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.