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Ross Nuten won Murray’s March Hare in his Dellow with the only clean sheet of the day. It was a close run thing, with Dave Nash fastest on the special tests, and only missing victory when he failed the Edlesborough re-start.

Ross NutenOverall winner Ross Nuten, pictured at Edlesborough, was the only car to get a clean sheet

Colin PerrymanColin Perryman, going well on Water Tower, had to retire at Devils Pit

Keith PettitKeith Pettit about to tackle the step at the summit of Cress Beds on his way to winning class 5

David SheffieldDavid Sheffield and Owen Turner trying in vain to re-start on Nortonstreet Lane

Falcon had 31 entries for the third running of The March Hare as a road trial in recent years. It was a nice varied entry, with a number of Classic Trial debutantes, fulfilling Falcon’s ambition of using the event as a way to get a taste of the sport. The machinery was pretty varied, the only certain thing that either a Dellow, or a Dellow inspired car, was going to win class eight, as all six entries came from that stable. There were four original cars, plus Clive Booths Replica that was constructed by Reg Taylor and Geoff Jackson and the RDT, which Reg constructed on Dellow principles a few years ago, but with a wider body and IFS.

Nick Iken led the field away from the Big Pub, next to Neil Bray’s garage in Graveley, for a gentle run through the Hertfordshire Lanes to the first two sections at Whitwell. Cress Beds and Water Tower are on the same lane, which is bisected by a tarmac road so the section is split into two parts. There was a brief delay at the foot of Cress Beds while Julian Robinson got the Herts VW team into position. The short opener had a re-start which caught out Peter Morley who was driving in only his second trial, and first classic, in a standard Beetle.

Then it was across the road to tackle Water Tower. The section starts with some really deep ruts, which weren’t too muddy. Most of the sections were pretty dry as the event took place in a bit of a dry window and the strong winds had dried the ground out appreciably in recent weeks. There was re-start again and this very long section claimed four victims.

Sponsor Murray MacDonald had organised three sections at Devils Pit in Barton, a venue mainly used for Four Wheel Drive off-roading. The first section had a tricky right hander at the start and caused problems for Colin Perryman when a drive shaft failed when he applied the power. Fortunately Colin was carrying a spare and set about changing it, only to derange the steering on the very next section. By this time Colin was running very late and decided to head for home. This section wasn’t very Skoda friendly as Neil Bray did exactly the same thing and had to spend half an hour doing an impromptu re-tracking job. Seeing all this back marker Simon Robson took things very gently in his Liege, lost momentum and failed at the nine.

Neil’s Skoda was fine on the drive to the next section at Mile Tree Farm, but didn’t go any further as a drive shaft broke. It was simple enough to change, except he wasn’t carrying a spare. No matter, Dave Nash lived nearby and nipped home to get a couple of Skoda drive shafts. No problem then? Well yes, there was a small one, Neil has modified his car to use Beetle shafts! The second section at Mile Tree claimed a number of victims where the re-start was positioned just before the steep final bank.

We were in the heart of Falcon trials territory now and organiser John Parsons had laid out two sections at Brickhill and these shaped the course of the event. The first one caused a few problems as the run up to the wood was slippery and neither Nick Iken nor John Rowland in class one managed to traverse the slippery patch. Michael Leete got over this part OK, but understeered off later in the section, to drop his only four marks of the day. Geoff May had been going well in his blown Dellow, despite (or because of?) having no rear shockers. One of the mountings had broken on the way to the start and rather than miss the fun Geoff solved the problem by disconnecting the other one as well.

The section at Ivinghoe was all about the re-start where Arnold Lane was in charge on top of a very cold and windy hill. This was followed by a re-grouping control with Andrea Lane and Tom Goggin in the Falcon Chuck Wagon dispensing very welcome hot food and drink. While the competitors were relaxing, many of the marshals were travelling across country to officiate on the afternoon’s hills. These started at Edlesborough with Geoff Jackson in charge. This was un-believable, using almost every feature of this familiar PCT venue to produce one long section. The wind had dried everything out and conditions were very different to the Clubmans trial a few weeks before. It was here the event was decided, when Dave Nash dropped six, handing the lead and the trial to Ross Nuten.

At Kensworth the sections were named after John Barber, the land owner who sadly passed away recently. The first section was a pure grass slalom, with a nasty turn on a adverse camber which claimed the front wheel drive cars and some of the less experienced drivers. The second went straight up the stone track before venturing onto slippery grass beside the fence and most of the entry slid to a stop here.

The trial was drawing to a close now, but it was back to county roads and there were a couple of treats in store. The first was at Half Moon Lane where Mike Pearson had drained most of the water out of the sump in deference to the lower slung machinery! It wasn’t difficult if you had the ground clearance but a lot of fun never less. Simon Robson failed when he stayed out of the muddy ruts and got stuck sideways when he was forced back into them and had to be bodily lifted out by JP, Verdun Webley and the crew. There was a further treat in store just after the section ended where it was very difficult to get through the mud.

The final section was back at Whitwell, this time to Norton Street Lane. This is a very long section, which is always changing as the water alternately, washes mud and stones down the track. The big challenge is at the top where Julian Robinson and Murray MacDonald had positioned a re-start on loose stones with a diversion for class seven and eight. The only problem with this was, that with their narrow track, the Dellows were able to stay out of the ruts to find firm ground! For those forced into the ruts it required a delicate foot on the throttle as John Bell discovered in his Escort, but John, who has taken part in all three March Hares since it became a road trial again, still won class three. Most of the low slung cars needed a pull from the Range Rover here, but it could be done, even with relatively little ground clearance, as Keith Pettit proved in his Frogeye Sprite.

There was plenty of Food and Drink available back at The Big Pub, where Ross Nutern was the well-deserved and popular winner. The many competitors who had taken part in their first road trial were full of stories of their adventures and hopefully their appetites have been wetted for the future. The organisers had put on a really good event that was tremendous fun for those taking part. Role on the next Murray’s March Hare.

Originally published on the Classical Gas Website at www.classictrials.co.uk

Click here to view the full 2002 results

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