There are about 5 crews currently from the club into the road rally scene, here are some of their antics and stories taken from the club magazine
Bala crews use Falken tyres supplied by PEC Tyres
suppliers of the new indestructible Kumho forest tyre
Saturday the 27th as usual it was quite hectic at Bryn yr Hydd doing last minute preparations. The car was ready and fitted with a new gearbox, we were ready for action. Iwan and Gwion arrived for our usual pre-event mickey take session.
Paul was busy repairing the anchors on his car while Glanli had been having trouble with the Nissan's manifold and he looked exhausted! We all had marshalls and were ready for the 6 o'clock off.
We set off with Tudor's van leading a seven car convoy. Bala Motor Club was out in force again. We arrived at the noise control and on to scrutineering which takes longer now, having to declare all the damage on the car beforehand. The spot lamp bulb had blown, luckily we were able to borrow one of Glanli's road car. We found out that Paul had failed noise but with the aid of his marshall's car seat cover being rammed up the exhaust he was able to pass. The entire route references were given out and we had one hour to plot. Mark set to work and managed to get all of it except for one page onto the map.
On the start line we were given the 1st selective to do plot and bash. On the first competitive section I managed to park the car on its side in a ditch. We were advised by a helpfull spectator, "You've had it now" or words to that effect. Luckily we weren't far from a crowd of spectators who were able to lift us out. We carried on with visions of more panel damage. We had dropped valuable time and needed to plot the last page at petrol. We carried on finding the road conditions very slippery. We then dropped more time because of sheep on the road. We arrived at petrol having dropped about 20 minutes we thought. The petrol halt venue was a disaster. We had to queue 15 minutes for petrol. Mark plotted the rest of the route while I inspected the damage. I was amazed to discover the only damage was the wing had been dented outwards. This was repaired by giving it a good kicking!
Full of fuel we set off hoping for a better second half but more time was lost due to a JCB blocking the road retrieving a competing Peugeot 205 from a hedge. On to some very muddy whites, no major hassles until somebody in a Land Rover reversed out in front of us at a control and carried on down the road until the next lay by. We were then slowed down by a someone in a Nissan Micra who refused to pull over for ages. By this stage if he hadn't pulled over we were prepared to ram him off the road!
We then stopped at a PC on a very steep hill and with lack of power and a mega 1st gear we had to reverse to the bottom and take a run up. We decided to cut two controls as we had to clean them to finish within our OTL and needed some points. We were questioned over the dented wing in damage control but as there was already a dent there it was declared at scrutineering. A tip for anyone starting road rallies, make sure there's a dent in every panel on the car as no matter what you hit or demolish you can still finish as it was declared at the start. (I wonder if there are any scrutineers reading this?! - Ed)
We then had breakfast and a chat with our fellow competitors over what was a tough but enjoyable event.
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Our first event of '99, the Bro Dyfi, was to be the first event for a revamped car. Following November's Peak Revs the World Cup crossmember, rear shock and exhaust were replaced due to twisting, breaking etc. Tudor felt confident that all was OK and that the new right hand exhaust was giving more power (rally speak for more moments). I was looking forward to the event, as it's my adopted home event, and we could mix it with the big boys of the Welsh Championship.
With the rev counter now working, but not accurate, the nice man at noise asked Tud to rev the engine until it reached the desired level, which we duly did. For Bala MC things looked up as 5 crews lined up for the start.
From the start, with the receipt of the route, it was obvious that things were going to be tough for the nav' with large amounts of plots to complete. Mis-plots by the organisers only added to the pressure, but local knowledge was of some assistance.
First standard section! Five, four, three, two, one, GO for it! Four hundred, thirty right, two hundred slot right by species, two hundred tight uphill hairpin right, What was that? No handbrake? Oh dear (or words to that effect). Already things did not bode well, time lost on two hairpins. We then caught the Pedley's and then stood waiting for a Sierra to free itself on Abertrinant hairpin. Over three minutes lost already!
Next section Ffordd Ddu A repeat of the Bro Cader where we slowed down too much was not going to happen. This time it was going to be as fast as possible without a, oh Bother!!!! Puncture. Having changed this Tud informed me that not only was the handbrake having time off, but the middle pedal was not fully operational. Third section, pre-occupied with the brake problem we overshot a control, reversed back no prob's. From here we rounded the top of Dolgellau and completed the first ultra smooth forest section, superb. Its amazing how sideways motoring makes you forget that the driver has a brake problem, the moments appear planned and controlled.
