|Traction is over rated! - Spookworks on the charge at the Opposite Lock Rally
Spookworks have been celebrating after a fantastic run on the 2012 Opposite Lock Stages at Manby in Lincolnshire last weekend. Seeded 28th out of over 68 entries, with no less than 23 cars in their class including the TEG Sport Subaru driven by Adrian Newby, the team would be up against some serious competition. With the disappointment of the result on the Jim Clark and having to miss the Rally of the Midlands behind them; the Spookworks crew where looking forward to getting straight into the fight with the car in great shape after a misfire was rectified with some new spark plugs.
The Spookworks crew faced 8 stages with 53 miles of competitive mileage centred around a normal airfield type scenario but this one also includes a labyrinth of gravel, grass and mud tracks on surrounding roads including fast jumps, tight hairpins and incredibly quick medium corners lined with trees, ditches and moats.
|Things seemed ok on the tarmac....
As the Spookworks Impreza queued up for Stage 1 and 7.3 miles of the genuine unknown they seemed to be the only crew brave enough to use tarmac tyres. Off the line started well with a short tarmac section around some tyres and a few chicanes before a hairpin left saw the crew off the tarmac and into the wildest ride ever in a rally car. To try and give you a mental image - imagine driving on ice rink with wheels made of butter and you will get a feel for the type of grip available and why most people had gravel tyres on…. After 4.5 miles of wrestling the car from careering off the mud and wet grass into the ditches and trees lining the stage the crew was exhausted – with arms feeling like an Olympic weightlifters after winning the gold medal. Looking at the carnage littered around the stage it seemed like Spookworks had fared better than most and the relief of returning to tarmac for the remainder of the stage was unbelievable. Exhilarating doesn’t quite capture it, the crew knew that the day would lack the finesse or precision of a normal tarmac event, and the powered controlled slides that a welsh forest rally produces – but that the day come what may would be tremendous fun and some of the best rallying Spookworks have ever experienced. Spookworks picked up 19th fastest time to their surprise, despite visiting several hedges and watching the scenery see sawing across the windscreen opposite from the corner they wanted to go around! Regrettably not all of the 68 entries survived the experience to tell the tale.
|Save yourself! Mud and tarmac tyres = sideways
Knowing now what to expect; Stage 2 saw a more measured approach with an early determination to brake in a sensible place and try to get the car to swing the same way as the corner in order to beat their previous time. After numerous unintentional power slides and a few lucky handbrake turns Spookworks managed to 28 secs off their previous time to set the 18th fastest time. The Spookworks crew might have had tired limbs and necks but they simply could not stop laughing when they pulled into service each time. It was tough but tremendous fun!
Stage 3 saw Spookworks tackle a smaller 6 mile stage and set the 19th fastest time again. Still enormous grins in the service area and lots of almost in the hedge moments to recount but luckily for the Spookworks Subaru was still going strong with no misfire and presumably still in one piece under all the mud.
Stage 4 and the stages whilst still slippery and needing to be treated with respect started to dry up and the team experienced a phenomenon referred to as “grip”. This “grip” had a good effect on Spookworks stage time as they set a time of 8:49, 6th fastest overall - almost a minute quicker over a 6 mile stage!
The lunch break enabled circulation to return to limbs and the stage to be reconfigured so the event now went round anticlockwise around the Manby airfield.
Stage 5 things kept getting better and Spookworks pushed quite hard and set another 6th fastest time despite being held up badly by a fellow competitor.
Stage 6 and despite a better run the crew came across a BMW rally car on its side, blocking the stage. The crew were ok but were unable to move there car so Spookworks were forced to sit stationary in an active stage and had to wait while the marshals moved some tyres and bales as quickly as possible to enable an alternative route around the wrecked 3 series and back onto stage. But the time lost was horrific must have been 30 – 40 secs and Spookworks dropped down the leaderboard as a result.
With 2 stages to go and the bit between their teeth Spookworks moved to DEFCON 1 and decided to go all out for it to make up for lost time. The stages were really dry which meant the enormous stopping power of our Alcon brakes could really be brought to bear on our helpless competition. Spookworks were desperate to break into the top ten overall and decided to push hard. Despite a blowing exhaust ably repaired in service before the final stage they delivered a crushing blow to their rivals and set another top 6 time and found themselves in 11th overall.
Spookworks saved the best for last and Stage 8 was the team’s best stage of the day. The car was perfect, handling superbly due to the Superpro bushes giving a precise feel through the steering and the Spookworks Impreza seemed to drive itself setting the 5th fastest time overall and transforming the final results - 7th in class and 8th overall.
|No hanging around - Spookworks blasts through the mud to 8th overall
This strong result amongst significant competition gives Spookworks 78 points towards the RAF Championship and moves them into second place and within striking distance of the leader. The next event on the schedule is the Tyneside Stages on 11 – 12 August.