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Keith Pettit put in the best performance on The March Hare, winning National B. Last years winner Ian Davis was second and Ross Nuten best in Clubsport.

Keith Pettit eases his venerable Frogeye Sprite between the banks of Norton Street lane on his way to best overall performance on Murray's March Hare

The Start

Roger Dudley's pristine newly prepared Marlin at the start.

There were 42 crews entered but the flu bug struck and 36 crews gathered at The Watling Street Café, just of Junction nine of the M1, on 13th March.

Norton Street Lane

Kevin Alexander getting crossed up on the straight at Norton Street Lane

Reg Taylor concentrates as he tries to stay out of the deep rut on the upper reaches.

Byway, long straight climb on loose stones with the left hand rut getting deeper towards the summit, straight run through for all classes.

With dry conditions, no restart, and an absence of loose stones, Norton Street Lane was cleaned by everyone except John Wilton who retired his venerable Trojan with a seized engine. John had rebuilt the two stroke motor after it was down on power on The Exeter and reckoned he hadn't honed the bores sufficiently. The only other cars to hit trouble were some of the lower slung FWD cars who strayed into the deep rut on the left hand side and scrapped their bottoms in the process.

Whitehall Lane

Byway - Tree Lined Lane with a very good surface now the council have resurfaced it and removed the fallen trees.

It wasn't so long ago that this section was totally impassable. Then along came the council's road gang and now it's probably smoother than the nearby M1! It's so smooth that it's not competitive as an observed section so it was run as a regularity again under the eager eye of sponsor Murray MacDonald. It involved driving an un-known distance in a known time. This defeated most people but it was a condition of using the track that outright speed would not be a factor.

Cress Beds

Byway - Short well surfaced climb up a tree lined gully.

Peter Manning using the banking to avoid the step at the summit.

Pete Crawford stalled his Triumph engined Marlin for the only failure..

Water Tower

Byway - Water Tower starts straight across the road from Cress Beds. It's a long section, starting with some very muddy ruts, then climbing through a tree lined gully.

Alun Lewis exploring the depths of Water Tower

Geoff Hodge in the Reg Taylor constructed RDT special..

The challenge at Water Tower was the muddy ruts at the bottom which were avoided by most people apart from David Symons in his Citroen AX and Alun Lewis in his Yellow Marlin. Alun created the biggest bow wave of the day, drowning out the Marlin and giving the recovery crew some exercise!

Next up should have been Half Moon Lane but it had to be cancelled when the County Council decided to close it for resurfacing. Unfortunately this is likely to emasculate it for the next few years just like Whitehall Lane.

Edlesborough Hill

Two sections on Private Land – The dry conditions gave plenty of grip on this notoriously slippery surface when it is wet.

Dry conditions meant the sections at Edlesborough were not as difficult as usual but a tricky restart on the first ones for the sevens and eights stopped much of the entry, including classic trials debutant Roger Dudley in his newly rebuilt Marlin.

Brickhill

Three sections on Private Land. The third section went up the sandy gully where the ruts were quite deep.

Fred Gregory on his way to second in class in his Rickman ranger.

Ian Davis had no problems with the ruts in his VW Buggy.

Rob Wells in his very smart and well prepared Troll which is now running on steel wheels.

Colin Perryman blasting his attractive BMW out of Brickhills gulley.

Brickhill pictures by Julian Robinson of the Herts VW Club who marshalled the Brickhill sections. Check out their website at http://www.hertsvwclub.org/ where you can find many more of Julian's pictures.

There was an extra section at Brickhill to compensate for the loss of Half Moon Lane. The local Land Rover Club had been using the venue and the ruts up the sandy gully were very deep, causing problems for some of the lower slung cars including Cliff Morrell in the ex- Barrie Parker Citroen AX. Cliff had given the sump guard a good clout in the Pepperstock ford, loosening some bolts.

Ivinghoe

Special test and Section on Private land, the section was all about a steep bank at the start and a deviation right up to the fence at the top of the hill for cars in seven and eight. After they rejoined the main track a new route had been opened up to a new finish, with a restart for the higher classes.

The steep bank at the start proved to much for more than half the entry. Having survived that the restart was to prove to much for some and Harry Butcher, Clive Booth, Paul Weston and Colin Sumner all lost their clean sheets here.

Fellow Liege driver Stephen Kenny also failed and was struggling without reverse gear in the replacement box fitted after breaking the transmission on The Northern Trial. Stephen had come all the way down from Rochdale to take part having made his trials debut in last years March Hare.

Hawridge Lane

County Road - used the other way to last year with a restart in the gulley.

Arnold Lane and Andy Clarke had spiced things up a little by bringing some water up from the wet patch at the bottom to add some action to the restart. The slippery conditions necessitated a delicate right foot to stop wheelspin settling in.

Fred Gregory got away very smoothly, Reg Taylor failed and Simon Groves smoked his way off the line, just inching forward until he suddenly found some grip. Ted Holloway stopped, then stalled to the accompaniment of some choice four letter words! Chris Wall lost his clean sheet here when he was judged to have run back six inches or more.

Then both Kevin Alexander and Stephen Kenny sat on the line with wheels spinning and failed to get away.

Binghams Warren

The first of two new sections in woods on private land near Potten End. The route for the first of the two sections was marked out with tape.

Steve Potter picking his way around the windy Binghams Warren.

Falcons Folly

The second of the two sections at Potten End started down amongst the trees then picked up a long, straight track to exit the wood.

Paul Weston in the ex - Steve Nichols Liege

Peter Thompson was Class 3 winner for the second year in sucession.

The route traversed Hill Farm as usual but not as an observed section this year. The final two sections took place on private land in a wood near Potten End. The first was an artificial journey through the trees, marked out with tape. The second started amongst the trees before picking up a long, straight track with a restart for the sevens and eights.

Falcon had thought this last hill would be a real stopper but in the try conditions that was not the case. Stewart Ikin was the only non-restarter to fail in his very standard Fiat Panda. Everyone else attacked the steep bit at some speed for successful climbs.

Life was a bit tougher for the re-starters with the line on the steepest part of the gradient where there was a handy tree root, although with care this could be avoided by going well to the left. The root took its toll of notable class eights Harry Butcher and Rob Wells. In class seven it was a magnet for Marlin, catching out Alun Lewis, Peter Crawford, Roger Dudley, the Westfield of David Kirby and Ted Holloway in his very special Mini.

The Finish

Class Eight award winner Jim Mountain receives his award from Hazel MacDonald

Back at the A5 truck stop Dot Parsons and Francis Webley soon produced the results and the trophies were presented. There were seven clean sheets so the regularity and special tests came into play. This was shame but was an almost inevitable consequence of the dry conditions.

There had been no more retirements after the unfortunate John Wilton. With the simultaneous National B and Clubsport events there were plenty of wards to go round and Roger and Christina Dudley were particularly delighted to be awarded best Falcon.

Looking Back

It was shame to loose Half Moon Lane and the dry conditions made the sections on public roads much easier than anyone would have liked. However, the restart on Hawridge Lane was certainly a challenge for many and things seemed to be Ok with the landowner in the woods at Potten End which bodes well for the future.

Particular mention must go to Verdun Webley who assembled more than 50 marshals on the day. The local Herts VW Club took care of Brickhill which meant they had to go to the trouble of re-arranging one of their own events scheduled for the same day. Thanks guys.

First published on Classical Gas April 2005

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