Classical Gas is an independent web site and is not affiliated
to any of the clubs or organisers of the events featured. Words and Pictures
by Michael unless attributed otherwise. Michael is a proud member of the MCC,
ACTC, Dellow Register and Falcon amongst others, but does not represent their
views nor the views of any other organisers or clubs.
Smooth Running Trial, Just the Right
Amount of Bite
It had been wet before the event, but was
dry on the day, creating ideal conditions. There were some new ideas which
worked well, although with some controversy over Run
Back penalties on the
timed restart. The old favourites were on form. The resurfaced sections at
Normans Hump and Simms still took their toll as did a rough Tipley.
Mike Pearson getting out of shape as he
fights a loosing battle with the rough steps of Tipley. (Picture
by Brian J Rees)
Clerk of the Course Tim
Whellock introduced the trial by explaining how he had revised the first
part of the route to make the transition down to Bovey Woods more
interesting. This started with a Special Test within the Haynes Complex.
This went down well, especially with car competitors who had a rare chance
to see the motorcyclists in action.
Restart at Windwhistle Hill
A concept not seen for a while.
Competitors were stopped on a muddy tarmac road, drove into a restart box
then restarted on a light signal and given 10 seconds to clear the section
ends board which wasn't that far away. All should have been well. There
were certainly plenty of marshals but the provisional results caused
controversy when 25% of the entry were shown with Run Back penalties,
including eventual Best in Class 1 award winner James Shallcross.
New Underdown Sections
With Meerhay no longer
available it was good to have these new forestry sections near Yarcombe,
close to where the A30 joins the A303. Class 0 and the main trial shared
the rough downhill approach track. The Class 0 section came first, but
proved too difficult for quite a few cars, causing a tailback while they
reversed out. Unfortunately this prevented cars in the main trial getting
to their section and a big queue built up until the Class 0 section was
cancelled. The section proved nowhere near as rough as the entrance track
and Bill Bennett (MG J2) was its only notable scalp, although it did prove
problematic for quite a few of the Suzuki's in Class 5
Richard and Paul Williams in their Oval with a rag roof would
have gained an award but were penalised for not signing on (Picture by
If you thought the Oval was old how about Ben Collings 1901
Mercedes? (Picture by Dave Cook)
Back on the agenda after a
years absence the area around Normans Hump looked very different after all
the logging. The surface of the track had changed as well. It wasn't as
rough and stony but there was a layer of mud to contend with. The restart
was limited to Classes 3 and 6, taking its toll of both. In Class 3 only
Lester Keat (Avenger) and Neil Bray in his ex Tony Underhill Escort went
clear. It was a similar story in Class 6, only three of a sizeable entry
reaching the summit with Courtney Yandle (Beetle) and Dean Vowden (VW
Notchback) going on for Gold.
After an easy run so far Class
8 had to restart on Clinton. Although the logging hadn't affected the
track the restart was still a test for the specials and 50% of them didn't
get away, including Dean Partington, Brian Partridge and all the Dellows
apart from Eric Wall.
After last year there had been
some improvements to the section and it didn't have much affect on the
results of this years trial. Mind you, there were a few competitors that
hadn't got this far. John Plant's Golf had lost all its power; Barry
Clarke had retired the Grotty Chummy; Tim Smith and Chris Maries were both
on their way home after strut problems with their very different Toyotas;
Matt & Barry Denny were trying to get back to Popham on the train to
collect their trailer and pick up their Fugitive after breaking the diff;
Mark Rosten-Edwards had broken his Escorts Gearbox in Bovey Woods; Colin
Sumner had fuel feed problems with his Beetle.......
Stretes, Core Hill ST, Bulverton
Steep and Breakfast
Graham and Barry Redmayne had problems with their Liege overheating
and when they had cured that they discovered petrol leaking from the
fuel tank. They persevered and finished the trial
None of these caused any
problems, especially with the restart on Bulverton Steep cancelled,
although the trial lost Wheelspin Champion Dean Partington before
The Mid Trial break was at
Crealey Amusement Park, and most people thought it was a much better venue
than Exeter Services. MCC President Jonathan Laver was on hand to talk too
as many people as possible. Jonathan had started the event in his MGB but
retired when he found a newly fitted axle had far to higher ratio.
Only 7 and 8 had to restart on
Tillerton. The section is a bit of a shock to newcomers. It looks
horrendously rough over the solid rock. But the rises and falls are not
too bad and its possible to get up without risking much damage. The
problem was that the rock was pretty greasy and it took a fair toll. Roger
Bricknell (Vincent) and Josh Moss (Gregory) both lost their clean sheets
on the slippery rock. Other notable Class 8's to be penalised were Eric
and David Wall in their Dellows and Carl Talbot in his Special.
