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Summer Trial

Day 1 Thursday 12th July 2012

30 Trial crews and 9 Tourers were flagged away from the Goodwood Park Hotel this morning by the Clerk of the Course, Peter Nedin under a bright and fairly cloudless sky for the first of 3 days of competition.  Several of the soft top cars  left with their hoods down having anticipated that Wednesday would be the first day of summer, unlike yesterday during scrutineering when hailstones the size of acorns covered the ground during a heavy thunderstorm.

The route took the crews north-west to the South Downs National Park for the first regularity of the day.  This was intended to be practice so the novice crews could become familiar with Jogularities and the Liege timing system.  This section had almost been cancelled as a few days before a resident on the route had informed HERO that participants and spectators on one of the most important Polo matches of the year would be using part of the route to attend the rescheduled semi-final of the Gold Cup which had been washed out a few weeks before.  A quick call by Peter to the organisers had averted a nightmare situation but Peter’s fears were unfounded as on Wednesday the organisers of the Polo match changed the date of the event until the following Sunday.

Following Regularity 1A, a transport section, which took the crews near to Dunsfold (an area they are to return to on Saturday), took the crews west to a coffee stop  north of Hambledon and then further west through Waverley and on through Alice Holt Forest to the start of regularity 1B, near Binsted.  This was to be a long regularity taking the crews to within 7 miles of lunch.  Half way through the regularity the course opening and competitive Zero cars discovered the road was closed due to flooding.  Fortunately a reroute was quickly organised which meant that, although shorter, Regularity 1B could still be run.

Best performance went to Car 49 the Porsche 911 of Michael and Simon Baker on zero penalties.  Close behind came the Lotus Elan of Graham Walker and Sean Toohey and the MGB of Mark and Sue Godfrey.

Within 3 miles crews were into regularity 1C.  Best performance being shared by Car 12 the Triumph TR3 of Steve and Julia Robertson and Car 30 (Godfrey /Godfrey) with 3 crews only one second behind;  Car 24 (Clare Nedin and Chris Newman), Car 29 (Tony Sheach and Richard Lambley) and Car 49 (Baker/Baker).

During lunch at the Bourne Valley Inn the organisers had cause for concern when several crews failed to appear.  A police incident closed the route just south of the lunch halt and these crews were stranded.  Quick thinking on their part and use of the very detailed map book supplied by the organisers allowed them to find a reroute around the problem resulting in only a slight delay for the crews.

A short road section north west to Hurstbourne Tarrant led to the start of Regularity 1D.  Honours on this occasion being shared between Cars 14 (John and Linda Rondeau); Car 18 (Alexander  Postan and Jane Dillon-Postan) and Car 29 (Sheach/Lambley) with several other cars only seconds behind.

By now the weather had changed and it had started to rain.  By the time the crews had reached Thruxton for the first of 2 tests on the racing circuit and aerodrome, the rain had become heavier.  Best performance on test 1 went to Car 30, the MGB of Mark and Sue Godfrey.  Unfortunately this was not to be repeated on test 2 as a problem with the car resulted in them picking up maximum penalties.  Best performance on this occasion went to Car 37, the BMW of Christian Flackett and Igino Angelini.

The route now took the crews south-east as they started the return leg to Goodwood.  Torrential rain was now falling as the crews started regularity 1E, south of Andover.  Best performance on this occasion being shared between 5 cars; Car 16, the Hillman Imp of Steven and Fred Winter; Car 29 (Sheach/Lambley); Car 30 (Godfrey/Godfrey); Car 40, the Porsche 911 of Christophe Monget and Dimitri Limata and Car 49 (Baker/Baker).

A transport section took crews to coffee at the Cart and Horses, north of Winchester, by which time it was clear the rain was set in for the rest of the day.  The route took crews east for the last, reasonably short regularity of the day.  3 crews completed this regularity with zero penalties – the ‘usual suspects’ of Cars 29 Triumph TR4 (Sheach/Lambley); Car 30 MGB (Godfrey/Godfrey) and Car 49 Porsche 911 SC (Baker/Baker).

The final transport section of the day took the crews to 2 Tests on the Goodwood Estate where they competed on a Test held on the lower section of the Festival of Speed Sprint, including passing over the famous ‘Brickyard’ start line.  Best performance on this test being shared by Cars 29 (Sheach/Lambley) and 43 (Walker/Toohey).