Before the fourth section the brakes were bled then up into Hermon, slot left into forest, triangle, back into forest, caught Nova, hit something hard and another puncture. Just like buses, none for a long time and now two together in the first half. We are both now waiting to be called up to the Williams Fl team as experienced pit crew on tyre changes. Remainder of the maze went OK to arrive at petrol. Continued to plot before setting off again for about 7 miles in Dyfi forest. We had little option but to take it easy as we had no spare, apart from one donated by David Ogwen. Lost time in this section and the next uphill white preserving our tyres.
Moving on around Commins Coch to Dolgadfan posed no problems, neither did the following whites as we both felt no point in pushing it and taking risks, although we caught the Nova again, this time without puncturing. We then came across Dennis Quinn, stranded after a failed hairpin left, onto a road three quarters of a mile earlier than he should have taken. We'd lost so much time we became Good Samaritans, and helped to free the car, which did not have a scratch on it. From here all went OK through the Mynachdy white through to the finish.
It was a surprise to see all the Bala crews waiting for us at the finish. Had we lost so much time? Could it be that PK, Phil and all had beaten us? This could be serious Micky take time! Much to our relief we were ahead of them all (we're not competitive really, it's the taking part!), all the others had encountered even more serious problems. The light went out on Phil, woozy gloves don't help in the dark, carrots might! PK had given up on a white, something about mud and getting the car dirty, as his original excuse of the engine dying was found to be untrue as it fired up first time to load on the trailer to go home. Both other Bala crews suffered with the hard event but will both hopefully return to the lanes. Our finishing position, same as the Peak Revs 8th. Therefore 1999 starts as 1998 finished, plenty happening but same old result.
Hello, it's been a long time since the last rally in 1998 and the new season has started again. The first rally of 1999 for me was the Bro Dyfi, a pre- plot rally which 90% seem to be these days.
The car was ready except for the starter motor which we changed on the Saturday morning. Gwion turned up but he had forgotten his potty and had to buy a new one that morning from Demon Tweeks. After wiring it in all the usual pre-rally checks were made, we were ready.
Off to Machynlleth to the start. We passed noise and all the M.S.A. requirements and we were mega jammy to find a gang of lads all the way from Kent to marshall for us. All was OK and we waited for the off.
As it was a full entry, due to the pre plot format, I believe, we were given no.41 and behind us was Glanli and Paul. In front was Tudor and Phil Brown. The latter must be on some kind of drug as he was hyper and wild at the start and a chill out was required. His Mk II was looking good in the dark and the wozzy gloves were out and in action again.
Off we went to the holding car park and plotted for over an hour and away we went to find ourselves behind the slowest Mini ever and dropped many minutes on the selective until we finally passed him only to get lost. By the time we found the route again, we were behind this Mini again!
After managing to pass him again, disaster struck. The car stalled in a ford and just would not start, dropping us over 10 minutes. After Gwion calculated the time out we found if we carried on around the route we would be OTL, but a cut to petrol meant we could be back on our due time for the second half. And so, Plan 'B' came into effect and we cut to petrol. This was not a good start to the season, but what the hell, carry on and finish, you never know. The second half was tough, as were the roads. More whites than in South Africa. Chunky's would have been mint but I enjoyed the Dyfi Forest selective which was smooth and slippery on the low profile tyres.
Then disaster hit again as the Escort failed to clear an uphill white due to an engine misfire which on investigation was down to a dodgy plug. We will cut to the finish I said but it was not to be. The engine died about 5 miles from the finish and would not restart.
Gwion did try to bump start the car but no way. It all ended in a massive backfire which nearly blew Gwion's family assets away!
So a long walk was on the cards as the mobile phone was useless, no signal!! Walked about a mile when I mentioned to Gwion that a full break fast would be nice. Oh no, said Gwion, the tickets are in the car. So back we went. Got the tickets and walked again about a mile when a car stoppped. Gwion knew the man and he offered to tow us to the finish. So back again to the car and towed it to the car park by Tudor's Transit.
To our surprise, Paul and Phil and all the Bala gang except Tudor were there. This was looking bad for Bala M.C.! Paul had gone OTL, Phil had no lights, Glanli had gone off into a lake and punctured and we had engine problems. Tudor came in a finisher, 8th o/a, but he also had a bad rally with two punctures and had stopped to pull Quinn's Escort out of a hedge. In all, out of the 60 starters only a third or so finished. A hard rally but a lot of fun. That's it for now.
