A muddy Strefford Wood 3 was
first on the agenda for 1,2,7 and 8. This defeated all in classes 1 and 7
with Pete Hart doing best to get to the three. Unfortunately some of the
VSCC contingent in class 2 had trouble with the entrance track and it was
abandoned for them, but not until Bill Bennett stormed to the 5. It was on
for the Class 8's though and half a dozen of them went clean.
Class Eight Flounder
Those who didn't start at
Strefford Wood commenced battle at a reintroduced Flounders Folly, now
without the gate on the twist at the start. This proved relatively
straightforward for the lower classes, who turned off before the mud
started. Classes 7 & 8 had to go straight up where the mud and increasing
gradient saw only eventual winner Dean Partington and fellow DP Wasp
driver Mike Chatwin go clear. Despite having picked up two punctures
already Duncan Stephens came close in his Class 7 Melos, getting to the
two, one further than Tim Smith (Marlin). As it turned out these first two
hills decided 7 & 8 as the leading contenders were to clean the rest of
The next section was just
across the car park and the clearing refers to the organisers efforts with
saw and brush cutter to make the section usable. It was a straight blast
for everyone but class eight, who had a wicked deviation that was too much
for 50% of them, including Adrian Marfell (in his special rather than the
Beetle he had entered) and Dudley Sterry. The other classes had to contend
with differential start lines which resolved Class 6 as Gary Browning went
clear and remained so, while Vic Lockley dropped his only mark of the day.
A couple of the Class 0's went clear, Andrew Isherwood wasn't in this
group, dropping six in his Dellow Mk1. However, these were the only marks
he was to lose all day and he went on to win the Class.
2011 saw the return of the
marvellous Hungerford, at least if you weren't in 7 or 8 who gave it a
miss. The lower reaches were dry with the exposed rock steps to contend
with, not too bad if you took it easy. Once out of the gully the gradient
eased and the rocks stopped, replaced by mud and deep ruts that went on
and on, a truly marvellous section, if you have the ground clearance. The
VSCC contingent did well here but only Rob Wells could coax a Suzuki X90
over the muddy hump at the end, even Jonathan Toulmin, who has done so
much for the event, needing a tow. After a Class 0 only section at Harton
Wood they were given a taste of the action here, which was perhaps a
little unfair for the lower slung cars as some of the ruts were really
Lots of Grip on The Jenny
Everyone attempted The Jenny
Wind, but how different can a hill be. It was very dry and there was
plenty of grip everywhere, apart from the very top where the gradient
increases as the section meets the cross track. The majority of the entry
cleaned the section, many for the first time. Most of those that didn't at
least saw the summit, defeated by the mud at that last little rise. This
group included Clee stalwarts and Northern Trial organisers Fred Mills
(Marlin) and Derek Reynolds (DAF). Having lost Lee Huck at the first
section all the class 1's stormed up, at the expense of a CV joint for
Dave Haizelden's Golf which he soon repaired. Nigel Jones was delighted to
go clean in his MGF but decided to retire afterwards with gear selection
problems, caused earlier in the day when the sump guard was pushed up onto
Into the Woods
Going back through Much Wenlock
and onto the B4371 there was a new route into Easthope Wood and its one
way system. 7&8 had Major's Leap and Hill Top on the agenda. Everyone in
Class 8 cleaned both and most of the Class 7's as well.
Classes 1 to 6 were treated to
a relatively dry Easthope, cleaned by all but a few who struggled with the
bump at the top. Ippikins Rock followed. Its hairpin bend was on form but
those that got round were disappointed as it had to be taken out of the
results following some confusion regarding the instructions.
Classes 7 & 8 missed out on
this nice little BOAT, that proved surprising difficult. It was rocky,
rutty and being shaded the mud hadn't dried. It certainly sorted out the
Class 0's, only a couple of Dellows a Melos and a Marlin getting to the
summit. It defeated quite a few of the VSCC contingent as well. Surprising
with the large entry, there were only two Class 3's in this years Clee and
neither climbed Heywood Common. James Smith was to win the Class in his
BMW while Derek Reynolds had to retire after Castle.
