Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Vintage thing No. 45.1 - Candidi Provocatore Allard J1

Is this the ultimate trials car? It may not be the most up-to-date but it's brutally effective. My scrap buddy, Rob Robinson-Collins, and I borrowed it from owner Roger Ugalde for the 2009 Land's End Trial with the result that we both want one.

Rob's a little ahead of me in that game. He has, as the French knights in Monty Python and The Holy Grail would say, "already got one." It is indeed, "vair nass-eh." In fact, Rob's got two Allards, a complete L-type in pieces and another one that had been chopped around to make a kind of overgrown HRF-Opus hotrod thingy. HRF stood for Hot Rod Ford and with a heavy metal Allard chassis and a stonking great Ford V8 it was more of an HRF-Magnum Opus.

Rob was initially looking for a spare gearbox for his other Allard but when he told Tina about what he'd found attached the gearbox of his dreams, she said, "Well, at that price you can't really say no." What a woman!

This latter machine will now form the basis of Rob's J1 replica and he's well on the way to reassembling the shortened chassis members, no easy task as they taper and there's a cruciform structure in between that needs to be modified to fit.

So what did we think of the real McCoy?

We loved it.

Jumping into it from a Mazda MX-5, Rob found the steering wandered a lot if you held the wheel too tightly. "Look well ahead and hold it lightly and it kind of steers itself," he said after a bit. It's not a knack that every driver of contemporary machinery can acquire but Rod quickly adapted during our road miles prior to the trial and found that powering out of corners was the best approach. Potholes and road camber can also get it to weave but with the power on it feels much better.

The gearchange on the three speed box is quite slow and there's no synchromesh on first. The handbrake is on the far side of the gearshift from the driver and is of the pull up variety.

The engine is virtually a single speed unit. I couldn't say what sort of revs we were pulling at any stage but Rob said there was power everywhere. And torque - it talks the torque. It liked to be revved off the line but once under way it just needed the gas kept at a steady mark five and pulled itself out of most situations.

Grip is prodigious and the only time we lacked any during the LET was on the infamous slab on Bishop's Wood. Our wheels were wet and muddy thanks to the cunningly positioned re-start box so they were going but we began to slide backwards. Rob reckons if he'd gone to the righthand side a bit more we might have made it. Everywhere else the combination of vehicle weight and torque made us climb. Crackington was the only section where I had to bounce furiously. That was great fun!

And on Blue Hills 1 we lit up the tyres on the restart and after developing quite a cloud of smoke Rob throttled back in anticipation of failing the section but the hot sticky tyres then bit and the Allard hauled itself off the polished stone setts and we were away.

The engine note is divine. It speaks of stump pulling torque and provided you make sure the single carb is full of juice it delivers a rolling wave of motion that sweeps you up the hills like a spring tide. It's an elemental force and with the pipes cunningly fashioned to blow mud off the leading edge of the rear wheels you sit just above them in a prime position to savour them. It's like falling down a long musical pipe to the bellowing combustion engine down below.

As we burbled through the night I realised that I'd heard a recording of the engine note before somewhere. Eventually I managed to place it. Listen to the very beginning of Garbageman by The Cramps. It seems that the late-and-great Lux Interior must have been a fan of Ford flathead V8s.

There was plenty of legroom, which was a pleasant surprise for Goff Imhof was not as tall as either of us, but the Allard's cockpit was too small for us front to back. I had to get in after the driver and out before he could get out. You have to slide down into the footwell after first standing on the seat squab. The wheel is so large and the distance between scuttle top and seat back so narrow that the driver has to do this first and then wriggle over the gearchange and handbrake to his seat under the wheel.

Note the yellow tape on the steering wheel. Keep this at at twelve o'clock and the wheels are dead ahead.

The dashboard itself appears to have been made out of a thick piece of bakelite an early form plastic associated with early radios. And here is yet another link with the past for Goff Imhof had a business selling and marketing gramophone equipment. And the actual construction of the car's bodywork is credited to Bert West, who worked for Imhof. The original coachwork, which won the 1946 Ostend concours d'elegeance, was destroyed during the car's competition career.

A Morris Minor style foot operated dip switch is close to the seat squabs and is best switched by the passenger by hand as, at night, gearchanging and steering seem more than enough for the driver.

The indicator had a modern warning buzzer nut even this was drowned out by the exhaust note on the open road. And there's not indicator light on the dash and the driver can't see the near side indicator so another of the passenger's duties is to let the driver know if it's still on.

