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Liam Rafferty won a dry March Hare, setting the fastest test times from the five clean sheets.

With a break in the wet weather the sections were very dry and there were five clean sheets. Three were Class Eight, dominated by the very welcome contingent that came down from Derbyshire. In Class Five former March Hare winner Keith Pettit went clean as did multiple PCT and Sporting Trials Champion Dave Oliver in Class One.

Alan Oakes drops the flag and Liam Rafferty eases his DP Cannon off the restart at Binghams Warren to win the March Hare Trial


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Unseasonably Dry Weather

Unlike last year when the event was run in a blizzard this years March Hare enjoyed fine weather. This posed problems for the organisers as some of the sections were very dry necessitating toughening up some of the restarts, in what proved an unsuccessful attempt to get a result on the hills.

The first couple of sections were a gentle introduction to classic trialling for the several competitors who were competing in their first event. This was to change when they had problems in finding Chalk Hill. The problem was that there were no marshals on Dead Woman's Lane and many missed the turning off the track after the intended section ends.

The Chalk Hill Restart was Difficult

Mike Pearson tiptoes over the water eroded gullies under the eagle eye of Jonathan Baggott

Mark Endley positions his Liege for the restart before his front mudguards became detached further up the hill (Picture by Kevin Lindsay)

After a glorious couple of miles of greenlaning Chalk Hill presented a different challenge to recent years. The muddy deviations off the track aren't presently accessible. However, water erosion has created a gulley and a judiciously placed restart made the section competitive. Around half the entry lost their clean sheets here. These included Nigel Jones, debuting his newly acquired MX5. The other byways east of Luton Airport challenged some of those trying the sport for the first time but didn't impact on the head of the field.

Copt Hall Challenges Class Eight

Brian Osborn spins his wheels as he tries to find grip on Copt Hall 1 (Picture by Dave Cook

Class 1 winner Dave Oliver was one of five clean sheets (Picture by Dave Cook)

There was a Special Test and Two sections on private land alongside the Thameslink line, within sight of Luton Airport. The ST was to be very important at the end of the day, Dean Partington narrowly setting fastest time just ahead of Liam Rafferty in his Dean constructed DP Cannon.

The first of the two observed sections was relatively straightforward, but even so former March Hare winner Andy Curtis dropped 7 in his VW Buggy.

The second Copt Hall section had tight turns up the railway embankment used by the former Dunstable branch line. Unfortunately one of the turns was too tight for both the Trojans and the four X90's, duly noted by the Clerk of the Course as a problem to be fixed for next year. Class 8 had a restart on the steepest part of the bank. Mike Pearson was to regret not letting his tyres down and couldn't find enough grip to get his Dellow Rep away.

Binghams Wood

John Wilton got a big round of applause when he came out the top of Beetle Drive (Picture by Don Stringer)

Keith Newton trying to find some grip after restarting his Cannon. (Picture by Don Stringer)

Beetle Drive is one of the toughest March Hare sections and was to have a big impact on the results. In Class one Dave Oliver was the only FWD to clear the steep bank and maintain his clean sheet. Both the Trojans did well but Steve Potter couldn't quite clear the summit. John Wilton did that tiny bit better to get over the top to huge cheers from everyone in the wood.

Classes 7 and 8 had a restart before the final bank. This stopped all of Class 7, Mark Endley getting the furthest in his Liege which had broken its new front mudguards earlier in the event.

Charlie Knifton just failed to get to section ends but Liam Rafferty, Dean Partington and Stuart Bartlett (in the Datsun Sunny powered, ex Adiran Linnecor, Cannon) all went clean.

Webleys Wobble was more straightforward but still claimed a few scalps including Geoff Hodge (RDT), Graham Redmayne (Liege) and Tony Christie (Dellow Mk2) who all failed the Class 8 restart.

Kensworth reduces the Clean Sheets

The Kensworth Special Test, marshalled by the Herts VW Club, was a super affair, uphill around a barn. Liam Rafferty was on fire, posting 8.56 in his DP Cannon, more than two seconds faster than Dean Partington. Mark Wills (Marlin) and Andy Curtis (VW Buggy) were the only other cars under 10 seconds.

The first observed section at Kensworth was a pure PCT affair, on a steep grassy bank which tested competitors trickling skills.

A few hundred yards away the second one was very different, all about a "tree rooty" restart for classes 3 to 8. This proved too difficult for locals Michael Leete (VW Beetle) and Peter Manning (MG Midget), both loosing their clean sheets here. This left five drivers on zero. Dave Oliver (Peugeot 205), Keith Pettit (AH Sprite), Liam Rafferty (DP Cannon), Dean Partington (DP Wasp) and Stuart Bartlett (Cannon).

Ivinghoe Aston

Nigel Jones in his newly acquired Mazda MX5 about to tackle the final slope on Coombe Bottom (Picture by Dave Cook)

Former March Hare Trial winner Andy Curtis successfully restarting on Coombe Bottom. (Picture by Dave Cook)

New for last year the sections here had been changed following the lessons learned. Coombe Hole was completely new and really long, but being dry was much easier than anticipated and cleaned by everyone.

Coombe Bottom started differently to last year but finished up the same steep track with a Class 8 restart which caught out Charlie Knifton in his Subaru powered Scorpion.

Hawridge Lane and Hill Farm

Simon Robson had positioned the Hill Farm class 3 to 8 restart in the toughest place he could find to negate the dry conditions. In class five it caught out both Peter Manning in his Midget and Chis Maries who has reverted to an X90 after experimenting with a FWD RAV4.

Back to Binghams

Stuart Bartlett successfully restarts to finish with one of the five clean sheets

Harry Bounden on the lower reaches of Binghams Warren

Back at Binghams the field had two different sections to those attempted in the morning. Falcons Folly had its usual tree rooty restart for 6, 7 and 8 but it wasn't on form this year, catching only Tony Christie in Ross Nutens Dellow Mk2 in class 8, Harry Bounden in his Class 7 Marlin and both Adrian Tucker-Peake (MGF) and Reg Taylor (Beetle) in Class 6.

The final section, Binghams Warren, is all about a very tight hairpin towards the end, with a restart for class 8 right on the apex. Although half the entry failed the section all the leading contenders managed to get round the bend OK.

Back at The Finish

The organisers were pleased that everyone returned to the finish with no retirements. It was certainly an experience for the several drivers who had never competed in a Classic trial. Hopefully they will have enjoyed their day and will come back to the hills soon.


First published on Classical Gas 15th March 2013 © Michael Leete



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