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Sunday, 24 October 2010

Lotus Stickers - Valvoline oil recommended label, coolant check, spare wheel labels, E approval stickers

Inner wing Valvoline lubricants recommended label - £15.00
Coolant check and fill label - £5.00 (each)
 Emergency spare wheel label - £8.00
E-approval sticker - £8.00

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Lotus Bits Rally: Promenade Stages

Jumping into the van on Friday afternoon I didn’t really know what to expect. Everyone (especially Mike) was running around like a headless chicken making sure we had everything. Finally, a few hours behind schedule we get going on our way up North. 
   Three of us in the van, within 5 minutes I realise why Ben has the nickname: ‘Bog brush - oh my God does he ever shut up’. Been in the van a couple of hours, we get stuck in traffic on the M6. So to pass the time we start singing at the tops of our voices.

 We arrive about 8pm, as the car is being checked over by the officials I get a taster of what the rally will be like the following morning. Subarus, Mitsubishi Evos, Escort Cosworths... plenty of cars there to get excited about. Mike drives the car back round to the van, we’ve got the thumbs up so we head off to the hotel.
After arriving at the hotel and being separated into our rooms we all made ourselves presentable and headed straight for some food. Having finished eating, the lot of us hit the bar. I’d already drunk too much when Dave & Mike decided to tell me what time I had to be up in the morning: 5am.

And then the morning came, far too fast at that. Nevertheless I was up eating breakfast (feeling like a zombie). We left for the rally in the darkness, arriving just as the sun decided to show his face.

   Setting up all the gear for the rally was not quite what I would call fun, in the bitter cold wind and the pouring rain. 10 minutes before the rally began all the cars began making their way to the start line, I was about to see the start of 1 of the biggest rallies of the year.
   As the Darrian roared off the line and into the distance I was already grinning from ear to ear. Car after car of these highly tuned machines revved up and shot off like rockets. As Mike and Cathy pulled up to the line I could hear many people laughing: ‘A Micra?! No chance...’ But having been in the car for the shakedown myself 2 days previously I knew exactly what to expect. Mike dropped into gear and flew, the people laughing shut up almost straight away. My grin continued to grow. Seeing all these wicked cars made me almost lose track of time, when Sam grabbed me saying we need to head back to the service area. 

   Mike pulled in under the gazebo. The lot of us do a once over of the car to ensure everything is working well. Being the apprentice I was happy with contributing by checking the tyre pressures and refuelling the beast. The break was over, Mike hit the track again eager to gain a better place than where we already were: 9th.
   Conveniently our van and the Land Rover were parked alongside the track, so as soon as Mike left I jumped up on top of the Landy to watch the action. Because the car was set up for wet conditions, as the weather started to ease up it was inevitable that we were going to lose a place or two. When the second stage had finished we were down to 11th. Stage after stage, there were no problems with the car whatsoever. By the end of stage 6, the road was nearly completely dry and we were down to 15th. 

   Feasting on all the goodies I could find, I sat on top of the Land Rover watching the cars whiz round the stage. On stage 7, the heavens opened again. Just as well we had decided to stick with full wets instead of changing to slicks! On the same stage Mike overtook the ‘Batmobile’ Corsa and started getting particularly friendly with an Impreza. As Mike overtook the boy racer favourite, the driver started to see red mist and tried a little too hard to keep up with our Micra. The driver ended up overshooting a hairpin and stalled his car, making the lot of us cheer.
   The final stage came, tension had really built as we were hoping for a top 10 finish. We were in 11th and 4 seconds behind 10th. Mike was really giving it the beans and managed to get in front of the same Impreza he did on stage 7. The driver really wasn’t happy. Our leader was going flat out hot on the tail of the Bat Corsa again. Coming into a chicane behind the mad Corsa, the Lotus Micra was moving a little too quickly and ended up smashing into a barrel full of water. This resulted in a snapped anti-roll bar, seriously ruined tracking and a 20 second time loss. But being the last stage Mike didn’t stop, he carried on giving it his all and raced round the track overtaking a Honda Civic Type R on the way. Mike came back round into the service area, and luckily both he and Cathy hadn’t been hurt.

We packed up all the kit, put the Micra on the trailer (looking good with a front nearside panel missing) and headed for the award ceremony. It turned out, even though the car was beaten up we still won the trophy for best mixed crew, best Wallasey crew, best Wallasey driver and ended up 13th in the standings overall. Having had a few pints, we headed back to the hotel for some grub.

Getting together at the bar, you could tell that we had had a hard day because there was next to no conversation whatsoever. Had a few more bevvies and headed for the restaurant. We moved back to the bar after eating and 1am we were dropping off to bed. Few more drinks and I hit the sack, I was knackered. I’d had a wicked day.
   Waking up to being screamed at by bog brush Ben isn’t the best thing in the world. Got all my stuff together and hit the road. As the 3 of us made our way back down the motorway we had a nice surprise: a blowout! Replaced the ruined wheel with the spare and headed on our way again.

   5 minutes from home, just outside Coventry as we pull away from some traffic lights (well, try to) the clutch goes altogether. So we roll down the hill at 10 mph and pull into the service station. Sam makes the phone call to Dave, and he comes to the rescue in the Land Rover. When he finally arrives after what feels like forever we get towed back to the yard. (Bens fault again).

   On the whole, the weekend was an experience that I’d love to have again. The whole team said to me that if I liked cars, I liked noise, I liked speed, and I liked alcohol then the weekend was almost certainly for me. They couldn’t have been more right.

Report by Ali.

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