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Report for by "H" (Henry Adams) Marshall Secretary WMPMC

Today's Date -- Henry Returns to competition

Well, you should never say` never' or that's how the saying goes. Writes “Aitch” Adams. 

This happened to me recently when I had the offer of returning to rallying as a competitor after a 20-year break from actively competing. Since giving up in-car rallying, I have been involved with an active marshalling team, whose main role is to cover flying finish and stop controls on many rallying events from club up to national level. The team attends some 12 rallies every year to give its support and assistance. I have always had the yearn to return to rallying competitively for at least one last fling, but the thought of such a return has always generated another excuse as to why I shouldn't, the biggest excuse being that I was now well past it and other commitments always took priority.

However, a new member to 'Quinton Motor Club' Rob Belt was certainly keen on getting involved in rallying as a competitor. There were regular discussions on club nights between other club members and Rob, all suggested the best type of car Rob should invest in for his events, these ranged from Peugeot 205, Subaru, Focus and MK11 Group 4 Escorts (very expensive). Finally Rob surprised all of us at a club night when he confirmed his new rally car acquisition was a Ford Sierra Cosworth 4 x 4. Rob, who had never actually competed on a rally before, apart from taking his B.A.R's award and a having a practice day at the 'Phil Price Rally School' in Mid Wales was now very keen to go and compete on an event, however, Rob needed a co-driver; the question was posed, would I be interested in taking on this role. With such an opportunity how could I refuse, but uncertainty of getting back into rallying needed some thought.

After some weeks of consideration I did finally agree for one event only. Now committed to role of co-driver I suddenly realised that I would seriously have to get down to studying and refreshing my memory on a co-drivers duties including, timing, route notes and general duties of a co-driver/navigator. The other all-important thing that needed careful consideration was overalls and helmet. I keenly got out my overalls from 20 years ago and tried them on; unfortunately they fitted a little too snugly, and as standards have changed over the time I had no choice but to invest in a new set along with a new shiny helmet. I was now ready for the experience, now it was the turn to get the car its all-important check over. This was put in the capable hands of the 'Motor sport Students' at Sandwell College Oldbury West Midlands who had offered to carry out any necessary work. The Sierra Cosworth had quite a degree of work undertaken, including, fitting of a new clutch assembly (not easy on a Cosworth 4 x 4), suspension overhaul, resetting steering geometry and a general spanner check. It's thanks to students including, Steve Griffin, Tim Millington, Jimi Hughes and Gillan Shaw, under the watch full eye of course tutor Nigel Briscoe that all the work required was covered on time and the Sierra Cosworth was ready for its first event the 'Quinton Stages Rally'

The day of competition finally arrived; the car had been presented for scrutineering and after some minor problems, which were sorted there and then, all the safety checks on the car were finally completed and we were clear to take our place in the start line up. We had been allocated competition position of number 77 so would be running almost at the back of the field, well you have to start somewhere! I had real trepidation of whether I could cope with all the responsibility of guiding Rob around the 'Quinton Stages Rally', but all the route notes had been drafted and the road book studied at great length. The rally timing however, which are critical on such an event was still one of my biggest concerns and I was sure this would be one area that would cause a major problem.

The time came to leave the rally start at Llandovery and to proceed to the first stage of 'Halfway forest'; we managed to arrive on time and awaited in-line to start the first special stage. Once on the start line the time card was signed the traffic lights had changed to green and we were off. Everything was going well, until I became lost on the pace/route notes, so drawing on past experience we reverted to hand signals during the remainder of the stage. The next job was to get through the rest of the event without any recurrence of pace note problems and to finish the event in one piece.

The day's competition went very well and we had a good run on all of the special stages, despite the weather, which closed in during the day and heavy rain made the remaining stages very slippery, rough and rutted in places. Rob drove extremely well on all the stages without problems. We finished the event with 63rd overall, 6th in class and surprising achieved an award for best 'Quinton Motor Club crew.' Rob had finished his first rally and I had completed my first rally in over 20 years, I certainly enjoyed competing once again and would probably consider another event. The Sierra Cosworth was faultless only requiring basic spanner checks and topping up of engine oil at service.

Our thanks go to the service crew, who were Steve, Tim, Jimmi, Gillan and Polly without whom we could not have got the car prepared for this event and the support on the day. Thanks to Quinton Motor Club for putting on an excellent event and to all the many marshals who braved the appalling conditions of the day.


Contact any member of the club or ‘H’ on 01384 370086,