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Matthew Sharratt won the March Hare Trial with a clean sheet in his Beetle. It was close though, as Andy Curtis was also clean in his VW Buggy, and would have won if he hadn't overshot the line on the Brickhill special test.

Matthew SharrattMarch Hare winner Matthew Sharratt smoking off the re-start on Nortonstreet Lane

Andy CurtisAndy Curtis was the only other clean sheet in his VW Buggy and was best Falcon (Water Tower restart)

There were four non-starter's, so thirty crews were in the queue for scruitineering at the Hungry Bear, right next to NB Motors, and it was Neil Bray who was chief scrut. Those who availed themselves of breakfast at the Hungary Horse were in for a real treat, receiving a feast for the princely sum of Ј4. Very soon, the field was on its way, at two-minute intervals, to the first section at Whitwell. This was called Cress beds as it started just the other side of the road from the water cress farm. It's a pretty straight, stony, tree lined track in a gully, cutting across between two roads. You could see from the centre of the track that there had been a lot of water running down during the winter. But it was pretty dry for the trial so sector official Murray MacDonald and his team from the Herts VW club had spiced things up with a re-start, just before a hump.

John BellJohn Bell (Escort) Class 3 winner at Cress Beds

Rhona BoswellRhona Boswell (Buckler) emeging from the top of Cress Beds

There was plenty of grip in the dry conditions and everyone made it OK, across the tarmac road to the start off "Whitwell 2", or Water Tower as it was called on the March Hare. This was a lovely long section, starting on a very muddy, rutted track before rising though another tree lined gully to emerge by the side of the water tower itself, which is presently undergoing extensive re-construction. Again, the good surface and dry conditions enabled everyone to clean the hill.

Reg TaylorReg Taylor (RDT) at Mile Tree Farm

Tim ClarkTim Clark (VW Special) also at Mile Tree Farm

The run across to Mile Tree Farm caused a few problems, with even the locals getting lost in the labyrinth of lanes to the south of Luton Airport. The two sections at Mile Tree used all the gullies and banks available at the site which had been the venue for the CSMA's PCT only a few weeks before. It was scene of the events first retirement, even before the competitors had arrived, as Course Opener Verdun Weebley broke the gearbox on his Marlin and had to dash home up the A5 to Milton Keynes to change cars! The first section at Mile Tree caused problems for many competitors, as it wasn't easy to work out where to go when cresting some of the many banks. Several competitors, including Tim Clark in the ex Brian Bull VW special, lost their way. A tough re-start and a difficult climb out of the section challenged successful navigators. This required a fair bit of momentum to crest the brow and caught the un-wary, including David Sheffield in his Midget. The second section at Mile Tree was a little more of the same and there were only 12 clean sheets left when the entry reached Brickhill. Notable losers included John Bell, Reg Taylor, Ross Nuten, Colin Perryman, Hazel MacDonald and Jonathan Baggott.

Nick WollettNick Wollett on his first outing in his Dellow (Brickhill)

David SheffieldClass 5 winner David Sheffield gunning his Midget out of the sand pit at Brickhill

John Parsons had laid out two sections and a special test at this historic local venue. The first one was further down the hill than we usually go for PCT's and followed a track JP has created though the trees. The gradient wasn't too steep but you had to keep your wits about you to maintain a good line. A special test waited at the top. It was a nice straightforward affair, all four wheels over line B reverse and stop astride line C. Did I say straightforward? Well not quite, there was a twist, as you couldn't see line B from the start line and a few hot shoes were going so fast they didn't see line B lurking around the bushes! Although he didn't know it Andy Curtis was to loose the trial here when he incurred a fail by over-shooting line C.

The sandpit was next on the agenda. This isn't used very often on the PCT's so there wasn't too much local knowledge coming into play. JP had decided that the lower track was a bit rough this year so the sandpit was approached down the bank. There was a diversion for classes seven and eight here, with a sharper turn. Nick Wollett's Dellow had been on song up until now, but it's downdraft Weber didn't like the slope, causing the engine to fluff and stall. Matthew Sharratt was going well in his 1300 Beetle, so well he decided to go up the class 7 and 8 diversion which he cleaned! Quite a few other people had navigation problems here and both Dave Turner and Michael Leete went the wrong way. These Classic boys need some nice deep ruts to stay on track! Colin Stevens had problems of a different nature when one of the drive shafts pulled out of his open Skoda and he had to retire all of one mile from home!

