb
breaking the front left strut and steering so they limped out of
stage taking a maximum.
Service was hectic for the Escort crew but they managed to
straighten the components and sent Tim and Andrew back on their
Although just starting to spit with rain we stayed on the
same rubber, however once we’d booked into the arrival control
for SS3 a 20 minute delay saw the venue being hit by a mini
typhoon. The deluge would be our downfall, clearly on the wrong
tyres we lost 18 seconds. Edwards once again took a big
advantage being 10 quicker than everyone else.
We didn’t hesitate to bolt on the ‘wets’ for SS4 and we
went 27 seconds quicker as a result ! Gudgeon was quickest this
time, taking 6 back from Edwards.
completed the stage but decided the earlier damage too dangerous
to continue and retired. This meant Andrew could now revert back
to servicing the Toyota.
The organisers were having troubles with their timing
equipment on SS2 and SS3 in the atrocious weather conditions and
as a result co-drivers were busy trying to sort out who was
where on the leader board.
The weather would once again play another big role in this
event, it was still raining when we left the Service area,
staying on wets we headed for SS5 only to find history repeating
itself. Another delay this time longer saw the sun break out and
the wind blowing the stage dry, more time lost. This stage saw
Ellis quickest 10 faster then Edwards and Gudgeon, with us 9
Behind. At only the half way point we were realistically too far
behind the leaders who were now only 14 seconds apart. Our only
hope would be they would hit trouble.
SS6 and now on the correct rubber we set a competitive
time, Gudgeon now quickest in the dryer conditions, as Edwards
had indeed hit trouble with a bent strut, although this didn’t
seem to slow him much.
SS7 also saw us happy to be on the pace and Gudgeon once
again being fastest saw the Metro man take a slender 1 second
Because of the lost time earlier, the organisers took the
decision to cancel Stage 8 and set up for the two finals stages,
a pair of 3.5 milers set to be run in darkness. With the
light-pod on the Celica for SS9 we set 3rd fastest
time of 2.43 minutes, however this rally would throw up another
twist!! The bogey time was set at 2.48 so we, along with the top
2 all beating the bogey time Gudgeon retained his 1 second lead.
Unfortunately this spoilt the fight a little, as long as the
bogey was beaten again, Edwards nursing his suspension had no
chance of taking the win.
We actually set fastest time on the final stage but this
was a just a small conciliation prize for a hard day’s rallying
although 4th overall and second in class is still a
Well done to Simon Gudgeon and Ashley Trimble for taking
the win and commiserations to Richard Edwards.
Thanks again to all who helped on the day, especially Rob
and Bill having to service in such terrible conditions.
co-driver Paul Hollingham
25th October - UTS Cheviot Rally 2009
photo by CMWI Photography
- Joint Organisers: Whickham & District
M C and Hadrian Motor Club
- Venue: Otterburn Milatary Ranges
- Competitors: 81
- Stages: 12 Stage Mileage: 102
Road Mileage: 90
- Overall position: 14th
With no chance of winning the BTRDA
championship and only an outside chance of finishing on the
podium, we went to Otterburn to gain more experience of the
ranges in readiness for next season.
Saturday morning was spent doing some last
minute changes to the Toyota, then onto the recce. The weather
had closed in overnight which made it very difficult to check
the notes in fog making it almost impossible to see any
distance. Fortunately it was only on the high hill tops that it
was causing a problem and for the most visibility was okay. We
finished the recce feeling confident with our notes and were
looking forward to the following day’s event although a little
apprehensive as Gary had started to go down with a bad flu type
On the morning of the event he was feeling
less than fine and with the weather only slightly better than
the previous day, we set off to do our first loop of stages a
little under 18 miles. In damp conditions a good tyre choice was
made and we were making good progress until the heat from inside
the car along with the heater to demist the windscreen made Gary
feel very unwell.
By the end of the first loop it was
uncertain whether we would actually carry on but after an
emergency dash from the service crew to locate some cough
mixture we soldiered on. With a driver coughing his way round
every bend and co-driver repeating every command, surprisingly
we were actually making good, safe progress.
