Leading up to the North Yorkshire Classic Rally – held in the area close to Easingwold and Helmsley last weekend – we kept getting emails from the organisers telling us that they hadn’t got any snow and that the event was definitely on. Frankly, we didn’t believe them. With most parts of the UK crippled with blizzards and snow drifts, and knowing that High Yorkshire always gets snow, we packed chains, shovel (and driver John even packed sleeping bags) for the event. We needn’t have bothered. There was no snow. None at all for the main part. A dusting in some fields, but even on the high ground around Boltby there was hardly any.
Simon Parson’s event featured a compact route with a mixture of tests and regularities, some of which were plot and bash. These are where you have purely the start and the finish of the section plotted on the map beforehand and as the clock hand ticks over to your allotted minute, a written instruction is thrust through the window. With the clock running, these sections instill a heightened form of panic, particularly if you can’t work the blessed instruction onto the map.
I was lucky to be able to sort these out for the main part, although one minimalist one (just one spotheight to pass through) left me head scratching. Only later did another navigator tell me there was no alternative to go any other way than the one I chose as all other roads were eventually dead ends. I hadn’t realised as I had folded my map obscuring the ‘longer’ views. Oops!
The last regularity played a crucial factor on the event. Up to that point we were recording good regularity times (in the top 5 or so) but our test times were poor on tight courses in such a large unwieldy car as the Citroen. We were about 12th overall at this point. The last instruction to come through the window told us to pass entrances to farms and buildings. They took a bit of finding as they were spread quite a way apart (thanks John, for spotting one!) and we sped off trying to gain back time lost whilst stationery and trying to make the section work. I wasn’t sure whether I was being too clever by noticing that one of the locations had a very small driveway off a sideroad. We took this option and hey presto, there was a timing point. We continued on and finished the event with a great big zero for a spot on time on the very last timing point.
On arrival at the finish at rally HQ, the place was buzzing with talk of who had actually found the tricky timing point. It turned out that we were one of only 12 crews to find it. This promoted us up the leaderboard and we finished 6th overall, 1st in class and second best regularity times overall. With a faster car on the tests, we would probably have finished in runner-up spot. So a good event for us. I think I finally have the hang of this regularity timing lark too!