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News Reports

Event Reports and Results from The 7th Rally of The Tests

Find the day by day results reports  >> HERE
The results book with 120 pages of detailed results information is  >> HERE

Leg 3 – Penrith to Blackpool

Crews were more relaxed as they checked out of the fabulous North Lakes Hotel, we’d taken every room in the hotel and it created a fantastic atmosphere, as crews lined up to check out from the main time control on Sunday morning there was a sense of the unknown as a handout was being given for the first regularity – rumours were circulating that it involved a massive re route – in reality the handout was a marked map regularity section at the Warcop training area – it had been held back as if issued at documentation it would have made the first use of the ranges on Friday evening considerably easier.

 Blackpool Promenade Test

A traditional finish for The Rally of The Tests with a test along the famous Blackpool Promenade

First test of the day was at the fabulous Lowther Estate, known to many for it’s shooting parties, then crews had two farm tests before moving onto the regularity at Warcop – troops were also using the ranges so Clerk of the Course Fred Bent had issued a warning note that crews should be exceptionally vigilant – rumour has it that Chief Marshal Bob Redhead had set up some of the troops to run secret checks! Lets hope they are not armed as otherwise anybody who doesn’t stop may find their tyres shot at!

By the time the competitors had done the three tests and a regularity they deserved some refreshment and the 17th Century coaching inn – the Fat Lamb continued it’s tradition of refreshing passing travellers.

There were still seven tests to go before the welcome sight of the finish gantry on Blackpool promenade. As many will be aware when designing the route Fred Bent delves into the archives to see what types of driving test were used in the period that we try to replicate on the event. An example of this is the test that was run at Myrescough College where crews had to make a decision as to what may be the quickest route around the test – whilst still ensuring that certain cones are passed.

One of the other tests was at a sewage treatment works – quite an incentive there not to go off the road! One of our Dutch competitors remarked that we were very lucky as in The Netherlands the use of this sort of venue or a military venue such as Warcop would not be permitted. So in the UK we are very fortunate and without the co-operation of Landmarc who control the use of military land for the Ministry of Defence a great deal of Motorsport would be venue less.

Our penultimate test was at Lytham Hall – reckoned to be one of the finest Georgian houses in the north west, thankfully our use passed without incident as the repair bills would have been on the high side!

As is tradition the final test was on Blackpool promenade – just across the road from our final hotel – the Imperial, used by the political parties when they have their conferences in Blackpool. It’s a splendid Victorian building but rumour has it that the plumbing may still be of a similar era. The lack of hot water was soon forgotten once the presentation dinner was underway, over 80 awards were presented and the evening was rounded off by local band Shooter who played past midnight and certain competitors demonstrated that their talents on the dance floor were perhaps of a higher standard than their driving skills!

 The Fat Lamb Inn

Enjoying a refreshment break at the17th century Fat Lamb coaching inn

All competitors were very positive about the event and some examples of the comments made are:

“If you only do one event a year it should be the Rally of the Tests”

“Many thanks for a brilliant rally, well organized and I think possibly the most friendly and good spirited rally yet”

“We have done all three of your rallies this year and they have all been brilliant”

“I would like to thank everybody at CRA for the fantastic event I was fortunate enough to participate in. Although Jan Berkhof had told me a lot about the Rally of the Test beforehand, I could not have thought that it would be so good!”

We have deliberately avoided too much comment about individual crews performances as it would be difficult to mention all. Full results for the event can be viewed and printed direct from the results pages and the 120 page results book is available on the downloads page - (see the links above)

Fred and his team are already considering the options for 2008. Don’t forget we can only take 80 cars so you don’t delay in getting your entry in. Entries will open on 1st December.

