Sunday, 25 January 2015

Spookworks "Stage of the Gods"

Ride along with Spookworks on our "Stage of the Gods"  - when we upset all the form guides to post the fastest overall time on Stage 10 of the 2014 Rockingham Stages. 

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Fairy Tale ending for record breaking Spookworks after giant killing finish at Rockingham

Spookworks have significantly upset the running order by finishing a spectacular 5th overall at the Rockingham Stages rally held on 6-7 Dec 14.

The 100 stage miles split over 12 stages and 2 days proved to be a fantastic end to Spookworks 2014 campaign as the team set no less than NINE top ten times over the weekend including a 3RD FASTEST on Stage 7 and unbelievably setting the FASTEST OVERALL time on Stage 10!

Full story:

Spookworks was seeded at 18th (co-incidentally the same as 2013) for the Northamptonshire event which drew its usual strong entry list packed with no expense spared Mk 2 Ford Escorts, numerous Imprezas and Evos, and a few special limited edition cars like a 306 Maxi and a Proton S2000. Getting a good finish among this sort of crowd was always looking to be tall order.

Ready to go for Stage 1 - the Spookworks Service Area is manic with activity......guys? Anyone?
Despite forecasts of showers, the weather at midday for Stage 1 was bright and sunny.  Firing off the line into Stage , the magic that the Oracle had worked made the car feel fast and nimble.  Emerging into Rockingham circuit via the Rockingham tunnel; the bright conditions were merely a ruse for a very slippy and greasy circuit. Despite sideways moments everything was looking set for a positive first run. It was, until about 5 mins a fourth gear entry to a square left resulted in a spin dropping valuable seconds. 


A quick recovery minimised the damage and the remainder of Stage 1 was relatively uneventful resulting in a time of 7 mins 15 secs good enough for 18th overall and 5th out of 11 in Class 5. A good start. 

Sunny conditions belied a greasy and slippery stage.
In service, the tyre pressures were reduced by 2 psi - a tiny amount but this would make an amazing difference. With Stage 2 and repeat of Stage 1 a trouble free run produced a time of 6 min 52 secs, 23 secs faster than the first time around and the 10th fastest time overall. This saw a move up the leader board to 11th overall.

Keep the camera still or bump it to 400 ISO. Amateurs! 

The first half of Stage 3 was spent chasing a rapid Mk 2 Escort around. Sadly he was too quick in a straight line despite the Spookworks Impreza filling his mirrors on every bend and corner. Once he had peeled off to finish the stage the remainder was spent discovering that the Spookworks Subaru could actually go round most corners in 4th gear despite the protests from the Super soft Michelin tyres.  Despite being held up (only marginally) it proved to be an incredible run and it showed on the time sheets with a 7:36. That's good enough for 6th fastest overall and 3rd fastest in class!

The poor Michelin Tyres took enormous abuse but hung on like a leech. 
Stage 4 saw the added difficulty of the low setting sun on the horizon as darkness approached the Rockingham venue. Despite a hit and run with a cone (due to an overshoot in a chicane) another strong run saw a time of 7 mins 43 secs to set the 12th fastest time overall and 7th fastest in class.  A quick look at the leader board put Spookworks 8 places up on seeding to 10th overall and 5th in class. Onwards and upwards!

The low setting sun make for great photos but not great for driving.  The lens flare is intentional we are told.
Stage 5 was the first of 2 night stages that usually brings utter chaos to the event.  The lamp pod was dusted off and bolted to the front of the Spookworks Impreza.  Launching off the line with the lights blazing the first sign of danger reared its ugly head as the lower temps reduced the traction available and an introduction between Spookworks and a gravel trap took place on the exit of the Rockingham tunnel. 


Thankfully it was a  brief encounter and the momentum and speed carried the car through to the next drama.  As luck would have it to guide us through the impending darkness an escort was provided by an Escort (!) and using his lights for reference; gave us extra visibility in an otherwise pitch black environment.  A few corners later and a super quick 306 Maxi decided to overtake on the outside of Turn 1 - a rapid machine which soon disappeared into the distance. It was sometime then that the outer beams decided to switch off and the stage was lit only buy the normal headlights and a twin beam of light that came from the 2 centre spotlights.  Great for a longer view but the immediate left and right of the view were now complete darkness giving no reference at all of the inside or outside of the road or corners. Arriving back in service, it was a relief to discover that most competitors also had some form of trouble and the time was good enough for an amazing time of 9:25 -  9th fastest overall and 4th in class to move Spookworks up to 8th overall on the leader board.

