The Johnson Cup Trial 2004 by Julian Fack

The Eaton site near Melton Mowbray is almost always damp at the end of November, and the Peterborough Motor Club make good use of the extensive space available. There are usually four areas where sections are set. One near the entrance gate form the paddock, where there is a small steep valley as well as an adjacent area across the small stream, another is an open area where there is a big open grassy hillside. A third is wooded bank and a fourth is another open area with a steep grassy bank. Alongside the route to the wooded bank is an SSSI (area of special scientific interest) which is strictly out of bounds.

These sections require a mix of skills to conquer, the grassy banks need careful use of trickle, at least until the grass is wrecked, whilst both the muddy valley near the gate and the wooded bank need controlled blasting together with good car control to avoid sliding into the markers, particularly on the downhill bits.

This all amounted to a very varied set of sections, all of which required skill to master, but different skills were required in different parts. Ian Wright in the ex Richard Rimes Kincraft Renault was the man on a mission, having blitzed the field at the November Sporting just a week earlier. He started as he meant to finish, leading the first round on just 8, although Peter Fensom's CAP was not far behind on 11. Richard Gowen, the first Blue driver, was pleased to be amongst the leaders here on 18, tied with his son Andy's Facksimile and Tom Stevenson's Kincraft. Peter Meakin's Sherpa was the best Green on 25, well up the field, mixing it with the higher classes.

The second round saw Ian Wright drop an unfortunate 7 on the awkward hill 1, the small tight valley just inside the field gate, where most of his competitors managed a clean. Richard Gowen and Steve Courts (Facksimile) tied the round on 9, with Tom Stevenson close by on 11 and Julian Fack's rather sickly X-Factor spluttering its way around to a 12. The round lead was tied by a Blue driver Richard Gowen and Phil Yarwood (Green) was having a great round in his Crossle on 17, just behind Ian Wright's 14.

This left the lunchtime leader board showing Ian Wright on 22 in spite of that unfortunate 7, Peter Fensom on 24 and Richard Gowen leading the Blues on 27. Phil Yarwood was the leading green on 44.

After lunch Ian more than made up for his small slip in the morning, completing the round on just 6, Steve Courts had an excellent run on 10 for the round. A good afternoon is becoming a Courts speciality, I wonder what he has for lunch? Ian Veale also had a round of 10, and Duncan Stephens' Sherpa shared 13 with Julian's ever sicker sounding X-Facktor.

Back to the paddock, and the scorers quill pens soon had the sums sorted showing Ian Wright the runaway winner for the second week on 28, Steve Courts' final round hoisted him to second on 40, Richard Gowen was third on 43 and first Blue. Second Blue was son Andrew in 8th place on 56, Phil Yarwood won the Green Class in 15th place on 70, and second green was Peter Meakin close behind on 78 for 17th overall.

An excellent and enjoyable event, with a fine mix of sections to challenge all the drivers, many of whom retired happily to the local hostelry to pore over the gory details and refine the "if only" stories.

On his return home Julian found the X-Facktor had split a flexible fuel feed pipe from the float chamber to one of the carburettor jets, which was sucking in air as a consequence.