Exeter Class 0 and R

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MGCC Midland Centre stalwart Brian Osborn approaches the step on Frenches, the final Class 0 section. Photo by Dave Cook. You can view and purchase more of Daves photos on his Website.

It was a cold dry night when Classes 0 and R started around 2 am from the Haynes Museum at Sparkford. The Class 0 route followed its familiar format with the sections quite dry and grippy compared to recent years. Even the challenging Donkey Trot section wasn’t as fearsome as usual and around half the entry saw the summit. A couple of the sections have become quite washed out and were a bit rough for lower, less modified, cars.

The new Class R was well supported and Toby Galbraith was delighted to finish and receive an award in his Electric Nissan Leaf.

There were few non starters. In Class 0 Martyn Coplestone found head gasket problems with his MG Midget. He had a BMW all ready to go but it was too late to change and comply with the insurance so he had to stay at home. VSCC trialler Toby Bruce had entered his Riley but couldn’t get the brake lights working at scruitineering and didn’t start. In Class R Lands End Clerk of the Course Bill Rosten had fuel feed issues with his GN and couldn’t make the start.

The first section was the tarmac Windwhistle Hill restart. There were only a couple of penalties but a costly one for John Guy who was penalised for running back which relegated him from Tin to Copper at the end of the trial as this was his only penalty.

Braving the cold there were few other major issues through the night although most thought that Gatcombe Lane was a little rough for Class 0. Used for both the main trial and Class 0 for many years the section has become washed out through water erosion. All but one of the cars picked their way over the rocks but it was a different proposition for the motorcycles and it cost Ed Stobbs his Blue Hills Tin.

There were only five sections after quite a reasonable breakfast at Crealey Park but the challenge certainly increased. The two tarmac sections at Windout and Pepperdon had wet leaves on the sharp turns putting throttle control at a premium to find some grip.

Wet leaves were also a feature of the forestry track at Hitchcombe and a number of cars spun to a stop under the eyes of Pete Hart and his team from Bristol Motor Club.

With the main trial delays at Tillerton Classes 0 and R found plenty of parking space at the Illsington Village Hall Pasty Stop. Those that had done the trial weren’t too relaxed. They knew what was coming next, the climb back up to the village known as Donkey Trot.


The organisers were generous with the start line and competitors could build a little momentum before the gradient rose. There weren’t too many wet leaves, the surface was dry, but this is the feature Hill for Class 0 on the Exeter.

Around 50% succeeded, the hill wasn’t too friendly to Suzuki X90’s and GV2000’s where most spun to a stop. Tim Tudor proved it was on though cleaning the section in his X90. Unfortunately it wasn’t Blue Hills Tin for Tim as he was penalised for overrunning a line on the Core Hill Special Test during the night.

It was interesting to see the diverse vehicles that did make the top. Stuart Palmer proved that power wasn’t necessary for success with a clean run in his Austin Seven. Ground clearance wasn’t a stopper either as MCC President Jonathan Lave proved in his low slung MGB.

There was just a rather rough Frenches left before a more or less on time arrival at the Torquay finish with plenty of time for a walk on the beach before the evening festivities.

All in all a good trial for Classes 0 and R, well organised, with good sections. No need for any change. “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.


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