Sunday, 23 November 2014

Cheviot Rally rough seas for Spookworks



Following the success of the team at the Mach 1 Stages in July, Spookworks returned to the stages after a longer than expected break. It seemed like the turbulence of the year was now behind us and Spookworks would find the 80 Stage miles over the hills of Kielder Forest to be all plain sailing for a ship shape team back to its fighting best.


Calm before the storm?

But the smooth pre event preparation led not to the calm waters of a comfortable voyage but rather to turbulent rough seas that left a nasty taste in the mouth with plenty of UPS and DOWNS before finally man overboard was called and an SOS was sounded.

Sea of tranquility in the Service Area - what could go wrong??

Seeded at 35th in a small field of only 60 entries (usually over a hundred) we were grateful the shipping forecast had correctly predicted cold and damp but not wet weather. 

It does exactly what it says on the....door

With some lovely fresh super soft Michelin's on the 18” Revolution Rims it was time to weigh anchor and tackle the first stage of the day Dudlees - 8.37 miles of rallying bliss.  The undulating terrain, blind crests and fast jumps make local knowledge essential here and those who had it went full steam ahead to the top of the time sheets while those of armed only with a treasure map of pacenotes and a brief recce fell back into the depths of the leaderboard.  Spookworks set a 9:45 on the slippy fast and undulating stages to drop 2 places to 37th losing 2 minutes and 14 seconds to the leader Damain  Cole (albeit he has a Focus WRC and knows the place better than the military does!).  

Stage 1  - Who needs a WRC car!

Stage 1 led directly into Stage 2 called Ridlees; a smaller but no less difficult challenge at 4.8 miles.  It was a case of batten down the hatches and hold on as the car ploughed through the storm but despite the crew being close to mutiny the ship was steadied at 35th overall with a 5mins 35 secs.

Lovely day for a drive...

Back to service for a quick 20 min break before repeating the previous loop.  The Spookworks crew cleaned off the barnacles and spliced the main brace before we set off again into Stage 3, 
imaginatively named Dudlees 2.  An exact repeat of Dudlees 1 our previous experience allowed us to push a bit harder and we were rewarded with a 9:04 some 41 secs quicker than the previous run and Spookworks sailed up the Leaderboard 7 places to 30th overall.  Perhaps Spookworks was starting to find her sealegs….

Thar be clouds to starboard - Captain.....

Stage 4 Ridlees 2 followed a similar theme to Stage 3 and at 5:09 Spookworks was 16 secs quicker and as a result surged up the leaderboard by one spot to 29th overall.

Chart a course through them bales.....
Back to service again for the crew to tend the jolly roger, clean the poopdeck and put something in Davy Jones Locker (presumably another competitor??) it was onto 2 runs through a fresh stage called Toft House 1 (Stage 5) and Toft House 2 (Stage 6).  At 6.67 miles long each;  a time of 6 mins and 58 secs on the first run was not too bad and kept Spookworks anchored at 29th overall.  The second run knocked 11 secs off which saw us raise the spinnaker and set sail for 25th overall.

Up and down - Up and down.

Stage 7 -  as the dark clouds gathered overhead, the 8.6 miles of “Bushmans” lay before us. After only a few miles into the stage the usually reliable co-driver turned from a salty sea dog to a land lubber and with lunch going in the wrong direction, we were forced to head to the safe harbour of the service area and strike the colours.  Full credit for the First mate lasting so long under the circumstances and a shame Spookworks having to retire a healthy car.

This is what we saw.....


This is what the co-driver saw....
If anyone ever doubted that rallying was a team sport look no further. Despite Spookworks  second ever DNF it was a terrific experience, a great event and with some more sea training Spookworks will be back to the high seas soon enough.  Thanks to the crew, One eyed Josh and Cut throat Adam for their hard work and dedication and thanks to Workshy the cabin boy for making up the numbers.

Spookworks is next in action on the Rockingham Stages on 6 – 7 Dec 14.

Not sure what all the fuss is about?  Its flat as a pancake round here!
In summary the Cheviot was full of ups and downs....

UP - Most of the Spookworks crew travelled up country for this one.
DOWN - Spookworks car and trailer actually headed south for this one.
UP - Seeded at 35th this was UP from our previous seeding on the Mach 1 Stages (48th)
DOWN - But we were 14th out of 17th in class compared to Mach 1 (12th of 27).
UP - Highest point on in Cheviot Hills 2674 ft (815m)
DOWN - Lowest point above sea level 124m
UP - We moved up to 13th is class after the departure of Alex Laffery after only 5 corners.
DOWN - Dropped to 37th overall after 1st stage.
UP - Moved up to 25th overall after Stage 6
DOWN - Dropped to 27th overall after Stage 7
UP - Co drivers lunch headed in this direction during Stage 7
DOWN - Sadly Spookworks Subaru keys were taken out and put down as a result.


