Event Reports

Links to reports | Day 1 - Slaley to Kendal | Day 2 - Kendal to Glasgow | Day 3 - Glasgow to Peebles |

The Prologue - Thursday - Slaley

The 9th Rally of the Tests is underway, a nice sunny, if somewhat windy day on Thursday was a good start to the event with the rally cars and drivers mixing it with the golfers on a PGA European Tour event, thankfully they did not have any play offs so the first test around the perimeter of the golf course at Slaley Hall could still proceed.

As usual there had been some car problems for some, Michael and Sebastian Haberl , FIA Regularity Champions for 2009 had set off from Austria in good time for the event but a blow out on the German autobahn damaged a brake hose and by the time this was fixed it was too late to get the ferry across to the UK. Roy Gillingham and Richard Dix had experienced overheating on the way north and decided that rather than risk further damage would not start. Brian Cope and Peter Boyce were debuting a Lotus Elan Plus 2 but a non rallying issue led to their withdrawal just minutes before the off.

When the prologue was first introduced to the event in Scarborough it consisted of a short test along the sea front but now the prologue has grown somewhat and competitors tackled 2 tests and 2 regularities before returning to a meal at Slaley Hall.

Leading at the end of this section was Frank Fennell and Kevin Savage, their Alfa Romeo Giulia Super just one second ahead of the Porsche 911 of Howard Warren and Brian Goff with the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint of Dermot Carnegie and Iain Tullie one second further behind.

Several crews did have some problems on these sections including the Porsche 356 of Jan Ebus and Jan Berkhof, they had a problem with the fuel pump, which although fixed by the sweep crews meant they lost a lot of time and they decided it was pointless to continue. Also in trouble was the Volvo PV544 of Peter and Douglas Humphrey – they had some problems with their head gasket but being the much rarer 1600cc engine version there was no spare available. As usual with an event of this type the sweeps had been kept busy most of the day resolving issues that crews had on the journey to the start.

The Yellow Peril Prologue Story

Even on the way to the start venue I heard tales of a car being towed away after filling up both tanks with diesel, but I haven’t yet confirmed who that was. One of the Tigers was boiling over after the measured mile and decided not to start, and several cars were in need of the service crews, particularly with tripmeter troubles, but all made the start with the exception of Brian Cope and Peter Boyce who unfortunately had to go home for family reasons.

The first test was in the grounds of Slaley Hall and we on strict orders, to the extent of a test maximum for trespassing, not to drive on the grass. It was quite a tricky one in the dark and one to take a little care on. A short transit brought us to Slaley forest and it was immediately off road but onto generally smooth, flowing gravel. The route was great fun, with passage controls to slow you down, but sufficient time to get back on time before the timing points. The second loop was very slippery and at least two teams, to my knowledge, investigated the ditches to either side of the track, oddly, both in green cars! Drexel Gillespie didn’t realise it was a regularity and passed 4 cars before the finish, but he enjoyed himself!

Another very short transit section brought us to the second test by the side of Derwent Water. A fairly straightforward number with a 540 degree turn around a feature that was rather larger than it appeared on the diagram.

The final regularity was on road, but tricky roads with grass triangles to negotiate, extremely tight and slippery hairpin bends and a nasty little left after a speed change that foxed most crews, ensured a variety of penalties and shaped the night’s leader board.

Day One - Friday - Slaley to Kendal

The first leg proper of the event started a couple of miles away from Slaley, the Derwent Manor hotel not only provided much needed additional accommodation but also a short driving test. This test was to be the downfall of Tests newcomers Geoff Crabtree and Liz Jordan, they broke the diff on their Mercedes-Benz 220, it was not possible to source a replacement diff locally so they had to call it a day.

The Tests do tend to be quite hard on transmission components and later in the day Richard and Jon Sandilands broke the differential in their Standard 10. They had the car recovered to home near Huntingdon , changed the diff and headed back up to Kendal arriving in the early hours of Saturday morning ready to tackle another day.

Lunch was at the Morritt Arms and as most of the crews tucked into a good lunch some were not so fortunate and needed to spend time working on their cars, newcomers Bob and Jeanne Taylor were on the lookout for a wheel bearing for their Mini, one was sourced from a local Mini enthusiast and was soon fitted.

The afternoon included a visit to Warcop camp but rather mischievously the route for the Evening section at Warcop was not released until Supper thereby stopping crews making any notes about what they would need to do later.

