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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.

Soggy Exeter
 

With the wet weather and floods over the winter holiday some competitors were concerned that the Exeter would run.

Come the day there were few weather related problems although a wet and stormy night made things unpleasant for motorcyclists and those in open cars. As it happened some of the sections were easier than usual as all the rain washed away the mud covering the rocks.

The spectators are dressed for the wet weather as they watch the marshals direct Tim Dutton as he reverses after failing Simms (Picture by Peter Mallon)

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Derek Renolds and Fred Mills raising smoke on the Tillerton restart (Picture from http://crashboxclub.co.uk/) The water is running down Tillerton as Dudley Sterry approaches the restart. (Picture from http://crashboxclub.co.uk/)
As a later number Rex Ward had to contend with mud from the approach track being dragged up Simms by  (Picture by Peter Mallon) Jane Hicks TR7 looks as if has been in the wars as the marshals come to help after failing Simms (Picture by Peter Mallon)

It was dry as the first competitors left Haynes after completing the first Observed Test. Although the test itself was popular the queue for the preceding time control was chaotic. Many had problems getting to the line on time as their way was blocked by those that had got there early. Bill Moffatt didn't get that far as his Troll developed engine problems at scruitineering.

Problems getting to the first section

Classic Canes was the first section, a new one to the trial. The section itself wasn't a big problem but the muddy entrance track was. A queue back to the road soon built up so competitors couldn't get to the start of the section. Quite a few were penalised, as either missing or stopping, including a high proportion of the Suzuki X90's in Class Five. Most of these received the same penalty on the following section Underdown and it will be interesting to discover if this was a coincidence.

Few failures in Bovey Woods

After the Musbury Control the route crossed the Seaton Tramway and climbed Harepath Hill before turning off the A3052 into Bovey Woods, where Normans Hump and Clinton awaited. It was raining heavily by now. Perhaps the rain washed the mud away as these familiar old sections didn't take their usual quota of scalps.

The woods caused problems for some though. Kevin Lindsay's Marlin lost most of its B series power and the crew decided not to continue. The experienced Phillip Mitchell (Skoda) and Barry Clarke (Grotty Chummy) also retired here. Mark Endley cleaned both sections at the expense of a holed sump and had to be towed out of the woods by Julian Lack, 2013's only car triple winner.

Waterloo was just down the road and although there was plenty of grip the old hill took a few prisoners, particularly in Classes One and Five.

The Rain Eases Up for Breakfast

The heavy rain started to ease as the event approached its breakfast break via Stretes and Bulverton Steep. Neither were a problem but the experienced Brian Alexander was penalised for not stopping on the Bulverton restart.

Breakfast was at Crealey Park, with a reasonable amount of room to spread out in the restaurant and dry out.

Most Clear Tillerton

Classes Seven and Eight had their usual restart but even with this there were only a couple of fails there was so much grip.

Fingle was next and it is noticeable how rough this is becoming. Again there were only a couple of failures and surprisingly one of those was Lester Keat in his normally very effective Avenger. Derek Reynolds came to a halt in a dramatic way, riding the bank in the process and very fortunate to keep the car on four wheels.

Wooston had some Bite

Wooston had its usual handicap system. 1 -7 turned sharp sharp left just before the steep gradient kicked in. 6 & 7 had the challenge of a restart just before the turn. Class 8 didn't have to restart but they did have to tackle the full hill.

Any hill that stops Dean Partington must be a tough one and he was joined by most of the Class Eights who took on the steep gradient. It was possible though and Dave Wall (Dellow), Nick Farmer (Fugitive), Dudley Sterry (MG J2) and David Jackson (FPS) reached the summit. Lee Peck had to retire his Kracken here when the MX5 diff mounting broke. However, Lee was pleased with the car up till them and had started constructing a second car.

Although 1 -7 didn't tackle the full hill the muddy left hand corner claimed many scalps and in Class 4 only Hans Viertel and Aaron Homewood were unpenalised.

Plenty of Grip on Simms

Considered the Exeters signature hill, Simms was thronged as usual by enthusiastic spectators, urging competitors to the top. Early numbers found there was a a lot of grip, although this diminished as successive cars dragged mud from the approach track onto the section.

With all the grip some cars were really motoring and one spectator had the misfortune to break his nose when it came in contact with a stone kicked up by James Shallcross's Peugeot. This emphasised the need for the safety measure of the stop line at the summit and several competitors were excluded for failing to obey it.

There were a couple of notable breakages. Mark Rosten-Edwards had the transmission fail on the Imp, handed down by Dad, and new Lands End Clerk of the Course Bill Rosten. Adrian Dommett had the propshaft fail on his Wolsley Hornet but no problems for his twin Julian in his side valve Dellow.

It was interesting that apart from Class One at least one car in every class made the summit and there were a couple of very happy Suzuki X90 drivers at the finish.

Punctures on Tipley

Tipley was approached via a holding control where Nick Farmer drafted his spill kit into action when he found a cracked sump on his Fugitive's Vauxhall Red Top. Clean so far, and with only two hills remaining, Nick drained the oil and used rapid setting epoxy provided by Lee Sample/Simon Robson to stem the flow. This was successful and Nick went on to Gold.

The repairs to Tipley may have made the section smother but the sharp edges on the concrete took its toil on tyres. Nigel Jones was one of this affected, using his second spare wheel and was in real trouble when he got another puncture on Slippery Sam.

Slippery Sam is another Exeter Hill that is getting really rough. The restart for the higher classes was the real problem though and Dudley Sterry was penalised for running back, loosing his gold in the process.

Finish and Evening Festivities

The only disappointment at the Trecarn was that the only two Triple Winners in 2013 were not presented with their awards during the evening do. That was a shame as it would have been nice to give them a well deserved round of applause. However the function was well attended and gave competitors the chance to exchange experiences. For motorcyclist and those in open cars the overriding memory was getting very wet during the night. For others it was Simms where the conditions allowed many to make their first climb of the famous hill. If indeed this is Tim Whellocks last Exeter as Clerk of the Course he went out on a high.

Published 26 January 2014

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