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Flying Scotsman ’24, Syd Stelvio Leg Two | Windermere to Loch Lomond – 252 Miles

Flying Scotsman ’24, Syd Stelvio Leg Two | Windermere to Loch Lomond – 252 Miles

The Lake District is one of the most beautiful places on the planet, or so I’m told. If the mist and mirk that greeted our group of motoring enthusiasts is the norm though, I must insist that the region is renamed the Bleak District. You could barely see ten yards down the road, never mind any lakes, and as the rally began early this morning there was a definite sense of foreboding in the air.

The road immediately began to climb steeply, and the mist became even thicker, and seemingly even more damp, difficult conditions in a modern machine, but in these pre-war cars keeping them on the black stuff required a confident hand on the tiller. Sadly, the lack of visibility meant that the crews missed out on some of the most breath-taking scenery on the trip, a fact not lost on the photographers and film makers as they shivered and cursed in the darkness of the morning.

As the route descended towards Ullswater the road dropped out of the clouds and visibility was restored, but with a vicious wind blowing in from the west and further bad weather whipping in from the Atlantic, we wouldn’t be far from the clouds and rain for most of the day. This didn’t dampen the spirit of the many spectators that were out on the route though, keen to catch a glimpse of the special machines, that include cars like the Rolls Royce 20-25 of Michael Power and Rosalind Wild, the very car that used to tow the Moss family horse box, and subsequently the racing cars of Stirling Moss to his early events. The engines and tools are gone from the back of course, but it is still quite a delight to see the ‘Woodie’ out on the roads, and the car is currently leading the inaugural Lite edition of the Scotsman, designed to be a slightly easier route for those that want for something a little less intense than the full-blown competition, but still want to be part of this incredible event.

Speaking of the competition, it wasn’t just the conditions that were difficult today, the contest was ramping up a touch as well, with six regularities to contest that would test even the best navigators and the Cumbrian hills offered plenty of opportunities to wrong slot into the farm tracks and narrow lanes that constitute roads in these parts. Straight up regularity one had an oh-so-tight slot between some dry-stone walls that surely couldn’t be the way, and the larger cars in our group would need skilful turning to avoid the sharp stone either side of the track.

There were plenty of maximum penalties and missed controls, but the top three were keeping it clean and avoiding the traps, even when Theo Hunt and Jimmy Galliver’s engine stuttered after passing through the deep ford in the middle of the regularity, they barely missed a beat when getting underway again. This was reflected in the scores for the morning, when after three regularities and three tests the top three overnight had held station, although the gaps between them had increased a little.

There had been a brief burst of sunshine midway through the morning, but as the rally crossed the border into Scotland the rain returned almost immediately, and the crews would have been forgiven for feeling a little cynicism upon seeing the ‘Scotland Welcome’s You’ sign at the border.

At this stage the precipitation was but a wee piddle, a fact that would change after lunch as the road took us to Ae Forest and stage rallying territory. The weather quickly descended into a full-blown storm, a miserable experience for anyone in an open top machine. Paul Dyas had to dispense with his spectacles and John Lomas spent the regularity peering around the side of the screen in his Riley Sprite, desperately trying to retain visibility in the mire.

Thankfully this tremendous downpour was largely the last of the terrible weather, and just a few miles down the road the sunglasses were needed again and the crews could begin to dry out before tackling regularity number five of the day and then two tests at the Kames Kart Circuit, which was slippery after the days downpours and for any cars unfortunate enough to breach track limits, the ground around the tarmac was incredibly soft and momentum sapping.

All of the day’s tests had the name Hunt at the top of the time sheets, although the spoils were to be split between Theo Hunt and Martin Hunt, with Father Martin, alongside navigator Bob Mannix, reminding the youngsters in the Frazer Nash that he could still sling a car around. Paul Dyas was also performing consistently, muscling the big Bentley towards the top end of the time sheets and remaining on terms with Nash. John Lomas and Pete Johnson found themselves a little further off the pace though, although still posting very respectable times in the diminutive Riley, but by the end of the day the gap to Kurt Vanderspinnen and Iain Tullie in fourth place, in the less than safe looking Lea Francis Hyper, had been cut to 7 seconds. Elsewhere the day had been a great success for Stephen Owens and Nick Bloxham, who had climbed three places to fifth place in the Jaguar SS100 and Clint and Brad Smith, who had stormed from eleventh place to seventh.

The top two remain the same, with Hunt and Galliver extending their lead over Dyas and Appleton by another 33 seconds and have 41 seconds in the bank going into the final day. Once again though today proved anything could happen, with Simon Arscott and Emily Anderson suffering head gasket problems in the Aston Martin that has ended their challenge, despite valiant attempts to repair the machine and carry on. Filip Engelen and Ann Gillis have also had to retire and are returning to Belgium. Thanks must go to yesterday’s first retirees Malcolm Dunderdale and Anita Wickins though, who have joined us for the rest of the event as marshals, although after today’s downpours they may well be questioning their sanity. Indeed, after a day like today thanks must go to all the marshals that have stood in the rain with clocks and clipboards, keeping the competition moving forwards. For now, everyone has a chance to dry out on the shores of Loch Lomond this evening, with the final action of the event kicking off at 08:00 tomorrow morning. Gleneagles or bust.


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