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Duncan's day Duncan Welch won Falcon's March Hare Trial dropping six marks, the same as Thomas Aldrian in his Austin 7 Special.

March Hare Winners Duncan Welch and Phillip Strickland

The Start

Twenty Four Crews lined up at The Watling Street Café, just of Junction nine of the M1, on 13th March. There had been 27 entries James Diffey had broken his glorious Bresica Bugatti and two of the Lieges non-started including Stephen Kenny who had a bad boot of flu and didn't relish the long journey down from Lancashire.

Ross Nutens passenger sporting unusual headgear in the Dellow Mk2, That's Jim Mountains Dellow Mk1 behind. (picture by Dave Cook)

John Blakeley scrutinises Harry Boudens Marlin at the start. (picture by Dave Cook)

Norton Street Lane

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

The marshal's gather to extract Ted Holloway from his predicament when he got his Mini Special cross rutted on the upper reaches.

Keith and Clair Oakes had no trouble and went on to win Class 7.

It was dry again this year so there was plenty of grip. The challenge was the rutted area at the top where the lower slung cars needed to be cautious in the interest of their under sides. Ted Holloway was the only failure when he got his rear engined Mini Special sideways and wedged across the track.

Cress Beds

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

Reg Taylor's Ford Ka making its competitive début on the March Hare. Reg's has sold his Ford Anglia to Mike Furse for hillclimbing.

Thomas Aldrian in his glorious Austin Seven, epitomising the spirit of Classic Trialling.

No problems here and everyone went clean.

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.

Peter Manning and Vivian Savage on their way to best Falcon.

Nicolas Cross drove his Marlin in Class 0 which missed out the roughest sections.

Once again the challenge of Water Tower was the muddy ruts at the bottom which were avoided by most people and again everyone went clean.

Kensworth Special Test

A nice simple Special Test saw Duncan Welch set fastest time. This was to be very important at the end of the trial as it was to decide the event.

Edlesborough Hill

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

Ross Nuten on the lower slopes of the first Edlesborough section.

Christopher Jones getting a little help! Christopher retired his Wolseley Hornet after Brickhill.

Keith Pettit retired his AH Sprite soon after this when the clutch gave out.

Richard Irvine only completed and got his new Liege SVA'd a week before the event.

Edlesborough Pictures by Dave Cook

Dry conditions meant the sections could use the full extent of Edlesborough which is not possible when it is wet. The first section explored the ups and downs through the trees at the back of the hummock with a tricky restart for classes 7 and 8. This caught out both Fred Gregory and Roger Dudley who were to battle for 2nd in class 7 all day.

The second section utilised the steep bank at the far end before going up one of the tracks through the trees, back down again before a restart and going on through the trees. The Front Wheel Drives and the Trojans had problems with the bank at the start. Thomas Aldrian stormed up in his little Austin 7 and most of the others made it OK as well, vindicating the organisers decision to re-use this route after many years. In the Class 7 battle Fred Gregory got away from the restart, but Roger Dudley failed and so did Richard Irvine in his newly completed Liege.

Brickhill

Two sub-divided sections on Private Land.

Fred Gregory on his way to joint second in class in his Rickman Ranger.

Tim Denison on the first of the Brickhill sections. Unfortunately Tim retired in Bingham's Wood right at the end of the event.

Martin Halliday (pictured here on the second Brickhill section) was the Class 0 winner.

Pete Crawford and Peter Morley in Pete's Marlin.

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.

John Parsons had problems setting out the Brickhill sections as the ground was still cut up from the 4 x 4 boys. Both were easily on for most of the entry provided they didn't understeer off on the tight sandy turns.

The early numbers were able to watch the action by the later numbers as this was also the lunch break. Unfortunately there were a couple of retirements here. Christopher Jones didn't continue with his Wolesley Hornet and Keith Pettit retired with clutch problems.

Ivinghoe

Special test and Section on Private land, the section was all about a steep bank at the start and a restart for 3 to 8.