Monday, 30 June 2014

CLOWNGATE - Spookworks in controversy on the eve of Mach 1 Stages

CLOWNGATE



Spookworks is in controversy again is what is being described as "Clowngate" after it emerged that an undercover Spookworks operative had successfully penetrated the Clowns lair and possibly obtained sensitive operational material related to recent performance gains by the itmymotorsport rally team.

Both legal teams refused to comment on the issue. 
The incursion only came to light when the undercover operative known only as "Keith" was exposed when he outperformed the itsmymotorsport regular driver in his own car, a Porsche Carrera, at a recent time trial.
It was in this car that exposed the treacherous undercover plot and Spookworks Operative


Suspicions were raised when bystanders noted the yellow Porsche seemed to be going significantly faster than ever seen before leading to observers to note "he is really having a go at last" and "perhaps he has grown a pair". When officials went to congratulate the driver the operative was exposed and the alarm raised.
Violated: Itsmymotorsport HQ aka the Clown's Lair
Itsmymotorsport management then checked CCTV footage and discovered that the operative "Keith" had gained unauthorised access to itsmymotorsport headquarters and accessed secret performance data.

This picture captured on CCTV proved to be the smoking gun. 
A spokesman for itsmymotorsport angrily stated " This is a disgrace and we will be pushing for maximum sanctions against these jokers. They deserve to be fired from a cannon into a large net for what they have done. We worked quite close with Spookworks in the past and this feels like a pie in the face."
Spookworks were always looking for ways to beat their rival but have they gone too far this time?
Spookworks has admitted that the situation is unfortunate but to suggest any performance material had been gained was "having a laugh". Spookworks also stated they had been working in collaboration with itsmymotorsport but the only material they had access to was frilly collars, oversized shoes and red noses. The collaboration was only suspended when a Spookworks employee was asked to smell a flower where upon they were squirted with a unidentified fluid.
News of the incident was briefed to the highest levels.
The relationship between the 2 teams soured late last year when Spookworks accused itsmymotorsport of deliberately trying to shortcut a chicane under the cover of darkness at an event in Northamptonshire.


Regrettably the incident has meant that any secret performance advantage has been compromised and as a result the car is now for sale. If you want the bargain of a lifetime for a quick car see:

http://www.itsmymotorsport.co.uk/Its-my-rally-team-Impreza-for-sale.htm




Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Spookworks confirm entry on Mach 1 Stages




Spookworks have confirmed their entry on the upcoming Mach 1 Stages. The event, held over 2 days will be held at the Machrihanish Airbase in Kintyre, Argyll and will take place on the 5th & 6th July 2014.

As this will be the first ever running of this event, Spookworks are hoping the level playing field will help Spookworks overcome a recent run of bad luck. A Spookworks spokesman said:

"This is the first time for everyone so no one has an advantage of knowing the stages. We are hoping this will level out the competition and reduce the immediate impact of superior performance. The event organisers are doing a great job and it looks like a cracking event. As its being held on an airbase we are hoping the air mindedness of our team will help us get a good result."

The airbase is in a remote location and has a colourful history. Not least the extraordinary amount of conspiracy theories including underground cities, hypersonic flights and other super duper top secret activities. Spookworks would neither deny or confirm any involvement with the airfield prior to the rally.

For more info see:

http://www.thelivingmoon.com/45jack_files/03files/RAF_Machrihanish.html
Flat and fast.  No sign of any UFOs though...

The event consists of 8 stages and 62 miles on 100% sealed tarmac and the base has one of the longest runways in Europe at 3km long. With a a maximum entry of 120 and currently showing no less than 24 entries in Class 5 Spookworks have once again got their work cut out for them in 2014.

Spookworks tried hard on Round 1 of the RAF Rally Championship but the opposition was ferocious and sadly proved to be too much on the day. 

Saturday, 31 May 2014

IMPORTANT MESSAGE REGARDING JIM CLARK RALLY FATALITIES 2014

IMPORTANT MESSAGE REGARDING JIM CLARK RALLY FATALITIES 2014

Spookworks would like to extend its sincerest sympathy and heartfelt condolences to all the people involved in the tragic accident at this year's Jim Clark Rally.  Our thoughts are with those affected by the tragedy.

Spookworks would like to reassure all our families and friends that we or the Spookworks Impreza WERE NOT INVOLVED in any way and did not enter the event in 2014.

The photo used by some media outlets was taken during the 2012 event which Spookworks did enter. 

