Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Saturday to the Final Result.

Saturday 14th November
Time: n/a
Distance: 360miles
Rally Position: 3rd in class, 12th overall

Today there were 6 planned stages ranging between 20kms and 58kms each. All of them involved high mountain passes on roads of varying standards.

Again the altitude really took its toll on Colin and I constantly struggled to get the motor up on the cam and pull us up the intense
climbs. Each time we hit the power-band around 5,000rpm, the issue then became how tight was the next bend and how big the drop-off!

The 1st stage went fairly well, although the lack of power was a constant cause of frustration. I had 6 stages to catch the Morris Land Crab and re-take the 1st in class position, lost due to our puncture earlier in the event. It was going to be literally an up-hill-task!
Having reached the top of a mountain some 2,000 meters high, we re-assembled to be re-timed on the way down. It was at this point
that the newly fitted competition pads came into their own and we took 45 seconds out of our up time!
The 3rd stage was another up-hill struggle and again, Colin felt as though he lacked the grunt. And then a real blow, the final 3 stages were
cancelled apparently due to safety concerns. With those stages went any chance of a recovery for us to 1st place and so we needed
to secure our joint 2nd place position against a 123 Volvo Amazon.

By the time we arrived at the nights final check-point it was a pitch black sky and we'd crossed the high Atlas mountain plain.

The scores were posted late that night and we'd dropped into 3rd place against the Volvo.....

We're 4 seconds from the 2nd in class position and tomorrow we'd have 3 stages to make up the time.

Daily Colin Score: 8/10 Starter-motor needed re-soldering and fuel leak from pipes near carbs.

Sunday 15th November
Time: 17:43
Distance: 230miles
Rally Position: Unknown at time of writing!

Well we knew today that we had to take 4 seconds from the Volvo in a 3 stage day. The first news.... stage 3 was cancelled, so I had
2 stages to take the time back, one down-hill and one up.... The up-hill would be the issue, so we stripped the car of all weight possible
and left it at the hotel.

Stage 1 was very fast for us even with big drops, and I used clutch-slip to keep the car on the cams. This caused silence from my
navigator before an eventual outburst of "if you kill me, I'll haunt you forever".. She kept her nerve and only on one occassion
did the back step-out big time.. The stage was a slower affair, as this involved more up-hill and Colin just isn't keen. I pushed as hard
as I could but at the time of writing, I really don't know.

We saw the Daihatsu crashed out on a blind bend into a local truck and we know that that car was part of the leading team.

Our team, "Team Trotter" consists of Colin-the-Cortina, the Porsche RS and the Morris 1800 Land Crab. The Land Crab is leading
our class and the Porsche is now overall rally leader after the exit of the Daihatsu, who knows, we may win the team prize!

Daily Colin Score: 9/10... We made the full distance, just now need some silverware and the long-haul home to Oxfordshire!

Monday 16th November
Time: n/a
Distance: n/a
Rally Position: Read below

Well, as we expected after the punture we were unable to catch the Morris 1800 Land Crab and that went on to take 2nd place in the Classics category behind the Porsche RS which took 1st place.....

As for Colin?

We beat the Volvo by 1 second pushing us into 2nd in class, however as the Morris took 2nd place in the senior classic that excluded them from our class!!!

Ladies and Gents, particularly those from the Lotus Cortina Register and Buy Sell Cortina, we're 1st in Class!!!! And the LC also was part of the team trophy as well!
As I write from our hotel in Burgos, Spain we've travelled back from South of Casablanca, spent last night in Gibraltar, tomorrow in Southern France ansd then home. Colin is running like a dream! More pics to follow and thanks for all your support!

Clive, Ces and of course Colin-the-Cortina!

Friday, 13 November 2009

Motorsport is dangerous and today we found out how dangerous!

Thursday 12th November
Time: 21:45hrs
Distance: u/k
Rally Position: u/k

Today there were 5 stages ranging between 10kms and 28kms each. The altitude really took Colin's breath away and he gasped for power struggling between 2nd and 3rd gear throughout most of the morning as we
climbed into the middle Atlas mountains.

Colin developed a fault early in the morning in that the starter-motor decided to stop working and so for the rest of the day we stopped on hills where there was a slope down. Given the fact that we're in the middle of the mountains, not so difficult to find!

The stages have been tight and fast and we've really needed to push on, travelling over broken roads and water-splashes en route.

