Well folks, my apologies for the delay in writing up a report for the event, but I am here now and that’s what matters, right?
5 weeks of late nights, Chinese takeaway, Donar kebabs, filthy finger nails, a lingering smell of Castrol B373 diff fluid and not seeing our respective partners came to a close on Friday the 21st October. 7:30 in the morning, not really my favorite time of day and we roll into the Lisburn Leisure Centre car park ready for scrutiny, coffee, sign-on, coffee, route plotting, coffee and a wee chin wag with the usual Retro mob.
We soon had our act together and left the ceremonial start under the Lisburn City Council flag. The Friday of the event consists of two major parts, 20 Special tests and a Night Navigation. Now in the past the Friday was renowned as the nut buster that turned you into either a hero or a zero.
Will had spent the day piloting the Midget to the best of the cars abilities, and as such brought home at the Dinner hault in first overall. Out of the first 20 tests of the event we had a clear lead of 30 seconds, taking a fastest time on all 20 tests. A sterling effort, however, all was not well. The new gearbox choice was great, unfortunately it also decided it wanted to climb from its punishment and make a bid for freedom, with the box actually splitting from the bellhousing. To add to the struggle here, the handbrake was also not acting in a manner befitting the standard of the car. After foregoing dinner to fix the car, we landed into the night navigation section. At this point I would like to grab my book of “Navigator’s Excuses” from my back pocket and turn to page 24 …. lets just say I swiftly reset all the hard work, Will had accomplished during the day and put us back to 7th overall.
Saturday began (not so) nice and early, to allow for the Retro competitors to make our way to Castlewellan to join in with the Down Rally. We were getting let loose through the forest stages of the main rally before heading off across the mountains of Slieve Gullion and Camlough. Once again, Will was setting the pace and ensured we remained the quickest car through all the tests. This was a frustrating task for him, as the lack of handbrake was off-putting and there was little to no possibility of using the downshift to first. to allow the back end to get upset. You will see in the attached videos, how slowly the gearbox had to be worked to ensure a correct gear selection. To add to the stress of this, I was on a roll on the navigation, not a good roll either. However, once the cobwebs had been blown out and I got my head in gear we started to climb our way back up the field.
Sunday morning, another late night working on the car/going to the bar had prevented a decent night of sleep, but we were still smiling and thirsty for the third day. With the clean sections in the regularities the day before, we had managed to get to 6th overall and 2nd in class, with Noel Cochrane and Paddy McCollum being the men on a mission within our class. Off we went to tour round the Ard’s Peninsula taking in tests at Ireland’s Fastest Race Circuit – Kirkistown. With the navigation now on track, I was happy (albeit sleepy); Will was much happier, and we set out for our final conquest to get back up the leaderboard. Unfortunately it was just too little, too late. Everyone else had also managed to settle into the navigation rhythm at the same pace, and we remained 6th overall and 2nd in class once again.
It has been 19 years since an MG Midget has won this event and we are determined to break the dominance of the Minis and quick FWD stuff. Someday, given enough practice and more midget gems, we may even do it!!!
Anyway, enough talking from me, the results can be found HERE and I really really hope we can begin to see some international entries coming in to raise the game on this epic 3-day adventure around our wee island.
Here’s the videos we managed to get: