Following the Tour of Lincs' bout of bad luck which was dished to us with the severest of dishings, we were due some good luck. We had opted not to do the Dukeries because being as the car has been rebuilt from a bare shell up in the last four weeks, it would have been foolish to attempt a multi-venue rally with only one service point as a first event. We did Manby instead.


We got through scrutineering with only the need to seal a hole in the bulkhead where the wiring loom once passed and settled down to rallying.


SS1 A quick but uneventful run with no spins or overshoots. An all tarmac stage of about five miles. We were second in class after this stage, 5 seconds behind car 26, a 205 GTI and a handful of seconds in front of the remainder of the pack.


SS2 and a slight overshoot into a bale lost us half a dozen seconds. We emerged still second in class, 29 seconds behind the leader but only fifteen in front of car 20, a Vauxhall twin cam powered Escort with a Pinto powered Escort, car 61 only 3 seconds behind.


SS3 The loose. Car 26 had expressed his concern about the loose. He had done very few non tarmac events and we were hoping that things may close up a little. There was no doubt about his ability to drive and the car was quick enough but we pushed hard and waited at the finish to compare times. A few minutes went past and he never materialised. Eventually the stage was stopped to retrieve him from a ditch and the class lead was ours. Behind were the brace of Escorts and an Astra GTE but we had a good 30 seconds in hand.


SS4 We pushed hard again and opened the lead to 50 seconds over car 20 with car 61 a further 10 down. They had settled into a battle for second place but both were trying hard.


SS5 The stage had been changed and the long flat right into hairpin left had turned into a long flat right into a hairpin left. Spot the difference? Neither did we, but the long flat right had been shortened by 100m and a stack of lorry tyres placed in the run off area. Car 20 was well and truly embedded in the tyres and we managed to jump them, overshooting by about fifty metres. We U-turned on the grass and regained the track. We'd lost about 20 seconds but maintained our 49 second lead in class.


SS6 After receiving a dressing down from the service crew we were under instruction to calm down. A steady run but we maintained our lead at just under a minute.


SS7 Steady again on a much shortened stage, we extended the lead to over a minute, now into 17th place overall.


SS8 We caught and passed an ailing Mitsubishi Evo 3 and left the braking late into "our hairpin" rattling a hay bail on the exit, resulting in no time loss at all. This caused the first damage of the event and was on virtually the last bend of the day.


So the result, have you guessed it? Second in class and 18th overall. Second? I hear you cry. Well I forgot to mention car 31, a Vauxhall Corsa that got transferred into class three after the finish of the event and just happened to have won it by half a minute. The driver informed the organisers before the start that he had been put in the wrong class but they just couldn't be bothered to change it. It wasn't until someone protested it that he got moved, so that completely screwed up what could have been a perfect weekend. Can we get the organisers excluded for being dip***ts?


Bitter? Me?


You bet!


(Expletives deleted to make it printable! - Ed)



Following our unfortunate departure from the Armstrong Massey with engine failure we were slightly anxious before this trip to Manby. The Armtech rev limiter had been installed and the limit set at a paltry 6500rpm. The intention was to bring the lump home this time.


SS1 and all seemed well. The 1600 Pinto seems to rev a lot easier than the 2000 lump did and no sooner have you planted the right foot, the change up light is on and the limiter starts cutting the power. This helps on the loose as you can keep the foot down until the car catches up to the engine and when you change up, the car is actually ready for the next gear. Disaster struck less than half way into this stage when on the first corner of the loose, the left rear intermediate detached itself from the rim. We struggled round the remainder of the stage with the worsening tyre, which had shredded completely, constantly looking behind for Bambino and Scoop who set off 30 seconds behind us. We stopped to allow them past, as did we for the Cossie behind them. We lost well in excess of a minute and were almost last of the eighty or so entries.


SS2 was a repeat of SS1 and everyone was quicker than on their first attempt. We were still on our first competitive run so lost a little more time. SS3 and SS4 were all tarmac affairs and did us no favours in our pulling time back but we emerged 30th overall and sixth in class. One second behind fifth and less than half a minute behind third and fourth. Nige B was winning class and was still going away from us as was Richard Johnson in second. We could hope for third!


SS5 and SS6 were both 8 milers on the loose. We put half a minute per stage into Craig Rees who previously occupied fifth and the fourth placed man was disposed of leaving us behind our old favourite 30,000 Corsa again. But alas we were in fifth place, how could this be? In our haste to work out who we could pass, we completely dismissed a Rover Metro 1600 who was 12 seconds behind us but travelling 15 seconds a stage quicker. He too had had problems on SS1 and was making a bigger ascent of the classification than we were. We hoped that we could do some damage to the Corsa with 20 seconds and the Metro with 3 seconds so it was brain out time. SS6 and we were well into the top ten stage times dropping only a handfull of seconds to Nige and about ten to Stu Wood. We had overhauled the Corsa and held a one second advantage, the Metro emerged behind a Landrover from what looked to be a serious engine failure. We held third in class with 2 stages remaining.


SS7 and SS8. Prior to these two stages there was a long delay whilst several dead cars were removed from the stage. Nige B and myself took this opportunity to see what 30,000 of hard earned cash could buy you on the Corsa market. The co-driver was only too willing to guide us around the car boasting of 180BHP at the wheels, GP A this and that and a six speed dog box, all worth an absolute fortune. Nige enquired as to why they weren't leading class. "We prefer the loose to the tarmac, it's a forest car! We're only a second behind third in class and we'll catch him on the next stage!"

"That'll be me then!" We discussed tactics with the driver and through friendly banter over the last Manby rally and our being relieved of our class win by the very same crew (fuelled by Captain Barrett) the gauntlet was laid for the next two stages. Red mist time!!! We had opted to enter the stage behind a 16 valve Astra and he did us proud by buggering off and us not seeing him until the finish line. A clear run and a full 8 seconds faster than Corsa Man. Nine to spare and one stage left. We had bought ourselves a spin! SS8 and our insurance policy was not cashed in as we took 16 from him on this occasion.

Whilst all this class battle had been going off and with all the friendly rivalry, we hadn't noticed our ascent up the overall classification overjoyed as we were to discover ourselves twelveth overall. A stirling performance by Stu Wood in 3rd and the Captain with a spirited drive and fifth overall. Scoop and Bambino were first in class by a country mile and in the late teens overall with Andy Apple Pie dragging his ailing cossie out in ninth.