Driver : Dave Hemingway
Navigator : Rob Hart
I entered with Rob Hart from Horbury Bridge, Wakefield. Another Wakefield and District Motorsports Club member and it was only his third time in a rally car, his first venture onto a multi-venue rally and also his first experience in the forests so sitting in one of the quickest rear wheel drive cars in the rally was a baptism of fire. The rally was held in the North Yorkshire Forests around Helmsley.
The leading 10 seeded cars were all 4wd turbo cars including a handful of World Rally cars, the remainder being Subarus and Mitsubishi Evos and we were being a bit dwarfed as the first normally aspirated 2wd car on the road.
We were holding our own in the results despite promising to have a steady, controlled rally and when the first set of results came in after the first three stages we were lying 11th and were second of the rear drive cars being beaten by local driver Jonathan Kitchen, a situation we were in a couple of years ago when we pushed hard to catch him and clipped a bridge which led to us rolling the car and losing a lot of time in the process (look for Roppa 2 on Youtube)
The mornings stages were dry and hard as a result of an overnight freeze but by lunch time, the tracks were thawing and the moisture being released was making the conditions boggy and very slippery; even slippier than the morning’s ice. This of course favoured the four wheel drive guys who then started to eek a few seconds from us. We had dropped to 12th overall and held a half minute lead over our nearest challenger.
We soldiered on through the afternoon’s stages, the car performing faultlessly and Rob improving on every stage with the map reading. On Stage 10 the battery in the intercom went flat so we resorted to hand signals and shouting and it was duly replaced before we entered the next stage. We enjoyed top five times on the last two stages and although we’d pegged the gap to class leading Jonathan Kitchen to just under half a minute, he unfortunately suffered mechanical failure less than hundred yards before the end of the last stage gifting us the class win and eleventh overall when his front stub axle broke.