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January 2003 - Part 1

Julian Dommett wins Allen 2002

Julian Dommett won the Allen for a record third time. It was a close thing though, as there were four clean sheets. Julian won by a second on special test times, beating Giles Greenslade, Bill Bennett and Philip Mitchell. David Foreshew was the best class eight but everyone in this class dropped marks somewhere as a result of their extra restarts.

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Michale Leete smiling for the camera, as in the background competitors can be seen tackling the new section at Birch Hill
Neil Bray changing his drive shaft after Nanny Hurns
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Stuart Harrold and Chris Phillips grounding out on Burledge
Anyone for Class Nine! Stuart Ridge out for a gentle Sunday drive on Burledge.

Pete Hart and his team kept The Allen to its established format, with all the hills, with the exception of Nanny Hurns, run on well-established tracks. There were changes though. There was a new hill and the route was a little different as the start had to be moved a few miles up the road this year.

Last years winner, Adrian Marfell, led the field away from The White Hart in Cold Ashton in near ideal trialling conditions. The weather was overcast, but dry, after some very heavy rain the previous two days, and even on the morning itself, to spice things up. This was a good thing as The Allen’s sections are not particularly difficult in the dry.

The route from the start passed the top of Tog Hill, the normal first hill, on the way to Bitton Lane, which was the first competitive section this time. The Blues and Whites had a clean run at the hill. Yellows and Reds had the usual restart on the left hand bend but this didn’t present much of a problem and only Arthur Jones in his Liege failed to get away.

The trial followed its usual route through Keynsham to Uplands where "Little Uplands" was on the agenda this year while it’s "big" cousin was given a rest. This was the end of Stephen Potters trial when his magnificent Trojan cried enough. This was a shame but Trojan fans still had John Wilton’s similar machine to watch. Like all except the reds the Trojan crew had a clear run through, so they could build a bit of momentum over the rough rocky bit in the middle. Class eight weren’t let off so easy and this is where they had their restart, which was to prove pretty challenging. Last year’s winner Adrian Marfell failed to get away properly and he wasn’t the only one. Stuart Harrold (Troll), Anthony Young (VW Special) didn’t get away either. The three class eight Falcon’s all failed to re-start. Although John Parsons actually got going he slipped back quite a few inches in the process and was given a fail.

Next came the infamous Guy’s Hill, where everyone has to reverse and come back down after the land-mark right-of-way judgement of a few years ago. Guy’s Hill is dead straight and doesn’t have a tremendous gradient. It’s the surface that makes the section difficult, with a combination of polished stones and tree roots. Blue and White were allowed a clean run and those who built up sufficient momentum got to the summit OK. There were a few that didn’t though. In class One Paul Allaway stopped at the one and Adrian Tucker-Peake couldn’t get past the six. All the class three’s got up except Stuart Deacon (Escort) and Murray Montgomery-Smith (Morris Minor), both of whom retired not long afterwards. The section didn’t present much of a problem to class four although Michael Leete didn’t drive it very well and stopped at the two.

Life was different for the Yellows and Reds who had to restart half way up and tackle the upper reaches without the benefit of momentum. Most either failed for a six or stuttered a few yards to gain a five. It was cleanable though and Mike Hobbs stormed to the top in his Big Beetle, followed by Julian Dommett in his side valve Dellow Mk 1. A few of the class eights were successful including Adrian Marfell, Carl Talbot and Falcon’s Mike Pearson.

Everyone had to restart on Sandy Lane and this was all about stopping in the right place. Surprisingly it was the class seven’s who seemed to have the most difficulty and ACTC Rights of Way Officer and "Wheelspin" webmaster Andrew Brown was one of the failures. After a wonderfully muddy, rutted track and a series of tiny lanes came Strode, which is also all about the restart for all except the blues. This one didn’t present many problems and it was followed more or less immediately by a special test involving going across and then back through a puddle of muddy water!

The route continued it’s traditional way to Travers where again the yellows and reds had to re-start, although this was a little higher up the section than usual. Without a restart it wasn’t too difficult, provided you didn’t have a puncture of course! Unfortunately Neil Bray did and had to change the wheel on the section in order to clear the way for those following. The restart area was quite rocky. John Parsons stopped quite high up and got away but Mike Pearson chose to come to a halt lower down and got his wheels stuck in a dip.