Ivinghoe setup the leadership race for the second part of the trial as a number of clean sheets went by the wayside and only Jim Mountain (Dellow Mk1), John Groves (Escort) and Thomas Aldrian (Austin Seven) remained on zero.  The section was preceded by a special test and Jim Mountain presented his credentials for a win by setting the fastest time both on this one and for the two together so if he remained clean the win would be his.

Hawridge Lane

County Road - Clean/Fail

Unfortunately Clerk of the Course Arnold Lane had to call off the new Ostrich Hill as the Ostrich's were on heat! Nearby the established Hawridge Lane was there to trap the unwary. Ted Holloway failed the restart and so did roger Dudley, dropping him behind Keith Oakes and Fred Gregory in the Class 7 battle.

Beetle Drive

Clean/fail with restart for Class Eight only. The first of three sections in woods on private land near Potten End.

John Wilton crossing the track that leading to "Verduns Bank".

Keith Oakes spinning to a halt on "Verduns Bank" where Duncan Welch was the only driver to crest the summit. (picture by Dave Cook)

The lower reaches of Beetle Drive followed the route of last years Falcon's Folly, on reaching the cross track though it continued up into the trees up a new bank discovered by Verdun Webley during the January working party and cleared with his chain saw by Mike Pearson. The bank itself was covered with leaf-mould and 7's and 8's had a restart just before to slow them down. Car after car failed the bank and it looked impossible until Duncan Welch came along and stormed up. This put him in an equal lead of the trial as Jim Mountain, John Groves and Thomas Aldrian all failed here.

Falcons Folly

Clean/Fail with a restart and deviation for classes 3-8 and a second restart for classes 7 and 8

Duncan Welch waiting for the re-start flag to drop.

Tree root 1 - Ross Nuten 0

The second section in Binghams Wood was changed only slightly from last year, complete with a tricky 7 and 8 restart on a tree root. Higher up there was a new deviation for 3 to 8 and they also had another restart right up at the summit. It was the restart on the tree root that was to prove difficult. The four leaders all succeeded and so did a delighted Fred Gregory, Peter Crawford, Roger Dudley and Keith Oakes. For the others it was curses, tyre smoke and a deeper hole for next year!

Binghams Warren

Clean/Fail with a restart for Class 8 only

Geoff Hodge approaching the difficult class 8 restart.

Jim Mountain lost the possibility of an overall win on the last hill.

The lower reaches of the final section started by going up the bank that it went down last year. Crossing the track it then wound up a new track, created with Mike Pearson's chain saw, sharp left and then exited alongside a disused compound. The left hander was very tight and there was an "impossible" restart here for class 8.

The left hander proved a real challenge. It was possible though and was cleaned by a varied selection of cars, starting with Steve Potter's Trojan then Roger Dudley, Keith Oakes and Thomas Aldrian. John Groves failed to get round so there were now three cars tying for the lead on six. Along came Jim Mountain who like all the preceding class 8's couldn't get away from the restart. So it looked as if overall victory would go to an Austin Seven. The problem was that Duncan Welch hadn't read the script, stopped on the line and just pulled away, turned the corner and went on to clean the hill.

This stunning performance put him in a joint lead of the trial with Thomas Aldrian on 6 marks, so it would be down to the special tests.

The Finish

Back at the A5 truck stop the computerised results showed that Duncan was fasted on the special tests and won overall. Jim Mountain won class 8 for the second year. Keith Oakes won class 7, with Roger Dudley just pipping Fred Gregory for second place.

Duncan Welch being presented with his award by Frances Webley

Looking Back

This was a very exciting March Hare with tremendous drama during the second half and the result decided on the last hill. Particular mention must go to Verdun Webley who assembled more than 50 marshals on the day; To Mike Pearson who worked very hard to create the new sections in Binghams Wood only to be to ill to participate on the day; To The local Herts VW Club who provided a marshalling team at Brickhill.  Thanks guys.

First published on Classical Gas April 2006

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