As usual there were some difficulties in route finding on the Warcop camp with it being difficult to identify the difference between the pull off areas and side turnings. This led to some convoys forming which caused a few problems when the whole convoy went off down the wrong road. Keith Graham and Sue Hoffmann were in one of these convoys and with the limited ground clearance of their Austin Healey 3000 were soon beached and were concerned that as they were off route they would not be found and that tanks on manoeuvres would just drive straight over the top of them! I am pleased to say they were recovered and not flattened by tanks on exercise.

Roy Perkins and Peter Ward brought along a Porsche 911 but they were another to take an early bath and were not seen at the night halt in Kendal. Early baths in another way were also taken by competitors and marshals alike as there were torrential downpours whilst the Warcop section was in progress. Later on in the evening the water was to lead to a car drowning out on a single track road, help was summonsed and eventually the stricken car of Michael and Richard Moss was pulled clear, the queue behind was within a whisker of backing up to the preceding regularity timing point. There were many crews at the Kendal halt wishing they had packed a pair of wellington boots! Despite some grumbling a welcoming buffet and a bar saw many tales of how the water was not only lapping the doors but even coming up over the windows – by the time the story gets retold a couple more times the cars will have been completely submerged.

Warren and Jean Chmura were debuting a Saab 96 two stroke, Warren and Jean were very philosophical and thought that it wasn’t if it would break but when, unfortunately it happened earlier than hoped with a suspension problem.

The Yellow Peril Leg One Story

We woke to the sound of marshals knocking posts in the for the test immediately below the bedroom window. Gary Edgington was checking out a short cut across the grass, which he used, but it didn’t look like he gained much from it. One of the big Fintail Mercedes rolled through the test with something terminal and was later seen on a tow truck. First regularity of the day was very greasy and a little foggy, we got stuck behind a forklift truck, which upset a speed change, but we managed to get roughly back on time. Poor Kevin Savage’s Halda packed up at the start and he collected a large penalty, not surprising after guessing distances from the speedo.

Darlington football club was a very open, coned affair, which tends to lead to too much speed and tail happy motoring, which it did. We were surprised to find Hasselden and Kirkham stranded at cones M, apparently a drive shaft had gone. But he got one not more than 32 miles away and was back on the road by lunchtime, but with rather a lot of penalties, shame as they were having an excellent day until then.

A Regularity on closed roads at Aske Hall caused lots of problems, most of all for the two cars that had a coming together. Though at least one of the crews, Sue Shoosmith and Trina Walsh, were seen later in the day in another car having popped North of the border to collect it! The Sandilands were receiving mechanical attention and lots of crews wrong slotted towards the end of the regularity and collected a maximum for their efforts. Lunch was extremely welcome after what already seemed a long morning.

Bank Head farm in the darkness, with bales instead of cones was good fun.

The first test at Warcop Camp reminded us all of the nature of the place and the handling on the gravel, oh and the bumps!

Going in to Warcop camp after a heart meal in the NAAFI, Howard Warren and Brian Goff had had a fantastic morning losing only 1 second in total, but the results blender was about to come in to operation. Just as we set off the heavens opened, and we were open topped as ever, so visibility was down, we missed a slot out of a wide area of tarmac and by the time we came back for it we had Fennel and Savage on our tails, we traded mistakes and places right through the camp and at one stage Frank became beached, but amazingly Kevin managed to push him out. Warren and Goff caught us, but then we both went the way and let Frank past again. Following this we had a TC where the marshal unfortunately had a different understanding of time than the rest of us!

Next was a deceptively straightforward regularity, which at least calmed things down for us all. We then had a real dash down something resembling a goat track to get to the next TC. From here we went back to Bank End farm to reverse a test from earlier in the evening, but now as a Regularity. As it was a private road, the first timing point was deceptively soon, and it certainly caught us out. It was now very wet indeed and the roads were flooding.

Following this we had another dash to get to the start of another off road regularity. This time it was using the huge Shap quarry access roads, along which I managed to squeeze past the Volvo of the McAlisters just before very tight hairpin right.

Finally we had a strange combination of London Map with a jogularity to ensure lots of paper to juggle. This seemed to go quite well, and ended with an incredibly tight hairpin onto a narrow white on a 1:4 downhill yellow. After the control we entered a queue, as some 30 cars up the road there was a deep pool of water which was causing all sorts of problems. Eventually we marshalled the troops and reversed out to find our way back to the MTC. I found I had a puncture.... Cause? A bullet casing! Asking around, no one had come out unscathed. The minimum time lost in Warcop seemed to be Paul Wignall on 5 minutes, but the results will tell all, but no chance of seeing those tonight.

