September always seems to be a busy time for us at Patterson Pacenotes. This year has proved to be no exception. We really have been to all four corners of our little islands over the past couple of weeks.
Things got of to a shaky start though. A shaky September start could bode badly. First was the cancellation of the Lindisfarne Rally. We got the call while on the Otterburn ranges making the notes. Oh dear. Move on. Losing the Lakeland Stages few days later was more of a shock. The Enniskillen MC run event had done their sums and things just didn’t add up. The difficult decision to cancel was taken. A lack of entries plus the cost of fixing the Fermanagh Forests was just too much to bear. Another bad blow to the NI championship.
So on the subject of cancellations, I never thought that one of them might bring a small consolation.
Although it is of no consolation for the Rally Organisers (Wolverhampton & District MC), the cancellation of The Rally of North Wales (nee Bulldog) earlier in the season, it meant that for the British Historic Championship, were able to pull in this year’s reserve rally, the Colin McRae Stages. The event was a full counting round in 2012 and it will once again play a full roll in the championship. It is always very special to get up into that part of Scotland. The stages really are some of the best in the world, and with the skilled hand of the Coltness Car Club on the tiller, they have chosen another great route. The stages are in great shape having been recently repaired and regraded following some fairly extensive logging. For the BHRC competitors it really is worth the drive.
The trip up to Scotland was via the Warcop training grounds where we did our recce for the Pendragon. Located just off the A66 near the pretty village of Appleby in West Moreland, this is a great clubmans Tarmac rally with deceptively challenging stages. The rally must be doing something right as it continues to get a full entry and we can see why. A real good days rallying.
A quick trip back on the P&O Express and it was off to County Clare for the Clare Stages Rally. The Irish National Championship operates a smart rotational op out system and this year, Clare falls into to that mode. So the COC Dermot Kellaher choose a two stage format repeated three times. It saves some cash for the club and makes for a much more compact route. It worked. The rally has a full entry and while this was written the night before the rally, it looked like the starters list was bursting. We didn’t have time to stop and enjoy the stunning views of the Burren in the distance from the second stage as we had to get further north. Co Tyrone was calling.
The Bushwhacker rally has become something of a legend in Irish Forestry terms. The top drivers call it the Bushwhacker Grand Prix! It’s reputation is of fast stages, fast stages and some more fast stages. The forests are pretty remote though. Right on the Tyrone Donegal Border. Omagh MC have taken really positive steps at keeping the stages within time limits without compromising the quality of the route. It’s a round of both the NI championship and the Southern Forestry and this will be the only time this year that the two championships meet. It’s the final round of the Southern Forestry and the championship winner will be decided on the day. Cant wait for this one.
A quick pause for breath, and two days at home before it’s of to sunny Jersey. Well Jersey isn’t sunny all of the time, and although it’s not very often, we got it while it rained. A lot. The Jersey rally really is an amazing event. The rally packs in some amount of mileage considering it’s size and it’s population. I’m lucky enough to have done the rally. It was a long time ago, in an amazing Mk2 Escort with a really good driver. It was wet that year and I probably didn’t appreciate how slippy the place is when it rains. I do now. Add in the fact that a five mile stage in Jersey seems more like ten, and here you have the unique challenge that a beautiful island like Jersey can offer. But we didn’t have any time to dawdle as we needed to get to County Cork.
The final round of the Tarmac Championship is once again the Cork 20 rally. The rally has been slightly more compact in the last couple of years. For 2013 though the event has decided on a complete rethink. Firstly they have moved the HQ from Cork City to Millstreet. The main reason is to save a drive of almost one and half hours each way to get to the stages. That’s about six hours in total saved. The second big change is, go back to a two day rally, but still be compact, but offer good stage mileage. In Irish terms, considering what they have achieved, it’s almost a work if genius. The route is ultra compact. Only one stage seems to be out of route, and it can be looped easily. The rest just seems to be right next door to each other. Add in the fact the stages are really good, and I mean really good, it seems that this could be one of the best events of the year.
So that’s a quick round up of our travels over the last couple of weeks. Things are still busy and we will try another short blog in about a month.