The organisers are to be
congratulated for finding this fine old track. Everyone had a go and there
were no failures despite being restricted to road pressures. It is truly a
magnificent setting, providing a stunning backdrop to Dave Cook's photos.
Rattlinghope & Gattens
After a nice run over The Long
Mynd there was a the usual special test at Rattlinghope followed by
Gattens Gamble, run the normal way round this year. It was nice to see the
land owner talking to some of the competitors at the start of the section.
The club are very lucky to have him support the event with such
enthusiasm. He is well known in the area for taking his daughter to school
in his tank! The views at the top of Gattens Gamble are truely
magnificent, as they were through the Gliding Club on the way to the
Priors Holt Complex. One of the many reasons why competitors are attracted
to this event.
Priors Holt 4
This was a new hill, despite
looking very much like Priors Holt 3. Everyone but Class 0 attempted the
section which had differential start lines. The first part was steep muddy
rock, although there was plenty of grip, before a sting in the tail when
the route dived off into deep muddy ruts before finishing back on the main
track. As it happened it didn't prove a problem to the regulars, although
Nick Cleal bogged down in his Peugeot 205
Enterprise Observed Test
There was a long run round the
perimeter of the wood to this new special test. The finish line was on a
steep bank where, perhaps surprisingly, most people managed to stop
astride. Former Clee Clerks of the Course Simon Woodall and Jonathan
Toulmin managed the finish line OK but fell foul of line C-C.
With several clean sheets the
two observed tests were important. Dean Partington was inch perfect to
make it a DP Wasp one, two with Mike Chatwin in Class Eight and take the
Fray Cup for the overall winner.
James Shallcross kept to his
winning ways in Class 1 while in Class 2 I'm sure even Bill Bennett
wouldn't have minded being pipped to the class by John Bell in his
slightly more modern MG TD. Class four was the other category to be
decided on test times and John White made it decisive, by nine seconds,
over Sam Holmes.
This was the first year the
lower classes had been let lose on this twisty, bumpy little section.
Although tricky there was plenty of grip in the dry and the main
contenders had no problems. It was easy to lose control though and David
Jackson dived into the bracken in his FPS but was able to continue. Not so
Dean Yarranton who retired his Reliant Goose Special in the Priors Holt
Complex with a broken diff. Julian Fack was spectaing and promptly sold
him a new one!
Priors Holt 1
Adjacent to The Slab, and
attempted by only 7 & 8, PH1 is long with loose stones, mud and a steadily
increasing gradient. It turned out to be tricky, stopping more than 50%
including Ian Davis who had dropped only one mark till then.
Priors Holt 2
The lower Classes were spared
the fearsome reverse down PH1 this year but still had PH2 to contend with.
This is a very long hill, stony at the bottom, mud and ruts at the top
with a restart for 3 to 6, their only one of the day. There was plenty of
grip and the section claimed only a few victims. A couple on the sharp
corner at the bottom and a few more in the ruts after the sharp right
hander at the top.
Strefford Wood 1
The lower classes were off to
the finish to sign off after the Piors Holt Sections but 7 & 8 went back
across the A49 for Strefford Wood 1 to tackle the full section this time.
Things had dried out considerably since the morning but the gully was
there to trap the unwary. The section proved a sting in the tail for Andy
Curtis who went up the class 7 route in his Buggy, losing the award for
second in class in the process.
Back at the finish there were a
happy crowd of competitors who had enjoyed a near perfect event. OK it was
a shame that some of the awards had to be decided on the Observed Tests
but the organisers couldn't have expected things would be so dry. At least
it gave some of the stalwarts of the entry list the chance to see the top
of a few hills they had never seen before. There were a few criticisms but
in true Clee spirit Graham Austin and Adrian Tucker-Peake didn't defend
the situation but vowed to sort them out for next time. Its that attitude
which brings competitors and marshals back to this excellent event.