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Lands End 2015

Tough and Controversial Lands End

The tough sections took their toll on the results. Only five cars cleaned all the hills with non-counting stops deciding awards in many classes. The results would be very different had the initial timing penalties not been dropped when the final results were published.

 Philip Thomas looking cool in his shades as he heads into the sun to clear Blue Hills Two on his way to a Silver Medal (Picture by Dave Cook)

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Nigel Oakley on Beggars Roost in his Saab 96 (Picture by Dave Cook) Ben Giles getting his tyres nice and wet before the Blue Hills One slab (Picture by Andrew Trenoweth)
Duncan Roberts taking a wide line on the Blue Hills Two restart (Picture by Stephen Maddalena) An unknown competitor with the Blue Hills Mine behind (Picture by Andrew Trenoweth)

With a dry spell leading up to the trial the heavy rain on the evening of the trial was to liven up the early sections.

Failures on Felons Oak

With very distance between the R boards there was little choice of where to stop on the Felons Oak Restart, assuming of course you could sight your wheels between the lines! Everyone in Class Eight went clear but failures were prevalent as you went down the classes and by the time you got to Class One there were only four cleans. Perhaps the MCC need a rethink on making Class One do restarts, it must have been very de-motivating for newcomers to fail the first hill like this.

Chaos at County Gate

After the Crook Horn Hill Special Test there came the usual run over the wilds of Exmoor on a clear night, with none of the usual fog or horizontal snow to liven things up this year.

The idea of the County Gate Control is to regulate the flow into Barbrook to reduce congestion. Its a sound principle, but unfortunately the execution didn't work out so well. It took well over a minute for the officials to process each competitor. This caused a considerable queue to build up and later competitors lost well over half an hour waiting for a signature.

The other sections during the hours of darkness passed without too much drama and didn't have any significant effect on the results

Cutliffe Lane was Rough

After a string of gentle sections things changed at Cutliffe Lane. There were no restarts and Classes One and Two only had to reach the A Boards. No matter, this was a tough hill, rough as well. Eric Wall had his Dellows spare wheel carrier break away, forcing his first retirement in more than 40 years of MCC trialling.

The hill wasn't friendly to rear engined cars, unless you were a member of the Butcher family. Nicola and Harry were the only cleans, in classes four and six respectively. They were to go on to class awards although in Harry's case after battling with three punctures and initially falling victim to time penalties before they were all cancelled.

After such a rough hill Darracott didn't present many problems with its new surface eliminating the steps up to the concrete slabs on the corners.

Doctored Crackington

The locals had spiced up Crackington with a fair amount of clag dumped in the area where Class Eight had their restart. Getting away was tricky and around half were penalised, including Dudley Sterry, running his MG J2 in Class Eight instead of Seven as he has been doing on ACTC events recently. Brian Partridge (Ridge Cannon), Mike Pearson (Dellow Rep) were amongst others that didn't succeed.

The other classes had a straight run through the clag but it still took its toll, especially in the well supported Class Five where around half spun to a halt.

Warleggan followed the Wilsey Down Rest Halt, where those that arrived early enough had breakfast. This is a very rough section with a restart for classes seven and eight where Brian Partridge was penalised for running back again. It was a tough hill for the Marlin dominated Class Seven, who had already lost about a quarter of their number through retirements, and only 50% of the remainder were to get away.

New Section in Laneskin Woods

After a special test came the new section in Laneskin Woods. It was straight and not too rough, but it was very muddy and this was what stopped many competitors, especially in the lower classes where only a handful of cars went clean.

Hoskin was Tough

Cardinham Woods was only a few miles away, where Hoskin was to be the biggest challenge of the trial. Six, Seven and Eight had a restart but the other classes were denied a straight run by a tapped off chicane. This prevented the lower classes taking a full blooded run at the steep bit which certainly took its toll and all the Front Wheel Drives failed and received non counting stops. Classes Three and Four each had only one clear, Lester Keat and Nicola Butcher respectively. Three Class fives came out of the top and Alan Bee proved that power isn't everything by coaxing his Austin Seven to the summit in Class Two along with Adrian Dommett in his Wolsley Hornet.

The re-starters had a tough challenge and nobody in Classes Six or Seven succeeded so they benefited from a non counting stop. It was cleanable though, as Nick Farmer and Josh Moss proved.

Bishops Wood Restarts

After the usual Special Test the Bishops Wood section lay just up the track. This had the usual two restarts situated around the cross track. One to Six had theirs on a loose surface leading up to the track, with the box located so it was possible to get the front wheels well onto the track itself. It was a challenge, but an achievable one, and around half got away OK.

Seven and Eight had a tougher job, their box was on the steep polished paving after the track. This was a tough one, only Rob Haworth (Liege) and Mac Taylor (Marlin) getting away. Class Eight found it difficult as as well with only four successes.

Blue Hills

The tricky horseshoe that is Blue Hills One had tough tyre pressure limits and a restart for Six, Seven and Eight. There had also been a local rain shower, well downpour, that left the track leading to the restart area flooded, ensuring tyres were wet and muddy for the difficult bit!

With a straight run through most in the lower classes went clear, apart from Class Five that is where many of the big Suzukis struggled a bit. The restart really sorted out the higher classes. Only Harry Butcher got away in Class Six along with a mere four of the Seven's. Class Eights did a bit better but even they only had a 50% success rate.

After that BH2 was a bit of an anti climax to finish off the sections, leaving just the run back up for signing off at Fraddon to finish the event.

Timing Issues

The provisional results had lateness penalties applied and this had a considerable impact on the awards. By the time the finals were issued these had been scrapped on technicalities.

All in all a tough Lands End with some very rough sections and long queues for the later numbers. The timing issues were controversial and in the main didn't go down very well with competitors. Clerk of the Course Bill Rosten was much in evidence throughout the trial, looking at what was going on and talking to competitors. He has a lot to think about but I'm sure he will be looking to address the issues.

Published here on 12 May 2015

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