Stroud’s long running Cotswold
Clouds rejoined the ACTC championship this year and was well and truly
over-subscribed. Some of the reserves came to the start but were turned
away, notably Harvey Waters who spent the day spectating after his long
journey up from Cornwall.
The route followed a well-trodden path, via a nice easy
Crawley Wood, through Dursley to Crooked Mustard, or Breakhart as it was
once appropriately known. The dry conditions meant there was plenty of
grip and it wasn’t until Roland Panes came along at number 10 that the
usual big crowd of spectators saw their first failure.
As Andrew Brown said last year the hill is more a
triumph of engineering over driving for the nimbler class eights with
their high power to weight ratios and ability to chop and change direction
at will. For the rest it was very important to get the line right as there
is a big step on the inside off the final right-hander. For any except the
class eights going that way meant certain failure. Even if you did avoid
the step Crooked Mustard still demands a good power to weight ratio and
Giles Greenslade was the only Beetle to go clean. In class four both Ian
Moss and Bill Rosten mastered the conditions. The question was would the
fragile Imps hang together? In class one the amazing Dave Haizelden
humbled many “more suitable” cars as he flew up in his VW Golf.
There was plenty of entertainment for the spectators.
Harry Butcher was definitely the star of the show, getting near to
vertical as he “wall of deathed” around the left hander, losing speed and
nearly toppling over as he tried to repeat the performance on the
following right hander, oh so nearly stopping before getting it all back
together and clearing the section.
Some of the Escorts were spectacular, throwing
themselves at the section but with very little control, getting a bad line
and failing in the process. Well done to Richard Hayward, Kelly Thomas,
Tristan White and Simon Groves for using their brains, driving fast but
smoothly, taking a good line and going clean.
A rather dry Axe didn’t present any problems but
Nailsworth Ladder certainly did. The lower classes were allowed to blast
straight through so the step didn’t present any problems, apart from
Stuart Deacon who broke a half-shaft, couldn’t get the end out and ended
up having to change the diff, missing a couple of sections in the process.
The yellows and reds had a restart right on the step.
Giles was the only big Beetle to get away and two thirds of the sevens and
eights failed. Amongst the Falcon contingent Ian Davis was the only one to
succeed as neither Geoff Hodge, Keith Oakes or Peter Mountain succeeded.
Talking of Peter it was nice to see Mike Young, the builder of Martin
Allen’s Racecorp, in the passengers seat.
At Ham Mill the deviation was used again, with a
cunningly positioned restart, right on a sharp corner where the ruts
dragged the inside wheel up against a bank. This caught out even the
experienced Simon Woodhall and Adrian Dommett amongst others.
After a dry wicked Juniper came Freds Folly with another
restart to catch the unwary yellows and reds.
Merves Swerve attracted the usual hoard of spectators
and with differential start lines and restarts presented a real challenge.
Just getting to the restarts was a problem. As ever the start lines were
such cars couldn’t really get a run at the hill. If they got away from the
start OK non restarters could throw their machinery at the steep bank,
leaping in the air and hoping to regain some sort of control on landing.
It was all very hairy. Passengers had to hang on for dear life and Sara
hit her head very hard in the back Simon Groves Escort.
It was here some of the class 8 challengers fell by the
wayside. They had a very tough re-start, positioned right on the bank and
Paul Bartleman and Ian Davis lost their clean sheet. Eric Wall may have
failed Nailsworth Ladder but here he was master of intelligent
positioning. Stopping his Mk1 Dellow well over to the left, minimising the
rise up the bank and pulling away without any wheel spin.
The Highwood complex lay just up the road. There were
two sections and two special tests and this is where the trial would be
decided. The fearsome Highwood Two was where it all happened. All but one
competitor lost their clean sheet. Only Kelly Thomas came out of the top
to go into the overall lead of the trial. Simon Woodall was the only car
to come close, dropping one in his buggy now repaired after its Clee Hills
engine problems., with his Clee Hills enging problems repaired.
Kellys lead was to be short lived as tragedy befell her
on the second special test where she stalled, couldn’t restart and had to
be pushed over the line, incurring a penalty of six marks and costing her
overall victory. This put Ian Moss, Andrew Martin and Bill Bennet into a
joint lead, all on three marks with Dave Haizelden, Simon Groves and Bryan
Phipps just behind on four. It ended this way as they all cleaned an easy
Climperwell and the tricky Bulls Bank restarts. It all came down to
special tests times and victory went to Ian by less than a second. Kelly’s
problems pushed her down into 3rd place in class three. Class honours
going to Simon Groves, making a hat trick of ACTC wins for the hard
charging Ely driver.