On two occassions the road seemed to tighten upon us and Colin held on to the last levels of grip. It's been a scary run.

On one of the stages, one of the two Citroen DS cars left the high mountain road and the driver has been killed.

Apparently he was struck by the in-car fire extinguisher and died instantly, despite the efforts of crews on the scene and the local police and ambulance services. His wife is at the hospital and news is scarce.

We're currently waiting for a drivers briefing.

Daily Colin Score: 6/10 Starter-motor fell apart, brakes failed, upper rev misfire.

Friday 13th November
Time: 18:15hrs
Distance: 290miles
Rally Position: u/k

After the death yesterday, all 5 planned stages for today have been cancelled and today became a transit day towards the Sahara.
To be honest for those of you that don't know, I am an ex-policeman and dealing with death was an all too frequent part of the business, so Ces and I are not as shocked as many on the event.

There are timed stages tomorrow, but in effect the puncture that dropped us from 1st in class to 5th will have cost us the win. In the bigger scheme of things, its irrelevant and we're both glad to be alive.

On the stages that weren't cancelled yesterday we put in some blinding times and have moved up to 2nd in class behind the Morris Land Crab.

On a cheerier note, Colin is running fantastically well! The starter-motor had shaken itself apart, so last night it was stripped and re-built and it works! We fitted some Mintex competition pads and bloody hell do they work!! A new set of sparkplugs solved the misfire and the car has never been so solid and ready to race. My intention is to push, push and push some more, you never know in rallying! I have 5 stages tomorrow and 1 on the final day, Sunday.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Tuesday we got stoned and today we feel deflated!

Tuesday 10th November
Time: n/a
Distance: u/k
Rally Position: 1st in class, 4th overall

After an early start we left the comfort of our hotel in Ronda and headed to Algeciras in order to catch our ferry to Tangier.


All the cars made the ferry in time and some 100 classic cars left Europe, passing Gibraltar and headed out to Africa. As we passed Gibraltar
I thought, I can see my house from here... Although it was actually obscured by the many cranes that are currently transfering the old Naval city.


Some 2 1/2 hours later we arrived in Morocco and were placed in a holding area by the officials. To keep a long story short after only 2 hours of form
filling and general bullshit, we were all on our way and heading towards the first time trial in Africa. Unfortunately the long snake of cars attracted
the wrong kind of attention and by the time we arrived at some of the smaller villages the local 'youth' had armed themselves with a selection of
rocks and stones and proceeded to try and take out the windscreens. Several cars were hit including ours, one lost a winscreen and several
suffered dents and scratches but luckily no damage was done to Colin, such was the build quality of the Dagenham dustbin!

By the time we arrived at the stage it was complete darkness and I mean total darkness! No street lamps or orange city glowing in the distance,
just pitch-black.... Well it was until we used the spotlights, plus headlights... 7 in total literally turned night into day and we knew we had a siginifcant
advantage. The stage went well, but I have to say that a big previous night in Ronda, combined with an early start and a long drive had taken there
toll and by the time we arrived at our next hotel, somewhere in Morocco, I was simply pleased to have arrived safely.

In summary for Tuesday, we got stoned but held our position.

Daily Colin Score: 9/10 (Replaced track rod arm)

Wednesday 11th November
Time: 19:30hrs
Distance: huge
Rally Position: 5th in class, 18th overall.

What can I say...... today there were 5 stages, all of varying length. We were very pleased with the first 4 and quite happily continuing to lead our
class. It was whilst on the final stage of the day that it all went wrong!

We were pushing hard on a sweeping left hand bend, when I felt the back breakaway, luckily I was able to recover it and keep the car under control.
I immediately knew that we had a puncture on the rear off-side (drivers). The decision was do we stop and change the wheel, which we practice
and takes 4 minutes or do we push on? Now normally, in a "proper rally" you know how long the stage is, but on this event we don't always get the
stage distance, so all we knew was that it was between 5kms and 28kms. If it was only 5kms and tyre change was put us last, but if it was 28kms
we were not sure it would last the distance. I found that I could still hit 80 - 90mph on the straights and make the right-hand bends at speed and
under power. The left-hand bends were as scary as hell though, with the back stepping out big time.....

An instant decision was required and as the driver it was my call...... We pushed on and the stage ended-up being the full 28kms! The funny thing is
we still weren't the slowest car on the stage!