With this being our first road rally, both of us were a bit nervous, as you would expect. This was especially true for Paul, who was complaining that he had not being sleeping very well for two weeks prior to the event. The day arrived and we started off in a convoy towards Machynlleth following Tudor, Phil, Iwan PK and Glanli. We passed the noise test and the scrutineering with no problems at all!
Parked the car in our designated parking space, and went to sign on and waited for our due time, which was a very long wait with us being car 60. Our time eventually came and we set off towards the holding car park to plot most of the route. The time now flew fast, and it was time for us to set off before we could even plot all of the route. Things were going very well with Paul's driving being excellent. Our lime was good or that's what we thought considering it was for our first rally.
Half way into the first half we passed Glanli who had gone off into a field. He must buy some woozy gloves like Phil so he can hold on to the steering wheel better next time! He asked us to pull them out and being the good Samaritans we are, we agreed, but it was the wrong decision and we found out that it had cost us much valuable time. Carried on eventually only to find ourselves stuck on an extremely rough white, about five miles from petrol. To our luck a friendly spectator pulled us out, and this also cost us much time.
We got under way again, only to find out with a bang that the passenger seat had broken loose, and I was finding myself trying to read the map whilst looking at the roof of an Escort RS2OOO, which was not very pleasant. So we decided at that point to call it a night with us being OTL anyway, and we headed off towards petrol.
When we got there, to our surprise we found out that Glanli had retired with a puncture and Phil had also lost the use of his lights which led to Mark having to lean out of the window with an extremly small torch to show the way.
On further discussion with fellow club members we found out that we had been thrown in at the deep end, this being an extremely hard event with only 22 out of 60 finishing. We must thank Phil for all the help and preparation he did on the car prior to the event.
We plan for the Rali Llyn to be our next event, which we will hopefully get an entry for.
See you soon Iwan.
The Rali Bro Ddyfi was chosen as the first event of the year as it was a 130 mile pre-plot 'legend'. It was good to see Bala MC out in force with five cars competing. Saturday arrived and we all set off to Machynlleth. By about 8pm we'd all passed noise and scrutineering, the cars and crews were all ready but yet again we had no marshalls which were a rule of entry.
Our start time came and we set off to a car park where we had an hour to plot the route. When we reached the third page of references we realised there was no way we were going to get it all down on map so we ignored the give ways and set off with most of the second half plotted. Within 5 miles of the first selective we overshot a give way and were stopped by a DSO. We were let off with a warning then on to some brilliant whites. We then came down to a tight hairpin right which we handbraked and then told 100 yards down the road it also was a giveway by another DSO and yet again we got away with it We carried on and again got stopped by a DSO (Did Stop Onest)!
We were now well into the first half of the rally. Mark was on the ball with the maps. The car was going well, we'd handbraked every give way and got away with it and I hadn't hit anything. Things were going well, too well obviously because we came to a flat out downhill stretch and Mark called out "90 right" at which point we were plunged into dark ness. Anchors on, even Mark was hitting the passenger air brakes. Luckily the lights came back on before we hit the wall and seemed to work OK so we carried on until we hit a deep ford and went back to Stevie Wonderland. No way were we going to stop in the water, just prayed we'd bounced in the right direction. I hit the switches and got just main beam to stay on until a hairpin in the forestry where there was a speci sitting wearing a miner's lamp. As we slide sideways in the darkness the light from his helmet jumped into the trees helping us to aim in the opposite direction with lights now only working on flash. Mark was not map reading, gear changing and holding on to the light switch on 90s and hairpins. It worked quite well using 2nd gear instead of the handbrake and getting branches off the marshalls to shove into the switch. There were heart stopping moments when they fell out. The switch then packed in completely and the gearbox gave up but we still had hazard lights. We hadn't dropped a lot of time therefore we weren't going to give up that easy so we stopped and waited for the car behind us and followed him. He was in our class so we still had a chance until an uphill 90 left and we lost his lights. We still weren't going to give in. Looking back we were clutching at straws (branches more like! ED) trying to complete the Maze with Mark hanging out the window with a little torch but we'd done 15 miles with no lights and with only about 6 miles to petrol and 3 miles main road we carried on with me now calling light directions "right wall, left wall" etc. When the torch batteries went flat we admitted defeat and went to spectate. We were offered a lift to the main road by a retired crew in a Manta. We sat on the boot and had a white knuckle ride which almost ended in Tegid Times material. Glanli then took us back to the car and we met up with Paul and Iwan and went for an early breakfast. We looked as sorry as we felt having missed out on Dyfi forest. It seemed everyone had had a night of hassles from punctures to a blown gasket but as usual we had a mega laugh and are looking forward to the next event. Ain't it fun.
