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Classical Gas is an independent web site and is not affiliated to any of the clubs or organisers of the events featured. Words and Pictures by Michael unless attributed otherwise. Michael is a proud member of the MCC, ACTC, Dellow Register and Falcon amongst others, but does not represent their views nor the views of any other organisers or clubs.

Wasps Rule Northern

Dean Partington won the Northern Trial with the only clean sheet. Fellow DP Wasp driver Mike Chatwin wasn't far behind, dropping a solitary mark. Duncan Stephens was third in his Melos.

The Fellside club organised some challenging weather for their annual trip to the forests around Bassenthwaite Lake. The early morning rain turned to sunshine, but snow started falling around noon, followed by hail. This caused problems on some of the sections and Routens Romp had to be cancelled when it became difficult to get to the start. Some of the later numbers either called it a day or missed some sections after this. All this didn't prevent plenty of smiles at the finish after what most reckoned was a grand event.

Charlie Knifton lifts a wheel as he applies 1800cc of Subaru Turbo Power to the task of restarting on Lothwaite Side. It was a real shame that Dave Cook couldn't have found a more scenic backdrop :-)

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Keith Thomas reports on his Northern Trial

Nigel Jones steams off the start at the aptly named "Black Hole"

The snow is falling as Andrew Mills attempts Ullister Hill (Picture by Keith Thomas)

Dave Cook is dressed for the weather as he sets up for photographing "I'm back Darling"

Bill Bennett contending with the fact that with a narrow track his MG doesn't fit in the ruts on "I'm back darling" (Picture by Dave Cook)

Wallowing in the slime at Allhallows Colliery

The rain was pouring down as the early numbers left the start at the "Stocksman", clearing as they reached the first section and special test at Allhallows Colliery. This was an artificial affair, up and down some very slimy spoil heaps, with some tight corners thrown in. The right right hander after the start was to catch out the majority of the field, who understeered off for a ten. There were only six clears, Bill Bennett joining in with a select group of 7 & 8's . Nigel Jones had problems when the rivets holding his sumpguard in place sheared and he needed to raid Colin Perryman and Michael Leete's spares to find some replacement bolts.

Delays at The Black Hole

There was a 15 mile run to The Black Hole, the first of many forestry sections. This is a lovely hill, pretty much straight up, muddy on the lower reaches with some serious ruts where the gradient steepens in the 7 & 8 restart area. The only problem with the section is that even the cleans have to back down, with the inevitable delays. Around half the entry failed this one, mainly in the restart area. Colin Perryman's trial came to an end hear when his BMW transmission went clunk and had quite a struggle to get recovered back to his trailer.

Snow in Whinlatter Forest

The sections came thick and fast when the event entered Whinlatter Forest. "I'm Back Darling" was a wonderful long hill. The first part was loose stones, the second loose rock! This was the end of Nigel Jones Trial as the MGF's sump guard got pushed up onto the gearbox linkage. Nigel managed to get it going but retired after the next hill.

After Sheepfold there was a long drive through the forest. The track climbed and climbed, with magnificent views over Bassenthwaite Lake before it started snowing! Lord's Seat was a grassy forest track with a sting in the tail, a very sharp left hand hairpin, preceded by a restart for 7 & 8. This really sorted out the higher classes, only the DP Wasps, Charles Knifton in his recently acquired, Subaru 1800 Turbo powered, VW Scorpion and Duncan Stephens in his Melos going clear.

The snow had stopped coming down out of the clouds to Ullister Hill where it was replaced by hail! This was cleanable but the final bit was a bit artificial and it was difficult to get past the one marker. Quite a few did, but not Mike Chatwin and the one mark he lost was to give the overall trial win to car builder Dean Partington.

Across the road to Hobcarton Plantation

There were two sections in the adjacent forest. Long Crag was a straight blast which didn't trouble the leading contenders. Ladyside was a very different hill, not much gradient but some fearsome mud and ruts after the track came out between the trees. There was only one way to go clear here and that's to drive a DP Wasp, consequently Dean Partington and Mike Chatwin were the only two to experience the exit track.

Problems in Wythop Woods

There should have been five sections in Wythop Woods but there were problems at Routen Romp. The plan was for this to be one of the events stoppers but there was chaos when a lot of cars couldn't get to the start line. The problem was that the long entrance track was blocked by cars so everyone had to be towed up. The entire field was soon blocking the track and the section had to be cancelled. To get out those in the queue had a half mile reverse before they could turn and go to the next section. In the confusion most of class 0 and one or two of the main trial missed some or all of the sections in Wythop Woods which was a shame.

Falcons Crest and Browns Challenge were both mud baths at the bottom, almost every one floundering for an 11 and 12. Not if you were in a DP Wasp of course and Dean and Mike both blasted through for clears, as did Duncan Stephens on Browns Challenge.

Little Cockup has a real sting in the tail, exiting up a really steep bank. About half those that attempted it went clear though and Myke Pocock in particular was delighted. Chris Maries nearly made it in the heavy Suzuki for a two but this was good enough for him to win Class 5 after Stuart Bartlett was penalised on both special tests and Jonathan Toulmin missedx sections in the woods. Michael Leete choose a really bad line, stopped at the five and reversed into the same tree that he hit a a few years ago!

Louthwaite Side was the final forestry section and Dave Cook was there to take photos on the spectacular rocky hairpin. Fortunately almost everyone was able to go clear and enjoy the long exit track to the tarmac road.

Sandale, What a Hill

It was around 12 miles to Sandale, the best known section on the Northern Trial and what a hill it is. Not that steep but the mud, ruts and spectators make up for it. A northern Crackington if you know what I mean. There is a restart for 7 & 8, right at the muddiest bit where there is a sort of chicane. For the non re-starters the technique is to build your speed on the lower slopes so you are flat out by the time you get to the restart chicane. You will most likely bottom out but with luck you will have enough momentum to slide over the mud on the cars belly and pop out the top like a cork from a bottle!

Thats the theory but its not that easy and even the experienced Bill Bennett failed, perhaps aided by the fact the track of his MG is so narrow it doesn't fit in the ruts! Perhaps Bill needs DAF as the results show Derek Reynolds cleared the section and that would have raised a cheer! For the restarts it was a question of power, something a Liege doesn't have that much of, but despite picking up a three here Kevin Barnes was able to win the Class 7 award.

A new section at Carlislegate Lane

John & June Blakley and Alex were here and had a long day as the field was well spread out by the time they got here. There were only a couple of failures on this long muddy track but its a very nice addition to the route as it had a different character to the many forest sections.

Nice Meal at the Finish

There was a super autocross style Special Test on the way back to the finish where a super meal was available. There were many tales to tell but the consensus was that it had been a cracking trial, despite the problems and delays.


Class Driver/Car Marks
1st Overall Dean Partington (DP Wasp) 0
2nd Mike Chatwin (DP Wasp) 1
3rd Duncan Stephens (Dutton Melos) 9
0 Keith Thomas (Buckler) 64
1 James Shallcross (Peugeot 205) 34
2 Bill Bennett (MG J2) 26
3 Nigel Hilling (Ford Anglia) 61
4 Michael Leete (VW Beetle) 36
5 Chria Maries (Suzuki X90) 58
7 Kevin Barnes (Liege) 33
8 Charlie Knifton (VW Scorpion) 31


Published 27 February 2012


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