The crowd goes wild as Spookworks blasts through Stage 5.....
The last stage of Day 1 - Stage 6 was a test of nerve and discovery as, although the outer spotlights had now returned to full working order, there was no time available to correctly align them, so they were next to useless. The friendly Escort from the previous stage was nowhere to be seen, so a lonely run through the stage in darkness ensued and despite no incidents the time lost was pretty catastrophic. A time of 9:26 was only a second slower than the first run though but the competition had all gained over 15 secs on the second run through. We would have to wait overnight to see how much damage had been done.

The lights looked pretty good as far as the cameraman was concerned.
Into service and a vibration in the left front wheel turned out to be a wayward drive shaft. The service crew jumped into action to perform a heroic repair in the freezing winter conditions.  Pretty impressive commitment and it would emerge to be perhaps the biggest contributor to the success that was to follow. Well played boys.

Finally some activity in the Spookworks Service Area....
After a good nights sleep, Day 2 started around 0900 and the leader board showed the time lost on Stage 6 had cost 3 places.  A very high price to pay but with 6 stages to go there was plenty of time to make amends.

QUICK LOOK BUSY WHILE HE TAKES A PHOT................too late.
What was consumed at breakfast is still unclear but whatever it was made a big difference as after the disappointment of the previous night Spookworks attacked Stage 7 as if the future of the universe depended upon it.  The result -  an amazing stage time of 9:37.  This was an incredible 3RD OVERALL AND SECOND IN CLASS.  One of Spookworks best ever times - ever!  The result instantly bumped Spookworks 2 places up the leader board, back into the Top 10 to 9th overall.

Flying machine - who ever thought we could set 3rd fastest!!
Despite the arrival of rain  - Stage 8 saw the relentless attack continue and a time of 9:29 saw Spookworks set the 6TH FASTEST time overall and another position gained on the leaderboard to 7th overall.

A little bit of rain seemed to make us even faster!

Stage 9 saw Spookworks set yet another Top Ten time with a 8:11 good enough to set the 7th FASTEST TIME OVERALL and another move up the leader board to 6th.

Anyone guess where we are?  
If the previous 3 stages were incredible then stage 10 was simply biblical.  Cue Winston Churchill and his 'finest hour' speech as Spookworks set the FASTEST TIME OVERALL on Stage 10 with a 7:42.  
How this was done to this day remains a mystery but the timing sheet tells no lies.  This represents the best ever stage result for not only Spookworks but an RAF rally car in all recorded history; an epic achievement.  If you don't believe it simply read the table below or even visit the results website yourself here .  We beat EVERYONE. Our very own "Stage of the Gods"..

PositionCarCrewStage TimeTotal TimeDiff O'allDiff PrevClassClass PosnClass Diff O'allClass Diff Prev

Luckily the results for Stage 10 were not known to us by Stage 11 and another quick run resulted in a 7th overall with a 6:57.  The leaderboard showed Spookworks now sitting at a ground breaking 5th overall.

We were going so fast even the camera man couldn't keep up...

The final stage of the day seems a blur of expectation and excitement. No one can remember what happened but it must have been trouble free as another 7th fastest time was posted.  As the Spookworks Impreza rolled into Service for the final time it was an amazing and emotional experience.  5th overall on a rally filled with top rate rally cars - a true underdog story.  Fastest time on Stage 10, no less than nine top ten stage times from 12 stages, first stage win for an RAF crew, highest recorded finish for an RAF crew.

We are so fast the front of the car is quicker than the back half....
A great end to a difficult year for Spookworks.  Thanks to the team in Service, especially Gunny and Josh who worked magic the whole weekend.  Thanks to all of you who encouraged and support Spookworks throughout 2014. See you in 2015!

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


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:

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:
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



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.

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.