Up bright and early, we were at the A5 Truck Stop at Markyate just before 7 to change the tyres over to the Firestones while in the scruitineering queue. Tyres on, scruitineering ticket in hand we signed on and headed into the cafe for the traditional, and much anticipated, English Breakfast. Er, small problem, it wasn’t open! Plenty of time to look around then. For reasons I don’t quite understand most of the Lieges seemed reluctant to start without a jump and Kevin Barnes Freelander was nuch in demand. First reserve Reg Salway had come all the way up from Bristol in the hope of getting a run, despite problems with his BMW’s petrol pump on the way. Reg hadn’t been able to get a passenger but fortunately was able to find one and get away.
It was a clear morning, but cold and a bit frosty when we left the start. We had the old team in front of us. Simon Robson was passengering fellow Liege owner Mark Worsfold, but in a BMW 3 series rather than one of Peter Davies creations. Also in Class three Neil had daughters Jade and Emily reading the routecard in his recently acquired Mk2 Escort.
Without having to do the higher class deviation we had no problems on Norton Street Lane, interesting to see that last years resurfacing has been eroded by water and should come back to being suitable for a challenging restart in a couple of years. Kevin Alexander was marshalling the start with Ed Nikel up at the top.
There was a new route to Chalk Hill which provided a nice bit of muddy, rutted, green laning before the section, in the hands of Murray, family and team. We didn’t have to do the deviation but hopefully it went well and will provide something that can be built on in the next couple of years. Dave Cook was here and I am looking forward to the pictures.
Thge restart Cress Beds/Water Tower has developed a sizeable step up onto the road. A fine challenge for those used to Classic Trials but maybe a bit of a shock for first timers. Robin Howard and Colin Potter were running the section here and there were some other familiar faces.
After the first three relatively easy sections we approached Kensworth knowing we were going to be looking for some grip. The special test was nice. Straight out and back with no reversing, well done Arnold. Imp enthusiasts Simon Benoy and Mark were running this one.
The first Kensworth section looked tricky. Cliff Morrell was here and maybe he had given it a tweek! Starting on grass it went onto the track, off onto the grass then briefly back onto the track where you had to restart back onto the grass, turning as you did so. This proved quite difficult, the camber produced a lot of weight transfer causing the inevitable wheel spin and a few scary moments for peter Thompson in his Chummy. We went down to 6 psi, found plenty of grip and went clear.
The second section was a twisty affair under the trees. Most days this would have been damp but it wasn’t today and there was plenty of grip. I heard a clunk as we clipped a pole but fortunately we weren’t penalised. Unfortunately this was one of the sections that a few Classic regulars who weren’t used to following the numbers on PCT type sections had navigation problems. Graham Whiting was one, reporting seeing only a forest of poles!
The third and final observed section at Kensworth was a different affair. Clean/Fail with a restart at the top it started at the garte below rtye barn, went up the track before deviating left and following the hedgerow up to the top where there was a restart managed by David Russell. With the dry conditions this didn’t trouble the scorer to much although at least one of the Suzuki X90’s.
Binghams was split this year so we visited it twice. Beetle Drive and Webleys Wobble in the morning and Falcons Folly and Binghams Warren in the afternoon. In the dry conditions there was plenty of grip and it was a shame Beetle Drive weaved through the trees instead of using the glorious ruts. Far to conservative, better to have used the new tree route for escapes. The other problem here was that although sub-divided the one marker wasn’t up by the section ends board. Consequently although we couldn’t get up Verduns Bank we did put our nose past the one board and were given a clear even though we failed really. This meant we didn’t get to see Bob Tatum who was marshalling at the top but we did chat to the start marshal who spotted my old SODC club stickers.
Reg Taylor and Geoff Jackson were with Mike Hayward on Webleys Wobble. The new route at the start worked quite well. We got up OK but you needed to give it a bit of welly and there were failures here.
With no Edlesborough this year there was quite a long road run over to Brickhill where Peter Manning and Verdun Webley had Julian Robinson and the guys and girls from the Herts VW club to do all the hard work! They had a few VW’s to see. Five Beetles and two buggies, including Stephen Page driving his first Classic Trial. We had no problems on the first section down amongst the trees, taking it very easy with memories of understeering off for a fail a few years ago. Don Stringer had problems here, not spotting the correct route and coming head on against a tree. I was disappointed that the second section didn’t use the gulley which Arnold and Peter thought was to rutted. Ruts, just love them! Instead we had a pure PCT section the other side of the fence. There was plenty of grip but it had a fearsome restart. Having seen eventual class winner John White spin (with 12 psi) we went down to 6. Mistake, we pulled away without any wheelspin but as the clutch came off the engine started to bog down, I tried to dip the clutch but didn’t have enough momentum and we stopped. Disappointing, if only I had somewhere between 8 and 10 in the tyres!
Looking across the valley we saw Richard Shirleys (previous owner of my Green Dellow) break his car on this restart.
Over at Ivinghoe we had another nice simple special test followed by an interesting section up the bank. We nearly, but not quite, got to the top. Don Stringer and Peter Thompson both cleared this in their Austin 7’s and so did John White so it was possible in a Beetle. We had a few problems getting out as the exit track was quite slippery (although the section was dry!)
Troll owner David Thompson was at the start of Hawridge Lane, marshalled by Andrew Flanders Land Rover team. We approached via the houses and started with the so called resurcaed part which is becoming quite water damaged. It won’t be long before we can use this part as the section with a nice restart!
We didn’t have any issues, and neither did we had Hill Farm where John Simmons , Ed Nikel and Fred Gregory were running the section with Fred on the restart flag.
Back into Binghams we stormed up Falcons Folly before failing to get round the corner once again on Binghams Warren. Oh dear, there is always next year.
The Beetle ran mostly OK at least on the sections, and we didn’t hit any trees this year! Only issue was a misfire on the road between Binghams and Brickhill. It cleared with a bit of welly but I think I will have to change the plugs.