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.
A proper Northern Trial. Mud, Snow, Good
sections and a warm welcome.
Carl Talbot won The Northern Trial on 15th
February in his Morris Trialsmaster with a clean sheet. Despite
the weather there was more than the usual amount of grip on most of the
sections. The event was closely fought between the leading Class Eight
contenders. Stuart Bartlett came so close in his ex Adrian Linnecor Datsun
Sunny powered Cannon, just failing to get past the one marker on Ullister
Hill. Dean Partington dropped nine on the comparatively straightforward
"24" which cost him the event as he was fastest on the Special Tests.
Stuart and Kieran Bartlett are a picture of
concentration as they restart their Cannon in the slime of Sandale on
their way to second overall (Picture by Mark Milne)
Cumbria had escaped the
flooding that has bedevilled the south since Christmas. However, there was
a lot of rain and high winds in the days leading up to the event and
Fellside where forced cancel The Lords Seat in Winlatter Forest when the
Forestry Commission condemned the access track because of a fallen tree.
There were quite a few non starters and 26 motorcycles and 23 cars
gathered at the excellent new start venue in Wigton for efficient and
friendly scrutineering and signing on.
Julian Lack didn't make the
journey north. After spending all day rebuilding his Lieges diff the
Suzuki Jimney's gearbox cried enough on the road test.
A couple of people were having
problems in the car park. Colin Perryman's Skoda Rapide had been running
perfectly in the week leading up to the event but was now reluctant to run
on all four cylinders. Bernie Pugh, one of those behind the new Durham AC
Classic Trial, was having problems with his Reliant Rialto and decided not
to start. Not a great advert for a car that was on EBay the following day!
The ruts on Carlislegate
Lane were tricky
There was no visit to
Allhallows Colliery this year so the rutted Carlislegate Lane was the
first section, approached by and a nice bit of green-laning which could be
a future section. There was a bit of a queue for the hill which gave
competitors sight of the depth of the ruts when Hal Branson grounded his
After a long climb on forest
tracks there was the usual long queue for Routens Romp, with views of
Bassentwaite Lake through the trees despite the drizzle. Queues here are
somewhat inevitable as competitors take well over two minutes to climb the
hill, even if they go clear. There was a restart for class eight, which
didn't trouble them, followed by a muddy deviation through the trees for
everyone,which wasn't very Suzuki friendly and none of the X90's got
through the mud.
The lower reaches of Brown's
Challenge looked like a mud bath but there was plenty of grip for those
that got their pressures correct. There was a deviation off the track at
the end that several didn't spot and both Charlie Knifton and Fred Mills
were penalised one. Clears had to turn at the top and come back down.
Michael Leete made a real mess of this and needed a tug from the Land
Rover which bent the Beetles steering and drove part of a stump between
the rim and tyre. The event lost two of the Yorkshire contingent here when
John Bell retired his MG TB. John Rhodes also called it a day when an
after market A arm spacer broke on his X90. John and passenger David Toff
were able to make a temporary repair and limp home.
After a surprisingly forgiving
Little Cock Up competitors exited the Wythop complex via Lothwaite Side
where the Yellows and Reds had a rocky restart which caught out most of
Low Burthwaite Side was a
nice new section
John Charles heading
for the upper reaches of Low Burthwaite Side. Reliant engined Lieges
finished 1 - 2 in Class 7(Picture by Dave Cook)
Michael Leete rounds
the muddy first corner on the new
Burthwaite Side section (Picture
by Dave Cook)
Fellside came out with a new
section on the yellow road after leaving the woods. A narrow rutted track
it started muddy and dried out towards top where the gradient became more
severe. There were no restarts but it proved quite challenging and only
Stuart Bartlett, Charlie Knifton, Carl Talbot and Dean Partington went
clear. Colin Perryman didn't make it this far as he wisely decided to give
up the battle with his misfiring Skoda and went spectating for the rest of
Back on the road the route
climbed towards Whinlatter Forest where the temperature dropped and
competitors were greeted by snow. The wonderful "Darling How" started
proceedings here, another very long section. Its in two parts, separated
by a cross track after which its rocky and rough for a while and this
caught out some of the less experienced competitors.
After Sheepfold came Ullister
Hill . Stuart Bartlett didn't get past the one marker where the stone
surface gives out at the top which left only Carl Talbot (Morris
Trialsmaster) and Dean Partington (DP Wasp) with clean sheets. The top of
Ullister Hill is very tricky as the ruts give out and its very difficult
to stop the front of the car sliding sideways down the hill. This happened
to Chris Maries, leaving his X90 precariously poised and it took a very
special Land Rover to extricate him safely. Charlie Knifon was having
problems with his Scorpion as the alternator had stopped charging so he
was hoping to finish before needing to use his lights.
Carl Talbot went into the lead
of the trial on the next section, the seemingly innocuous "24", when Dean
Partington got his tyre pressures totally wrong and dropped nine. It is
one of these sections that demands total commitment to get around the
muddy first corner and Dean was far from the only one to come to a stop on
the lower to mid reaches.
achieved the perfect result with Carl Talbot
getting the only clean sheet (Picture by
seen passengering for Nigel Jones David Hunt drove his Suzuki X90,
pictured by Dave Cook on the difficult start
line at Watch Hill
There was a seven mile road run
before the third and last forest complex where there was no snow and Telfs
Challenge awaited. This is named after the late Mike Telford whose "Tucker
Nipper Special" was being driven on the event by new owner John Hunter.
The first problem here is a
steep muddy right hand turn which stopped about half the entry. After this
there wasn't a great deal of gradient but the there was no hard surface
under the mud and only four of the class eights went clear.
Next came The Black Hole, a
wonderful straight climb through the trees with a restart for class eight.
The rain must have washed away the usual mud as there was quite a lot of
grip this year and about half the entry reached the summit. This is a hill
you have to return back down and this caused a few problems. Mike Chatwin
ripped the under guarding from his DP Wasp and Michael Leete had a root
impaled between a heat exchanger and the sump guard. The Beetle was well
and truly stuck as it wasn't possible for the recovery Land Rover to get
past and pull him up. There was nothing for it but to pull backwards and
hope the root would break without causing to much damage. It did and
Michael continued with the remains of the offending timber still wedged in
After the first special test
came Watch Hill. The higher classes had a straight run at Upper Watch Hill
while the Blues and Whites had to restart on Lower Watch Hill. Both
started in an absolute quagmire and there were an awful lot of 12's as
most people couldn't get off the start line, much to the amusement of Dave
Cook who was photographing there.
Sandale was tame this year
David Golighly had no problem with the mud on Sandale in his Model T
based Morton and Brett Boardracer (Picture by Mark Milne)
After the second Special test
only Sandale remained, with the rain stopped and the sun peaking out. The
class 8's had to restart which didn't bother most of them and only a
handful of the non re starters needed a tow. Perhaps this was fitting for
the Northern's signature hill as it had been a long day battling the
conditions as well as the sections.
Back at the finish a nice meal
awaited to round off the day, with the organisers having achieved the
perfect result, Carl Talbot going clear and everyone else dropping points.
The consensus amongst the competitors was that the organisers had got the
trial pretty much perfect, a hard act to follow next year.