The BTRDA Gold and Silver Star Final 2005 (pics on the gallery page)
I must confess I have never felt as relaxed as I did approaching Delabole for this year's final. Not having my car must have had something to do with it. Its whereabouts, along with Ian W's, was a question asked by many on the day. In my case it's simple. I have neither the ability nor the equipment to compete at this site and my whole 2005 season was altered the minute the site was confirmed as the venue. Julian has frequently asked the question in TCR why numbers were down during 2005; well in my case this was the reason. Scoring less than 80 at Wind whistle Golf club seemed a more attractive proposition than qualifying for an event where a similar score would almost certainly have been out of reach. I have no qualms about moving the final around the country, indeed this is my first blob in the last fifteen years, but I trial for pleasure and the outstanding beauty of this venue was not enough.
Question. Who was the last Englishman to win the Gold Star? Answers on a postcard please.
It was a pleasure to watch the Irish. They certainly have the ability and equipment to present a formidable challenge anywhere and particularly at a site such as Delabole. Their cars are beautifully prepared and presented, they take their trialling seriously and it was no surprise to see them end up with the important bits of the silverware. I was disappointed not to see enough of the eventual winner John Keatley but had a good look at the four Crossles running line astern of Mark Vaughan, Phil Yarwood, Mervyn McKinney and Bill Rhodes. I felt sorry for Mike Readings who was next up because despite a history of good form here he was unable to match the progress of the four in front. Mark and Mervyn had a ding dong battle all day and were only separated by an odd point as they came home 2nd and 3rd respectively. Brian Edgar who didn't have such a favourable start position admitted the going was not to his liking and that he listened to too much advice on how to tackle this tricky terrain. He comes from the same school of trialling as me whereby we only feel comfortable with the wind in our faces and the melodic sounds of a screaming engine. “Pussy footing around like a cat on a hot tin roof” was how he described his day “and it's not my style” he concluded. Trevor Aston certainly has a unique style and made sure it was not only the Crossles that took all the chocolates. He wrestled his Concorde to a terrific Silver Star victory thus recording a clean sweep for the men from over the sea.
Of the English contenders the main threat came from the multiple MSA winner, Julian Fack, the Robin Alexander winner Duncan Stephens, John Fack in his Crossle and the local favorite Roger Bricknell. Duncan's challenge started at the chuck wagon where he and his passenger Andy Gowan devoured as many Cornish pasties as they could in order to maximize rear end weight. With the Sherpa firmly wedged in its 34:1 second gear he crawled to the top of many of the hills in the first round and was not a country mile off the pace at its conclusion. Alas as the grass and bracken turned to mud the low gear/weight trick started to go pasty shaped and his scores started to slip. He will be disappointed with ninth but I fancy his day may come. 2006 will see the launch of his Irish purchase and no doubt success will soon follow.
The highest placed live axle car belonged to Roger Bricknell whose whole 2005 season was geared to qualifying for this event, a site where he has won more times than anyone in all the years sporting trials has been held here. A brilliant third round of twelve, when power was becoming more the order of the day, was a pleasure to watch as he used all his old guile to find grip where much more modern equipment failed. To be fifth overall behind four Crossles was just reward.
Great credit must go to Thomas Bricknell and his team for laying out the trial. If anything it was a far better trial for being in January than it was for the normal slot of September. September is usually so dry that despite the tricky bracken the poles tend to be a car's width apart with little choice of line. The Cornish winter and in particular rain the previous night forced Thomas down onto the lower slopes with only the finishes being above the bracken line. More to the point the starts were, in the main, high, wide and handsome giving everyone a chance to get into the section. A winning score of just below 50 is absolutely perfect for this blue ribbon event. Getting to hills 9 and 10 in the morning was a bit of a kafuffle but that apart it was very well laid out. Well done Thomas.
A few months ago I predicted in these pages that a Crossle would win this event. I didn't expect them to occupy the first four places but it didn't come as any great surprise. Looking back to the 2004 final there was four Crossles in the top five and that was a blasting day. There can be no doubt that the IRS cars have an advantage over the live axle and indeed the Irish now give the live axles a tyre pressure advantage. Is it time for us to follow suit? Well it's not for me to say, I've got a live axle.
However here's my prediction for the 2007 Gold Star; 8 IRS cars in the top 10 with a Sherpa First!
and by Ian WrightWhen asked by the delightful Janet Darbyshire to write a report on the final, who could refuse. Ian Veale and I saluted and obeyed! Ian V has tried his hand with the sartorial slant, I went for facts. The over all bogey for the day was a mere 19 points. How did John Keatley make so many mistakes, and still manage to win, with the HUGE score of 46? So, starting with round 1, a lowly 8 points would have won this, had of course, you had the ability to drive like an angel, and hit the hills at the right time. Only one fallen angel got close, JK on 18, and some nearer 60. Round 2, harder to find the right pace, but John Fack got the closest to the par of 11 with 18 points lost, and Trevor Aston on a superb 22 heading up the Silver. Then to lunch. Great Cornish Pasties if you could bear the wait, and a chance to sneak around the paddock, and check out the cars, and the mood. John Fack's was the most buoyant, and with only 41 points lost felt in with a chance. However, on the same score, was JK, with the ever cheerful Mark Vaughan a point adrift. In the Silver, the star on 58 was Trevor Aston, with Bill Rhodes on 63. To continue in the same drift, with scores tumbling and with all the hills clearable, it was left to the same names to keep it up, JK managed a 5, MV and Mervyn McKinney just 7 each. So, a worthy win to John Keatley, a fab drive by Mervyn, and top live wire, sorry axle driver Roger Bricknell. Congratulations must go to Thomas and his merry band for what must have been the best use of Roland's land I have seen, with just a small glitch at the far end, that I am sure a digger could sort out at some time. Walking around gave Ian V and myself lots of opportunity to watch the various methods used to climb the hills, and whilst a Crossle was the car to beat, it's still the best driver on the day who takes the silver home. Those of you that went to the hotel that evening should also ask, whoever misnamed it Best Western? Whatever happened to those great evenings that we used to have, in quality hotels with over a 100 guests, a re-think is required I believe.