Test 2 at Goodwood was held in the Cathedral Paddock (also part of the Festival of Speed).  On this occasion best performance went to car 14 (Rondeau/Rondeau) in the Jaguar Mark 1.   On conclusion of the Tests crews were escorted, in convoy, up the famous Goodwood Hill before returning to the Goodwood Park Hotel where they had started in sunshine this morning.  Despite the heavy rain Chris White and Ken Woodham, in the Austin Healey 100 BN-2 , had refused to put up the hood and completed the day as they started in an open sports car.

Although the heavy rain had returned and the roads were once again beginning to flood, all the crews arrived at Goodwood in high spirits having had a thoroughly enjoyable day of competition.

Day 2 promises more interesting tests and enjoyable regularities as the route takes the crews south west to the New Forest and Beaulieu.

Day 2 Friday 13th July 2012

Day 2 once again started under a bright but cloudy sky will all 30 Trial crews and 9 Tourers leaving
the Goodwood Park Hotel for the first of 6 regularities and 4 tests.  There were originally to be only 29 crews restarting as the Fiat 500 Giardiniera, Car 19, of Piers Barclay and Chiara Bucciarelli Ducci has suffered from a snapped drive shaft on the first test at Thruxton on Thursday.  The car’s designers had probably not expecting a little Fiat to be put through the rigours of Endurance Rallying.  However the HERO Assist Mechanics, who provide support to all crews throughout the event, welded the shaft and the crew were able to continue.

Minutes before crews were due to leave the Goodwood Park Hotel a call came through from the course car to say that the first transport section was flooded in 2 places but that the route was passable with care.  A warning was issued and the crews left on time to head west for the first regularity starting at West Marden.

Honours on the first regularity were shared by 3 cars on zero penalties,  (Car 17, Paul and Richard Sanders; Car 14, John and Linda Rondeau and Car 30, Mark and Sue Godfrey) with several crews close behind with penalties of only 1 or 2 seconds.

A transport section took the crews to regularity 2B where only one car, the Austin Healey of Chris White and Ken Woodham was to complete the section without penalties.

A  long transport section taking the crews east to the north of Chandler’s Ford, south and to the west of Romsey and Totton (via a coffee halt at the Potters Heron) took the crews to a short regularity in the New Forest.  10 days before the event this regularity had to be shortened and a reroute incorporated into the road book due to a collapsed cattle grid closing the road.  Honours on regularity 2C were shared by 6 cars; Cars 11, 12, 29, 30, 40 and 49.

From regularity 2C it was only a short drive to the main stop of the day at the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu.  On arrival at the complex crews were to entertain the visitors with a driving test in the arena outside the museum before lunch in the restaurant.  During lunch the Tourers were allowed to park right outside the museum entrance whilst the Trial entrants were on display in a nearby parking area.  After lunch the Trail competitors once again entertained the crowds with a second test in the arena.  Best performance on test 1 went to Car 30, the MGB of Mark and Sue Godfrey, whilst the Godfreys shared the honours on the second test with the Porsche of Michael and Simon Baker (Car 49).  During the first test the Fiat 500 of Piers Barclay and Chiara Bucciarelli Ducci (Car 19) came to grinding halt when a loud bang signified the drive shaft had snapped again.  The HERO Assist mechanics were to later repair the shaft allowing the vehicle to conclude the afternoon leg at Goodwood.

The afternoon started with a transport section taking the crews west through Brockenhurst and Ringwood to a regularity running north east towards Landford.  Best performance  of the day was shared by Cars 43 (Walker/Toohey) and car 30 (Godfrey/Godfrey).

The route travelled north to West Dean for the start of regularity 2E going west to Mottisfont.  Best performance on this regularity was shared by Car 16 (Winter/Winter) and Car 31 (Howell/Lines). 

A transport section travelling to Twyford took crews to the last regularity where honours were shared by Car 14 (Rondeau/Rondeau) and 17 (Sanders/Sanders).

A transport section via a passage control at West Harting was to take the crews back to Goodwood for the final 2 tests of the day in bright sunshine as the forecasted rain had not materialised.  Best performance on the first Goodwood test went to Car 31, the Sunbeam Tiger of Chris Howell and Chris Lines, whilst honours in the second Goodwood test went to Car 43, the Lotus Elan Sprint of Graham Walker and Sean Toohey. The Brit Assist mechanics had been kept busy all day with minor repairs with only one of the Trail competitors (the Fiat) was forced to retire whilst the Tour entrant Jaguar E-Type of Anna Fabbri and Gian Klainguti had succumbed to gear box problems.  At the finish of the day’s leg at Goodwood it was clear that crews had enjoyed themselves and were anticipating another good day on Saturday when the route will take them to Dunsfold and on to Mercedes World.