There's no need for a heater. The 3.9 litre Mercury spec engine generates plenty of heat and a lot of it comes up through gaps in the bulkhead and floorboards. If we went through a puddle at speed we got wet feet but these soon dried out and any mud trodden into the cockpit quickly became dust.

The hood was simple to put up but one shouldn't plan to be entirely waterproof. As we crossed Salisbury Plain at night there was a downpour and the hood made us fell quite cosy inside our wet weather motorcycle gear. It's quick to erect and headroom is provided by a piece of bent plastic pipe that slots onto the windscreen and the rollbar. If this sounds crude then it isn't. The piece of plastic pipe is light, stows a way neatly and won't rust. It's easy to fit, too, as it flexes just enough to fit firmly. There are zips in the hood because otherwise you'd never be able to get in or out with the hood up. The zips might annoy some artistic and sensitive people because they can jangle a bit at speed but on Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme I was always given the squeaky rucksack since I rarely even noticed such things.

In my first blog about this magnificent car I mentioned the ghosts of past competition successes hanging heavy on it and the windscreen wiper is particularly haunted. If you look closely you will see that that the windscreen linkage in front of the driver is held together with an Allen key and some tape. There's probably a story behind this ghost but maybe it's lost in the mists of time. I remember John Aley, the esteemed Charirman of the Motor Cycling club for many years, admiring "acts of mechanical heroism" in the dark, in the rain, during a trial. While not quite up there with change a diff on a Midget on Beggar's Roost or a halfshaft on an Escort at Blue Hills, this cunning repair is another of those things that make this Allard J1 such an interesting car to examine closely.

After my apprenticeship with Hillman Imps I was concerned that the Allard was running hot. Cruising along the main roads at about 55mph, the needle was as far as it could go - passed the highest mark and even beyond the letter H for Hot. In addition to the large standard engine fan there was an electric fan and it was my duty - in addition to operating the windscreen wipers and dipping the headlights - to act as a human thermostat and regulate engine temperature. But in the end I left the electric fan switched on all the time. The engine didn't boil and didn't seem distressed. Roger later re-assured us by saying that he thought the gauge was not properly matched to the sender unit. The engine apparently warmed up from cold very quickly and it's a great cast iron lump so I think he's right.

We didn't have to anything to the Allard during the trial. Oil and water remained at constant levels over 500 miles and the only things we did were re-let down the tyres and pump them up again. This was made very easy by a bottled of compressed air. A large label on the dash served to remind us to turn the air supply off when we didn't need it in case the air leaked out. I don't think we had a foot pump between us so would have been really stuck. And of course there was no cigarette lighter to power a little electric pump. For observed sections we ran at about 10psi and at 26psi for the road.

We did add a drop or two of petrol into the tank, though. The Allard does about 18mpg. It only has a single carb but considering what sheer usable performance there is for trialling we are still slightly in awe of this version of the Ford V8.

At the top of Blue Hills, we met a lot of people, not least of whom were Roger Ugalde himself and Graham Greenwell, who owned the car before Roger and resurrected it after years of inactivity. Here they are, examining the engine bay. As so often happens with Vintage Things, there is always plenty to see when a bonnet is opened and one recent innovation is an alternator that masquerades as an old fashioned dynamo.

This really worked, too. We were following a vintage MG for some of the night section to Rodney's Revenge and he complained that we were driving on full beam. We weren't. We showed him what full beam was like compared with dip and became quite thoughtful ourselves. They were every bright. Rob had a go at adjusting them downwards as I pumped up the tyres after Rodney's Revenge but there was only so much we could do. MGs of that era have a vertical dynamo that also drives the camshaft. Not a bad idea until the seals give way and over lubricate the dynamo to extinguish any sparks. With more modern seal materials this can be overcome but the best place for our new friend in the MG was really behind us - there was light for all of us then.

Another cause for remark at the top of Blue Hills was the lack of bash plates. The Allard stands so tall that ground clearance was never an issue.

We had breakfast the following morning with James Smith and Dave Loveys. These chaps were both Allard enthusiasts of many years standing and had been competing in a BMW 318iS prepared, of course, by Dave Turner, the great BMW trialling exponent (good word).