Leg 2 – Penrith to Penrith

It was an early start for the seventy nine remaining crews, the first control was at Carlisle Airport where the ladies who man the passenger terminal café had opened up especially for us, the airport is currently the subject of a planning application that could secure it’s future and also mean that it would become the main centre for the famous Eddie Stobart transport company. Whether it becomes a future base for the likes of Ryanair or Easyjet remains to be seen – it is the first passenger terminal I have been to that had rabbit warrens under the building rather than within!

Shortly after the start there were two tests, there was some consternation amongst the competitors when a fireball suddenly erupted in the vicinity of the test but thankfully it was not a competitor – just the airport fire service having some practice.

 Bill Ainscough and Catriona Rings - Alvis Speed 25DHC

The Alvis Speed 25DHC of Bill Ainscough and Catriona Rings on the Threip Moor Regularity section

The sweep crews had been kept busy on Friday evening including taking the engine out of the Imp of Gary and Jane Edginton – unfortunately to no avail as later on today the gearbox cried enough so they have gone home on the back of a transporter. They are not the only ones to retire today, also out is the Volvo PV544 of Roy Perkins and Peter Ward. Michael and Richard Moss were philosophical about their retirement as it is their first non finish on an event since 1999.

Some others have been luckier in that they have had major problems but it has been possible to have a repair completed and then carry on. At Carlisle airport Jayne Wignall and Peter Rushforth looked a worried crew, a broken axle location bracket causing the car to want to go anyway but straight – some wag suggested that this should make it easier to weave between the cones on the numerous tests of the day.

From Carlisle airport the crews went off to the military training area at Dundrennan, hopefully there was no live firing in progress as we don’t want to lose any more competitors!

Lunch was served at Drumlanrig Castle – featured in the news recently following the return of a previously stolen da Vinci masterpiece valued at a reported £40 million. Lunch was a wonderful effort by Barbara Lewis, having only returned from holiday yesterday not only did she serve up a magnificent lunch for all the competitors she also had to look after the Duke’s shooting party.

The fun continued in the afternoon before a tea halt at the Grapes Hotel in Newcastleton. As in the previous night at Tan Hill the hosts did a wonderful job in feeding 160 people in a very short period.

The final section of the day was a time control section based on the old 1” Carlisle map – even though the weather was dry many crews found that the forestry roads included did not offer as much grip as expected and several made unintentional visits to the scenery.

There was a great atmosphere as the competitors arrived back at the North Lakes hotel to a warming open fire, a well stocked bar and yet more food on offer. Just some of the comments heard were “fantastic, tremendous, superb”. Even Richard Watton and Michael Kunz who came in about two hours after everybody else reckoned that it was a “cracking route”.

As usual the sweep crews are still out working even though at the time of writing this that will leave them at most six hours sleep and I suspect that they will end up with much less. They are so determined to try and get as many cars to the finish as possible. When the sweeps were originally introduced the aim was to ensure that nobody was left at the side of the road but their role as now evolved so that not only do they fulfil that role but they also do a tremendous amount of work once the cars arrive at the night halts.

The final leg should be a little easier but as the route information is not being given out until the morning so some are worried what Fred may have up his sleeve…………..

 Paul Wignall and Mark Appleton - Alfa Romeo

Leading after the Prologue - The Alfa Romeo of Paul Wignall and Mark Appleton being flagged away from the start by the Mayor of Scarborough

From Scarborough it started

The 7th Rally of the Tests started from sunny Scarborough on Thursday evening with a short prologue section on Oliver’s Mount and Marine Drive.

The delightful Mayor of Scarborough Janet Jefferson and her consort Geoff Jefferson attended to flag the cars away at the start in the paddock of the Oliver’s Mount circuit. The council of Scarborough have always been very sympathetic to the Rally of the Tests and it’s nice to see the trend continuing with new personnel in place. Arts Officer Rowena Marsden now also covering events and an admirable job she is doing.

