Sunday 7th February, and seventy five crews
travelled to the secure parking area and start of the Cotswold Clouds near
Stonehouse. Each of the classes were represented, five and six been the
smallest with four in each. The Clouds saw the début of two brand new cars
in experienced hands. Nicola Butcher in her long awaited swing axle 1300
Beetle, and Paul Allaway in his even longer awaited Nova GTE. Nicola was
to have a very trying day as the engine didn't pull very well, but was
awarded the Ian Moss trophy for best presented car.
The first section was Crawley, just down the road from the start, where
you pass the finish on the way to the section. The road sweeper and
marshals were busy keeping the main road clear of mud, although it was a
bit disconcerting to find the tractor heading towards you as it kept the
road clean! Passing the sensitive houses at the bottom with great care and
onto a gently meandering section with three gutters running across. These
are no normal gutters as they had been built up in big speed humps with
sand bags! A slow approach was needed but five competitors were adjudged
to have stopped whilst traversing them which had a huge effect on the
A short run down the road to Dursley where Crooked Mustard awaited.
Whilst waiting it soon got round that the hill was on top form, especially
for the early cars. By the time Dave Haizleden arrived in car 37 only a
handful of class 7's and 8's had been successful. Dave was the first
“saloon” up the section with Duncan Stephens passengering so far forward
he cracked the windscreen with his head somewhere on the section. He never
worked out where as couldn’t find a bruise!! Made of hard stuff these
sporting trial guys!! Special mention must also go to Giles and Keith
Sanders who were the only other saloon cars to be successful on the day.
Classes 7&8 had a much easier time of it though, with twenty two climbs,
the majority been class eight. Dave Cook was here once again catching cars
at all angles round the bends! One of these included David Shaylor who had
borrowed Gary Brownings trial winning Beetle and went onto win the class.
A short loop to get to Axe on the other side of the road, with a
holding control beforehand. With a deep area of clay half way up this
proved extremely hard for the first twenty five cars with very few
successful climbs on an clean/fail basis. Phil Tucker was one of the early
successful climbs, his Escort Estate revving hard.
Next was another historic section, Nailsworth Ladder, with Ross &
District Motor Club marshalling. It’s great seeing local motor clubs
supporting each other in marshalling section in each other’s trials. The
ladder had two restart lines for all classes but 1&2. Bruce Aitkin
continued to have a very challenging day in his low slung AX, and the
Trojan were the only other non-stoppers to fail. Bill Bennett continued
his heroic acts in the J2 getting airborne twice on the step!! Dean
Partington was in full confidence mode, backing right off even before the
front got to the step. The higher re-starters generally didn’t have too
much trouble provided they moved off the restart with some pace.
Ham Mill was just across the common at the top of the Ladder, with a
restart on the right hand bend for some classes on polished rock, but with
plenty of width to choose your line. The section ontinued to finish on
grass. The restart caught approximately half the stoppers, including Nick
Farmer who was unfortunate to have a puncture, costing him the overall
Wicked Juniper came next, gradually works its way further and further
into the woods on lots of leaf mould. Just for an extra challenge a
restart was in place with a nice long box to choose from. Bill Bennett,
Keith Sanders and Emma Robilliard were the only saloons to climb, the
latter two with a restart. Carl Talbot had a wheel fall off his Anglia
which resulted in a 30 minute job to get him out of the way of the
Pheasant Run was a new section in a huge wood complex. You had to go
past the section, turn round and come back to it. The early runners
started on the track, but this soon became starting straight. The first
few feet didn’t see much grip then loads before a slight bends with trees
keeping you steady, and then another restart. Bill Bennett continued to
excel with another clean, Dave Haizelden was persuaded he should have
climbed it afterwards! Giles dropped a three here, but was out-climbed by
Bill Rosten’s Imp and Nigel Scotford’s Skoda which cost Giles the overall
win. Class seven saw Tubby, Rick Neale, Norman Tonkin (who must have shot
gunned the trailer before Ryan or Ben) the only ones away and out of the
Following a long trip through the woods and across a horse training
ground Merves Swerve was next, with 7&8 having their normal restart just
before the bend. Dick Bolt used all his Duratec power under the watchful
eyes of the noise meter to be the first climb. Dave Haizelden, Nick Cleal,
Bill Bennett, Dick Bolt, Carl Talbot, Giles Greenslade and Keith Sanders
were the only saloons to climb this year, as not much grip could be found
up the first bit. Various re-starters tried to get out of the tracks but
failed and the only way was flat out off the restart. Mike Workman failed
to move far, Tubby was the only seven to climb it with Claire working hard
in the back. Kelly Thomas using Paul’s Troll this week, Nick Farmer and
Dean Partington were the only successful eights.
Into the Highwood complex for the two special tests and two sections.
The two special tests were short all forwards simple tests which generally
suited early numbers before the mud was brought onto the track, or the
brave. Worky and Nigel Moss was fastest over these. Onto the sections and
Highwood one was on fine form catching a few unwary at the top bend.
Highwood two was a real stopper as normal. Nick Farmer was best with a
one, but a trip into the trees on the previous section cost him dearly.
Climperwell was next running up the side of a country lane with a
restart for all, and a couple of deviations on the way to slow you down.
The restart caught all that came rushing up to it and inconveniently
parked with the wheels against a tree root! Under the watchful eyes of
South West Chairman Paul Parker.
Next were the two fearsome Blue Banks sections and their tricky
restarts, which have caused so much heartbreak in the past, costing many
an overall win. Who were they going to stop this year? Keith Sanders
failed the second costing him overall, Norman Tonkin failed both, possibly
due to never seeing them before, but Dean Partington didn’t have that
excuse but was struggling selecting second gear and rolled back on each.
The finale was at Station Lane, with many competitors parking up and
watching after theyfinished. Tim Whitney caused a few issues in his Imp
repaired after the Kyrle, as reverse had broken. Then Neil Robins high
revving BMW finally broke its diff, but there wasn't much of a hold up,
despite the length of the section. As time went on it got a little easier
until the ruts got deep. Nick out climbed Dave in class one and was the
only clear. Bill was once again in super determined mood and climbed out
of the top, having been on valve bounce all the way. No class three looked
like climbing due to ground clearance issues. Giles and John White were
the only fours up, Keith the only five, as was Dave Shaylor in six. Late
on Tubby got stuck in the ruts, and despite lots of bouncing which got the
car moving again he had stopped for a four which cost him the trial. Next
up was his Troll which had been leant to Mark and Mandy Hobbs for the day
who had big grins at the finish having competed for the first time in many
Very fittingly Mike Workman won overall with his grandson passengering.
Next were the “if only club” competitors of Tubby, Kelly, Giles, Keith and
then the extraordinary Bill Bennett’s MG.