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The Peak Revs was our last event of the year and for the first time not only was the car ready the day of the rally it was ready a week before! The only hassles we had was finding a marshall. We arranged to meet kev and Tudor in the Green car park at 5.30p.m. At 6.00p.m. still no sign, then Tudor, Gerallt, Dei Ogwen and Twm Llyr arrived. No sign of Kev and Gar Hall, apparently they had been busy that afternoon modifying an Escort Mk II into a barbeque.
Off we went on the long drive to Ludlow where we passed noise and scrutineering no problem. On to the garage for some motion lotion. Iwan PK strategy we thought, no chances, FULL TANK. On to the start for a long wait. We were getting worried why all the locals were on brand new mud and snow tyres. Did they know something we didn't (yep, read on!). The entire route was given to everyone on their due time and an hour and a half was given to plot it. Mark had it all down on the map and we were off.
We had a fairly straight forward 1st half, only a couple of big slides and both of us waving at the camera through a deep ford almost ended in embarrasment when we hit the water so hard the floor collapsed and was touching the brake pedal. On to the half way halt and petrol after seeing some big offs and quite a few mechanical retirements. We knew our target was to just cross the finish line.
On to the second half and some mega whites through different forestries which after 56 cars or so were deep mud but we still had a fairly hassle free second half. We got stuck in a ford and dropped some time but luckily neither of us had to go out to paddle! On to the finish for breakfast and a chat with our fellow competitors. We had dropped 26 minutes and 2 fails dropping us to 49th overall and 8th in class and were able to carry full points over to our class championship and not a scratch on the car, well not visibly. It was a good finish to an excellent year and hopefully next year will be even better (watch this space!).
Congratulations to Tudor and Gerallt on 8th overall.
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One night I had a phone call from Mick asking if I fancied doing a rally with him. Having never sat in a car with him before I took the gamble and decided to go for it. The car was just a basic 309 GTi with a rollcage, footrest and harnesses. Mick said he'd never done a rally before, not even a 12-car, so this seemed to be the best event to start with.
Had the entry form filled, and put some results down and entered as a novice but when we had the finals we were a bit shocked to be seeded as 3rd beginners. It was good to see that there was another Bala crew trying, Phil & Mark.
Turned up on the evening and passed noise and scrutineering, no problems. Got signed on and started plotting black spots, cautions and quiets. After finishing these we saw Phil and Mark doing some last minute preparations. Phil was trying to sort a rattling sump guard (in the rain) so I gave Mark a hand to plot. Then it was the drivers briefing which was very much the usual brief. We then went outside to find Tud, Twm Llyr and Ger Rich. It was nice to see that they'd come to support us.
MC1 was inside the scrutineering bay and then we had 2 hours to plot in the car park. Finished plotting with plenty of time, had a quick check over on the maps and oft we went. There was a bit of a run-out to the first selective. We did it in half the due time so we had a long wait. We went through the first selective quite quickly with no problems other than a few moments on the muddy and slippery lanes. We had a big slide towards a stone bridge which could have damaged the car severely. We got into the swing of things well until we overshot a junction on a non-comp section. As we were looking for some where to turn around a squad car went past and decided to come after us, next things we knew was a flashing blue light telling us to pull over and out came two traffic cops. After a big speech they told us that we hadn't dipped our lights and that we could have caused an accident! We were on dip, but it could have been something to do with the big bulbs and due to a spotlight ban the lights had been adjusted a bit higher. After they kept us for about 5 minutes we carred on and yes we missed the slot again, one of many cars to do so. Got to the next junction and turned around behind a competing Astra. Next thing we knew he'd reversed into the front of us. The two drivers got out and exchanged words and we were on our way again. Got to petrol after a hectic first half.
We saw Phil's car which had changed shape a liffle but was still going.
Second half was a heck of a slippery with some good whites, had a few more scares and would like to thank the drivers of a Mk II Escort and a Mk I Astra for going off. If it wasn't for them we would have been off also. Got to the finish, driving past Phil's car which looked as if it had had a severe hard time in the second half. We got inside and exchanged stories. After looking at the first half results were shocked to be 3rd overall. When final results were posted we found we'd had a fail and that dropped us to 7th overall and 3rd beginner which wasn't bad for Mick's first event. After the results it was outside to watch Phil hammering hell out of his two front wings. Luckily Tud had brought his van (which was seen many, many times during the evening) so Phil could put his damaged parts in.
A brilliant event and can't wait for the next one.
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