Day 3 Saturday 14th July 2012 

Saturday started the way the first two days had begun with a bright but cloudy sky over Goodwood. The cars left the start 30 minutes earlier than on the previous days to allow for the roads being busier on a Saturday in July. Light rain fell as the cars were leaving but conditions quickly changed and by mid-morning we were yet again experiencing heavy rain. The advance car had found two areas of flooding on the road out of the Goodwood area, but it was quickly determined that these were passable with care and so a bulletin warning of the conditions was all that was needed.

Day three took the crews north east to Petworth for the first regularity of the day, a short route to Kirdford. Best performance on this section was shared by seven crews on zero penalties. A transport section through Loxwood took the crews to Dunsfold Aerodrome for the first of the day’s tests at the home of Top Gear. Best performance went to car 43 (Walker and Toohey), closely followed by cars 30 (Godfrey and Godfrey) and 31 (Howell and Lines).

The route then took the crews east to the coffee stop at the Crown at Capel, a change of venue from the Owl at Kingsfold the week before had resulted in a minor change to the route. An early casualty on the section before had been the little Lenham Sprite of Clare Nedin and Chris Newman (car 24) with a broken exhaust. They managed to get the car to the coffee halt where the event mechanics quickly had the car up on jacks and welded the two parts together.

Coffee was followed by a long and twisty regularity which took the crews to just south of Dorking. Four cars (49, 43, 29 and 11 – Baker/Baker,Walker/Toohey, Sheach/Lambley, White/Woodham) completed the section with just two seconds of penalties. Localised flooding just off the route meant that the transport section to lunch experienced heavier traffic than expected and several crews just managed to book in at lunch within the lateness allowed. Lunch was at Mercedes Benz World at Brooklands, where the crews parked on the old track and had lunch overlooking the skid pan. Apart from having the chance to view the various exhibits and Formula One cars on display, the crews were entertained with displays of expert driving on the skid pan circle by Mercedes instructors.

The crews then headed south to the third regularity of the day from Shere to Rowley. Cars 43 (Walker & Toohey) and 30 (Godfrey & Godfrey) once again being the only crews to pick up zero penalties, although there were several close behind.

A transport section took the crews to the north of Godalming for the start of the penultimate regularity of the event from Seale to Headley prior to the last coffee stop at Standford. Honours on this occasion going to cars 49 (Baker & Baker) and 30 (Godfrey & Godfrey) with zero penalties. By now the rain had become torrential and problems were being experienced with flash flooding in the Goodwood area. Clerk of the Course Peter Nedin started to liaise closely with the circuit staff at Goodwood who went on to the test area to check conditions. Liaising between Goodwood and Chrys Warboys (the Chief Marshal) it became clear that too much water was flowing across the area being used for the first of the tests at Goodwood and so Peter cancelled the test.

The final regularity of the event took the crews south to Midhurst before the short drive to the last test and the end of the event. Only one crew (car 43 – Walker & Toohey) collected zero penalties.

By this time Peter had arrived at Goodwood where torrential rain was in danger of causing the final test to be cancelled. Peter and one of the course cars drove the test to ensure it was passable, both pronounced that there was plenty of grip, although it must be said that both drivers did pick up cone penalties! Peter went around one too many and Geoff missed a cone! Best performance on the final test going to the Elan of Walker and Toohey – car 43.

Peter had extended the lateness at the afternoon coffee halt by 15 minutes due to the severe weather. However, cancelling the penultimate test which also allowed the cars to use a shorter exit route from the Goodwood Estate meant that all the crews were able to book in to the final control within time.

Without exception, every crew crossed the finish line with grins on their faces, and the weather did not appear to have dampened (sorry for the pun) their spirits.

That evening the crews and guests gathered at the ballroom at Goodwood House for the awards dinner and presentation. Before and after the dinner everyone was allowed to wander freely through the ground floor rooms to experience the splender of Goodwood House, for which HERO would like to thank Lord March and his family for the opportunity.

HERO’s special guest, Jack Sears, entertained everyone with some of the wonderful stories and memories he has from a life in motorsport and handed out all the awards.

Clerk of the Course Peter Nedin had no hesitation in awarding the Spirit of the Rally award to Chris White and Ken Woodham (car 11) who completed the entire event without putting up the hood (they believe in open car rallying). When Peter asked Chris if he owned a hood, his response was “yes – I keep it in the wardrobe”.

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