The Stroud club had excellent conditions for The Cotswold Clouds. It was dry on the
day, but bad weather during the previous week made the sections nice and muddy, without
turning into a quagmire. Needless to say there was a full entry for this historic and very
special event which stands on its own, not wanting or needing the "status"
of any championship.
Roger Fox led the field away from the Gordons Garage for the short run to Crawley Hill.
His Citroen AX wasnt running very well and he soon had to stop and dive under the
bonnet. This left Simon and Matt Robson to run first car on the road for much of the
event. The little yellow Liege must have been rather over-awed by the experience because
it promptly failed Crawley, one of the very few to stop on this gentle opener.
Team Robson soon made up for this by being one of only two class sevens to clean
Crooked Mustard, something they never achieved in their Skoda days. The majority of the
class eights cleaned this demanding hill but only Ian Moss in his smart new yellow
Imp got up from the lower classes. John Bell deserves an honourable mention for getting to
the four marker. However, the red Escort was soon to blot its copybook by failing
Axe with no less than three punctures! The problem was after the step, where there must
have been some nasty sharp rocks buried in the mud as there were numerous punctures,
including Ian Davis, whose VW Buggy picked up two, a front and a rear.
There was plenty of grip on Nailsworth Ladder, but it still caused problems for the
majority of the class ones and only the "super-quartet" of Dave Haizelden, Paul
Allaway, Michael Collins and Adrian Tucker-Peake cleaned the section. These four certainly
set a high standard and not only have fantastic scraps between them but are challenging
for overall wins on many trials. The sevens and eights had to restart of course and
neither Clive Booth nor Owen Briggs got away, although fellow Falcon Simon Robson was
clean. This was a particular shame for Owen as he had coaxed his self built special
"Winney One" up Mustard.
Clerk of the Course Tim Lakin had devised a handicap system for Ham Mill. The Blues had
a clear run, the whites a restart on the exit from the right hander and the yellows and
reds before the corner with a step to contend with. Most competitors cleaned the section
but the restarts caught out a few including Falcons Clive Booth and Michael Leete.
There was a new variation for Mackhouse, which gave a downhill approach before the
muddy blast up through the trees. Classes seven and eight had a re-start on the slope so
the downhill approach didnt help very much. Even so a fair few of the class
eights cleaned the section, but not Nigel Moss who like most of the entry stopped
short of the final muddy rise for a one. This cost Nigel overall victory as Adrian Marfell
cleaned the hill. Has Nigel done the same he would have won as he was faster on the
The lunchbreak was at Tescos as usual, although most competitors didnt stay
long as the delays at Crooked Mustard had put the timing a bit behind. Unlike some of the
MCC events there didnt appear to be a ban on toolkits, so Michael Leete helped Ian
Davis change the tube in one of his punctured wheels. The Bulls Cross special test was
just up the road with a downhill stop line, which fooled both Jim Scott and John Ludford.
Freds Folly was across the road. Like Axe this is a hill that has become more difficult
over the years. Its a long gentle climb through the trees, then comes a right hander
after which the ruts get deeper, the gradient steepens and the mud starts! The difficulty
is that with the right hander you cant take much of a run at the last bit as if you
go too fast you jump out of the ruts and under-steer into the trees. With their low diffs
the hill wasnt very friendly to class three and only John Bell and Dave Miller got
their Escorts to the summit, in Johns case after a near 360 on the lower reaches! In
class seven Simon Robson found an early number a decided disadvantage as he cleared some
of the mud away for the later numbers, failing at the four marker.
(Left) Andrew Brown failing to
smoke his way of the restart at Nailsworth Ladder. (sorry Andrew but it is a nice picture
by John Salter) (Right) With Nigel Allen's wreck blocking the exit road the marshals had
to push failures up Mackhouse.
(Left) Owen Briggs, baring his
chassis tubes for all to see in the MCC Committee's favourite car, is pictured by Pete
Hart on Merve's Swerve on Owen's first one day trial. "Whinney" attracted a lot
of attention at the start. Can we expect more VR6 powered specials in class 8 soon?
(Right) Another super picture by John Salter as David Wall leaps away from the Nailsworth
The crowds had gathered for the entertainment at Merves Sweerve,
which was under the control of Allen organisers Pete and Carlie Hart. The stars were
definitely Paul Allaway and Dave Haizelden who both got their Front Wheel Drive cars over
the muddy hump. Ian Davis and Owen Briggs both went clear but otherwise Merves
wasnt Falcon friendly and Michael Leete, Simon Robson and Clive Booth all floundered
on the big bump for a humiliating reverse in front of their peers!
It was back into the woods for the Highwood Special Test and two observed sections. The
challenge on Highwood One is another quagmire at the top of a hill! It wasnt so
muddy this year and it is possible to build some speed on the approach so there were
cleans in all classes this year. Highwood Two was just up the track. There were different
start lines for the various classes but nobody had a real run at the steep bit this year.
The overall lead of the trial changed here. Up until now there were six clean sheets and
the leading order was decided by the special test times reading:-
- David Foreshew (GVS) 23.35
- Mike Workman (GVS) 23.78
- Paul Bartleman (Troll) 24.24
- Dudley Sterry (MG J2) 24.34
- Adrian Marfell (VW Special) 26.91
- Peter Fear (Dingo) 31.40.
Everything was change here, as apart from Ian Moss only class eights Adrian
Marfell, Nigel Moss and Carl Talbot got to the summit, most people having to make the
terrifying reverse back down the section. As Nigel had failed Mackhouse and Carl the
Highwood Special test, this gave Adrian the lead of the trial that kept to the end.
Things were drawing to a close now. Climperwell didnt present any problems so it
was all down to the finale at he two Bulls Bank re-starts, where competitors were greeted
by Stuart Harrold and Chris Phillips, with the news that "the restart are evil and
competitors in all classes are failing". Thanks guys! Adrian got away OK but the
restarts did affect the results in some classes. Stephen White failed Bulls Bank Two,
passing the lead in Class Two to Bill Bennett. John Bells successful climb of Freds
Folly faded away when he couldnt get away from "Two" either, leaving class
Three to successful restarter Paul Eamer. In Class Six Terry Ball failed Bulls Bank One
putting him back to the same hill score as Mike Hobbs but Terry hung onto his lead on
special test times.
Most competitors got to the finish at The Old Lodge Inn on Minchinhampton Common at a
reasonable time, as there were no real delays after lunch. Well-done Adrian Marfell on
another well deserved victory. And well done Tim Lakin and the Stroud team for another
successful, enjoyable and well judged Cotsold Clouds.
||Adrian Marfel (VW Special)
||Nigel Moss (Troll)
||Paul Allaway (Astra)
||Bill Bennett (MG J2
||Paul Eamer (Escort)
||Ian Moss (Imp)
||Mike Wordsworth (MG Midget)
||Terry Ball(VW Beetle)
||Dean Vowden (Marlin)
||Dudley Sterry (MG J2)