The afternoon loops were very long and
demanding, each containing 4 stages totalling 30 miles, with
similar road mileage it was tough on even the fittest crews.
We did make the finish at 14th
overall, and had succeeded in our task of gaining more
knowledge, but felt a top ten would have been possible.
29th September 2009 - Patriot Stages
Forresters Car Club
- Venue: Caerwent
- Competitors: 100
- Stages: 7 Stage Mileage:
- Overall position: Retired
TO FINISH FIRST, FIRST YOU HAVE TO FINISH
How true that statement is.
After our win last weekend
the whole team was excited about the penultimate round of the
BTRDA championship, the Patriot Stages held at Caerwent.
Extremely demanding venue,
with seven 10 mile stages held entirely around the military
base. Lots of kerbs to catch out the unwary and an awful lot of
junctions joined by short straights means it’s very tough on car
Stage 1 started badly, we
arrived at the first junction just 150m from the start, popped
the Celica into 1st and bang, there’s goes the drive
shaft (or so we thought).
The Toyota was making
horrible noises but didn’t seem to slow our progress.
Then on only the 5th
corner we arrived at a square left that tightened up a bit and
maybe still on cold tyres the back slid wide and we clobbered
the rear off side wheel very hard into a kerb, the tyre
thankfully stayed up but unbeknown to us had badly buckled the
wheel but again didn’t affect our pace.
Now this is where I would
normally get out my co drivers book of 101 excuses and blame the
driver, but have to say that I over cautioned a square right
into immediate junction right. Gary followed my exact
instructions but turned too early into an entrance way that
wasn’t shown on the map. (Apparently we weren’t the only ones to
do this). We struggled to find reversed so instead drove forward
into the yard, spun it round and out we came losing around 20
This wasn’t the start we
had planned on, but to our surprise we had set 6th
fastest time, equalling championship rivals Adrian Spencer and
only losing 15 to Mark Welch, both of which we needed to be
ahead to keep our championship alive.
Into service and some head scratching to
find out what was making the noise, it was soon apparent that it
wasn’t the drive shaft but probably knocked a tooth off first
We changed the drive shaft as precaution
anyway and headed of to stage 2 with a plan of not using first
gear, but truthfully expected not to make it through the next 10
mile stage, and all those junctions in 2nd!
We did make it through that stage and in a
good time as well, moving up to 5th overall beating
Spencer by 13 seconds, but lost another 4 to Welch. However we
were now confident that the gearbox would last and we could push
a bit in the next stage and keep the pressure on Mark.
Stage three was going really well, Gary was
learning to adapt his driving style to get the most out of the
Toyota without using 1st gear, but after about 8 miles on a
square right junction I watched our front left wheel disappear
across a field and into the undergrowth, the Celica came to an
ungraceful stop with the front side of the car now dragging on
A failed front hub was the cause, and a
very disappointed end to our rally and championship.
20th September 2009 - WINNERS - Anniversary Stages
- Organisers: Bexley
Light Car Club
- Venue: Longcross Vehicle
Test Track, Surrey
- Competitors: 52
- Stages: 8 Stage Mileage: 50
- Overall position: 1st
Photo by Andy Manston
After all the woes during the build up to this event it was always going to be a tough day! I think everyone involved in getting the Toyota ready was feeling the strain, not only because of the early starts, and very long evenings, but just the general uncertainty of it all.
To cut a long story short if you haven't heard the full version a crack in the block was found late last week, and then the search for a new block was only confirmed on Tuesday.
Wednesday the block was being bored, and work building the new engine finally started on Thursday. Friday after waiting for delivery of head bolts saw Gary and Penny driving to Milton Keynes to collect the lost package from the TNT depot. Then a drive back to Towcester to continue the final build, and eventually returning home at 1am Saturday morning.
Back up again at 7.30 to start putting the engine and ancillaries back into the Celica. With help from Rob King the 185 fired into life late afternoon and after a short test and running in session, it was loaded onto the trailer ready for a 5am start to make Longcross on Sunday morning.
Fortunately all the above did go smoothly and everyone met up at the gate as planned at 7.30.