Dave and James told us a great deal of Allard lore over our full English blow out in The Inn for All Seasons. Dave said the trick with getting more power out of a side valve engine was not bumping up the compression ratio but getting good gas flow out of the exhausts. I'd already noticed these rather nicely made headers on the Allard. As to what sort of power output the engine gives out, your guess is as good as mine. 120 bhp? But torque is clearly adequate - more than adequate most of the time.

So an Allard is our trials car Holy Grail. They take a bit of finding and are quite old but the search is always worth it. Fortunately, there the similarity stops. Not only those purest in heart and mind can get to grips with an Allard although I've been feeling strangely Galahad-like ever since our wonderful drive in the 2009 Land's End. It would be difficult to top that kind of experience - well clearing a few more sections would have been nice - but Rob and I are extremely grateful to Roger for letting us sample the delights of a real works Allard J1.

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Friday, 17 April 2009

Vintage thing No. 16.1 - the Cox-Triumph outfit

At the Wilsey Down Control on the Land’s End Trial, Rob and I spotted our old outfit. It was running a bit late in company with Dave West on his XT350 and was crewed by its new owners Peter and Shani Adams.

Although behind schedule, Peter and Shani were obviously enjoying themselves and had already got to know their chariot a lot better on this their second outing on the bike. Their first was the Exeter back in January.

Shani had become something of a workshop widow over Christmas as Pete took the Cox-Triumph apart and put it back together again. As he said to Rob, “It’s got all the right bits on it.”

During re-assembly, he added a very nice crankcase breather (like a little air filter it was) and he reduced the size of the seat box and panelled in the rear brackets on the very back of the chair to allow more floor area and bouncing opportunities when traction is needed.

Rob approved of these modifications and the bike sounded just as good as ever when Peter kicked it over. The only thing that might yet improve it is a pair of shorter forks. These would make getting away on the restarts easier.

Shani asked me what was better to be a passenger on, outfit or car?

This is a very difficult question to answer so I’ll say they were equally as much fun but for different reasons. On both machines the passenger was not really a passenger – there’s a lot to do to help the driver on the Allard like dipping the lights, operating the windscreen wipers and monitoring our water temperature. Steering and changing gear on a car of that vintage takes a lot of concentration. I also did the map reading with the Allard whereas on the bike Rob had his patented illuminated route card on a roll thingamajig. I was physically more active though on the road as well as on the sections.

Shani said, “I was the one to asked Pete to get an outfit after watching them going up Simms. I wanted to feel I was a real part of the team, and the outfit seemed to provide a much better option for this than a car.”

From their cheerful expressions I would say they don’t regret this approach.

We wished them well as they set off and I said that the next hill, Bishop’s Wood, was our favourite section in 2005 because we bounced from one side of the sunken lane to the other. It felt like we were flying at low altitude.

Well, here’s what Shani made of Bishop’s Wood.

“Pete and I had a fantastic time on the Triumph Cox, Bishops Wood was a blast! No part of my body was attached to the bike as we flew over the rock outcrop apart from my hands holding on to the straps for dear life. What a shock seeing that vertical rock face as we raced around the bend to see it face on! I thought to myself 'Pete don't lose it now' and screamed a lot of encouragement to him to keep going. He didn't need it though and we live to tell the tale.”

That pretty much matches my memory of Bishop’s Wood.

“I cannot say for sure whether or not our wheels left the ground on Bishops, I may have had my eyes closed! Pete is still building up the confidence to wheelie up the hills, but I am sure he will get there one day. This was only our second outing on the bike and we cleaned 5 hills and 1 special test.”

Hmm, that sounds better than us on our first LET.

“I am not sure which was my favourite hill. Darracott had me jumping from side to side to keep the beast stable and the chap who we pulled up behind at the end to re-inflate the tyres gave me a look as if to say what's all the heavy breathing for! Bishops was just a blast, so they come very close together in first place.

“I couldn't believe we managed to get off the start line at Ladyvale, let alone restart, but due to the change in tyre pressures the bike did it easily.

“Blue Hills was spectacular and we had an uproar of applause on 2 – this wasn't due to cleaning it though, just down to the sheer effort we had to put in to get it up the hill after not being able to get enough momentum after the restart to clear the slate slippy bit.”

Getting off the start line defeated us when we tried Blue Hills 2 but what Shani doesn’t say is that they came up the hill in instalments, first Pete on the sidecar and then Shani, who somehow got left behind, running up afterwards. Check out pictures 434 to 436 on John Salter's website.

There's another good couple of shots of them on Hoskin Hill here.