In Class 2 Nigel Hilling lost
his clean sheet in his side-valve Ford Anglia but Ben Collings romped up
in his wonderful Mercedes although he was to miss the final few hills.
Peter Mountain forsook his Dellow for his newly
acquired supercharged BMW (Picture by Peter
Nigel Hilling in his very tidy 100E engined Anglia (Picture by
Chief Official Jeremy Bennett
had moved the section start way down the hill compared to usual. This
didn't have any affect on the results but certainly added to competitors
Only Class Eight were allowed
to assault the long bank this year. All the others had to turn left before
the gradient went up, albeit classes 6 and 7 had to restart.
Only five of the Class 8's
reached their section ends board, including Alex Wheeler in his ex Tony
Underhill special with the former owner urging him on from the passenger
seat. Alex went on to join Nick Farmer and Mike Chatwin to keep clean
sheets amongst the specials.
Brian Partridge getting airbourne on his way to cleaning Simms
(Picture by John Perriam)
John Wilton has determination etched on his face, but like everyone
in Class 2 he couldn't reach the summit on this occasion (Picture by
After pasties and cake at
Ilsington Village hall it was time for Simms. The hill was going to be
different as the Torbay lads and the Flay family digger had put in a lot
of repair work. This really paid off as they had eliminated the worst of
the rough stuff without loosing the hills competitiveness. Experience
It was generally reckoned that
conditions became tougher as the day went on and the upper part of the
hill became more and more slippery.
Class 1 - James
Shallcross made a storming climb, the only FWD to reach section ends.
James was one of many to pick up one of the unfortunate RB's on Underdown
and had failed Normans Hump. However, the shape of Class 1 started to
change when David Haizelden lost his clean sheet failing Simms.
Class 2 - Nobody got a
clean so the hill didn't count in their results. Unfortunately the many
spectators were denied the spectacle of Ben Collings Mercedes as he had
driven to the finish after Wooston.
Class 3 - Three of the
Front Engined RWD saloons made the climb. No surprises that Lester Keat
was one of them in his Avenger, David Millar made it with his Escort but
Alan Selwood provided the best spectacle for the many spectators, with
flames belching from his BMW Estate.
Class 4 - There was a
high success rate here, four of the eight survivors going clean with the
best performance put up by Nicola Butcher who stormed up late in the
gathering gloom when the hill was very slippery.
Class 5 - Only two
cleans amongst the sports cars. Phil Tucker in his TR3A and a stormer by
Paul Brooks in his Suzuki X90. Simms wasn't very kind to Mike Warnes who
had the prop shaft yoke break on his TR7. Fortunately Mike was carrying a
spare and changed it at the bottom of the hill.
Class 6 - I hope Dean
Vowden and Alan Treloar don't mind but the star performance in this class
was Courtney Yandle in his Beetle, cleaning Simms and getting a Gold at 85
Class 7 - 7 and 8 both
had a restart but the three cylinder Suzuki engined Lieges of Julian Lack
and Mark Endley were up to the challenge, joined only by Nick Gibb's
Class 8 - The Specials
were up to the challenge of the old hill, most of them storming up and it
didn't seem to matter where you were in the running order in this class.
Peck had to reply on his passenger and a spectating friend to help him
when he punctured on the rocks (picture by Brian J Rees)
Goodright taking an interesting line. (picture by Brian J Rees)
The hill was very rough and
slippery this year. With a lot of failures the queue at the preceding
Lenda Lane control soon built up. The organisers took the unusual step of
persuading competitors who were not on for a medal to miss the hill so
that it didn't have to be cancelled.
Dave Haizelden probably wished
he was amongst them as the suspension on his well prepared Golf broke on
one of the rough steps and it took a while to get it out of the section.
Dave wasn't the only failure to have problems getting out and its hard to
see how Tipley can remain in the event unless things change.
The field was very spread out
by the time the cars came to Slippery Sam The hill has become very rough
at the top and a big problem is looming here. There was plenty of grip
however and it was only Class 7 that had a lot of failures, having to
re-start along with the Class 8's.
With some missing Tipley the
survivors all made it to The Trecarn in time for the traditional evening
meal. The Windwhistle Hill RB issue hadn't reared its head at this stage
and popular opinion was that it was a good event.
The innovations at the start of
the event were very welcome and Underdown was a good find. The last few
hills became quite challenging for the later runners and Tipley will need
some work if its to stay in the event. The organisers had put a lot of
work into the event and its clear why The Exeter is so popular.