The Northern Phoenix 2 Day Trial by John Ridley
Two-Day Trial - 30 April and 1 May
Well, it was an absolute shame that the Jacobean trial ended up being scheduled for the same day as NP's two-day event. Being tempted to go to the Jaco simply because it was nearer and at Long Compton, surely one of the UK's premier venues, and I bet whoever is writing the report for the Jaco will say the same thing about the 2 Day.
But, fancying a weekend in good company and at Gale Hall, I kinda fancied my chances a bit, Two years ago at the 2 day I had a Concorde that I bought from Eric Hamilton, Not having a passenger Stan "the man" Hoxford passengered me. I finished 11th out of 45 or so on that weekend and felt firmly chuffed with myself. Last year, Stan passengered me again in my newly acquired Sherpa. We finished 7th out of 48, so once again feeling quite good, decided to campaign again this year, Unfortunately Stan told me that his trialling days are over, and talking to him at the Eden Hall hotel on the Saturday night, he told me that he just couldn't cope if it gets cold up on the hills, Well, I guess this has to come to all of us at sometime, but I'm sure as some of you will know that have had Stan passenger you, it's a bit like having a golf caddy - just giving you a few clues here and there, making sure that you stay on the line and more importantly, keeping you on an even temperament and focus on what needs to be done. “Eh up lad” he would say “dunt go where ee went, gou down a wee bit further and miss that sh***” which of course proves that to be old and wise, first you have to be young and stupid.
I arrived at Eden Hall Hotel on the Saturday evening ready to partake of some good food and some friendly banter. Meeting up with Peter and Liz Fensom, Kim Warwick and Rita Hailwood, I was collared into joining up with them for Geoff Pickup's team event organised for day one. So that was the easy bit, we next had to think of a name, Now as we all had girlie passengers, we thought we might be able to make something of that, “the odd Couples” Naa. “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”? Kim and I were quite happy being Good and Bad, but Peter said no; he couldn't stand the ridicule of being the Ugly one. So we settled on “Down, Up and Over the Hill family. Kim and I being quite satisfied with the Down and Up bit, but somehow Peter was again saddled with the Over the Hill bit of our name.
Being teamed up with Peter and Kim, I thought I'd better be on my mettle and start to pay attention as I didn't want to let them down. As both of them are Red Class drivers I did feel the weak man in the team, even though both of them were 100% supportive. So, taking this bit of fun seriously, I was fortunate enough to be behind Kim and Rita on day one, so I knew that this would give me a good benchmark of what I'm doing. It ended up with Kim having a real stinker of a day and ending up on 54 dropped and 11th place. Meanwhile Peter was having a much better time of it and finished on 44 points dropped and 4th place. And lo and behold I finished on 38 points and beat both of them, hurrah!!! Now not being sure of who the other teams were, we were kept in misery until Geoff announced the results the next day at the BBQ. And whadya know we won the team event. Double hurrah
It's amazing how well we all scrub up nice and clean for the evening do at the Roundthorn Hotel, And another opportunity to chin wag about life and the universe. I have to say this was great value for money, at £16.75 it was good, well prepared food, polite and friendly staff. I think I am right in saying that Joy Barton organised this as well as the raffle - cracking job.
So what about the Trial. On day one 8 sections laid out, two rounds in the morning and two rounds in the afternoon, meaning 32 attempts in all, this is good value I thought. Plenty of marshals about as well. The weather held off until we were on our way home, and for once the forecast on my WAP was actually right, overcast in the morning and bright in the afternoon. My start hill was on section 6, which was Mike Lawn's hill, and it all looked kinda do-able. Deciding on my strategy for getting up it, it didn't quite go to plan and grabbed a 6, on to the next section and grabbed a 4, then a moment of inspiration came to me, I remembered Duncan Stephens' steady Sherpa 2nd gear trickle and decided to give 2nd a go instead of 3rd. Bingo, the Sherpa stayed rock solid as though it was on rails and up I went, going clear for the rest of the round. It stayed pretty much like this on nearly all of the sections except for hill 1 where a quick blast was in order after the mud bog, but like most people I took out the poles. I sneakily measured the width between the 8 gate poles and found that there was just 1* either side of my rear wheels. Fortunately all the early drivers were going though on the dry grass.
Day two, ten sections laid out, and 3 rounds, 30 attempts in all. Even more value for money on your entry fee. The weather very overcast in the morning and the grass at Gale Hall being wet, a test drive up the slope next to the paddock made me realise that there was still a lot of grip to be found and decided to stick with the 2nd gear crawl, with little blips of gas used now and then to push the car where required. Simon Kingsley's section was a good example, on the last bit though the 6 and 5 up to the 1 gate, it just needed a little pop to get past the bush on the right and then a steady trickle. In fact I picked up so much momentum I had to brake as I came out of the 1 gate!