There were a dozen clean sheets at the Chew Valley reservoir rest halt, but that was to change just up the road at Burledge. This is a real classic trials hill. The lower reaches are in a tree-lined gully, rocky but pretty smooth. After a 45 degree right hander the section goes straight as an arrow up a rutted track with a restart for yellows and reds and less and less ground clearance a you get near the top. Tyre pressures are critical, especially for the restarters. As Chief Official Nigel Moss said, "you need 6 psi to get off the re-start then fifty psi to maximise ground clearance at the top!

The guys with the big wheels did well here; although the section was to see the end of Dudley Sterry. In Class One David Haizelden and Michael Collins were to loose their only marks of the day in their VW Golf’s. Phillip Mitchell stormed up in his David Turner prepared blower BMW and so did Giles Greenslade and Dick Glossop in Class Four. It was a tough section for the restarters although it clearly suited the big Beetles as four of them got up. In class seven wheel size was everything and all the Marlins failed but Julian Dommett (Dellow) and Arthur Jones (Liege) were clean.

Quite a few of the class eights stopped, either failing to get away from the restart or running out of ground clearance just before the summit. Mike Pearson couldn’t get away but Clive Booth in his similar Reg Taylor/Geoff Jackson built Dellow Replica got off the re-start only to fail at the two. Poor John Parsons got out the top of the section but was judged to have failed the restart.

Seven competitors lost their clean sheets on Burledge and the remaining five approached Nanny Hurns with all to play for. The special test was separate to the section this year. Julian Dommett set another fast time and this put him in the lead of the trial. The section was its usual self, short, muddy and slippery but cleanable with skill. It’s necessary to get the speed just right. To slow and you won’t get over the bank, to fast and you under-steer into the trees. All of the leaders slid over the bank OK and the entire field cleaned the following Tog Hill after Stony Hill had to be cancelled due to an influx of New Age Travellers. Neil Bray had to change a drive shaft on the way when a rat-tat-tat from the rear indicated that one of the CV’s were on its way out.

It was north up the A46 now, over the M4 in the gathering gloom to a new section called Birch Hill, presided over by John Sargeant. The hill was quite long. The first bit had a gentle gradient but was quite badly rutted, catching out Mike Hobbs in his Big Beetle. It entered a tunnel of trees, rounded a gentle right hander then wiggled through a muddy quagmire with a restart for Reds right on the edge where the grip went away. The weather was to play its part here as the heavens opened up to make things more interesting. Getting through the mud was all about burning your way through with sheer power or building speed and using pure momentum if you didn’t have to re-start. Jeremy Flann (Austin Seven) lost his clean sheet here so it was down to four as then field wound it’s way to John Walker which was to be the final hill of the day.

The section was it’s usual magnificent self, by no means a "stopper" but a pure pleasure to drive. It can catch out the unwary though, as Clive Booth found out when he flooded out in the ford. So there were four clean sheets in the end, with overall victory going to Julian Dommett on Special Test times. It was a well-fought trial and the result could have been different. Clee winner Michael Collins had faster times than Julian but got a three on Burledge. What a year if a Class One driver had won two ACTC events! And spare a thought for Adrian Marfell who also did better on the Special Tests but couldn’t restart on the dinosaurs eggs at Little Uplands! But well done to Julian Dommett who on the day was the best driver in a well-prepared car. And thank you to Pete & Carlie Hart, Mark Tooth and all the team for another excellent and well judged Allen Trial.

Class 1 David Haizelden (VW Golf GTi) 2  
  Michael Collins (VW Golf) 3  
Class 2 Bill Bennett (MG J2) 0  
Class 3 Phillip Mitchell (BMW 318i) 0  
Class 4 Giles Greenslade (VW Beetle) 0  
  Dave Sargeant (VW Beetle) 8  
Class 5 Mike Wordsworth (MG Midget) 6  
Class 6 Gary Browning (VW Beetle) 5  
Class 7 Julian Dommett (Dellow Mk 1) 0 Overall Winner
  Arthur Vowden (Marlin) 7  
Class 8 David Foreshew (GVS Mkll) 5  
  Stuart Ridge (Cannon) 5  

Full Allen Results in PDF Format

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