By Dave Morris
A strong field of 55 lined up at the Peak Edge Hotel on Saturday to await scrutineering. It should have been 56 but Robert Robinson was prevented from starting his first event following an accident requiring a short hospital visit en-route to the start.
One particularly badly timed rain shower coincided with the al-fresco drivers brief, no doubt moderating the number of questions asked by the soggy crews, who were then issued documentation giving 1 hour for navigators to plot the first 3 regularities, whilst their drivers applied rally plates.
Over an hour was then allowed for an unusually long transport section out to MTC1. It was well worth the journey as we were treated to 3 excellent sections in the dark on very quiet lanes. All were run at 30mph so those frustrated by the high number of speed changes we normally endure had no cause for complaint.
The herringbone of regularity 1 took crews west towards Holmfirth and with few controls, navigators could re-acquaint themselves with the potti and drivers could marvel at the brilliance of the new spotlights they’d just fitted. Regularity 2 was an altogether more intricate affair, with the loops at Wigtwizzle needing some concentration. Described by departing grid squares there were 2 NAM junctions to check crews were concentrating. It also featured 8 time controls along with numerous passage and secret checks over 23 miles. Regularity 3 took us east from Bamford over Burbage Moor, this time with 3 NAM junctions, to our pie and chips at the Three Merry Lads.
Paul Crosby and Ali Procter (Austin Mini Cooper S) apparently enjoying the night section. 8th Overall. Photo by Dave Leadbetter.
Overnight results made interesting reading. The 30mph average resulted in far more late penalties than early. Much use was made of the 1:00 cap on penalties. Fast results revealed Andy Pullan/Ryan Pickering were leading the field, having dropped just 41 seconds. Jack Willan/Gary Evans were very happy with 2nd, just 33 seconds behind and the top 3 was rounded out by John Abel and Iain Tullie. Top expert crew in 18th were Peter Higton and local expert Bob Duck in the MG BGT. Top novice crew in 29th place OA were Ian Prout/Kev Bryant in the A40, who humbly suggested that simply staying on route had been the secret of their success.
Andy Pullan and Ryan Pickering (Peugeot 205GT) took an early lead after the night session. Photo by Dave Leadbetter
Sunday dawned cold and bright to the sound of windscreen scraping. 3 tests woke the crews without a cone in sight. Elliott Dale/Charlotte Ryall took honours on the first in the Mk1 RS2000, Steve Head/Graham Raeburn and Mick Valentine/John Thornley tied on test 2 and John Abel/Iain Tullie took test 3. Sadly, the Heaney’s TR6 oil cooler holed the radiator necessitating retirement. It was on to a plot and bash regularity 4 which always makes us novices a little nervous. The good news was that it took the form of a fully populated jogularity. Many stories of cyclists/other cars/walkers and horses explained dropped seconds over coffee. The lower seeded crews exchanged coffee tokens for a numbered wooden spoon, then abandoned the wooden spoon in favour of booked time at MTC3. Timecard 2 showed that Andy and Ryan were still in the lead, with John and Iain now up to second and Steve Head/Graham Raeburn now into 3rd OA. Expert and novice leaders remained unchanged.
John Abel and Iain Tullie (Ford Escort) holding on to second place. Photo by Dave Leadbetter
Pre-plotted regularity 5 started on a long white, then skirted the boundary between maps to plunge south from Dark Peak to White Peak. Regularity 6, handed out after coffee, had 3 easy map extracts. Crews concentrated hard to negotiate the 2 triangles west of Youlgreave. Many crews at this point needed fuel, but unfortunately, the suggested stop at Newhaven had run out of petrol. This certainly affected Jeff/Anne in the A40, causing them to miss the last regularity. Later, the other A40 of Ian /Kev was also on the hunt for petrol. Timecard 3 showed the leaderboard unchanged for 1st and 2nd, but now we had Paul Dyas and last years winning navigator Martin Taylor in 3rd. On departing the Hartington Youth Hostel, navigation for regularity 8 was issued, but the expected information for regularity 7 was missing. We drove the route anyway and some of us worried about the ¾ rule. Regularity 8 used the white triangle from last year at White Meadow described in junction road colours. We then headed east for a loop around Carsington Water to finish the last regularity just south of Wirksworth.
Paul Dyas and Martyn Taylor up in to 3rd at lunch but could they hold on. Photo by Dave Leadbetter.
Just 5 tests separated crews from their supper at the Peak Edge. Test 4 ended badly for the two James’ in the mini 1275GT. On the rutted opening straight, their car climbed the bank on the right and rolled. Though they were righted with the help of the Chris and Gethin Phillips , damage to the car meant they would have to retire. OTL was extended, and with the addition of a warning cone, the test resumed. This test also included the only code board of the event, but as we rounded the 90 right, we found a muddy marshal to sign our timecard. Fastest time went to John King/Cath Woodman in the MR2. The lovers of lettered cones weren’t to be disappointed though as we attacked the DFS car park for a compact test. Tim Tordoff/Ian Frazer showed a clean pair of heels in the 205. Then back to Dryhurst Farm for a reverse run with honours shared between Paul Dyas/Martin Taylor and Elliott Dale/Charlotte Ryall. The RS2000 was fastest up the hill and 6 seconds faster down. Repeats of the 2 morning tests in the Walton Lodge estate saw Dan Willan/Niall Frost go best on the first and Barry/William Moore in the Mini on the second.
Results were fast at the finish. Andy Pullan/Ryan Pickering 1st OA, John Abel/Iain Tullie 2nd OA, a late charge from Leigh Powley/Brian Goff in the Corolla saw them take 3rd OA by 8 seconds. Best experts were David Mann/Ian Doble in the MG CGT and best novice were Martin Leonard/Jason Murphy in the Jetta. Fastest on the tests were Elliott Dale/Charlotte Ryall. It’s incredible that Andy and Ryan could accrue just 66 seconds of penalty over 2 days, particularly with the challenging speeds on the night sections – hats off, it gives us all something to aim for.
Leigh Powley and Brian Goff whizzing round the cones at DFS. Their 3rd overall secured Leigh the 2023 Motorsport News Clubmans Driver Trophy. Photo by Dave Leadbetter.
I would like to thank all the marshals. To cover so many PCs and secret checks in addition to the TCs is amazing. Another level of thanks to the Saturday night marshals who endured plummeting temperatures. We wouldn’t get to have our fun if you didn’t come – I hope we gave you some fun in return along the way?
Photos in the Gallery above by Kind permission of Dave Leadbetter