December 2004, Part 2
In the last two years, Simon Groves has made his mark as one of the most
enthusiastic, and successful, of Falcons Classic Triallers in his Gold Escort.
Taking in events all over the country, quite an achievement when some of them
are such a long way from his home in Ely.
Simon tackling one of Brickhills sandy hills in typically enthusiastic style.
Again at Brickhill but this time on the 2003 March Hare Classic where he had to retire at Hawridge Lane with Petrol Pump problems
Simon pictured on Nailsworth on the 2004 Cotswold Clouds by Chris Phillips.
Simon pictured receiving an Autotest award from Andrea Lane with Tom Goggin in the background.
Click on the pictures to enlarge them.
Simon is from a trials family and can remember seeing Dad John, tackling
the sections at Tring Park in his 105E Anglia, the famous supercharged Ford
Pop being relegated to the garage by then. The pair had a go at Classics in a
Beetle before Simon acquired his Escort in February 2002. It had started life
as an 1100 Automatic, but was a 1300 Manual by the time Simon spotted it in
the local free paper. It was soon put too good use as Simon immediately
entered it on The March Hare. The bug had well and truly bitten and in 2003
Simon ventured out on events all over the country, winning the ACTC award for
most promising newcomer.
2004 started, of course, with the Exeter and naturally, it was Simms that
provided the challenge. Simon managed to coax the Escort past the A boards,
but with a single SU it just didn’t have the grunt to get over the horrendous
The Clee Hills saw a good result, with Simon coming third in class to
Harvey Waters and John Cox. None of them managed to succeed on the Longville
special test, only Colin Perryman, in his BMW, backing down far enough to
build sufficient momentum to get out cleanly. Ippikins rock was another thorn
in Simon’s side on the Clee, as despite doing a real wall of death act, he
couldn’t get the Escort around the famous sharp hairpin. Before Ippikins was
Easctcote. Like so many competitors, Simon couldn’t get through the muddy bit
at the bottom, but the queue gave him the chance to see how others got on. He
witnessed a storming climb by Harvey Waters who nearly got out of the top.
Listening to Harvey’s car Simon decided that his own Escort was definitely
short of power and revs compared to the Cornish boys machinery, and in a class
where the only way to compete in an Escort is to “thrash the nuts off it”, the
SU would have to go in favour of twin 40’s.
There was still a single SU on the Escort for The Cotswold Clouds. This
didn’t stop Simon storming the lower reaches of Crooked Mustard, and although
he nearly got stuck on the final corner he kept going, crawling over the line
to clean one of Classic Triallings most demanding sections. A fast climb of
Axe followed, denting the wings as the Escort fishtailed its way to the
summit, slapping the banks with its sides in the process. By Highwood 2 Simon
was really flying and got to the two, gaining him a well deserved class win
although the slide back down with all the wheels locked was a little scary.
Climperwell was a bit dramatic and Sara was far from happy when the Escort
jumped put of the ruts. Simon didn’t lift off, despite heading directly for a
Up until now, Simon had always driven his car to events, but by The
Northern, he had joined the trailer brigade and done quite a few changes to
the car. Twin 40’s had replaced the single SU and harder springs were fitted
to compensate for all the weight in the boot. To quote Simon “I did terrible”.
The first section, Sandale, was a real shock. Simon got the car off the line
and opened it up to give it a good blast. The Webbers sucked in copious
quantities of petrol and air, a huge burst of power was delivered to the rear
wheels, which dug in and found grip, causing the car to make three huge leaps
into the air, and got stuck! It took Simon most of the day to get used to the
different characteristics, of what was effectively a new car, and the only
compensation of the day was the highest class three climb of “Where Eagles
Dare”, which he thought was an impossible hill until Simon Woodhall drove out
Falcon’s March Hare was next. Although Simon was getting used to the
changes to the car, he couldn’t master the slippery conditions at Kensworth
and watched Peter Thompson tiptoe up to win the class. The Land End was next.
Simon had made some more changes to the engine, which was going really well,
too well in fact as the clutch blew up after Beggars Roost. Simon had still
been running a standard clutch after up rating the engine and on reflection,
what he had perceived as wheelspin had largely been clutch slip, building up
so much heat it just couldn’t cope with the restart. After the trial, he fixed
the problem with a heavy-duty pressure plate.
