Arriving at the prom on the Friday afternoon we got through scrutineering, signed on, set up camp and gave the car a final check over. Before we knew it we were donning our overalls and heading out for the first time control. There were 95 starters on the rally and we were seeded car 94. On the Friday the event runs in reverse order and we were therefore second on the road. So no pressure there then... There was a big crowd out to watch the start and thankfully we managed to get away cleanly without making a show of ourselves!
And what an interesting road it was. The council had recently resurfaced the entire route, with the increasingly-common tar and gravel combination. This meant there was plenty of loose gravel on the roads and that made braking zones interesting to say the least. All of a sudden the event that has always favoured fast, rear-wheel-drive MkII Escorts was now leaning itself to the 4WD cars.
By the second stage darkness had fallen, and so it was time to turn on the flootlights. We had an LED light bar fitted to the front of the car which really helped us get through the dark stages. Once we got back to service we locked the car up and went to check out Saturday's start times. We were lying in 76th overall and 8th in class (of 13) but we knew confidence would only improve as we got more time in the car. With 10 stages to come on Saturday there was chance to improve, so a good night's sleep was needed!
Throughout Saturday the stages started to look familiar, and I became more accustomed to the feel of the car and my own ability to judge the braking zones. To say this was Tony's first time co-driving he was faultless and always knew when to encourage a push and when to stay neat and tidy. With clear instructions I was able to push on and concentrate on being as neat and fast as possible.
Despite being up at 6:30am and not finishing packing up until gone 6pm the day flew by. We had plenty of visitors from friends to fans. If there's one thing I'm sure of it's that 106's have a dedicated following. What's more, a lot of the following sure do know their stuff, and could tell us things about our car we didn't even know! It was really good to see that all our hard work in getting the car ready was appreciated by others.
By the end of the day we finished in 47th overall and 5th in class. For a first attempt that's pretty impressive (even if I do say so myself!) and is definitely something to build on in the future. I met a lot of friendly people in the service area and will no doubt see them again at other rallies. It's great to have a nice atmosphere in the service area. All that was left to do when we got home was to pick up a curry, crack open a Corona and put our feet up. I uploaded the in car footage to YouTube and will be posting the clips on the site over the coming days.
So that's it for our first rally. We are currently looking into where to take the car next, so watch this space...