Day Two - Saturday – Kendal to Glasgow

From the banks of the Clyde

After a splendid night at the Castle Green Hotel in Kendal it was another early start as the first time control in the morning was at Lowther Park, 30 miles to the North, although this was clearly stated on many different instructions at least one crew had failed to realise the significance and when they did there was a terse conversation between driver and navigator before they set off to catch up with the event. Also loitering around the hotel were David Morgan and Martin Taylor, they had broken a half shaft on their MGB and had hoped to have it repaired in time to rejoin but by the time the part had been sourced it was going to be too late. Martin was last week competing on the Rally GB and we think may be the only co driver to have done both events in the same year – or does somebody else know differently.

It was generally a lot quieter day for the sweep crews, Neil Morrison and Alexander Procter broke a shock absorber on their Austin Healey Sprite but thankfully they were not too far from home so were able to make a detour, repair the car and rejoin ready for another day’s rallying tomorrow. Kevin Haselden and David Kirkham had a head gasket change on their Mini Cooper and what should have been a simple job became a little more complicated as some additional locating studs had been fitted in the past. The event features a wide variety of test venues – everything from stately homes, to airports to military areas and today around a chemical works. We should all be very grateful to the landowners for allowing us to utilise their premises and run the event that we do.

The evening section today was not quite so tough as the Friday one and the weather was also decidedly drier so we welcomed back many smiling faces, roadworks had affected the planned route into the hotel but the bonus of many scantily clad Halloween party goers seemed to have kept most crews happy as they found their way through the streets of Glasgow.

The final day is slightly shorter and includes test sections at Knockhill Racing Circuit and then heading back south via the showground at Ingliston and various other venues before arriving at the splendid Hydro Hotel in Peebles, often used on RAC Rallies of the period as a breakfast halt.

The Yellow Peril Leg 2 Story

Several teams were late getting in to the MTC this morning for a variety of reasons, but both Ron Palmer and Chris Towers were seen approaching at a run! A quick run up the road to Lowther brought us to a great pair of tests to start the day. The first was a greasy hill climb ad the second a circuit of the dear park, with dear in-situ, we did a little off-roading on the way round, but nothing serious.

Next we went to Greystoke, which was to cause a real problem for much of the field. A regularity around the forest following letters caused consternation as many crews inexplicably read an ‘O’ as an ‘I’, went the wrong way and missed 3 timing points, resulting in huge penalties. The Test that followed on the gravel was excellent fun, though we didn’t quite get up to the speed of the M-Sport WRC cars that usually frequent these tracks.

A regularity based around grass triangles took us to the traditional Le Mans start speed and braking test at Carlisle airport., were Mr Fennell managed to stop facing the wrong way, but still in the box, so no penalty.

The next test was unbelievably muddy, and demanded a clean line to extract a good time form it, we survived with the top down and only a little mud in the eyes.

A fairly uneventful regularity and test brought us to lunch where they didn’t seem to quite understand that we were all on a fixed time schedule and many folk unfortunately didn’t get a great deal to eat.
Dundrennan Camp had a great circular regularity with difficult hidden timing points, unfortunately Howard Warren and Brian Goff slightly restyled their Porsche through here and needed Andy Inskip’s help to clear the bodywork for the tyre. The Escort of Peter Naaktgeboren and Bart den Hartog were setting fastest on many of the tests with some great displays of sideways Escort driving.

Teabreak at Twynholm at the David Coulthard museum was welcome with tea and scones served by a small compliment of staff in double quick time. The poor waitress had been looking forward to seeing us for months but was too busy serving in the end.

The next regularity in Dumfrieshire turned out to be a wet one and when the heavens opened we had to stop mid regularity to put the hood up and the visibility was horrendous as we searched for a hairpin left which didn’t appear for a mile or so which was disconcerting to say the least. Poor Andy Gibson didn’t notice the end of regularity sign and did a mad dash to open and close a gate, in the pouring rain, while still trying to maintain 30 mph.
Being Halloween, we shouldn’t have been too surprised to find a werewolf as marshal at the next test, a slippery, uphill affair in the grounds of Drumlanrig castle. Dermot Carnegie was knocking seconds of Paul Wignall and clawing back at his and Mark Appleton’s lead. The regularity in the grounds of the castle was testing, and several missed a slot in the woods onto gravel. A secret check on the rote just after this also seems to have caught out a few who preferred the short-cut main road to Sanquar for fuel.

