I got a phone call on the Tuesday asking me if I would be interested in doing the rally on the Saturday as the drivers, co-driver couldn’t do it, the ride was in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo. 4 so I jumped at the chance.
With being asked so late there were lots of things to do like maps for rally car, service crew, chase car, arrange work, and ask Christine.
On receiving the final instructions, where was Newtown, middle of Wales, heard of it but never been there. So Friday came and off we went, god what a drive, with noise and scrutineering over with time to go over maps with everybody, then get a good nights sleep after a couple of beers.
Saturday morning came bright and sunny, running at car 73 our start time was 11.03 with a similar car behind us and a Mk.2 escort in front. Having never been to Wales before all I knew was its hilly and plenty of sheep. 30 miles to the first stage, working from the trip meter, cause I couldn’t read the names! We arrived and the first thing to do was toilet along with lots of other crews, the stage had been stopped because of a accident we had plenty of time to study the stage and find out any things that weren’t on the maps. When we got our arrival time the scrutineer searched all cars and crews for pace notes, nearly having to do a strip search with rubber gloves, they were strict. With that over with we set off in to the stage flyfnant 9.75 miles, for the first time in this car the corners come up quick, bloody quick straights don’t exist problems till we got to the stop line when the marshall’s said we were on fire, but I had got to check my times before putting out fires, we beat car 75 by over 20 secs.
With the fire out and nothing to worry about (yet) rant perthog was next, 7.85 miles like all the stages it was up and down some very and I mean very steep hills, apart from losing my place once on time map we got through ok.
A 30 min. service, check times and were we lying 42nd o/a and 3rd in class out of 187 starters. Next was 15 miles in Dyfi and we really got it together here, working well together was a hell of a stage, thinking things were going well and we might be on for something the last stage was Gartheiniog, 12.30 miles long and once again up and down, everything was going great until about 9 miles into it, coming out of a square right to a easy left it sounded as if we had got something trailing from the car and then a loss of power from the engine, stopping the car and the driver getting out and going to the back of the car I saw black smoke coming from the bonnet, thick black smoke! right it’s time to get out. Being told to press the fire extinguisher that wasn’t working using both the hand held ones we just put it out, anybody watching must have been laughing there socks off it was straight out of the keystone cops.
Helping two other cars who went off all we could do was sit and wait till the stage was over and wait to be recovered, and towed to the end of the stage.
What had gone wrong was, the timing belt had broken, taking a con rod with it. And the fire, back pressure had pushed the dipstick out sending oil all over the engine. That was my first time in Wales, hopefully not the last but it’s a lot different from the Yorkshire forests. As they say better luck next time, but that’s rallying.