Welcome to the Club!

Whats the title about? Well there are two types of Rally Drivers. Those that have rolled, and those that are waiting to roll.

Boyd Kershaw, The Flying Kiwi, has now rolled on his last rally before a pre-planned sabbatical from the sport we both love.

My first roll was in 1999 while competing on the British Rally Championship with James Morton in a Skoda Felicia on the Pirelli Rally in Killer Keilder. I’ve had a couple more since then, some have hurt more than others and they always hurt the driver’s wallet.

This weekend’s roll was on the final round of the BTRDA Rally Championship, the Trackrod Rally Yorkshire. Boyd and I were third overall with a chance to win if we won the two wheel drive section of the rally and our championship rivals and current leaders, Gavin Edwards and Caron Tomlinson, came second.

There was one complication though, one of us also had to beat the other crew on the first stage if the final result was 1-2 in our favour… No pressure then!

Our game plan was the same as it always was, drive as fast as we could and enjoy ourselves. Boyd and I had agreed before the start to not look at Edward/Tomlinson’s times for the first stage. That would only matter at the finish if we both finished in the important 1-2.

Prior to the start there were plenty of good wishes and hand shakes with the other top MkII teams including Phil Burton and Mal Capstick who were fourth in the championship and had been keeping Boyd and Gavin honest all season. This rally was going to be an exciting one.

The run out to the first stage was just 1 mile and 3 minutes, very little time to chat in the car and have a laugh, but Boyd and I were genuinely relaxed in the car. We just wanted to have a good clean run and see what the times were like at the end of the day.

20 Seconds, 15, 10, 5,4,3,2,1 Go! We were off and running through the stage the surface was great and I was spitting the notes, we were working in synchro as we had all season, it was flowing. We came round one corner the car bucked and came down, no problems the suspension was doing it’s thing.

Round a right-hander, power towards a slight left and we’re heading towards a bank. This isn’t correct but we’re up it and we’ll pop down the otherside, we’ve done a “wall of death” ride before, it’s not perfect but hey….

No… the car doesn’t come back down again, it digs in! We spin and we roll, I don’t know how many times, I hit my head on the cage in the process and we’re facing down the track.

I force my door open and run down the track with the Rallitrack radio in my hand and with my helmet on call it in and try and slow down following cars. To their credit all following cars reduce their pace and give me the questioning “Thumbs Up” They get their answer….

Behind me spectators have appeared and are helping change a puncture that must have happened during the accident, scoop my notes, road book and water bottle out of the road.

I’m called back to the car while a spectator goes to my place to slow the cars down. I’m told to jump in and someone leans in and helps me with my belts (it may have been easier if I’d done it on my own, but thank you sir!). Car starts and we drive a short distance and turn the car round and we’re off again!

It only took a few corners for me to have to declare I couldn’t carry on, the adrenaline from the off was fading and being replaced by a headache and nausea – I was not well.

Unfortunately for Boyd who desperately wanted to continue, just for the finish, I couldn’t concentrate on the notes, at the end of the stage my map reading was no where. Forget the championship we both knew it was over, we wanted to have some fun but I was lucky to get to the end of the stage.

My focus changed from continuing to wanting to see a Doctor. I’ve never had concussion but if that’s what I had it wasn’t, and isn’t pleasant. I’m writing this on Sunday night and still have a headache, and now my neck is stiffening up, but I’m used to that, one of my previous rolls gave me a bad neck and so the next day I’m always a little stiff in the neck.

Thanks to the power of social media word had got back to the service area before we had and a small interested crowd was waiting for us and my wife immediately marched me off to the temporary HQ in search of the Doctor.

Yep minor concussion, rest and don’t operate any heavy machinery. Yes Doctor.

So did Gavin and Caron win the rally? Nope they retired with a mechanical issue. BUGGER!!!!

Over 24 hours later and I’m home and reflecting and what could have been and I’ve no regrets or disappointment.

The championship was won by a very very deserving crew who were massively humble all year and more importantly quicker than us when it mattered. Second goes to Phil and Mal, who were consistent and picked up good points at every round and were great company and fun.

Third goes to Cameron Davies and Lee Taylor who also won the English Championship and the Fiesta ST championship and has been collecting points all season but hadn’t really been on our Escort Radar.