They are now part of the LET legend due to their performance on Blue Hills 2 for practically every photographer there must have taken pictures of their heroic ascent. They even made the Cornish Guardian.

As we travelled from section to section in the Allard, our exploits on the Cox-Triumph came up a couple of times. Ron seemed to want to buy it back. We certainly had some fun with it.

But the problem for him is a dodgy back and shoulder – relics of some rugby injury I believe – that limit how far he can ride a bike before too much pain sets in.

After we saw Pete and Shani, the matter of buying it back didn’t crop up again. It was so good to see it used and appreciated by such a likeable pair. Long may they enjoy such a well-sorted machine.

“We are going to head out for the testing trial for a giggle and take the kids so that they can see the fun and maybe even have ago. Our little 8year old has a small bike and blasts around our field like a pro. Our eldest 9yrs sticks safely to the quad, I think he will make a better Marshall!”

I haven’t been to a Testing Trial for years. Some reckon they are actually harder on the machinery than a long distance event but I seem to recall a kind of picnic with great enthusiasts and fantastic machinery.

But I’m sure there will be a big welcome from the trialling fraternity for all members of the Adams family!

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Monday, 13 April 2009

Team Robert ride again in the 2009 Land's End Trial

My involvement in this year's Land's End Trial occurred at the 11th hour when my scrap buddy, Rob Robinson-Collins, suddenly found himself without a navigator. This was particularly disappointing because Rob had arranged to borrow the Candidi Provacatore Allard J1 from Roger Ugalde. Rumours soon abounded that Rob’s navigator had fled to the country at the prospect of writing in such an awe inspiring open top car. Some of my local trialling friends pointed out that Roger's nephews ran the principle undertaking business in Liskeard and there was even more ribaldry about my life expectancy.

But I wasn't listening. Rob and I already had some minor trialling history with this car and for a couple of years we had campaigned the Cox-Triumph sidecar outfit. Team Robert were about to be reunited, even though according to the programme I was masquerading as Robert Hall -- that would have been Robert “Facom” Hall (say it quickly.)

Roger was clerk of the course for this year's Land's End so couldn't enter the event himself but he’s such a generous chap he'll lend this magnificent car to fellow competitors and enthusiasts. He knows Rob pretty well now, especially as more buyers two Allards in kit form and is in the process of shortening one to make a J1 replica.

We met at the Roger’s place between Honiton and Sidmouth on Maundy Thursday and drove up to Rob and Tina's house near Andover. The following day was happily spent measuring the bodywork on Roger's car and checking it over. Running as number 156, we were booked in to start at Popham airfield, although a start from Plusha services would probably have been more convenient. Changing the start would be awkward at such a stage when unexpected advantage of the extra road miles was that it allowed Rob and me to get to know Roger’s Allard that much better.

The weather forecast was uncertain. We've had quite a bit of rain as we journeyed east and soon after setting out on the trial we had some very heavy downpours. But after that things began to clear up and the rest of the night was dry. When the sun eventually came up, there wasn't a cloud in the sky and we experienced ideal weather for the rest of the event.

The Land's End Trial is marked by a considerable road mileage between sections and as well Popham there were starts from Plusha in Cornwall and Michael Wood services in Gloucestershire. We all converged at Bridgewater and in the darkness of a gradually drying night we were able to check out the other entries, including this rather splendid Model A Ford.

The restart box at Felon’s Oak looked little wider than a wheels width in our headlights that due to unfamiliarity with the Allard's controls we ran back out of it so failed our very first section before it had hardly started. However, we had no difficulty getting away and when one of the MG drivers that we've been following complained about our bright headlights I suspect our wall-to-wall grins brought on by the glorious engine note were so dazzling we were potentially lighting up the night sky.

Sat on the start line of Beggar’s Roost confidence in our machine was at an all-time high but, ironically, this proved to be our ongoing for the old warhorse just died on us after struggling a few feet up the hill. Rob thumbed the starter but it was obvious to everyone that we had a ground to a halt and he gave it plenty of beans to bring us up to the restart box which we negotiated without any problems. The only thing we could think of was that, after a brief stop to check tyre pressures, on start-up there wasn't quite enough petrol in the carb to keep us going.

Rodney's Revenge was not a section that I'd come across before. We approached it through extensive Forestry Commission woods. By now the clouds cleared and there was a magnificent moon -- almost a full one. Despite this, the night was still very dark. Gazing up at the moon, in the otherwise pitch black sky, I began to make out what appeared to be red-and-white stars twinkling way up above it. As my eyes became accustomed to the gloom, I realised that these were trials cars ascending into the heavens. And after they’d ascended, they were reversing back down again.