The final result at close today is that we've slipped down the leader board to 5th in class from 1st.. To say I am deflated, is an under-statement but
there are 4 stages tomorrow and anything can happen, as the Datsun 240Z found when he left the road and ended-up nose down a 6 foot gully. He
was lucky, because some of the drops today were over 800 feet straight down!

Three wheels on my wagon!

Daily Colin Score: 5/10 - A spotlight fell out and punctured the tyre, also had to change the other track rod arm, plus boiled over!

Monday, 9 November 2009

Are we there yet?

Well blog fans, today we travelled another 900+kms and bloody hell does it feel like it!

Arrived in Ronda, drank Cava, nothing to report...... tired!

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Oh, look a red squirrel?

Saturday 7th November 2009
Time: n/a
Distance Travelled: 682km
Rally Position: u/k
Location: Le Mans

Our start time for the first day of the rally was originally 08:24hrs, but a missing car and a full line-up forced the organisers to bring the times forward. Consequently we were up very early in preparation for our new start time of 07:53hrs and woke into an un-forecast dry day!

We were waved off from the line outside the front of the hotel and made our way to the first of two planned trials for the day. The first stage
was through some very slippery forest, made worse by the recent torrential rain and we were warned to take it easy. I mention this because taking it easy was taken literally by some people.... We were spaced at one minute intervals, to ensure we wouldn't catch the car in front. In my case the car in front being a Citroen DS Safari spec.

5,4,3,2,1.... you get the idea.... We were away and instantly sideways off the line, such was the level of grip or lack of it. I must say the trees always look smaller on the television! Ces shouted the instructions, which were a lot more basic than convential pace notes and I pushed as hard as I dare on day-1 of the 3,000+ mile event.

After 4 minutes into the stage, there he was, taking it easy.... The Citroen was having a lovely drive in the countryside and it wasn't even a Sunday.

Now as some of you know my Cortina is a London-to-Sydney replica and as part of that pack it carries 5 x spot-lights, plus the 2 standard headlamps. Hoping it would set his car ablaze, I flicked the switch and the early morning gloom instantly became a mid-Summers lunchtime! Did it have an effect? Did it bugger. Could I get past, nope, did he pull over? No. So we followed this individual all round the forest. Do you know I thought I saw a red squirrel but my wife assures me, it was red mist!

When we pulled-up behind him at the stage, he seemed genuinely shocked that another car was behind him. Later he enquiried, "Did I hold you up?"
and "Oh well you were still in within the time"..... More follows on this but later!

Not all the cars escaped un-damaged and this Jaguar S-Type was one of them...

From the1st stage we made our way to stage 2, which was again another forest stage but this time a lot more open and gave the ability to really push
hard. I made sure I arrived before Capt Slow in his DS and this time really nailed it. Timings to follow, but it was quick and I saw 90mph at one point,
luckily my wife didn't!

Having successfully completed both stages, it was now time to head off to Le Mans for night, or was it!?!?!

The organisers had decided what we really needed was a longer day, so once off the ferry instead of turning right for Le Mans and the hotel, we all turned
left for Belgium! Some 90mins later we arrived at the venue and stage 3 was on! This stage was all closed roads around and enormous farming complex.
It was a full-blown tarmac stage and there was no doubt, the Porsche, Lotus Elan and Corvette Stingray etc were going to shine.

Once again a strict re-start order was imposed and this meant I was going to start behind my old mate in his Citroen DS. My wife assured me that the
tarmac would really suit him and his car and that all we had to do was come in under the set time. I watched as the DS took off from the line like a
proper rally car and thought, oh well, mud and woods aint his thing.

Our turn came and we moved to the start line.... 5,4,3,2,1 and away we went.

Now some of you have met my wife and will therefore know that she actually gets car sick and I first got her to become a navigator for me by lying to her
and saying things like "No, it's nothing like on the telly, it's more of a treasure hunt"... I do remember that 10 minutes into her first 3,000kms rally
her saying "You b*stard, I f*cking hate you, you lied to me, I f*cking hate this" or some words like that. However the subsequent victory that followed,
stopped all her intitial concerns!

