MCC Gold Reserve Secure after Lands End

It was a tough Lands End. Competitors had to contend with heavy rain, high winds, a heavily doctored Crackington and a flooded Blue Hills One. The result was a mere seven Golds in addition to the Class Awards.

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Andrew Trenoweth captures Ian Cundy making what was to be an unsucessful climb of Blue Hills 2 in the gathering gloom of the evening. Ian had been clean up till then. As no-one in his class was successful, and Ian was the fastest on the Special Tests he was awarded a Field Trophy

The weather was glorious on Good Friday and for the night run to Bridgwater. This first part of the trial was eventful for Paul Khambatta in his first MCC event on four wheels. His battery failed at Glastonbury. He managed to get it replaced but retired his Beetle after a brake pipe split on Crackington.

Stephen Bailey didn’t have a good start finding two flats when he went to leave Bridgewater and it looked as if they had been deliberately inflicted with a screwdriver.

Kevin Sharp had a hectic Good Friday. Electing to start from Plusha he arrived early to discover prop-shaft UJ problems. Kevin managed to source some replacement parts but the drivetrain didn’t survive the trial.

Failures on Felons

The first section on a trial is usually regarded as a gentle warm up with little risk of penalty. Not this year. All the car classes had a restart. There’s not a lot of gradient but there are plenty of rocks to get a wheel against. This caught out around 50% of Class Five and even experienced drivers like Alan Selwood in is powerful BMW, Alan Spencer with the Parsons and Phil Tucker in his glorious Triumph TR3A.

Good Organisation at Barbrook

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After many years of deviating off the A39 on the western outskirts of Minehead the route went straight on up the historic Porlock Hill, used as an observed section before it was surfaced between the wars. Bill Rosten had made Barbrook a passage control this year, with a minimal compulsory rest time, enough to grab a cup of coffee but not so long to cause congestion.

The Calm before the Storm

The weather remained dry for the sections in the early hours of the morning. Without a restart Beggars Roost was straightforward and  were few failures, the mosts notable being Barry Redmayne in his 1600 Class Eight Liege. All car classes had to restart on both Riverton and Sutcombe, There were a handful of failures including  multiple PCT champion Barrie Parker with his MR2.

Nobody had a restart on Cutliffe Lane, but this is a tough section, rough and rocky with considerable gradient. The hill was too much for the majority in the lower classes and decimated class five in particular.

Delay at Widemouth Bay

After a straightforward Darracot competitors arrived at the Widemouth Bay Control where later numbers had to wait more than an hour in the deteriorating weather because of delays at Crackington. This was not a time control and competitors should really have departed in order of arrival and there was a little unrest when one or two were considered to have left before their turn.

Cruddy  Crackington

Your reporter doesn’t know the nature of the material dumped in the usual place on Crackington, but after a couple of years absence the crud  was well and truely back. Most competitors are happy with a bit of doctoring here, after all its a bit of tradition and the hill poses little challenge without it. This year some thought it had gone a bit to far.

Most of the motorcycles were brought to a halt by the glutinous mixture of clay and whatever else that became jammed under their forks so the wheels wouldn’t turn.

Very few of the early running cars fared much better. It was a little easier for later numbers, but not much as the rain had started to come down.

Ian Cundy did well in his Golf, one of only two Front Wheel Drives not to need the winch. There were a handful of successes in each of the other classes but the real damage was in Class 8 who had to stop and restart right in the middle of the mire. How tough it was can be measured by the list of notables that failed but Neal Vile (Fugitive) and Bill Moffatt in the ex Stuart Harrold Troll showed it could be done.

Wet Wilsey

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Nick Farmer getting plenty of advice as he works on his Cannon Alfa. Nick was in the passengers seat for the event, relinquishing driving duties to Katrina Selwood.

There was a veritable gale blowing across the car park at the Hallworthy Stockyard, the largest livestock market in Cornwall, for a noise test and compulsory hours rest. The cattle and sheep were far too sensible to brave the elements today and the marshals running the noise check without any shelter from the elements deserved a gold medal as much as the competitors who cleared all the sections.

