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20th March 2017
Isle of Man: pleasing turn out of Volvos
`I got back from the "3 Legs of Mann" at 0500 on Sunday: the Douglas-Heysham ferry (clearly stated as such on all Peter's paperwork) doesn't actually exist on Sunday, so rather than send Peter from Birkenhead to Heysham, I took Saturday night's ferry back to pick up my car in Heysham.
And what of the event? Superb, best rallying I've had since December (3rd on the Preston with Owen Turner)!
  • I was out with Peter Lovett in his perfectly prep'd 911 2.4 - built with extreme simplicity, I counted 3 switches on the dashboard including the main isolator - that's what a rally car should look like. Not only is Peter a superb driver on sealed surface, but the car went like stink. And before anyone mutters about the bottom end, it had bags of torque from 2500rpm - Peter rarely used the top end power.
  • Friday - both of us were working excellently, personally speaking I don't recall having been quite so in control of the maps.
  • Navigation: nil fails throughout the event, which I was very worried about.
    • A lovely new twist from Guy & George: the finish TC on two Tests was the start TC of the following Regularity. This added yet another level of organisation on the Nav, and we sorted them beautifully. On the Friday...
      Sadly, despite my clear highlighter on the timecard, I overlooked this on the first Test of Saturday, and there's very little I could do to recover the initial error since the tripmeter was about 0.1 or 0.2 mile out. Oddly enough we didn't lose too much on this, but it was a poor and unsettling start.
    • Night Leg was wonderful, requiring typical Woodcock precise navigation. The first loop round the airfield was nerve racking: taking a racing line from one junction to the next (we were on runways) could put the tripmeter out by a significant proportion, requiring me to adjust it continuously. And picking up the junction landmarks in the dark with a good 30deg of arc was really tough. But Peter was on form, and we avoided a fail on the first run. Pulling into the first public road TP the marshall said "54 minutes?" - "No" replied I assertively "53 minutes". About 100m further I realised it was Niall Frost at the control, and he knew exactly what minute I really wanted, and it wasn't 53! I confessed to him over sandwiches after midnight at HQ, it's a failure I have made in the past.
      Second time through the airfield and we were looking confident.
      Then onto the TC sections - huge, pure road rally stuff, and absolutely brilliant. We cleaned a lot of it, by virtue of Peter's car and driving, but sadly max'd out on a later TC when we beached it on the HPR for 9'.
      A couple of visits to Plantations were excellent, and once again we cleanly navigated them - exiting the final bit of woodland Car 11 (IoM Volvo Amazon) got a WD to the control right in front of us (we got it right), which meant we followed him for good portions - Peter asked to overtake, but to be honest he knew where he was going, and was flying - a recipe for me making an unforced error if we got past him. "No" was the answer, and it cost us nothing since we were both cleaning the sections (until that HPR!).
    • I cannot describe how good this leg was, although as ever I would have liked the opportunity to put the word around the "newer" competitors: "just get the navigation right, do not attempt to go quickly". I'm pretty sure that many who haven't done 12car (let alone night rallies) will have got despondent after getting hopelessly confused. Added to that, 15 of the local night rally crews were running behind the Historics, ie there were quick locals behind novice Historics.
    • Saturday morning we were 5th on the road (although 10th in the standings due to parking up on the HPR)
    • Saturday's navigation was more of the same daylight Regularities: slightly too much reliance on the "shortest route through the given points on the map, using the approach/depart directions", but always taxing: if not due to the plotting, then due to the speed changes.
      Sadly I never really got it together after that awkward first regularity fluffed start, and spent the entire day making little errors that gave us another unnecessary 2'30s of penalties dropping us to 13th in the final standings.
  • Tests
    • Of a very high standard, all of them cleanly comprehensible. The airfield ones were wonderfully quick with big open spaces requiring a focussed navigator to look ahead and spot the cones (without becoming dis-orientated) - even on Saturday we hit them very professionally.
    • Peter caught the Nissan on the Kart circuit, then caught and passed the 911 on a later visit - all without drama, illustrating his racing experience. In fact it's worth pointing out that at no point did we go sideways on the fast Tests, Peter keeping perfect traction to give us several top 5 times.
  • Results: my aim was to beat my outing on the Cheshire (51st if you must ask) - thankfully we did
    • 13th overall, 4th in class
    • Previously we had managed 7th in Paul Bloxidge's 911 - but to be honest I was much better this time round
  • Volvos, all Amazons...
    • 4th overall (1st i/n class): Morgan/Crozier 123GT
    • 12 (2): Kelly/Blackett 122S
    • 18 (3): Hockridge/Gosling 122S
    • 25 (4): Green/Green 122S
    • 35 (5): Arnold/Lambley 120
    • 38 (4): Williams/Darlington 131
  • Speaking of Volvos, I found myself chatting with Dermot Carnegie and Kevin Haselden - actually much of it was banter 'twixt the two. Anyhow, following Kevin's question on how to make a Mini's handbrake work well enough for HB turns, I observed that the Volvo's rear brakes are so good that no modification is needed  (the Amazon's handbrake being outboard is indeed a pain). Bear in mind that Dermot pedals a PV544 very quickly in addition to his other cars. Dermot immediately responded with "I've got those useless discs on my PV". There might have been an expletive in the statement.
    Oh so true, it is an irritating affectation that makes people replace the PV and Amazon drum brake back axle with the 140 disc braked unit - that unit works perfectly adequately on the footbrake (but no better than the original drums), but is completely useless for the handbrake turns. To make the 140 handbrake turn one has to rig an hydraulic handbrake, with the attendant scrutineering discussions in certain rallies.
Apologies for the sideways photos, I'm told our evolution of the website will not suffer this issue. We live in hope.
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