It was a bit like witnessing Jacob's ladder, which many people nowadays believe wasn't Angels climbing a ladder to Heaven at all but alien astronauts being beamed up into their spacecraft.

If it wasn't for the fact that the competitors before us were reversing back down again, I could easily have suspected that they were being kidnapped by aliens with invisible tractor beams.

As "seasoned competitors", we had been selected to be travelling marshals. I suspect that this was Roger's little joke. Part of our responsibilities as travelling marshals was to investigate any hold-ups and offer our help to the marshals in charge of that particular section so I borrowed the armband of authority and wandered down to the front of the queue.

It was obvious that very little was getting up and Rob remembered Rodney's Revenge as a "stopper" from when he was passengering for Dave Turner in his BMW 318iS.

But this was the hill where the combination of Team Robert and the Allard J1 all came together.

We managed to get around the first hairpin -- not easy in a car the size of an Allard, even a shortened one -- and Rob floored the throttle. The old warhorse dug in and we had great climb, clearing the section without me really having to do any bouncing. At the top, we were euphoric.

From then on, we felt invincible. We cleared Cutliffe Lane, Sutcombe and Darracott, although we've flattened the restart boards on that last one as we slithered out sideways under power.

Growing in confidence and enjoying spectacularly sunny weather, we approached Crackington.

Conditions so far had been very muddy and the locals in this part of north Cornwall have a reputation for "doctoring" this hill and all manner of interesting slurries. In anticipation of this, Rob kept the gas on all the way up. There was no room for any slacking. Fortunately for us, there was no restart box but it was incredibly claggy and I really had to work hard, bouncing for all I was worth, to get a grip and maintain momentum.

But we did it and in the red haze that had descended upon us almost forgot to obey the stop sign that has obviously put there for a reason just after the Section Ends boards.

And when we came onto the tarmac at the top to pump up our tyres, a small boy materialised with some little Easter eggs for us. And a passerby told us that Crackington had never been so muddy following a landslide even before a load of slurry had been tipped down it.

Doing our Travelling Marshals bit, we saw Colin and Edna Perryman in their BMW 2002 by the side of the road and stopped to ask if they were okay. Unfortunately, they'd severed a rear brake pipe and although Colin managed to crimp the end they decided to retire at the Wisley Down Control. This was a particular shame because they were clear up to then.

We also saw a Spridget having a diff changed on the verge but I'm happy to say that we saw them going very well afterwards.

At Panter’s Bridge, just before Warleggan, we met Roger and Caroline and were able to tell them what a great time we were having. I had never ever cleared any of the hills that we had cleaned so far although I had already been successful on Felon’s Oak and Beggars Roost in previous events.

Roger said we should be ashamed if we failed this next section. Many years ago, I'd marshalled on Warleggan and could remember a particularly bumpy section just up from the restart box from when we attempted on the Triumph outfit. If anything, it looked worse than ever when we squared up to it but Rob just nailed the throttle and I did my bit although nowhere near as much as on Crackington.

At the top we found James Shallcross and Neil Andrew in Adrian Booth's old Peugeot 205. They'd just got a clean and were doing well although Warleggan had just caught out Lee and Rebecca Huck in a similar machine.

Down in Cardinham Woods, Ladyvale featured a cunningly placed restart box but we managed to get going again and on Hoskin Hill we sort of fluffed the start again with the motor just dying. We might have got away with this nut frankly I doubt it and we probably were recorded as a failure even before we moved off the start line. However, we negotiated the rest of the hill, including the restart box, in style.

By now, the entrants seemed quite spread out. For much of the distance we were running among many Class O competitors. At the Wilsey Down Hotel control and rest halt we heard an official asking the ladies in the restaurant to stay open for another couple of hours due to delays, presumably as a result of protracted recovery operations as people failed the very muddy sections.

What struck me was how well organised everything was. Everyone involved, either as officials or marshals, was in their place at the allotted time and knew what to do. I know many of them have been doing this year on, year out but it was still impressively slick.

