GMC Motorsports first event of the season was to be on the sidelines as spectators until 12hrs prior to the first car leaving the start line a call from Ricky Wheeler in the 2LTR Warrior mark 2 Escort asking if we would navigate for both Mark ...
GMC Motorsports first event of the season was to be on the sidelines as spectators until 12hrs prior to the first car leaving the start line a call from Ricky Wheeler in the 2LTR Warrior mark 2 Escort asking if we would navigate for both Mark Wheeler (his son) and himself.
This was requested as the car had been doubled entered running at car number 8 with myself (Davie Hatrick) navigating for Ricky and car number 50 with Mark Wheeler at the helm and Gerry Mccafferty Navigating!!
This was to enable Mark to gain vital stage mileage before this Aprils Pirelli national rally in the Ford Puma.
Also find at the end of this report Gerry Mccaffertys report on being a co-driver! Interesting!!
The course was run round the old Charterhall Airfield South of the border village of Duns and with approximately 50 stage miles ahead it was sure to be a close fought days rallying.
The weather was cold but very bright and dry and after walking the stage prior to the start noting any large tyres or tricky conditions we were set for the challenge that not only lay from the other cars but also the crew of car 50 Mark Wheeler and Gerry Mccafferty in the same car (no family challenge there then).
Stage 1 set a blistering pace with a virtually perfect run and the experience of sitting beside the VETERN of tarmac rallying was an absolute joy, also being used to a front wheel drive car the experience of a rear wheel drive machine was well worth it. We caught one car after the split and stopped the clocks at 6m 41s.
Stage 2 was a slight change in route using the very long main runway of the airfield and again as what I can only describe as perfect we crossed the flying finish in 7m 04 the same time as Michael Glendinning in the Subaru Impreza Turbo and three seconds quicker than the MG Metro 6R4 of Robin Hamilton.
Stage 3 saw us having to renew the tyres on the rear as only after 24 or so miles we had virtually destroyed a set of £90.00 + tyres. This stage was a re-run of stage 1 and being more familiar with the route Ricky upped his pace to bring us home an incredible 18 seconds quicker than stage 1 stopping the clocks at 6m 24. After surveying the results over these last three stages we were sitting joint 8th overall.
Stage 4 was a re-run of stage 2 with some amazing handling of the car going through the long sweeping left handed gravel section sideways at 90mph. (It is strange looking out of the side window at that sort of speed to see straight ahead!!!) and again Ricky set another great time of 6m 53s only three seconds slower than the Subaru and Metro 6R4 we were battling against.
Stage 5 looked as if we could peel more time off the Metro but the Subaru of Glendinning was starting to creep ahead taking those vital seconds on every lap. Glendinnings Subaru took 9 seconds out of us and Robin Hamilton managed to keep up with us matching our time of 6m 32s.Again there were no real incidents to report as Ricky took the clean lines and perfect braking to see us through to the end of the stage.
Stage 6 started with a problem with the cars ignition timing and some adjustments to the timing belt tensioning system were required after entering time conrtrol,we managed to repair the fault and set off to complete a stage that was a blinder, totally committed on the notes and also the driving, we caught a Ford Sierra Cosworth on the gravel section and as we came off the gravel onto the tarmac straight he failed to pull off the racing line to enable us to slip past as we were obviously the faster car but he failed to do so. It was then that Ricky overtook him on the outside of a bend on VERY LOOSE gravel doing over 120mph with the driver of the Sierra looking over at me in disbelief (I in turn looked at Ricky in the same sort of way!).
We carried on to the flying finish in a time of 6m 22s only two seconds behind the Subaru and again Robin managing to match our time in the MG Metro 6R4.
Stage 7 was a re-run of stage 5 and at this point in the rally we were sitting SECOND overall. The run was tidy with no mistakes and setting a time of 6m 22s a full 10seconds quicker than the first run over on stage 5.
Michael Glendinning in the Subaru was going to take first overall unless he had an off or mechanical failure but no such luck there and he clinched 1st place by 18 seconds.
Robin Hamilton in the Metro played all his cards on the last stage and with him being 30 seconds in front of 4th placed car he blasted the last stage a full 8 seconds quicker than us and took 2nd overall.
Credit to Robin he took a chance and it paid off so we finished the event a very credible 3rd overall only 22 seconds behind the first placed car. (Probably the highest placing I will ever get, unless I co-drive for Ricky again.)
This was a fantastic experience being asked to co-drive for Ricky Wheeler and if I ever have the chance to do it again I will jump at it.
Thanks for a great day Ricky.