Paul Dyas, sixth in his Volvo Amazon with Martyn Taylor said; “What an incredible day’s rallying, Cadwell Park was brilliant, far better than I thought it was going to be, but Bramham Park was beyond my dreams, it was sensational in there tonight!
“I have to say Dan Willan is on fire out front, we are not going to catch him!”
Behind the main rally, but having their own fight for honours in the new RAC Rally of the Tests ‘Lite’ division, were 11 crews, loving the new concept which essentially leaves out the gruelling long night sections but does all the rest. Leading the charge of the ‘Lite Brigade’ at the moment are Julia and Steve Robertson in the MGB GT V8 and as Julia said; “We were back at the HQ for 6.45 pm in time for a civilised dinner and not to have the charge through the forest late at night hoping not to get lost was a great relief. But actually, we have done exactly the same as the rest bar the night section, and we have loved it!”
There were some taxing regularities too, a junction that befuddled so many that they enjoyed a heated debate about the instruction at morning coffee halt as they waited to get their timecard stamped out. Emily Anderson was vociferous in her criticism to the point that the group gave her a cheer!
There was much more to come, small slippy tracks off tarmac lanes, turns through farmyards with hidden Timing Points, and at one farmyard, confusion between the cowsheds as Michael Pedley and Paul Griffin threw their Escort RS2000 sideways ways heading down the wrong track. ‘Where are they headed?’ the enthusiastic farmer who had allowed the rally to pass through his farm had been asked; ‘Towards the duck pond’ came the reply!
They were not alone, others actually stopped as they pondered the right route whilst many overshot the hidden turns.
Bramham Park aside, the absolute gem of the day was Cadwell Park race track in Lincolnshire. It used parts of the sweeping valley of the race track, such as the Goosneck and Charlies, combined with the testing perimeter roads. There were four tests in the morning and four after lunch, but it was a perfect venue for the Rally of the Tests, providing fast but tricky speed tests which took nearly twenty minutes of flat-out driving and fast calls from the hot seat.
Diverting left before the famous ’Mountain’ section, a steep narrow ribbon of road behind the paddock area led to an acute hairpin with a wide apron of tarmac, but a very narrow exit through an unyielding heavy metal gate.
Rikki Proffitt was the first to attack it in his ‘special stage’ style pirouetting the Porsche 911 around with a big jab of throttle and a pull of the handbrake, beautifully executed and great to watch.
What followed just took the observers’ collective breaths away. Dan Willan and Niall Frost threw their ageing Volvo around in one huge wide high-speed sweep, brushing the barriers on the outside before missing the metal exit gate by millimetres to speed away out of sight. Total commitment, which is why this crew are in the lead of HERO-ERA’s most competitive rally of the year.
Dan Willan; “Yeah, I made a right Horlicks of the first test this morning having to reverse for a long way and then touching a cone, well not really as it was on top of a bale! But since then, we’ve had a really really good day. Niall has been fantastic as always, and yeah, we put a big effort into the tests. So a really good day.
“I had to take a very, very wide swoop at the severe hairpin. It’s the only way to get a Volvo PV544 around a tight bit, but you know that of course!”