Rob and I were particularly looking forward to Bishop’s Wood because, when we were on the outfit, we seem to be practically airborne for the whole section but in reality it was probably the greatest disappointment. There was an enormous lump of polished rock with a very muddy restart box at its foot and this was the only occasion where we honestly couldn't find any grip. Our wheels started to spin and eventually gravity overcame friction and we slid backwards, still with our wheels going forward. With a run-up I'm sure we wouldn't have had any trouble but a following Marlin in the same class as us managed it. We were very suitably impressed and told him so but forgot to ask how he had placed his wheels in the restart box. We reckon that he had gone further to the right and up the hill from where we attempted the restart.

Tooling down the A30, I was really looking forward to Blue Hills. In my less than illustrious trialling career, I haven't managed to clear either of these sections. The 2009 Land's End Trial had -- so far -- seen me clear hills that I never managed to clear before, either as a driver or passenger and whether on three wheels or four.

But when we came through the narrow lane that leads into the valley from Cross Coombe, the old familiar vista opened up to us again of a vast crowd on the opposite hill. It always looks so steep and impossible at this point and when we had attempted Blue Hills 2 on the outfit we couldn't even get off the start line.

Blue Hills 1 has just a fearsome reputation as the more spectacular blast up the cliff path. By looping the trial through very muddy water and place in the restart box right at the foot of polished stone setts that lead onto the tarmac road, this section was claiming many scalps.

We applied what we’d learnt so far and made the old Allard bellow in our efforts to get going again as we attempted the restart. But although we made plenty of tyre smoke we didn't get anywhere. I was shouting to Rob to “keep it in” when I heard him reply “it's no good”. Despite the crowd cheering us on, he throttled back.

But then something quite inexplicable happened -- the Allard nonchalantly eased itself up the polished stone setts and Rob suddenly had to rapidly turn the big steering wheel to stop us from hitting the opposite bank. A great cheer went up and we whooped and hollered in disbelief. But the section wasn't over. It ended on the other side of the narrow gates leading up to Blue Hills 2 and Rob fortunately had the presence of mind to keep going and the skill to aim our car through those suddenly little gates.

In front of us on the start line of the final section was an innocuous Toyota Corolla that had successfully negotiated Blue Hills 1 in style. This made it look easy but made us more determined than ever to do as good as we possibly could on what is probably the ultimate trials hill out of all the classics.

As we pulled away to come up to the start line the Allard ran out of beans again and we stalled. "Oh well," said Rob, "at least we didn't do that coming away from the start."

We nearly managed Blue Hills 2. We got away quite nicely and made our way to the restart box without too much trouble. Rob had lined us up quite nicely and I bounced furiously to get us away but he didn't quite turn the wheel quick enough and our nearside front wheel hit the outer bank of this sunken section so hard that it brought us to a dead stop.

Then there was the omnipresent Mr Ugalde. “Oh come on Robert!” he said in a loud voice that could have applied to either of us, “what are you playing at?”

We rolled back and had another go and this successful ascent is the one that has made it onto the Internet. Of course, we failed the section but thanks to my mate Pete, who was in the right place with a video camera, this clip makes it look like we didn't.

There was an extended stop at the top to swap stories and meet up with old friends. Somebody pointed out that my motorcycling over suit had a huge hole at the back. I must have bounced my way through my waterproofs or maybe it was our seat-of-the-pants performance. Although it looks sunny at Blue Hills, I was glad of my Heine Gericke gear on underneath and sundry layers below that. It must have been from shock at ascending the premier section in classic trials for the first time. (Blue Hills photos by Pete Cross)

Over the years the Allard has become very well-known - a lot of people came over to pay their respects to it.

Some people were moved to even prostrate themselves before the Allard's split axle front suspension. Pumping up the tyres was the last thing on our minds but we remembered it in the end.

The general consensus of the finish at Scorrier was that had been a particularly hard trial but for our first time out in a strange car we couldn't really have hoped for a better result.

This impression was reinforced when we saw Roger the following day when we returned the car. The results have not been published yet but as we signed off we could see how many people thought that they might have won an award. Not many were claiming Golds but there were quite a few Silvers and Bronzes. One or two people had simply written Lead.

Blue Hills 2 had seen a couple of accidents, one where a sidecar outfit flipped over onto its crew and another where a bouncer hit her head on the top of the windscreen when the car hit the same section of bank that caught us out. One of the spectators had also suffered a heart attack but the emergency services were quickly on hand and a good recovery is expected for all concerned.

A huge thank you is due to everyone involved. We were all there for the same reason and shared our mutual enjoyment unsparingly.

And a difficult trial has made attaining our simple Finisher’s Certificate all the more sweeter.

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