Adrian Tucker-PeakeACTC General Secretary Adrian Tucker-Peake won class 1 (Ivinghoe)

Davis AldersonWhile David Alderson ACTC ex-Chairman was the winner in Class 8 (Ivinghoe again)

There was quite a long road run to the foot of the downs for the special test at Ivenhoe. This was based on regularity and was a good test of mental arithmetic. Michael Leete obtained the best result by arriving on the exact second, to the marvel of finish marshal Simon Robson. Shame it was pure luck, as Michael and Richard couldn't do the calculation! The following section was another with a diversion for classes 7 and 8, causing problems for Robin Howard. Andy Clarke was in charge of a re-start just before a nasty little bank at the end. This required very careful positioning to get away cleanly, even David Alderson struggled a little and Reg Taylor couldn't get away.

Dave TurnerDave Turner blowing hard in his BMW (Edlesborough)

Patrick OsbournePatrick Osbourne just before his retirement (Edlesborough)

Edlesborough had two long sections, well marked out by Mike Pearson. The first one started in the field and went up the very steep bank up onto the plateau. Fortunately it was dry and this was easily on with enough speed. The other Edlesborough section was supervised by Geoff and Christine Jackson and included all the dips, rises and banks at the back of the hill, requiring quite a bit of concentration to maintain the right amount of speed. Edlesborough was another place that didn't suit Nick Wollett's Weber but he wasn't he only one to have problems as fellow Kent engined fans Reg Taylor and Robin Howard also ground to a halt here.

Rhona BoswellRhona Boswell climbing the stoney track at Kensworth in her Buckler

The final private venue was at Kensworth, with Cliff Morrell in charge, so it was going to be essential to maintain grip on a camber! The first of the two sections had a re-start on the steep grassy bank beside the fence, and it was necessary to be very delicate with the right foot! The second section was very different as it ended by going up a very steep dead end bank, requiring both a very heavy right foot and a lot of courage! Both David Alderson and Dave Nash lost their clean sheets here, dropping three a piece. I didn't see where they failed so I guess it must have been the first section as I don't believe either are cowards or lack a big right foot!

Hazel MacDonaldHazel MacDonald emerging nice and clean from the mire at Half Moon Lane

Ross NutenRoss Nuten hurrying through the mud at Half Moon Lane with a slow pucture

It was back onto public by-ways for the sections on the run back to The Hungry Bear. The organisers had found a wonderful track at Markyate. OK, there wasn't that much gradient, but it more than made up for that with some glorious mud! Mike Hayward was in charge here, complete with a tractor, which was kept busy pulling around a third of the entry out of the quagmire! This wasn't a section for the faint hearted, and Classic debutantes who had problems with their cars will have found the bugs ready for Crackington! Those who got through the mud were greeted with a re-start just before the steep bit, with a diversion for seven and eight. It didn't look to un-friendly but trapped the un-wary, including Mike Massey Trophy winners Clive Booth and John Allsop. Steve Maskell retired here when the petrol pipe got torn away from under his Escort, which was on its Classic Trial debut. Ross Nuten got through OK, despite having a slow puncture on his Dellow.

Michael LeeteMichael Leete failing the re-start at Nortonstreet Lane

David AldersonDavid Aldersons Troll, which had got a bit muddy on Half Moon Lane, leaving the restart at Nortonstreet Lane

Navigation skills were at a premium again to find the final section at Norton Street Lane near Whitwell. Murray MacDonald and the Herts VW club had moved their equipment during the day and were in charge again. This was a very, very long hill. The lower reaches were quite rutted, but this didn't present any problems, as it was so dry the ruts could be avoided. The big challenge was near the top. Competitors came out of the shade of the trees to be greeted by a sizeable crowd of spectators clustered around a cleverly prepared re-start. It wasn't too difficult if you put your car in the right position, but many didn't. John Bell couldn't get his Escort away, nor Michael Leete his Beetle, to the mirth of his clubmates!

Matthew Sharratt & Murray MacDonaldMatthew Sharratt being presented with the March Hare Trophy by sponsor Murray MacDonald

Back at the Hungry Bear there was a nice meal available for the ravenous at very reasonable prices. Dot Parsons and Frances Webley had been working away on the results and the winners were soon announced. Andy Curtis and Matthew Sharratt both had clean sheets on the hills but with Andy over-shooting the line on the Brickhill special test it was Matthew who went home with The March Hare Trophy. It was a closely fought day and there were a few who came so close. If David Alderson hadn't got a fail at Kensworth! Then if Adrian Tucker-Peake had climbed the bank at Ivenhoe we would have had a class one winner. Lots to look forward to next year.

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

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