John Fack, Duncan Stephens and Julian came up from the Jacobean and joined us, John and Duncan doing a double drive and made sure we all knew our place by coming first and second in the same car! Julian finished in fourth place. Now funnily enough I was on EBay recently and I picked up an old Autosport magazine from 1973, sure enough, in the back pages was a report from the Johnson cup organised by Peterbourgh Motor Club, and lo and behold, there was John Fack's name coming 5th at that event. In 1973 I was still on my moped! Day two at the NP 2 day is certainly a fun event, there is an attitude that percolates throughout everybody to take their fun seriously, and somehow this attitude makes for very relaxed trialing. And I bet the scores would not have been much different.
As you can see from the scores Bill Rhodes had a very convincing win on day one, Neil Mchardy second and me third. On the second day Bill was outshone by John Fack winning the day, but it didn't matter, as John didn't qualify for the two-day score. So Bill Rhodes with a steady drive on both days saw him through to win the 2 day event. Neil Mchardy let his concentration slip on day two, probably thinking too much about his burgers and sausages burning up, but his slip was my gain, and coupled with me getting used to the Gale Hall terrain finished second overall.
So, as you can see from this report, it's not really all about the hills and being wide or tight etc, there were a couple of bits that were unnecessary, and we were all grateful to Dougie for going over and sorting those bits out, but you have to look at the whole picture. Guys, the hospitality was fantastic, I was asked at least 27 times whether I was all right and did I need anything, and I reckon I could've asked for the world and got it with no complaining.
So what is it about this event that made so worthwhile? Well, good value for money on your entry fee that's for sure, but I think that the main thing about this is that it is something that only a dedicated trials club can do. I can't see this happening with other “normal” car clubs. This kind of attention to detail and ensuring a friendly atmosphere in the right environment can only be done when clubs have enough members to carry out everything that needs to be done, giving the committee a clear mandate to get on with it. So the moral of this is to make sure that you join a sporting trials club, be it the northern one or the southern one!
Some people need a mention here, and I reckon deservedly so. On behalf of all who competed we are grateful to all of you, the marshals, Derrick & Margaret Cressey, Jeff and Joy Barton, Linda Lawn, Sally Wrangham, John Yates, Mike Lawn, Lorna Woodward, Brian Thornton, Dave Morris, Carol McVitie, Simon Kingsley and David Wright, most of whom marshalled for both days. Well done. Geoff Pickup for the team game, this certainly gave me the competitive attitude, Joy Barton again for the Sunday night bash at the Roundthorn, (most people thanking you for NOT having a loud blaring disco), Eva Hepplewhite for the secretarial work, Dougie Parkinson for setting out the trial on both days, and also the Mchardy clan for organising and actually doing the BBQ. And sorry if I've missed anybody, but you know whom you are.
I did an add up of costs, and I think I was probably the furthest travelled with the exception of John fack who came up with Duncan for the Monday event, So, hotel for 2 nights £160, two tanks of gas £100.00, dinners etc £85.00. Did we enjoy our weekend? Was it worth it? Would I do it again? You bet your sweet bippy I did and I will. Eva, can I have the 2007 regs now please to book my place?
2006 Team Challenge Results
1st DOWN, UP AND OVER THE HILL FAMILY with136 points lost. Kim Warwick/Rita Hailwood, Peter & Liz Fensom and John Ridley/Sue Pickard
2nd TYRES, CONCRETE AND CHARM with 169 points lost. David Martin/Rollo Twitchin, Barry & Joanne Hogg and Bill Rhodes/David Butterworth.
3rd HEROES TO ZEROS with 174 points lost. Phil & Anne Yarwood/ Andrew Woodhead/ and Martin Grimwood/Duncan Walker.
4th OLD TRIALS DRIVERS NEVER DIE; THEY JUST DON'T GET UP AS FAR.with 197 points lost. Mark & Richard Milne, Richard & Mark Milne and Chris Hodgson/Gary Wrangham.
5th THE FAR CANALS with 204 points lost. Andrew & Neil McHardy, Neil & Andrew McHardy and John Hurst/Steve-----
6th .DODGIT, BODGIT AND SCARPER with 225 points lost. Geoff & Nick Geering, Richard Gibson/Glen Hall and Bob Packam/-----
7th “G.O.F.A.” THE GERIATRIC OLD FARTS ASSOCIATION with 260 points lost. Chris Maries/David Kilner, David & Peter Kilner and Brian Gibson/Steven Blair.
8th Team unfortunately retired due to a broken driveshaft. THE CARNIVORES (We eat Dodgy Hogg's and Tigers !!!) Alistair & Carol McVitte, Ian Evitt/Phil ---- and Geoff & Irene Pickup.
Many thanks to Alistair McVitte and The Bank of Scotland for the Champagne, much appreciated. Thanks to everybody who made the effort, we hope to do it again next year and maybe come up with an award for the best team name.