ACTC ex-Chairman David Alderson climbing Water Tower
Overall winner Matthew Sharratt at Brickhill
Class Winner Dave Turner at Edlesborough in his blown BMW
Robin Howard splashing through Half Moon Lane
Sunday 12th March was a lovely spring day, clear blue sky, light wind and not too cold for the time of year, in fact everything Falcon MC could have wished for the second running of their Murray’s March Hare mini classic trial. Just one thing could have improved the day, a week of heavy rain beforehand to spice up the sections. Thirty crews, from the thirty-four entered, gathered at the "Hungry Bear", Graveley for scruitineering and signing-on formalities. Falcon had drawn a varied entry, with representatives from all but class 6 turning out on the day. Peter Thompson led away in his Opel to section one at Cress Beds, where the dry stony surface favoured everyone, despite Murray MacDonalds marshalling team having introduced a restart part way up the climb. Under strict marshal control competitors crossed over the tarmac road at section ends to section two, Water Tower. Once again dry conditions had rather pulled the teeth of this long tree lined climb and it was clean sheets for all.
The road run to sections three and four at Mile Tree farm near Leighton Buzzard caused headaches, even amongst Herts/Beds based crews, many of whom were previously unaware of the maze of narrow lanes behind Luton airport. Two tricky sections were laid out amongst the worked out clay pits of Mile Tree Farm and almost two thirds of the entry forfeited marks here. Careful navigation through the section markers was essential on both sections and a tricky restart on section three required some thought. Notable casualties at Mile Tree were John Bell in his Escort, Keith Oakes’ Dutton, Reg Taylor’s Dellow like RDT, the Dellows of Ross Nuten and Clive Booth, and Hazel MacDonald in the Beetle.
A short drive west on the A5 bought competitors to Brickhill for two more sections and the first timed test of the day on Falcon’s prime trial’s site. Although the first of these sections was of relatively gentle gradient, the route wound it’s way tortuously amongst the trees, calling for accurate placing of the car to maintain a good line and continuous forward motion, there were further casualties. The first timed test followed immediately, with Richard Tompkins Imp claiming fastest time at 19.88 secs from Adrian Tucker-Peake in the Peugeot 205 on 20.62 secs. The other regular hot-shoes all managed to blot their copybooks by tearing off in the wrong direction looking for the hidden "B" line; seconds piled up as they corrected their mistakes. Andy Curtis, VW Buggy, effectively lost the trial here when he inadvertently crossed the "C" line and recorded fail. Before leaving, Brickhill there was a further long section in and out of the sand gully. Dave Turner blotted his copybook here, collecting a six in the Bee-Em. Eventual winner, Matthew Sharratt was so confident playing in the sand here that he followed the 7/8 deviation in his 1300 Beetle and still cleaned the section!
On now to Ivinghoe for Falcon’s now traditional brain teasing average speed regularity special test. Despite the required time/distance calculation being ridiculously simple, almost every crew completed the test with vague or troubled expressions on their faces. Michael Leete was the only competitor to hit the exact second and even he later admitted that it had been a fluke since both the Leete crew were still in the throes of mental arithmetic when they suddenly reached the stop line! The following Ivinghoe section contained a steep route deviation for classes 7/8 and a tricky re-start for classes 3-4-7-7-8. Poor Reg Taylor hit trouble again and despite considerable effort failed to encourage the RDT away from the restart. He was joined in his misery by the smart polished alloy, 16 inch wheeled, Dellow of Nicholas Woolett. More severe problems for Colin Stevens ensued when a stripped drive shaft meant retirement for the Skoda Carbriolet driver. Another short drive this time alongside the site of Queen Boadicea’s brave stand against the invading Romans just below Dunstable Downs, bought competitors to another of Falcon’s regular trials sites at Eddlesborough.
Two further sections here, both involving re-starts. The dry conditions at Eddlesborough meant plenty of grip despite the C of C’s efforts to include all the steepest climbs and most difficult adverse cambers of the site into the two sections. Once again, it was heartache for both Reg Taylor and Nicholas Woolett with most of the rest going away unpenalised. It would have been a different story if we had seen some rain at Eddlesborough, as all Falconers are well aware!
Time for a sandwich now, before moving on to the third Falcon pct site at Kensworth and two further sections. Cliff Morrell had laid out a tricky section in the main field, the re-start was perfectly placed and the long, steep grassy climb to the section ends was the undoing of several competitors including Keith Oakes, Adrian Tucker-Peake and pct expert, Robin Howard, in his Dutton. The second Kensworth section had a sharp sting in the tail and saw yet another fancied runner throw away the premier award by a silly mistake. The Alderson Troll dropped a three when it’s driver allowed the engine to drop off the cam within arms length of the section ends board. Passenger Boswell later maintained that it was the driver who had dropped off, not the cam! Previously clean Dave Nash in the Skeetle, Hazel MacDonald and Marlin mounted Jonathan Baggott all contrived to drop three points on Kensworth’s short but steep final bank, only two clean sheets remaining now.
Back onto the tarmac and heading south east now the trial took in a new find close to Markyate, glorifying in the name of Half Moon Lane, incorporating a long, chassis deep, quagmire middle sector. Those who up to this point had been planning to give the trials car a light rinse off at the finish were suddenly made rudely aware that it was going to be pressure washers at dawn after Half Moon! Roughly half the entry forced their way through unpenalised but the low slung Midgets of David Sheffield and Alan Shaw came to an abrupt halt at nine when they were joined by several others whose vehicles were less endowed in the ground clearance department.
The final section at Nortonstreet Lane near Whitwell was again under the control of Murray MacDonald who had moved his crew over from their earlier section and set up another difficult re-start. To the delight of a sizeable gathering of spectators, Murray’s mob extracted a further bag of sixes from over a third of the entry, and this was on a dry day! Finally the trial returned to the Hungry Bear for signing off and results. Only Matthew Sharratt and Andy Curtis finished with clean sheets but as we know Andy had overshot the line at the Brickhill timed test so it was Matthew’s day and Murray MacDonald was delighted to present his trophy to the VW Beetle driver. Andy Curtis took the Best Falcon award whilst the class winners were Adrian Tucker-Peake, John Bell, Hazel MacDonald, David Sheffield, Dave Nash and David Alderson. Once again, despite route problems and dry ground conditions, Falcon had produced an enjoyable little trial. The atmosphere as ever was relaxed and friendly, the deceptive nature of the sections took points from newcomers and experts alike. The trial is never likely to become a full blown "blood and guts" classic but that isn’t Falcon’s intention. Murray’s March Hare trial looks set to become a regular feature in the calendar. Give it a try next year, you’ll enjoy an excellent day out.
(This article was originally published in the ACTC Re-Start magazine)
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