Organisers Carl Talbot and
Tim Smith had an entry of 43 assembled in the spacious surroundings of the
SKF car park for the start of Stroud's Mechanics Trial. There was one
non-starter. John White had a call from his passenger at 5 am saying his
injured foot had swollen during the night and couldn't
come on the event.
The route headed
west from the start to the first section, a special test in a very muddy
field. It was an a stop astride line B, back all four wheels over, round a
bollard and back to stop astride C affair. C was the same line as B so
this area got a fair amount of use and it became stickier and stickier as
the morning went on. There was a six mark penalty for a failure and three
or four competitors found them on their score sheets.
Tyre pressures had
been free on the Special Test but there were high limits for the rest of
the trial. Clerk of the Course Carl Talbot was worried about getting a
result and had imposed the high tyre pressures and quite a few
restarts. The early sections were old roads, mostly with restarts and
there were some fantastic views on offer. The first observed section, Tin
Pan Alley, an old Falcon Guy Fawkes section, was a nice gentle start, with
a restart for everyone apart from Class 2. Everyone went clear here but
that was to change at the next section, Alf's delight, where the majority
of the entry failed to get away from the restart.
All About the Restarts
Crossing a golf
course, and passing the exit tracks from Crooked Mustard and Axe, Boxwell
was approached via a remote track, winding down through a wood, where the
section started beside a lake. It almost made you want to start painting!
Once again the hill was all about the restart, situated on a 90 left at
Tee. More clean sheets disappeared on this slippery rocky surface,
including Beetle drivers Giles Greenslade in class four and eventual Class
six winner Gary Browning.
Wood Lane was
approached via Nailsworth town centre. Everyone went clear here, despite
the restart but like a few sections things would have been different had
it not been so dry.
Delays at Mackhouse
Later numbers were
waited more than three quarters of an hour at Mackhouse. There have been
many variations over the years here and competitors were relieved the
section more or less straight up the exit track, rather than use the
versions where you risked understeering into the trees or drove along a
ditch filled with dinosaur eggs. Even so there was a twist, the route
deviating off the rocky track where there was one of those restarts that
were very much a feature of this years Mechanics Trial. The main track is
pretty rough and very long. When there were problems they took a long time
to sort. Reg Salway had the misfortune to retire his BMW here. A reversal
of fortunes after his class win on the March Hare the previous week. Dave
Haizelden was a notable failure here, putting James Shallcross into the
lead in Class
If You Go Down to the Woods One Day....
Up until now all
the sections had been on public tracks, but the character of the event
changed with the five sections in Catswood. The first three were situated
at the bottom of the wood and were all very similar, starting on the track
and deviating up amongst the trees onto the mud. They were all sub-divided
and it was here the results of the trial were pretty much decided.
The first, called
Infinity and Beyond, was a real stopper and only Ian and Josh Moss (Imp)
and Tony Underhill/Jade Bray (Triumph Special) got as far as the one
cleanable and several did. However, there was a horrible tree at the
bottom, just in the right place to hit if you understeered at the bottom.
Several did, or backed off before they did, including James Shallcross
putting Dave Haizelden back in the lead in Class One. Sapsed's
was another stopper, the leading contenders all spinning to a stop at the
James Gets a 12
Hoskins was a long section up a forestry track, with a deviation and a
restart at the top where Dave Cook was taking photographs. There were
quite a few cleans here, but also some 12's where drivers couldn't
get grip off the start.
Unfortunately these included James Shallcross and Dave Haizelden went on
to another win in the Astra borrowed from passenger Nick Farmer.
familiar from the Cotswold Clouds, was the final section in Catswood. This
is a real horror, tight, muddy and deeply rutted, with a restart for class
eight which stopped them all. Pete Hart got to the three, Ian Moss to the
five and amazingly James Shallcross a zero. However, most everyone else
floundered at the nine.
The track out of
Catswood (the one you use to get to Merves Swerve on the Clouds) was rough
and wet, it was a shame we didn't go up it as a section! King Charles Lane
was just across the way, with John Blakeley on the restart flag and being
a nice man didn't fail anyone!
Greenway Lane is a
rough track which had been made into three sections. The first one was on
the track, deviating off onto a grassy area which would have been a
problem had it been wet. The second was a pure PCT affair in an adjacent
field. It was back on the track for the final one with a wicked deviation,
especially for the class eights who had a special one through a very deep
The first section
had a restart for classes 6 to 8. It was achievable but tricky and when
Tony Underhill failed it more or less meant Ian and Josh Moss had won
overall unless they made a silly mistake, which they didn't.
The third section
had difficult restarts with Colin Perryman on the flag. It was difficult
for classes 1 to 7. Most of the class leaders negotiated it successfully,
except Ian Moss and Pete Hart. Both failed but their lead was such it
didn't affect the final result. Class eights had to negotiate a horrific
hole but amazingly Dave Wall (Dellow) was the only one to pick up a
John Bell's nice MG
TD was suffering by now, earlier he had carburation problems, had a
collapsed wheel in Catswood and now the exhaust was broken. Fortunately it
was after the silencer so he removed the broken bit and carried on.
- Inspired by Longville?
The Second Special
test was at the familiar Bulls Bank. This was very much like Longville on
the Clee. It was important to concentrate on getting a clean first and a
time second. The trial finished with Viaduct, a blast across a rutty,
muddy field and it was a shame it was so dry and competitors who stayed on
to watch saw only a couple of failures.
Well done to Ian
and Josh Moss for a great drive, especially in Catswood, and a deserved
victory. This years Mechanics was very much a trial of three parts. Public
Tracks followed by Catswood and a finale at Greenway Lane. It was a shame
it was so dry, perhaps next year Stroud will arrange for a few more
localised rain showers!