Transit was now through a few towns which should remain unmentioned. We had dinner in New Cumnock at a swish hotel. As usual the navigators worked feverishly to plot, but were worried that it looked too straight forward. First was a test at Kames karting circuit, which was challenging in the pitch dark. The regularity had an odd slot through a farmyard but was otherwise simple. From here it was a swift section timed to the minute and the dips and brows made maintaining the speed quite challenging. This style of road was to continue for the night and we were all pleased that is wasn’t raining, otherwise what was manageable would have become very challenging indeed.

The run into Glasgow was a little tedious and sitting at traffic lights watching many werewolves in costume, (well we think they were) teetering past on stilettos was no match for a blast around the moors. Results showed that four Alfas were dominating with a lonely Sprite sandwiched in the middle.

Day Three - Sunday - Glasgow to Peebles

After a night in the Crowne Plaza in central Glasgow crews got up and came down to the control to see a large screen TV showing how bad the weather was going to be for the day! It didn’t seem to dampen many crews spirits as they set off. Graham Walker and Sean Toohey had been going well in the Elan, this being Sean’s first event on maps. The car started fine in the car park but would not restart from the hotel, eventually the problem was traced to a faulty rotor arm and once this was replaced the car restarted and they were on their way but many minutes late.

There was a busy day ahead with eleven tests and five regularities so there were many opportunities for time to be lost and therefore changes in the leaderboard, after a test at Forestburn crews set off via a Regularity to Knockhill Circuit, despite the appaling weather that led to the cancellation of a planned track day the tests were still able to be run. From here we turned south via the Royal Highland Showground at Ingliston.

We were then privileged to visit a couple of country estates and Thirlestane Castle before ending the day at the Hydro Hotel in Peebles, often used as a halt on RAC Rallies of the period.

Fred Bent MC’d the prize giving with as much aplomb as he planned the event and coped admirably with the lack of a PA system, Howard Warren from CES gave a wonderful rendition of the Two Ronnies sketch about ‘hose. The atmosphere of the whole event had been superb and the poor weather had done little to dampen everybodies enthusiasm for the event. Next year’s 10th Anniversary event will be starting from Ireland and there is a sure to be a rush to get a place on what is generally considered to be the UK’s premier historic event.

As well as being a very capable crew Simon and Trevor from the Yellow Peril also find time each night to compile their daily report, their final report follows:

An even earlier start than usual woke had us out in the pouring rain from the hotel. A run across towards Edinburgh gave navigators time to plot and then it was the first test at the very deceptively hilly Forestburn circuit. Clearly the 3rd dimension confused the Dutch and Harm and Arthur were seen in the peat midway between the circuit and a lake. However, one towrope and a half shaft later they were back in the race. A regularity with lots of big puddles followed and then we came to Knockhill, we had a long wait at the start line as the Volvo of James O’Mahony had become rather closely acquainted with the Armco. Second test was a tight uphill kart circuit and to our surprise we were fastest. A repeat pair of tests at Ingliston market brought us around Edinburgh and to a quirky little regularity with an interesting ‘hook’ finish on to a gravel road on a bridge. From here we headed south.

The next test at Thirlestane castle had an addition to the test diagram, a huge water splash, with photographer in attendance. Frank Fennel was running late after a puncture in his second spare wheel , but not dropping time at the controls. The Edgington Imp was looking sick here with a wheel at an unusual angle but it was still mobile. A nice test at Newtown St Boswells led into a regularity at Woll Rigg, a few teams found the NO board in a farmyard and a few more mistakes were made that even the organisers might not have been expecting. A test at Bowhill that was run twice with a variation start had a tricky coating of leaves to contend with and the Duke of Buccleuch was keeping an eye on us!

The penultimate regularity was mostly off road, very quick, very slippery and at least one car had investigated a ditch along the way. A great test in the woods, complete with codeboards brought us to the final regularity which had some instructions to sign for which confused lots of crews, including us and resulted in a rather large penalty at the first timing point. Paul Wignall and Mark Appleton take a second win, another Alfa with Dermot Carnegie and Iain Tullie aboard second and yet another Alfa with Frank Fennell and Kevins Savage in 3rd. Short report today, as it’s time for dinner!

Simon and Trevor were too modest to mention that they finished only 15 seconds behind Frank and Kevin and were the first post 62 car home beating many cars who had at least twice as much power.