So onto the stages, Bexley Light Car Club had 8 stages lined up for us all around 6 miles, either with one or two split junctions to vary the layout, and to keep both driver and navigator busy.
Being seeded at number one in honour of winning the event the previous year you can imagine how much pressure was on us as we sat on the start line.
With the uncertainty of what lay ahead, would the engine last under full rally speed etc.???
SS 1 went extremely well, Gary was letting off some steam, whilst being careful not to over rev the engine, which was pulling very nicely. With being a little cautious at the first split because the entry was on a blind crest and you had to be on the correct side of the road beforehand, we were very pleased with posting fastest time by 3 seconds.
We did however realise that our fellow competitors would go a lot quicker on the second stage which was a repeat of the first. Simon Mauger was the quickest taking 5 back form us, now taking the lead. Simon was debuting his brand new MK2 Escort but with a 2.5 Millington engine borrowed from Tim Wilson which produces 330 bhp now mated with a 6 speed sequential box, it was always going to be quick.
Next up was Mark Ellis in a Subaru who pushed us hard last time we met, was a further 14 seconds, with previous Longcross winner Richard Edwards in another MK2 only 3 behind.
Mauger then hit trouble with a clutch problem and struggled off the line of stage 4, losing 30 odd seconds, however we were not entirely happy with the handling or tyre wear. We changed some setting and swapped the rubber from front to back, whilst Mauger fixed his problem. We had now gone form a 13 second deficit to a 28 second lead.
The afternoon stages were reversed and with the Toyota now behaving itself we pushed hard, having a half spin on some oil in the snake, and with Mauger now on a mission he clawed back 9 seconds and put himself back into 2 nd position.
So we tried even harder on SS6 and our efforts were rewarded with another fastest stage time taking one from Mauger, and half a dozen off Edwards and Ellis who were battling hard for 3 rd spot.
The lost time was due to Mauger having suspension problems which wasn't rectified until next service but was now out to prove to the world how fast he could go, the answer.... Very fast! Going into the last stage we had a slender 4 second lead but Mauger swallowed the up and had won the rally by 12 seconds.
But had he !!! With his earlier problems he had booked out of service 3 minutes late so he was given 30 second road penalties handing victory back to us.
We had entered this event to make sure we had cured the overheating problems, from discovering the cracked block, having to find another and then rebuild the engine, shoe horn it back into the car all before we could turn up and do the event. So, to then come home as winners was a fantastic result.
It's made all the hard work worth while, and the whole Team are looking forward to next weekends Patriot Stages.
August 30th - The EventSigns Mewla Rally 2009
photo by Rally Gallery
- Organisers: Epynt Motor Club
- Venue: Epynt Sennybridge Ranges
- Competitors: 121
- Stages: 9 Stage Mileage: 91
Road Mileage: 92
- Overall position: 16th
MAKING THE BEST OF A BAD SITUATION !
The event started well with a good Recce,
this being only our 5th time over Epynt we were still
being cautious but felt we had made some good advances on our
Morning dawned with drizzle and the
forecast was looking like it was set for the day and tyre choice
would be the key.
SS 1 went well with a good time on inters
which worked well in the greasy conditions. Onto SS2 and ready
to start when the stage was stopped 4 cars ahead.
Eventually the stage was cancelled and we
drove through at slow speeds, of course taking the opportunity
to check our notes. It became apparent as we drove past the
entrance to SS 1 that, that stage had also been stopped with a
We made our way to SS 3 but because the
emergency crews were attending two incidents SS 3 was also
cancelled, so again we made our way through the eleven miler,
and again we checked our notes.
So into service only having done one stage
we set off into the second loop which was a repeat of the first
We arrived at SS 4 to find that the stage
had again been stopped with another roll, and again we had to
make our way to the next stage.
Because of our seeding ( 30 ) most of the
top 20 had got through the stages before the stoppages so we
were given notional times for stages 2, 3, and 4. What this
meant was that the leader in our championship after 4.5 miles of
rallying was one and a half minutes ahead. If that wasn’t enough
they had all done the stages so had warmed up and on their
second runs through all went faster, however we could only match
their first times and fell another 30 behind.
