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After our disastrous showing in the 2004 Allen trial (someone has to come last) it was obvious that the Golf was suffering a severe lack of traction. With mods over the winter to improve weight distribution and a new set of tyres to replace the previous motley assortment, we set off early full of hope for the event ahead. This would also be the first event we had done before, so we would be able to discuss the perils of old “diff mangler” or “slippery precipice” knowledgeably rather than being constantly surprised by what the organisers were throwing at us.

In fact my recollection of the first section, Nortonstreet lane was so hazy that we might have been doing it for the first time, nonetheless we completed it successfully, as we did the next 3. At Eddlesborough hill the element of surprise was our undoing, as I was so disorientated by the series of dips at the top of the section that I proceeded to miss the next corner and loose an argument with a tree. This necessitated some impromptu body repairs but we were able to continue. On section 6 we made good progress, but the 1300cc engine just couldn’t pull the Golf up the last steep part. The very dry conditions, plus the mods had exchanged a problem of lack of grip with one of lack of grunt. A quick search of the field failed to reveal any spare 1800cc engines lying about, so we limited ourselves to some panel beating and carried on.

It would be impossible to anticipate anything at Brickhill, as it is effectively a PCT Mecanno kit, where the organisers can assemble a variety of steep bits to make an infinite number of routes. We could perhaps have done better on the first section (7) had we taken the corner before the last steep bit a bit wider, but again the little engine was really struggling. On section 9 (which was a bit familiar) we go to the end, but I was concerned that we had taken the wrong route and this was borne out by the scorecard. By this time we had been on the road for some time and it was noticeable that as each crew arrived at the rest halt, they immediately broke out the sandwiches.

At the Ivinghoe special test, the difference in temperament between driver and navigator and the still unfixed reverse gear (refer to last years article) was our undoing. Despite good advice my “gung-ho” approach took over as soon as the flag dropped. This lead to a “discussion” as to whether we had crossed line ‘A’, followed by gear selection and handbrake problems, leading to a time that must surely be a record for this test. At least it provided some amusement for the waiting crews. The section (10), I could clearly remember the from last year and avoided the bit that stopped us before, but again lack of power was our undoing, however, I see that a Fiat 500 made it so perhaps I’m being a bit hasty.

This was followed by a section from last year, (Hawridge lane), but run in the opposite direction, another fiendish trick. My navigator is convinced that it would be possible to get stuck on your side in the deep ‘V’ shaped groove in the track, but I prefer not to think about it.

To finish; 2 new sections in another wood, with a more cautious approach, as the navigators view was prevailing by now, so we avoided the trees and climbed the last steep bit with just the right balance between traction and power, very satisfying.

At the finish, apart from the prospect of another Saturdays panel beating on the damaged wing we were a little disappointed with how things had gone especially the lack of power and more importantly skill. We were therefore very surprised to find that we had been awarded the Clubsport class 1 award, a good end to what had been a very enjoyable day. Setting aside the technicalities, what I had remembered from 2004 was the friendly atmosphere, good organisation and enjoyable driving and the same was true for 2005. Thank-you to all the organisers and officials for an excellent event.

Chris Clarke

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