Click images to view full size - use browser "Back" button to return

Thursday, 12 July 2012

JRT Enville Stages - Anglesey - 8th July 2012

After 2 retirements, (3 Sisters with a differential failure whilst sitting 4th overall and Weeton where we bent a lower front suspension arm which we were unable to change during the allotted service time), we were determined to get a good result this weekend in the Lotusbits Sunbeam Lotus.

Willie Poole Motorsport spent several hours straightening the front of the little Sunbeam on his chassis jig after our excursion over the kerbs at Weeton and then Ben was able to replace all the bent suspension parts.
As last year the Enville Stages did not use any of the rough infield, we had Demon Tweeks make an exceptionally expensive pair of custom front springs to allow us to lower the car by 25mm. We had no idea how this would affect the cars handling, so Stage 1 would be an entertaining foray into the unknown.

On the Friday before the rally I had a panicked email from my co-driver Sam saying that most of Wales seems to be flooded and was the rally still running –  I assured her that the sheep could swim, suggested she  pack her wellies and all would be OK…

We were rather surprised to see the seeded entry list where there were 4 full blown WRC cars and a few serious Group A cars not forgetting the gaggle of very tidy Millington engined Ford Escorts. We were even more surprised to see we were seeded 22nd!  There were lots of people complaining about their poor seeding but we thought we would say nothing and see where we were after stage 1 – let our results talk rather than hot air.

It was good to see all the Wallasey Motor Club entries on the entry list – 6 out of 55!

We expected scrutineering to be a formality as we had already done 9 events in the Lotusbits Lotus Sunbeam this year with no issues, but our learned colleagues from the island managed to send us back to service to put some duck tape over the positive terminal of our dry cell battery and loosen the pull cord on the fire extinguisher so he could feel it move. Frustrating after over 2 hours in the queue getting sun and wind burnt…

Back to the hotel to meet up with Andrew and his Dad who have travelled down from North of Bradford to marshal on the rally. We had some food and beverages with Stuart and his father who were competing in the RWD Micra seeded ahead of us at car 17, followed by an early night.

In the morning we arrived early, set up the service area and contemplated tyre choice – Stuart went straight for hard X02s but we chose medium X10s for Stage 1 after walking the course.
Off the line at Stage 1 the car felt good and handled nicely round the left into the merge and stormed round the first open 180 degree right on the circuit, onto the back straight into the 4th gear right hander where I lifted off but the car kept on pulling hard – throttle stuck open! So had to take the corner rather quicker than planned. This made braking for the chicane interesting – thank goodness for the dog box so I could go down through the gears with the throttle open. We carried on round the stage with the brakes taking a hammering having to stop the car as well as fight the engine. The last two hair pins were very entertaining with the stuck throttle… It was a relief to kill the engine and the stop line and watch all the smoke escape from the brakes.

In service Ben quickly discovered a wire harness connector jammed in the throttle linkage and cable tied it out of the way. We were very surprised to find we had taken 7 seconds out of Stuart in the RWD Micra after SS1.

The X10 tyres were starting to chunk slightly on the front, so we changed to the X02 compound all round for SS2.

On SS2 we had a clean run and took 7 seconds out of our SS1 time – When some results were finally posted we found we were sitting 7th overall – not bad from a seeding of 22nd...

John Stone in the Skoda Fabia WRC had an issue on SS1 and was still behind us after SS2 despite setting the fastest time on SS2.

Keith Dowthwaite and Tony King were out in a shiny new Escort that they were starting to get to grips with after a good first stage, but they suffered with fuel issues on SS2 losing time.

By SS3 we were getting into the swing of the venue and started to take a second a stage out of the car in front of us Mark Welch in Car 12 (Escort Cosworth ), on SS3 and SS5 matching him on SS4.

On SS6 we were blocked by Car 27 for almost half a lap till we forced our way through. This cost us at least 5 seconds which dropped us back from catching Car 12. The driver of Car 27 was very apologetic when we had a chat in service – said he did not see us – we need brighter lights and a louder horn!

We had now dropped to 8th overall as John Stone had set several fastest times and moved up to the front in his World Rally Car.

We caught a truck tyre on the entry to the rough bits with the rear wheel on SS6 which flicked us up onto 2 wheels for a few moments. Ben and Sam had a good look at the rear suspension but could not find any damage in service. The front tyres were starting to go off, so we swapped the fronts to the rear for SS7 as we had nothing harder.

As we were going out to SS9 it started to rain and we were stuck on X02s, which worked OK initially as they were still warm from SS8, but soon cooled down with the rain and by the end of the stage were sliding around nicely. Towards the end of the stage the intercom became intermittent.

For SS10 we swapped to uncut supersoft X22 tyres. In service we changed the intercom headset in the driver’s helmet which initially seemed to cure the problem, but then the intercom died altogether.

The rain came on even heavier giving a thoroughly wet SS10 with no intercom, but the soft tyres really worked allowing us to easily catch car 30 within the stage and then overtake car 20 (3 series BMW), who started 30 secs in front of us!

Sam struggled without the intercom shouting several bends at a time when we were off the power and during braking when it was a little quieter and added hand signals for the splits.

We were 15 secs quicker than our SS9 time and set the fastest time on SS10 at 5 mins 30!

We were disappointed to notice when we got home that our time had been queried and we had been given another 10 seconds! This did not change our overall position but implied we were second to John Stone at 5 mins 34!

Overall we had a good day at a great venue with good organization and came away with a respectable result thanks to good all round teamwork with no major issues.

Mike Taylor
Samantha Bartlett
Spanner Monkeys:
Ben Smith
Sam O' Keeffe
Team Lotusbits

For massive stocks of new and used Lotus spares "CLICK HERE" to visit
Web design in Kenilworth and Warwickshire