The third loop was SS 2 and 3 linked
together totalling 15 miles, we stayed with the inters, and
although the stages was drying this was still a good choice and
a good time matching our rivals.
The afternoon was in the opposite direction
and linked all three stages together giving a length of 20
The weather was again moist so stayed on
the same tyres and attacked SS 8 and came out with no problems
again matching our rival’s times, and had actually taken a
handful of seconds of the man in front Mark Welch.
SS 9 was a repeat of 8, at again 20 miles.
But was much wetter, staying on the same tyres we attacked the
stage in the hope to catch Mark, a tall order but only 1 second
a mile was needed.
All was going very well Gary driving the
ranges like never before, but 15 miles in the temperatures went
sky high, with oil temp at 125 and the water not far behind.
A little off followed at the infamous ‘
steps ‘ watching the dials and not the road, no damage but 12
seconds lost spinning, and scrabbling back onto the black stuff,
but all this caused was the temperatures to go up, and the
inside of the car to steam up.
The decision was to back right off, switch
off the anti – lag, and hope this would lower the temperatures.
With only 5 miles to go the warning lights were off, but obvious
time was lost.
We made our way to the finish ramp at a
steady pace, and made the finish.
On first inspection looks like a head
gasket failure, so justified backing off, and to our surprise we
were only 43 seconds slower than our first run through,
considering it was wetter and we went off. What’s more was we
didn’t loose any overalls positions and finishing 16th
overall which is a great result having to make the best of the
lost time with those earlier cancelled stages.
June 19th/20th 2009 - The Rally of the Midlands
Photos by Rally Gallery
- Organisers: Streetly Motor Club
- Venue: Bramcote Barracks, Merevale, MIRA,
Mallory Park, Argents Mead,
- Competitors: 100
- Stages: 19 Mileage: 90
- Overall position: Retired
Some and Lose Some!
Well, as the title suggests things don’t always
go quite as planned!
We set off from Somerset Friday morning to
Hinkley with the Celica proudly displaying No1 on the doors for
what was always going to be one of our biggest battles trying to
return home with top BTRDA honours.
The ceremonial start was in Nuneaton and after
the Carnival Queen got us underway we were raring to go and
ready for action!
The first stage at Bramcote Barracks was very
slippery with some unfriendly and tight chicanes and with us
being the first car through we hopefully gave the spectators
something interesting to watch!
SS2 was a repeat of SS1 and on our second run through (and after
a few adjustments to the pace notes) we went ten seconds quicker
setting equal fastest stage time. We then headed off to the town
centre stage at Argents Mead where the organisers are trying to
‘bring rallying to the people’. For the previous two years Gary
and Paul have set the fastest times on all four runs through
this stage. Well they didn’t disappoint and improved on their
quickest stage time by two seconds and managed to beat the Bogie
by one second.
This put them in 2nd place one second
behind the rally leader Chris Jones. Unfortunately had the bogie
time been lower they would have been level with the leader.
So, things were going well and the car headed off
to Mallory Park to complete SS4 and that’s when it all went
They sat on the Start Line, revved the engine,
green light, off they went and ……….....Bang! Gary immediately
pulled over onto the grass verge (total distance travelled 10
yards) closely followed by a section of the carbon propshaft.
The sad reality of the situation was that they were out of the
rally and then had to watch all their fellow competitors
complete the stage before being allowed to recover the car.
As far as the BTRDA Championship stood, this was
disastrous as we really needed to score maximum points at this
event. So we spent half of Friday night debating whether to
continue with the remaining rounds or try something new e.g.
Ireland! But it’s strange how things can be turned around so
quickly, as on Saturday when we went back to the fateful Mallory
Park to spectate we witnessed the current BTRDA leader have
differential failure. Well that certainly changed things and
put the cat amongst the pigeons (and having not quite booked the
ferry tickets to Ireland), we are still in with a chance and
back on course for Mewla National Rally in August.
we’ll have better luck next time!
May 23rd 2009 - Emcos Stage Rally
- Organisers: Enthusiasts Motor Club of Stonehouse
- Venue: Down Ampney , Glousestershire
- Competitors: 80
- Stages: 10 Mileage: 55
- Overall position: 1st
IT'S A HATRICK!