Into the Woods

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Dave Cook captures the gradient of Hoskin as Dennis Greenslade returns to a Beetle with Philip Mitchell alongside. The experienced pair were the only Class 4 to clean all the sections.

After the compulsary hours respite it was out into the wet, cold and wind  again for a special test and observed section in Laneskin Woods.

The test was a bit tight and one or two were penalised for touching markers. The section was pretty much a long, straight blind with a tight right hand corner at the top. Nobody had to restart so the 7’s and 8’s had no problem. The rain seemed to have washed much of the mud away and there was a lot more grip than last year but never the less there were a few failures in the lower classes.

Hoskin was just down the road. Everyone had to restart, 7’s and 8’s the trickier one on a steeper part of the slope. Like Laneskin the rain seemed to have washed a lot of the mud away. There was a fair amount of grip and more cars than usual came out of the top, probably around 75%.

Restarts and a tough exit track at Bishops Wood

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The restarts were in their usual places and didn’t claim their usual crop of victims. There seemed to be plenty of grip for 1 to 6 who had to stop just before the cross track. Almost all of them got away and had the chance to go airbourne over the cobbled bank where the higher classes had their restart. Perhaps the section ends board should have been further along though as quite a few had issues on the exit track.

Seven and Eight had to contend with polished cobbles on their restart and this defeated a few. Bill Moffatt was penalised for running back in his Troll. Mike Pearson (Dellow Rep) and Brian Partridge (Ridge Cannon) also failed, despite Brian having Bob (Engine Punk) Blackman in the bouncers chair. You can click here to read about Bob’s Lands End.

The Lake at Blue Hills 1

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Like so many others Trevor Wood was a victim of the lake on Blue Hills 1 (Photo by Andrew Trenoweth)

This “silly little horseshoe” is always frustratingly difficult. If you have never seen it let me explain. Leaving the start on the tarmac road you turn 90 tight onto a muddy track. Twenty yards later there is a tight hairpin left followed by a steep cobbled bank with an acute right hand bend back ono the tarmac road. To enliven things for 6, 7 and 8 they have a restart on the cobbles right on the acute right hander.

With or without a restart the right hander was problematic, thats if you got that far, as the hairpin lay unseen under a lake! This meant competitors couldn’t see the underwater bank on the outside of the bend and numerous competitors went wide and beached, including former Exeter Clerk of the Course Tim Whellock who was back in his Fugitive.

Less than 30 cars went clean and Francis Thomas lost his gold in his Class Three Escort.

Few Spectators on Blue Hills 2

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Alan Selwood applies the power but like so many others failed Blue Hills 2 (Photo by Andrew Trenoweth)

With the terrible weather and things running so late the usual crowd was absent from Blue Hills 2. They missed the action as it was tough on the lower classes this year. The restart for everyone was round the corner in the JCB’d cutting. You had to get there of course and the initial slope on the old restart concrete pad just after the start defeated a few including Alan Selwood who was awarded best smoke screen in his powerful BMW.

Old Stoney is back

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Dave Cook managed to get from Hoskin to Old Stoney in time to see Chris and Sasha Bonnett make a successful climb in their Salamander Sports

Bill Rosten is starting to make his mark on the Lands End and reintroduced Old Stoney to the event. Believed to have been used in the 30’s this relatively straightforward section hasn’t been on the route card since the 90’s. With only a couple of failures it didn’t have much impact on the results but provided interest on the way to the new finish to the west at Hayle.

Musings at the Finish

General opinion was that this was a challenging, but fair, Lands End Trial. Perhaps Crackington was over doctored and was the Blue Hills 1 lake really natural? The weather certainly made it a tough trial for those out in the open and another test of wet weather gear. Class Eight were certainly penalised by having to restart in the Crackington Crud but if you compete with a special you have to expect a tough challenge. With the finish at a Brewers Fayre there was no atmosphere to encourage people to hang around and share tales, but being so wet perhaps everyone just wanted to head for home.

12 April 2016 – Edited with benefit of final results and some error corrected.

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