29th February 2020

This years event was again held at Warcop Army Ranges, situated just north of the A66 midway between Scotch Corner and Penrith. The likely suspects gathered at the Davey homestead for the customary fish n chips before heading off. One key person was missing – Mark had a family do down in Coventry and was to join us later!! So fish n chips washed down with a cup of tea we set off.

Heading up the scenic route to Brough via Keighley, Skipton, M6 and A685. Scrutineering was. at the small service area in Brough and our accommodation being a bit on the large side, we decided to head up to the service area first, and parked up the camper before heading off to Brough. Noise check, scrutineering and documentation completed without a hitch followed by a bit of banter with the scrutineers was complemented by Malcolm drooling over a very nicely turned out Mk2. It must be nearly beer-o-clock, so off to the camper for the start of a very social evening.

What was a very empty service area was now starting to fill up, so we positioned ourselves in the corner of Service D – it’s the furthest from stage start/finish but does have some fantastic scenery. Alan Oldfield was to join us later – so we made sure he could park his camper close by. Alan wasn’t completing this year, as he had sold his Proton Millington and was awaiting a new Darian. Not long after the beers had opened – Alan and his wife arrived, along with two dogs and powered bicycles – oh so posh!!

Dinner was the usual high standard – Dave and Mike are getting the hang of the kitchen now, so I could relax and think about the event – was Guinness on my mind!!. A few beers made way for a selection of pate and French bread before the steaks appeared – marvellous! And a glass or two of red. The evening banter with Mr and Mrs Oldfield was interrupted by the dogs demanding attention – I must say it’s not the first time I’ve had a dog sat on my knee – but this time it was a four legged variety – they seemed quite game, as they worked their way around the gang, Mike and Dave getting their fair share of attention too . The evening was bright and sunny but a chill in the air – we all braved it until the sun went down and retired to the camper for more beer before settling down for the night – Mark had now joined us – this weeks team complete.

Morning dawned all too soon – more cars and service crews arriving – our corner of the service park beginning to look a bit tight – but we will manage. Malcolm set to – moulded slicks being the tyre of choice – a new pair on the front, whilst the wets were packed away. All set – bacon sandwich, cup of coffee and 3 downloads – ready for off. The outing on the Tyneside stages a few weeks earlier had me fired up – I had to 25 overall and top 10 in class as my goal. The stages were very similar to last year – so no excuses!!.

The first 2 stages completed without event – faster than last year saw us 15th in class. Back to service and a quick check-over – another 20 litres of fuel and off again. This time stages 3 and 4 were completed without drama and saw us climb to 10th in class and 35 o/a. The car was on song – the brakes a little spongy but you don’t need them – Malcolm keeps telling me!! A bit of air in the system was bled out – another can of fuel.

Alan was hovering – “where are all your tyres”, he asked. I responded – “we’ve slicks for dry and wets if it rains – that’s all we need”. He looked a bit surprised that we could do a full event on one set of tyres. Later he commented “you don’t have to do much to keep this Subaru running do you. All you do is put fuel in”! Malcolm doesn’t like to have too much to do on rallies – so he does it all beforehand – right down to giving it a good polish!

Stages 5 and 6 were now under our belt and the feeling was good although we did get out of shape a couple of times – but when your trying – you need to find the limits – and we did – but the car felt good and we were on a mission. 28th o/a and 8th in class as we went in to stage 7 – more Lucozade needed.

Stage 8 was a re-run of 7 – can we make top 25?? As we queued up at the stage start – the car running in front of us was  Sierra – we have passed him earlier in the day. How long before we catch him – I asked Mark. “About as long as it takes to eat a Mars bar” was the answer. The scooby was in good shape – Mark was on the pace and I was pumped up – perhaps a little too pumped up. Final stage – “5 4 3 2 1 GO” Mark shouted. We’re off – it wasn’t long before I had the Sierra in my sights – must have been a bite-size Mars bar!! Oooops a Mk2 parked up – does that make us 27o/a I thought – keep focussed !! Pass the Sierra and 2 more cars – we were on fire!!! Can I make top 25!!!!

img_0065But we will never know – square right, in to 6 left, open hairpin left up hill – bump – bump –stop!! Game over!! – I was a little too pumped up – carrying too much speed in to the hairpin and we slid off the tarmac on to some rather long grass hiding a couple of rocks – and that was it – rally over – but what a day we had!! Had I done enough to get in the top 25 – we will have to wait till next year. All we had to do was about another half mile – 2 right, 2 right over grid, 1 left at tower, flat over brow down hill to 5 left over bridge and stop.

What a fantastic event – my thanks to the organisers and marshalls for making it happen – the MoD for the use of the land. Malcolm for looking after the car, Mike and Dave for catering and service. Last but not least – Mark – for having the ba**s to sit in the car with me.

Thanks you all!!

Neil Andrews

Next outing could be Christmas Stages with Mr Davey at the wheel