HAPPY LANDINGS GRASS AUTOTEST – MANORIAL FARM – 12 MAY 2019

What a great day!

Following the decision by Catton Park in not allowing us to use their fields, Bill Rushton was approached, and he kindly offered the use of three fields. I was a little apprehensive as two of the fields had previously been used for crops, but he used a roller and put down grass seed.  The result was amazing in that the surfaces were relatively smooth. In the end I decided to use the two large adjacent fields. We are deeply indebted to Bill for his kind assistance and the HL was re-born. Would you believe that it was once a landfill site.

A fair amount of rain fell in the days prior to the event and it took me three days to set up the courses in between the heavy showers. Nevertheless, the fields were still driveable and, on the Saturday Bill, used his grass cutter to mark the courses. This made a big difference in that it was easy to see where to go, thus virtually eliminating wrong tests.

Thank goodness the weather was fine on the day and with such a scenic backdrop we couldn’t wait to get started.

Still only 26 entries though which was disappointing considering the event’s reputation and the attraction of a new venue. I am a little bemused by this, but it seems that people still prefer to go to Curborough, which, to me, is becoming rather boring. Perhaps competitors think that they might damage their cars? A bit of mud and grass yes, but not damaging. Perhaps again we did not publicise the event enough. I don’t know. Any suggestions?

Good to see the eventual winner Grant Victory in a Saxo, Nick Pollitt (Suzuki Swift), Phil Lawson (Peugeot 205), Paul Gough (Micra), Ashley Pearce (Micra), Garry Preston (Talbot Samba) and Tom Bishop (Micra) along with other regulars. Sam Williams was going to bring along his Subaru, but the clutch expired on the way to the event. Having taken the stricken car back home, he arrived just in time to share Nick’s car.

Great to see some youngsters having a go, and three ladies including Katherine Gough, Abby Hammond and Megan Burton.

The great thing about Production Car Autotests is that almost any vehicle can take part. It is aimed at the clubman on a limited budget. A fun day out with nothing to hit except the odd cone.

The cars were split into two groups at each field and 3 attempts applied on each test

The top test was designed for drivers to use skill in negotiating the turns and loops. The bottom test was faster resembling a “rally stage”. As usual arrows were fixed on stakes pointing to the entries into gates. This was to make it simpler to follow the correct course.

During the morning session the only memorable mishap occurred when Chris Valentine stopped in the superb Imp as his wheel nuts had worked loose. He ended up with a maximum time, but this was no problem as we allow the worst time on each of the three tests to be dropped. I am a firm believer in allowing the worst timed test to be dropped otherwise it can make the driver dispirited and not enjoy the rest of the day.

At the lunchtime halt Grant Victory lead on 361 secs just two seconds ahead of Nick Pollitt who in turn was just two seconds in front of Sam Williams. It was all very close.

As anticipated, some of the corners were becoming cut up and so I decided to move slightly some of the “gates”. This will probably be the norm in future years as the ground will remain loose underneath until the grass has become established. The tests were run in reverse in the afternoon.

The weather remained fine and faster times were obtainable as the day progressed. The large courses meant that times were around the one-and-a-half-minute mark on both tests. 

As the afternoon progressed Grant Victory increased his lead but there was a great battle between Nick and Sam with plenty of “egging on” by yours truly. Previous winner Tom Bishop unusually hit a few cones, perhaps trying too hard, otherwise he would have finished second overall.

Everybody enjoyed the event with smiles all around.

The top five final placings were: –

  1. Grant Victory          Saxo            697 – FTD
  2. Nick Pollitt              Suzuki         704 – Best Owen
  3. Sam Williams         Suzuki         707 – 1st Class A                                      
  4. Chris Valentine       Imp              716 
  5. Tom Bishop            Micra           723           

Giles Gregory – 2nd Class A – 727

Chris Burton  – 1st Novice

 Megan Burton – 1st Junior

 Katherine Gough – 1st Lady  

May I take this opportunity of thanking Chief Marshal Linda Vaughan and the wonderful team, Elaine & Martin, Barri, Melvyn, Mick and Bill. Without these people there would have been no event.

Special thanks to Steve Pearce (Scrutineer), Simon Whittick for looking after the initial secretarial duties and Clare on the day. As usual, Dave Allitt proficiently looked after results and to Anton as Club Steward.

It was great to see lots of smiles on faces. It makes the hard work and effort worth it.

More of the same next year with, hopefully, a few more entries.

Bob Cotterell – Clerk of the Course

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