Anyway back to Belgium... As we screamed away from the line, the Twin-Cam hitting 7,000rpm my instructions were very slow in coming... I enquired in a
gentle and subtle manner and was advised that she was not happy reading the notes because she couldn't watch my driving which was scaring her....
A brief conversation was had and I promptly was told "Turn left here", tricky in 3rd gear and at 70mph. Anyway once I reversed back to the junction and
made the turn all was well, until "No, turn here"... This time I managed to smoke the wheels whilst reversing! As you can imagine I could see the clock
ticking away and with it any chance of a win. I was then told "Push harder", now whilst I would normally give my right-arm to hear a women uttering this
phrase I was by now fairly uptight... I did as told and pushed. As I rounded the last corner to make the time, there was he was having the time of his
life now on a lovely driving holiday in Belgium rather than Kent! It was my mate in his DS and this time on tarmac he was doing all over 20mph, looking at
the views I suppose. Imagine his surprise when the rather nasty, agressive man in the Cortina came up behind him, air-horns blasting and squeezing
through a very small gap at around 70mph.... I said to Ces "Do you think he saw me that time?"

Before the off in Belgium

Saturday night ended, very late, wet and dark in Le Mans arriving at around 9pm, we'd both had enough by the time we arrived!

Sunday 8th November
Time: 19:30hrs
Distance: 894kms
Rally Position: 1st in class, 4th overall.
Location: Burgos, Spain.

Today was simply a transit day from Le Mans to Burgos. Nothing exciting to report, except when I brake the car is all over the road! Too tired tonight, will have to fix in Ronda tomorrow.

Oh, by the way... my mate in the DS dropped me from 1st to 4th.. I've not seen him yet, but will do in the bar later! I'll let you know how it went tomorrow!

Friday, 6 November 2009

There'll be blue birds over.....

Friday 6th November 2009
Time: 17:00hrs.
Distance: 140miles
Rally Position: n/a
Location: Kent

Well it's 5pm, we've arrived safely at the hotel in Kent, passed scrutineering and set the Brantz to the locally measured kilometre.

The drivers and navigators briefing is at 10pm tonight and I've managed to find the bar, which is always good. Good that is unless you're my navigator who has just discovered that the start time tomorrow has been pulled forward and we're now off the line at 07:53HRS.

The car park already has quite a collection of rain soaked cars, including two Datsun 240Z's, which I have to say is a worry for me. Those that followed the blog earlier this year, know that before our engine let go, we were always playing chase the 240! Also there is a Peugeot 205 GTi and whilst not in our class, looks fantastic, together with a Porsche 911RS.
Tiger... or pussycat?

The forecast for tomorrow is rain, rain and more rain, so at least the more powerful cars, including a Mustang and Corvette Stingray, will not be able to lay the power down.

The first two timed stages tomorrow are through local forests, before we head to the ferry at Dover and onto France and Le Mans.

The car is running well and no faults to report.

Colin Daily Score = 10/10

Thursday, 5 November 2009

In support of our military personnel...... www.talking2minds.co.uk

Thursday 5th November 2009
Time: n/a
Distance: n/a
Rally Position: n/a
Location: Oxfordshire

For those of you new to the blog, hello and welcome. For those of you returning, welcome back!

A lot's happened since the last Endurance Rally from Tunis to El Gouna, Egypt (scroll down to take a look at that event).

The last rally taught us a huge amount about motorsport, even at this low level. The first thing I learnt, is how bloody expensive it is! And how with a classic car you fix one thing, then another part breaks.

Apart from blowing the engine last year, we also managed to crack the A-pillars on both sides of the screen, meaning a very big re-weld was required. Once that started we found out just how much rust we'd been carrying across the desert with us!

Anyway, the car has now had;
The engine rebuilt and driven for 1,500 miles without issue.
New front springs (150lbs) lowering the car for this rally which is mainly tarmac.
XR4 gearbox.
Re-jetted carbs (now 112bhp at rear-wheels)
New road spec rear diff.
Upgraded brakes.
And we've virtually finished the work that makes the car a replica of the Roger Clark 1968 London-to-Sydney works car.

Over the year the car has been driven in anger at The Rally Show Chatsworth House

Tested on the circuit at RAF Abingdon, where we learnt that the hard suspension and super grippy Dunlop rally tyres were not a good combination!

Got invited to show the car at Lotus HQ in Hethel and found ourselves on the test track somewhat out of our league!

Won a trophy at the National Meet being Tony Mason's choice car from the show. I suppose being a Roger Clark replica helped as Tony was his navigator!

And finally, finished preparing the car for the challenge that starts tomorrow...

Well here we go again!

I must be bloody mad.....