Once again the start of the Allen was from the Cross House Arms in Doynton, where the 75 competitors were met by the ever smiling John and June Blakeley, who swiftly put all entrants through scruitineering. A broken wire to the lights hindered scruitineering on the green Golf but this was quickly fixed with help from Harvey Waters. One absentee was Tim Hellings who had replaced the gearbox on the Golf, but forgot to refit the earth wire and consequently cooked the ECU.
First hill was Tog Hill which everybody managed to clean (inc Andrew Brown) before the fun started on the second section Birch Hill. With the late withdrawal of Tim Foster this meant that Paul Bartleman, aided by Emma Flay were first on the hills. With the class 8 restart placed in the thickest of the mud Paul with Emma’s bouncing managed to coax the Troll to the top although when they got to the summit the vehicle weighed twice as much with all the mud they collected! Most early runners found the glutinous mire of Birch Hill tough going. Paul and Tina Allaway who were the first of the FWD crews to power their way through the section. Barry Clarke in the Grotty Chummy was flying up the section so quickly that he took 2nd gear only to run out of power and stop. He then put it back into 1st gear and drove out of the section. If Terry Coventry ever runs out of electrical work, ploughing would make a good career change, as Terry cut his own furrow to the top of the hill with the front of the Peugeot. The green Golf collected a puncture lower down but still managed to crawl past the section ends before getting stuck. Pete Hart arranged recovery and pulled the stricken Golf out to the road and with the aid of the air jack from Mike C was soon on his way.
On the way to the next section Bitton Lane the stricken Talbot Sunbeam of Andrew Waterfield was parked up with a broken differential, the pair of them walked half a mile to spectate, until the course closing came to their aid. The hill itself proved not to be too difficult. Next the famous Guy’s Hill with a restart for classes 6, 7 and 8.
First to attempt was Paul and Emma who for the second year cajoled the Troll to the top and only Ian Davis and Gary Browning also managed to clean the section from the restart. Dudley Sterry tried his usual trickle approach which when that failed snatched 2nd gear and gave it death but to no avail. Julian Dommett out for the first time this year in the Dellow said “There are only two options on Guy’s Hill. Option 1 is to clean the section option 2 is to break trying” Didn’t think of option 3 then Ju. (Fail and carry on) Of the FWD contingent Chris Clark in his VW Golf failed to find any grip and only just got off the start line. Bill Purdy in the Saxo also struggled to find any grip, Paul in the red Astra running early when the hill was slippery ran out of grip at the one marker which possibly left the door ajar for Dave and Mike running later. For the first time in a long time the gate at the top was open and the Collins/Haizelden Golfs had the luxury of turning around in the field before coming back down.
In class 3 all the running was being made by Nick Farmer and Colin Perryman. On Special Test 1 Colin beat Nick by 2.7 seconds as Nick did a double reverse over line B but then on Special Test 2 Nick pulled back 1.5 seconds which in the end gave Colin the class win despite both of them going clean.
Just before Travers John Blakeley was carrying out a very efficient diff test before the competitors embarked on their way to the stoney Travers. Nick Farmer in the BMW found the surface very slippery and had the car sideways on the section but with his usual driving style managed to recover the situation and get the car out of the top. With Paul Bartleman, Ian Davis still clean, Andrew Martin in the Melos saw his chances of the Wheelspin going away from him after failing the earlier restart on Guy’s he then failed the restart on Travers.
Everyone gathered at Chew Valley rest halt and refreshed themselves for the legendary Burledge. The ‘ledge’ was in cracking form and only 17 of the 69 runners went clean. In class 2, Adrian Dommett, Jeremy Flann and Barry Clarke went clean much to Bill Bennett’s chagrin and according to Bill if he’d had access to a helicopter he would have paid for the MG to be airlifted to the top rather than reverse back to the bottom in front of his smiling rival Adrian Dommett. Harvey Waters clean run stopped at the 4 marker when Harvey tried to split selectors in the Escort’s box. With the gearbox jammed in 1st and 3rd gears Harvey preceded to demonstrate what a piffling problem this was by cutting the transmission tunnel open with tin snips and removing the gearbox top cover and split the selectors love tangle with a whack of a hammer. With gears found and top cover replaced Harvey was off to 3rd in class behind the BMWs. Julian Dommett was the only clean in class 7 as was Dave Haizelden in class 1 and Adrian Marfell in class 4.
Giles Greenslade’s new Beetle was expected to go well on this event, however Guy’s Hill and Burledge slowed the Beetle’s progress and having convinced himself he’d get off the restart on the ‘ledge’, to come back and face the waiting throng proved quite entertaining but not for Giles!
Nanny Hurns offered Andrew Brown a glimmer of hope as both Andrew and Marlin went clean a trick he repeated on John Walker. Little Uplands stopped the entire Class 8 field with their high restart this proved particularly painful for Ian Davis as those 6 points cost him a big lead in the Wheelspin Championship. Class 7 had a lower restart allowing 7 competitors to go clean on this hill.
On the approach to John Walker Peter Fear had a scary moment when the off-side rear wheel took off on a section of its own. The Fearless car was left on its own while Peter took off after the wheel in the dark. John Walker was at its muddy best but only claimed 6 failures. The muddy crews all made their way back to Doynton for warmth and refreshment at the Cross House.
Many thanks to Pete and Carlie excellent route marking, excellent marshalling, excellent event!