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/jim-clark-rally-crash-spectators-3630760

Please note - This photo was taken in 2012 and NOT 2014.  

Monday, 26 May 2014

Alan Healy Report - Slow start to the season for Spookworks



After the drama of the final round of 2013, Spookworks were keen to start 2014 and looked enthusiastically on the first round on the calendar; the Alan Healy Memorial Stages.

A true Mecca for Motorsport.

 Held on 6 April at arguably the best racing circuit in the UK – Cadwell Park; the 10 stages and 45 stages miles promised a challenging but positive start to the season.  Seeded at 37th was reasonable given the extraordinary level of competition for the event -some parts of the service area looked like a car park for ex WRC cars!  Even our class was incredibly strong  - some rallies’ entire starting field is less than ours and Spookworks would surprisingly find its toughest challenge for some time with 34 cars in Class E out of only 88 starters – that’s almost 40%.  The event also included a fellow RAF Rally competitor – none other than JFP; who would prove to be an excellent benchmark to measure our progress since the off season.  We regularly traded times last year and the car is pretty quick in JFP’s hands so if we can beat him it’s a real achievement.

The level of competition was very high on this event and this is only the trackside cafe car park!

With some soft compound rubber fitted courtesy of Slicks and the car running perfectly, things were looking good.  There was some very quick cars behind us but a few we could catch in front so the stages could be a real lottery.  This then became the equivalent of Euromillions when heavy rain decided to arrive overnight and prior to Stage 1.  Things suddenly got a lot harder.

Stage 1 - I think we would have had more traction on ice.

The ex WRC car which started as Car 1 set the tone for the first stage as it barrel rolled into the barriers after losing control after only a few corners early into the opening stage of the event.  It then spent the next four stages upside down in a crumpled mess and passing it on each stage certainly acted as a good reminder to drive within the capabilities of the car and your talent!

Ouch - luckily they were ok.  Their wallet is still in intensive care!  If they can do it though it does put one off a bit...

Saying that,  we were perhaps a bit too cautious in hindsight as although we survived the first stage with a 7:11, Spookworks dropped 7 places from seeding to 44th overall and 25th in class. Our old sparring partner, JFP, familiar with the stages and slightly less perturbed by an inverted Subaru set a 6:49 to show what could be done in the conditions and set him up for a jump from 42nd to 21st.  Losing 22 seconds was a significant chunk of time to forfeit after only 6.4 miles.

The windscreen wipers were faster than the car on Stage 2

Stage 2 was not much better - a 6:52 was 19 seconds quicker than our first run but we still lost another 8 seconds to JFP in the incredibly slippery conditions. We were still 44th overall but had somehow moved up 2 places in class to 23rd so we were moving in the right direction albeit very slowly.  JFP was now 2-0 and it was already clear that some concerted effort would be needed to avoid a whitewash to JFP.  Steady as she goes gets you through the stage but not very far up the leader board!

Stage 3 was a much smaller stage at only 3.5 miles.  Our 3:59 was the 30th fastest time and thankfully we managed to avoid a whitewash from JFP by taking the stage by a second.  We still had a 29 sec deficit to make up to JFP so we did not think he would not lose any sleep over it.  We held steady at 23rd in class but due to retirements jumped up 2 places on the overall leader board to 42nd.
Stage  4 was smaller still at only 3.3 miles.  A quicker time of 3:42 gave us our highest stage result so far at 29th fastest but JFP pipped us by a second to take the stage and nullify our previous gain. We did climb a place both on the class and overall leader boards, so slow but steady progress was making a slight improvement – if only we had 100 stages left!

I am sure someone said Lincolnshire was flat....

Stage 5 represented the halfway point and the weather was no longer an issue with dry tarmac everywhere the eye could see. To date despite the early conditions we had not put a foot wrong.  No spins, overshoots, locking brakes or anything at all.  It obviously meant we weren’t trying hard enough!  Some more application in stage shaved 2 seconds off our previous time but JFP pulled a 3:37 to make it 4-1 - a drumming in anyone’s books.  We did break into the late 30’s on the leader board and would begin after lunch 39th overall and 21st in class.

Stage 6 saw a rejuvenated Spookworks go on the attack for the final four stages.  Well that was the plan at least…..the leader board would suggest otherwise.  Despite a gallant effort the 3:53 set for the 3.3 mile course was only good enough for 43rd fastest time.  JFP continued to turn the knife with a 3:48 and simply continued to drive off into the distance. Scores on the doors was a 5-1 to JFP and 38th overall.
Stage 7 and it’s all about damage limitation.  We were simply too slow and the car was capable of much better.  We didn’t turn up with our “A” game and we were still asleep at the wheel from the end of year break.  With our heads low we were surprised after a steady run through the stage to post a 3:46 and take 2 seconds of JFP!  5-2 looked hardly more respectable but it was better than 6-1.  We were holding our position in class at 21st but were back at our seeding of 37th.