As the title suggests Team Toyota Rally scored its third victory at Down Ampney this weekend. This was our most successful win to date as we set fastest times on all of the ten stages.
The organising club EMCOS put on a really good rally making small changes to previous years that were both challenging and demanding on the crews incorporating varied corners, chicanes, and long bumpy straights.
The whole Team was still buzzing from our recent success winning the Ellisport Stages at Longcross two weeks ago, so we were all looking forward to the task of taking two wins on the trot!
With the added pressure of the Press in the build up to the event it all started badly at scrutineering when unfortunately the fire extinguisher was set off, and a very worrying time cleaning up the mess followed. Thankfully the Toyota started okay and after a short road test all seemed fine.
The organisers managed to sort us a new extinguisher which we collected on the morning and managed to fit and plumb in before SS1.
With all that out the way we could now concentrate on the job in hand.
Stage One was extremely slippery for us as the venue was very dusty causing the front runners to slide around the 5 mile stage. On the repeated Stage Two with the road surface now a lot cleaner most crews including ourselves completed the stage around 15 - 20 seconds quicker than the first run.
Our only scare was after SS7 when we pulled away from the stop line in first gear, there was a loud clonking noise from the gearbox. We tried the other gears before we got back to service so worked on the theory that we had possible lost a tooth on first gear.
As I hurried around getting the times from our nearest rivals, the crew drained the oil from the gearbox to see what came out, and with fresh oil we set off to SS8 with a 49 second lead, not knowing whether the gearbox would survive the remaining three stages.
We decided that it best not to use first gear at all and with the stages which in some places were very tight it was going to be tough just using the higher gears.
Gary drove his socks off on those last three stages and we were delighted to find that we were still fastest giving us victory by 1 minute 18 seconds.
This event was to be a shake down in preparation for our next rally which is a BTRDA round, but found ourselves having to push hard all day to stay ahead.
Gary and I took our maiden win at Down Ampney two years ago so this third win here is very special to us and we thank the whole Team and our Sponsors for their hard work and input.
Report by Co-Driver Paul Hollingham
10/5/09 WINNERS - Ellisport Longcross Stages 2009
Ellisport Longcross Stage Rally - May 10th 2009
- Organisers: Craven Motor Club
- Venue: Longcross Vehicle Test Track, Surrey
- Competitors: 50
- Stages: 8 Mileage: 46
- Overall position: 1st
The Team returned home on Sunday after having a great day at Longcross near Chertsey where they took top honours.
The event attracted an entry of fifty crews competing over eight fast and demanding stages. Longcross is known for the infamous 1 in 4 tank ramps (that has caught out many a newcomer to the venue!), but unfortunately due to a film set for the television series Primevil this area was inaccessible for the stage and the top and bottom of the ramps became the new location for the service area. This meant that the organisers Craven Motor Club had a huge task and a lot of work designing new stage layouts for the event.
Gary & Paul have rallyed many times before at this venue but with the new layouts and varied directions throughout the day, both felt that the club had done a good job and thoroughly enjoyed the stages.
The Celica got off to a good start taking the lead on SS1 with a time five seconds faster than anyone else. It soon became clear that the main competition would come from Dennis Marshall in his Metro 6R4 and Richard Edwards in his Mk11 Escort. Going into the afternoon stages only nine seconds separated the Celica from the 6R4 followed by Edwards two seconds behind and then event sponsor Mark Ellis five seconds further adrift.
The afternoon stages were very fast and flowing using a lot of the high speed perimeter road with various splits on different laps. This certainly gave all the co-drivers plenty to do and even the regular Longcross competitors had no time to relax! Unfortunately on SS5 Richard Edwards was forced into retirement with a broken half shaft.
The new stage layouts seem to suit the Celica's recently adjusted suspension set-up and fastest times were set on all the afternoon stages. Going into the final stage a 25 second advantage had been gained over Marshall but sadly he was forced to stop on the last stage with engine problems. This meant that runners up spot went to Mark Ellis in his Subaru and 3 rd place to Dean Thomas in a GTM with the Toyota winning by 55 seconds.