After The Lands End, it was off to the Forest of Dean for the Kyrle. This
is one of Simon’s favourite events, despite blowing a diff and first gear the
year before. This year Simon was pleased to come third, dropping only 21,
behind Dick Bolt and Harvey Waters who won on 17. The best memory of the event
was climbing the notorious Jill, although he was not so fortunate on the
parallel Jack. It was the nearby Burn Brae that cost Simon the class. This is
the hill that starts by going though a stream, then embarks on a torturous
route around the trees, the organisers varying the actual course year by year.
It was quite tough this time and Simon could only mange to get to the eight
while Dick Bolt climbed out of the top. However, Simon really enjoyed his
Kyrle and decided that the Escort was finally sorted, giving him the
opportunity to compete with the The Cornish Boys on equal terms.
During The Kyrle Simon had noticed that the Escort puffed oil smoke every
time he revved it and decided to strip the motor down and change the rings.
Unfortunately he didn’t put something together properly while John was at
lunch, causing the engine to seize when it was started after re-assembly. The
Ilkley and Testing Trial were coming up and Simon didn’t want to miss them so
looked around with Dad and found a 20-year-old lump under a bench, and put
this in for the long trek north. Simon led his class from the start, all the
way through to the last section when he got stuck in the mud on the lower
reaches and slipped back to third in class. Simon enjoyed The Ilkley, but
reckons it has to move to another time of year, so it isn’t so dry.
After the summer break it was off down to the West Country for The Taw and
Torridge, where the Fack diff cried enough early in the afternoon. Simon and
Dad John replaced it with a standard one to get back to their trailer. John
soon spotted that the axle casing was well and truly bent, so there was a lot
to do before the next event. The diff was in fact on loan from John, as
although Simon had one on order, and had paid a deposit, it had never come. A
call to Julian Fack revealed that there was no prospect of a new diff in the
immediate future. Julian offered to try to repair the broken one but Dad
wouldn’t have any of that and decided to repair it with new pins and needle
rollers. Unfortunately, he went off on holiday before it was finished and
Simon particularly wanted to compete on The Exe Valley. He put in a call to
Paul Bartleman who was really helpful and explained how to turn down a Transit
Diff to fit in the axle casing. This was a worthwhile call as Paul also fixed
Simon up with a passenger for Stroud’s Mechanic’s Trial.
Simon only did the Exe Valley with the Transit Diff, but it held together
for a really enjoyable trial. It was pretty dry but the organisers had some
contingency plans. At Upper Kingswell, the local farmer emptied 16,000 gallons
of water down the hill to make things more interesting! Sticker Martin won
overall in his Escort and although Simon had, the fourth best score in class
three got a second in class award! The highlight was of course Simms. Although
they had a straight run most of the class threes were failing until along came
Sticker, Harvey Waters and Simon and they all got up! Simms was very rough
though and Simon could well understand why repairs were necessary before The
Verdun Webley got straight off a plane from Canada to passenger for Simon
on The Edinburgh. They had a good run and were particularly pleased to be the
first car after Dudley Sterry to get passed the A boards. They managed to pip
Nick Farmer, in the ex – Dave Turner BMW, by one tenth of a second on the
special tests to win the class so they were delighted.
The next weekend it was off to the Cotswolds for The Ebworth Trial, which
Simon thought was fantastic, even though he only came fourth in class after
the Cornish Boys. It was flat out all day long, although it was another event
that Sara found a bit hairy, particularly when Andrew Brown had to sit on the
wing to stop the Escort rolling over while reversing down one section. Next
was a long drive west to do The Tamar where Simon came fourth in class,
although only three marks behind winner Harvey Waters. The event had been
badly affected by the local floods, which had meant the club had lost some of
their usual sections.
Stroud Vice-Chairman Tony Underhill passenged Simon on The Mechanics Trial,
kindly putting him up the night before for an evening of Trials Videos. Tony
is Mike Workman’s usual bouncer and with his local knowledge, Simon won the
class. The weather made The Mechanics pretty tough. Green Lane was a
particular problem as the deviation around the fallen tree was horrendous and
Simon couldn’t stop the Escort slipping into a hole, ending up with the rear
suck in the mud and the front four feet in the air! Green Lane 1 clinched the
class win. Simon held the motor on the rev limiter while Tony literally
bounced the car to the summit.
Simon couldn’t get a firm entry on The Allen and didn’t want to make the
long journey to Bristol as a reserve. So, The Camel the following week will
the final trial of the year. Whatever happens on that Simon has really enjoyed