Scrutineering was held in the underground car park at the Spa Complex – thus providing the scrutineers with some welcome shelter, but it was rather gloomy which no doubt helped some crews. It was great to see competitors entering into the spirit of the event and turning up with their period clothing, it really does add to the flavour of the event and there was much positive comment from the residents and visitors to Scarborough as they strolled along the esplanade admiring the cars and competitors. Some even thought it was a special re creation for a TV show – this area regularly being used as the backdrop for such programmes as the Royal.

It’s great to see so many European crews out on the event – it was the highest entry to date from mainland Europe and quite possibly the highest from Ireland as well. The competitor from the furthest away was Gert Pierer from Salzburg in Austria. He’s a Test regular in his Volvo 122S with UK co driver Howard Atkins. Although we had several of the regular Dutch entries it was nice to see newcomers such as Hank and Nicole Melse, Peter Naaktgeboren and Bart den Hartog.

It was the first time for many years that all entries turned up and started the event – alas it was not long before we had the first retirement – Robert Ganly and Paul Bosdet retiring their Volvo 122S at the end of the prologue – engine failure being quoted as the cause. Several other crews had problems as well and the sweep crews were kept busy for a couple of hours. It looked as though Tests newcomers Andrew and Tanya Castell were not going to be going too far but a local garage in Scarborough did a fix that has enabled them to carry on.

 Richard and Jon Sandilands - Standard 10

First car through Sledmere House - The Standard 10 of Richard and Jon Sandilands beginning what would be a busy day.. see story

The event proper started at the splendid Sledmere House on Friday morning. First reported problem of the day was the Standard 10 of Richard and Jon Sandilands who damaged the differential, undeterred they limped the car home, changed the diff and then drove back up in time to catch the evening leg on the Warcop army ranges, as if they had not had enough problems for the day they then went and filled the car up with some of BP’s finest diesel! Needless to say they didn’t get too far. Still it’s another day tomorrow.

Dave Smith and Andrew Duerden did their best to celebrate bonfire night early – an electrical problem on their Vauxhall VX 4/90 caused the car to rapidly fill up with smoke and the wiring loom partially melted. They missed a test but were soon back in the running.

Last year’s winners Bert Dolk and Jan Berkhof will not be repeating last year’s performance. They have now retired their Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint – clutch failure being the cause.

It’s been a busy day with nine tests, five regularities and nineteen time controls but at the end of the day the leading crews are separated by just a few seconds, leaders Paul Wignall and Mark Appleton, Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint are on 1m 55s, in second is Malcolm Pickering and Iain Tullie, Sunbeam Rapier on 2m 00, third on 2m 36s is Philip Armstrong and Frank Hussey in a Volvo PV544. Frank Fennell and Kevin Savage are debuting an Alfa Romeo Giulia Super and poised in fourth place ready to capitalise on any mistakes that the leading crews may make. Just 2 seconds behind is Robin Eyre-Maunsell and Peter Scott in another Sunbeam Alpine. Leading post 62 car is the Citroen DS of Warren and Jean Chmura, their total penalty being 3m 39s.

Colin Forster and Dave Harvey are not having a good event, the problems started a week or so back when the engine decided that it did not want to do the Rally of the Tests so Colin replaced it with the engine from his “stage” car but this too is showing signs of distress so they will have their fingers crossed when they leave Penrith for the Scottish border country on Saturday morning.

Another crew to have struggled with car problems before the event was Tony Sheach and Rob Kiff, the gearbox had failed in a big way and the midnight oil had been burnt to source and fit a new one.

Tony Arnold is returning to his BMC routes having had a brief foray with Porsche. He has now bought Ron Gammon’s multiple Monte-Carlo Challenge winning MGA, Richard Dix is on the maps for this event. Tony’s Marathon co driver Cath Woodman is out with Irish auto tester Frank Lenehan in a Mini Cooper.

Leg 2 starts with a run out to Carlisle Airport before crews head off North for an even busier day with eleven tests, seven regularities and twenty time controls so it’s very likely that by the time the crews return to Penrith there will be many changes in the leader board.