The Raymond Baxter Trial by Phil Yarwood
When introducing a trials report, I usually make some comment about the changeable weather. No need - on this occasion it rained all day, all night, and then a bit more!
A disappointing entry of only sixteen crews will need some addressing by the Club committee, who, in an attempt to secure more marshals for a BTRDA event, had asked C-class members to marshal. However, the previous Wednesday evening we virtually had more marshals and sections than competitors.
For the benefit of those who have never been to Renwick, the site is set out like a large bowl surrounding a marshy bog. Despite having set out the first four sections on the preferred right hand side, and then having to move them at the shepherd's request, the McHardy brothers managed to set out probably the best eight sections available to them.
The rain was so prevalent on the evening prior to the trial that at least three of the sections would have been better tackled with a Jet Ski rather than a trials car.
Round 1 saw Julian Fack take command with a return of 22 pts against his nearest rivals, Simon Kingsley, 26 pts, and Michael Toulmin on 31. Julian and Simon cleared Hill 5 marshalled by John Bissett, a result which looked an impossibility when we were there, owing to the presence of a generous flow of Cumbrian mineral water running down the already sodden grass.
The start of Round 2 saw two retirements in quick succession, firstly Mark and Dickie Milne (clutch) and then ourselves (a sudden burst of Castrol Magnetec into the cockpit, followed by total steering failure) The stricken beast was left with a sheep's skull on the bonnet as a warning to fellow competitors still battling against adversity.
Julian and Meg continued to take a firm grip on things with a second round of only 15 pts dropped, giving them a total of 37 at lunch. Their nearest rival was now Bill Rhodes, who, at the end of the round, unfortunately suffered the loss of the left hand fiddle. Some frenzied activity in the Rhodes Pit by passenger Brian Gibson saw the braking power of the tiger skin Cartwright restored in time for the afternoon session.
Michael Toulmin was in third place and keeping a very close eye on Bill's progress having lost the previous two trials to him on clears, with the point's level. It had been intended that the trial should run for four rounds of eight sections, but the weather was truly atrocious. And so, to conserve the future good will of the marshals, in addition to health of mind and body, it was decided to run only one round in the afternoon.
An interesting section during the final round was Hill 6, marshalled by Martin Grimwood. Julian offered a little hope to his rivals by posting a 9 when he got involved with a very resilient gorse bush. Michael got a 4 on the same section and Simon Kingsley pulled himself back into the fray by also claiming a four. The unexpected thing for Simon and erstwhile passenger Ian “Mutley” Smith was that, after their heroics, they then had to suffer the indignity of an 800 yds round trip to reach the start of Hill 7 having failed to do so from 10 ft. The error was duly noted (and secretly relished!) The consolation for them was that this has probably befallen all of us at some point in our trialling careers, but it doesn't make it any the less funny when it happens to the exuberant “egg man”.
So it was congratulations to Julian and Meg who took the overall and Red Class win. Second overall was Michael Toulmin, who just managed to sneak in front of Bill Rhodes and Simon Kingsley. The Blue Class was won by the delighted Chris Hodgson who, in the morning thought his new CAP was running so rough that he wouldn't be able to start, but the right kind of Gremlins got involved here. Green winner was Barry Hogg assisted by Joanne piloting the ex Gerald Hepplewhite Kincraft with great aplomb. NPTCC Class honours were taken by “A” Michael Toulmin; “B” Richard Gibson, and “C” Jeff Armistead, who in his first year of trialling, is showing a very subtle touch.
So many thanks to all who had a special hand in preparing the course, particularly the McHardy brothers. But very particular thanks for their efforts today must go to the marshals who did a brilliant job despite the weather. We have some of the best, if not the best marshals in the Sport, and never a complaint amongst them.