by Bill Bennett
The Clee Hills Trial is a little bit special to me because it was the first trial I competed in having converted from two and three wheel trialling to four wheel trialling, and this after a long layoff and a couple of years rebuilding my MG J2.
04.50hrs. and the alarm is sounding like Big Ben. I gently nudge Liz and as tactfully as possible explain that it is time to get up and prepare for our day of competition. I have learned by now that it is very important to make sure you are very much “on side” with your navigator/bouncer if you want full co-operation and assistance. You can use up an awful lot of Brownie points if these early starts are mishandled!
On the journey up to Shropshire, I was very conscious of my last year’s performance when I was forced to retire after only three sections, because of a broken half shaft. I’m embarrassed to say that this was in spite of me carrying a spare half shaft in the back of the car since I started to use it for trialling. I learned at great expense, (not finishing the trial), that some hubs are different, and although they will physically fit, they run tight when bolted up. Needless to say this particular problem has now been rectified.
Liz and I were also very conscious of all the rain we had during the past week, a lot of the sections on the Clee Hills are on deep soil and very slippery at the best of times, what must they be like today! We arrived at Burwarton in good time, unloaded the car and took it to the allotted parking area ready for scrutineering. Although it was only 07.30 hrs. we still received that warm “Toulmin” welcome from both Pat and Jonathan. With all formalities over we settled down with an egg and bacon roll, and a cup of coffee each. Looking through the entry list for class 2 I notice that nearly 64% of the class were Austin Sevens and these cars go well in the mud!
08.31 hrs. and time for us, (No. 1) to start. Liz was straight into action, “turn sharp L out of car park and shortly 2nd R”. After a while I realised that the specific directions for different classes had got mixed up, and we were following the directions for those leaving from the front car park, we turned around and went back! At least it gave my poor old engine a chance to warm up.
Section 1, Farlow Bank & Road. From the section start cards it looked greasy. It was, we were awarded 12 points for our efforts! On to Section 2, Banbury Wood Special Test. It was special, We almost got stuck again trying to drive away from line BB, and when we eventually got to the end, had to wake up the Time Keeper having taken so long. On to Section 3, Bradbury Bank where we were awarded 10 points, and then Section 4 and Boyne’s Bouncer and another 10 points. I’m beginning to hate trials, but then as I back out of Boyne’s Bouncer, my hate switched to BT! I thought the MG had suddenly lost it’s nearside rear wheel. But in fact it had sunk into the goo that BT had filled their hole with. This must be the first time I’ve got totally stuck backing out of a section!! (I see from the results that section 4 was taken out for all but class 8).
Four sections down and I’m rapidly becoming suicidal, Liz is reaching for the sedatives in the first aid kit. I’ve forgotten to bring my calculator, however was I going to add up my final score? We then had a very pleasant drive through some lovely parkland. This together with the soothing words from my passenger, “for goodness sake pull yourself together, I hate seeing grown men cry!” brought me back to a more stable frame of mind. On to Section 5, Hillside 1. Here we got a 9, things were getting better. Next Section 6, Beamford. The description said “deep ford to muddy track, slippery but not steep.” This was a good section, we cleaned it!
I will not bore you with a blow-by-blow account of the rest of the sections, but summarise as follows. We had a very enjoyable day with some great sections. We enjoyed the very friendly atmosphere which is always present at this trial, and would like to thank all the organisers and marshals who were so helpful. We will be back, if only to try and find out what is at the top of some of those early sections!!