(originally published in the ACTC Re-Start magazine)
Fred Gregory and Pete Stafford at Kensworth
Clive Kalber at Edlesborough in Falcon's favourite car
Having tested the waters with a successful single venue 'classic' regulations trial last year, Falcon Motor Club ventured forth again on the 18th of April extending the event to four sites just south of Milton Keynes linked by a pleasant 65 mile road route. Generous event sponsorship from Murray's Independent VW-Audi Discount Store enabled the club to put together a tidy little trial. Add the cancellation of Silverton MC's Championship Exe Valley trial, and Falcon was able to assemble a star-studded entry of thirty-two for their first serious attempt at a road trial for many a long year. Assembling for the start at Home Farm, Great Brickhill, competitors and marshals alike were able to enjoy sizzling bacon butties dispensed with a smile from the club's own catering caravan whilst scrutineering and signing on formalities were completed.
Mike Furse in his Racecorp led of into the first two sections amongst the trees and gullies of the sandy Home Farm site. Surprisingly enough, despite the available grip, Section 1 took maximum penalties from eleven of the entry whilst Section 2 also contrived to extract marks from seven hapless souls. Out onto the public highway for the start of the day, the route meandered along the back lanes to Leighton Buzzard and then on to Edlesborough for the first special test and second pair of sections. For those unfamiliar with the Herts, Beds, Bucks area let me explain that it is not particularly hilly but is blessed with an assortment of sand pits and clay pits. The sand is extracted for various commercial uses whilst the clay is used to feed the areas traditional brick making industry. Situated on the lower plain below the Dunstable Downs escarpment, Edlesborough is a knob of chalky clay covered in patchy scrub and gorse bushes. The site is notorious for its complete lack of grip when wet and that is how competitors found it on the morning of the March Hare after the previous afternoons heavy rain!
Special Test 1 took the form of a quarter mile regularity set at 7.5 mph all on a loose slippery track incorporating both a ninety-degree right and ninety-degree left turns. Despite the notorious inaccuracy of trials car speedos five competitors managed to drop only one second penalties, the most distant attempt being some 34 seconds adrift of target. Straight into Section 3 on the aforementioned grass covered clay hillside. The Alderson Troll made the first attempt but brain fade caused an embarrassing failure when the Troll attempted to mount a bank, which could easily have been circumvented in the early part of the section. John Bell, another ACTC expert, followed suit in his Escort a few cars later. The section was sub divided at 12 - 9 - 6 - and 3. For a long time it looked as if three was going to be the best score. But right at the end of the entry both Giles Greenslade in his Sunbeam and event sponsor Murray MacDonald in his 1300 Beetle mastered the hill. Section 4, a little further over, had a restart for classes 7 and 8 followed by a steep bank, which proved impossible to climb from such a short approach. The other classes were more fortunate and John Bell made up for his previous faux pas by cleaning the section. Greenslade, MacDonald and Rob Cull, Midget, joined him.
Back out on to the highway, the route made its way round the back of Whipsnade Zoo to Kensworth, just south of Dunstable, for the third pair of sections on the steep grassy bank used so often for PCTs. A traditional climb up, drop down, then U-turn back up section was laid out with a restart on the last uphill leg. Only Dud Sterry's MG and Clive Kalber's 'Runner Bean' Pop managed cleans here although Ken Martin managed a three with his PCT prepared Reliant Kitten, as did Anthony Young in his new 'Aly 2' VW Special. The Macdonald/Greenslade duo joined them. Section 6 featured a hairpin back right obscured from the driver's view behind a barn, followed by a restart. Both Clive Kalber and Neil Bray in the Skoda were caught out here along with George Francis in his very pretty Lancia Volumex powered Marlin running in class 8.
A short drive through Dunstable and Hockliffe, back towards Leighton Buzzard brought the entry to the old worked out pits of Mile Tree Farm for Section 7 and the second special test. As the locomotives built up steam on the local narrow gauge railway adjacent to the site, trials cars were bounced and corkscrewed over and through the mounds and gullies of Mile Tree Farm. There were ten cleans on section 7 including the very smart Dutton Phaeton of Keith Oakes and Simon Robson's Skoda. The traditional battle between the Falcon Skoda crews now leaning very much in Simon's favour. James Lindsay also managed to persuade his long chassis Fugitive round for a clean but Giles Greenslade bottomed out the Sunbeam dropping three. The special test was a corker, more a timed section in the style of the MCC testing trial. Andy Curtis made the best time at 27 seconds in his Buggy but Simon Robson was on the same second. The next fastest were two seconds off the pace.
With the morning's overcast clouds clearing and a drying wind lifting the gliders high above Dunstable Downs, the trial returned to Edlesborough for another crack at the previously slippery pair of sections. Joint Clerks of course, John Parsons and Mike Pearson decided to drop the mornings tyre pressure limits, 15psi for class 8 and 12 psi for class 7, allowing free pressures. Sadly this proved totally unnecessary as the site had dried out in double quick time, the result was a string of cleans on Section 8, only Simon Robson going wrong, with just Fred Gregory and Colin Stevens Duttons failing to get away from the restart on Section 9. The day's second visit to Kensworth produced seven cleans from the up and down section with Mike Furse applying his intimate knowledge of the site to make the first clean climb. Mike has been PCT C of C here many times in the past and knew exactly where the grip would be on the restart. The Alderson Troll dropped another goolie here when the pilot lost his way amongst the marker posts! Everyone knew about the hairpin right on section eleven this time around so the organisers only managed to extract marks from Brian Sarney in his attractive class 2 Ford Y type tourer. Back to Mile Tree Farm for another roller coaster ride around the pits and the third special test, test two in the reverse direction. Making up for a lacklustre day on the hills, the Troll snapped round in 23 seconds for fastest time with Andy Curtis again following close on the same second.
And finally the trial returned to Great Brickhill for Sections 13 and 14 amongst the trees and sandy gullies. Despite double restarts for classes 7 and 8 on the last section almost everyone made it in to the finish with no further losses. As the Falcon catering caravan dispensed burgers, tea and coffee the results team beavered away in the club's second caravan. Within an hour of finishing results were declared and awards presented. Class winners were Giles Greenslade, Simon Robson, Clive Kalber, Dud Sterry and Rob Cull. Best Falcon MC member was Clive Booth. The overall winner? None other than event sponsor Murray MacDonald! Well done Falcon MC, a pleasant day out which all competitors seemed to enjoy, already there are murmurings within the club for an even more ambitious route next year, perhaps some of the old, more traditional, Conquest trial sections can be resurrected?
Click here to view the full 1999 results