As long as we went fast on this bit no one would know any wiser....where did that number plate come from?

Stage 8 was a tricky 3.5 miler and incredibly we drew a dead heat with JFP with a 3:45! He was still a long way up the road in terms of time but we were keeping him honest.  Mercifully, for RAF Rally Championship points Class E had decided to disintegrate and some retirements put our class position into 19th, a much more palatable position than how things were looking after Stage 1.  We had even slipped past our seeding to 36th overall.  The only problem now was that the leader board between us and JFP read 5-2 and er…1 tie.

Stage 9 and we were back amongst the 6 miler stages which used all of the racetrack and then some.  Becoming far more comfortable with each mile the pace was coming but it was all a little too late to have any impact.  Frustratingly JFP decided to cheekily pinch a second off us with a 6:06 to push the dagger deeper and the score line read 6-2-1.  Not pleasant reading by anyone’s standard.  We did set the 34th fastest time….to give you an idea of the quality at the top end of the leader board John Stone in his Skoda Fabia WRC did 5:24!! That’s 43 seconds quicker.

We did manage to pass a stationary Proton....

The final stage of the day beckoned and there was nothing left to lose.  The car had run perfectly all day and currently ran without a scratch.  The service crew had long since stopped even bothering to see if any work was required at all. Time for a pop at what could have been – and talk about going out with a bang! We even passed another Class E Subaru at full chat across the mountain.  Finally utilising the potential of the Alcon brakes and Goodrich Rubber a pristine car returned to service after completing the event with a 5:55.  The 22nd fastest time and ripping back an epic 8 seconds off JFP to bring the scores to a final 6-3.  The result sheet read 31st overall and 18th in class – enough to net 55 points for the RAF Championship.  JFP bagged 65 points finishing 31 seconds up the road in 26th overall and 15th in class. However the car looked like we had never even taken it off the trailer.  Relatively no wear on the tyres, brakes or anything else for that matter.  Getting ready for round 2 would simply be a case of peeling the old stickers off!

On the last stage we were flying - we even look fast in the photo.  Shame we left it to the last stage.

But we must do better - the 22nd fastest time on the final stage showed the pace was there.  A strong field notwithstanding, a slow return to 2014 puts us 48 points behind the leaders after Round 1.  Final analysis – MUST DO BETTER.

6-3 To the winner goes the spoils.  JFP had us on this occasion but we will be back. 


Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Spookworks seeded at 37 for this weekends Alan Healy Memorial Rally


Spookworks has been seeded at 37th for this weekend's Alan Healy Memorial Rally.
This is what the number 37 looks like....
With 10 stages and 45 miles of competition; the first event of the year will be nothing short of intense.  The event has a full entry with over 92 entries and more than 27 alone in the Spookworks car class.  The event uses both the race track and the access roads for a real combination of smooth tarmac and rough broken roads making tyre choice a real gamble.

Spookworks old sparring partner, JFP has somehow managed to get himself seeded back at 42nd in a cunning ploy to put pressure on Spookworks right from the first stage.

Last years winners were David Turnbull and Matthew Wattham in a Subaru WRC S11 who set an overall time of 42:34.


This is what Cadwell Park looks like...

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Spookworks Unveil New Rally Simulator for 2014.



In a surprise announcement, a Spookworks Spokesman has announced that installation of a new indoor rally simulator is now complete at the Spookworks Corporate HQ.  The simulator will allow for all weather 24 hour testing capability and concurrent mechanical and aerodynamic development.

The simulator will be used extensively in Spookworks HQ

The Spookworks spokesman stated "We are very pleased to announce the completion of our new rally simulator here at Spookworks HQ.  This will give us an incredible opportunity to conduct detailed, in- house testing and development in a variety of different scenarios at a fraction of the cost of deploying a full Spookworks test team.  The simulator is extremely advanced, accurate and allows a number of different parameters to be tested in any weather and at any time of the year.  Based on real world physics, it also allows us to try different set ups and new driver settings which we previously could not do in a consequence free environment. Lessons and experiences learnt on the simulator can then be easily and quickly transferred onto the stage at a fraction of the development cost."

The simulator is believed to be unique to Spookworks and can be used to also test a variety of aerodynamic packages in addition to driver development. It is expected that the simulator will be made available for the new Spookworks Junior Team by the end of May 14.







21st Century shortcut: Spookworks released this picture of the actual simulator (shown in kitchen floor and hallway test spec)