So that was the final round, down to the wire, winner takes all etc and we went from potential heroes to zeroes in a moment of seconds and down to fourth place in the final standings. In the words of Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront (sort of) ‘We could have been contenders, we could have been somebody’

2016 has been one of the most fun and competitive seasons I’ve had in over 20 years. Thanks to Boyd for the fastest seat in the house, Rob and Dave Walke for producing a top car each time out and to Championship and Event Organisers, Marshals and Spectators for turning out in all weathers and supporting all competitors.

Gavin and Caron welcome to the other club, the Silver Star Winners. A club Boyd’s been a member of but sadly I’ve never made it into…..three times runner up though! LOL

Before

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After

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Rally Time Control Etiquette

As I write this it’s the day after the 2016 Woodpecker Rally. Boyd Kershaw and I finished 18th overall and 3rd in B11 and 2nd in the BTRDA Silver Star competition. Great result for us both but want am I thinking about? Arrival Controls. Why? Because of something that happened on the event and what I’m reading on FaceBook.

So what is Rally Time Control Etiquette?

Well for me it’s the way Competitors and Marshals should behave at Arrivals, Starts, Stop Lines and any other controls on events.

CS
Lets start at the Start.

You’re at MC1 waiting to start and so get into start order, not necessarily numerical order as there may be some running out of sequence due to late entries being given a number out of sequence. Look at the entry list and be aware of the cars around you.

Park sensibly to allow late arrivers to slot into place. This will be a recurring theme.

You can enter the control 59 seconds before your due time and at a start control the organisers may wish you to do this if they have a commentator wishing to interview the crews before the start.

2015_Marshal001As the Co-driver don’t hand over your time card. Tell the Marshal what time you want and seek confirmation that that is the time they’ll write on the card, when you get the time card back check the time they’ve written. Is it what you want? Thank them, if not tell them politely it’s wrong and ask them to correct with an initial.

Ok we’ve got the time we wanted and we’re ready for the road section, or transit section as it’s called in some countries, and we arrive at the next control. This maybe the first or it maybe the last the procedure should be the same.

Marshal01
You arrive at the control is the car(s) in front of you there already, they may have stopped in management service or filled up for fuel in a local petrol station or stopped at a shop to buy ice creams. If the cars are not there pull to one side to make some space and leave a gap in front of you for cars to pull into.

If conditions allow you should always try and leave a gap for a late arriving competitors to get by, shut your car doors when you’re not getting in and out, it’ll make it easier for others and keep the Midges, Flies etc out of the car.SSA

Now lets get the Yellow Arrival board.

Now with the addition of HANS and Hybrid FHS you may want to have your helmet on and device connected, it’s not currently a requirement but they can be so fiddly and it’s one less thing to worry about.

Stop at the Yellow, do not cross until you are well into the 59 seconds preceding your due minute.

TimeControlCreep into the control in those preceding 59 seconds so that when you arrive at the Red Arrival Board you’re as near to the actual minute you want as you can be.

Open the window/door and say hello to the marshal, maybe try and get some banter going but most importantly ask for the time you want. “10:32 please” DON’T handover your time card until this time.

The custom in British rallying is for the Co-driver to ask for the time, the Marshal to say Yes and you get the time you want. Brilliant! Do this on event outside of the UK or with a Jobsworth Marshal and you’ll potentially get a minutes early arrival penalty.

So play it safe, either enter the Arrival Control during your minute you want (but not too late) or enter in the 59 seconds preceding and sit and wait for the minute you want to tick over and then confirm again with the Marshal the time you want and let them have the time card.

When you’re passed the time card back, check what they’ve written, is it the right time, in the right box etc. If anything is incorrect politely advise them and ask them to correct it and initial. If they refuse don’t get into an argument but ask them to make a note on their check sheet that you have queried the time or are not happy and make a note in your road book or your part of the time card to query later.

Fiesta MarshalsRemember that Marshals are volunteers and are there for you to enjoy your sport and it maybe that they came along that day not having ever marshalled a control before, getting angry with them won’t help. Just raise your issue ASAP with the CLO or other organisers and ensure that it does’t affect your result. If it’s happened to you it’s probably happened to others on the event.

So what happens if there is a hold up on the stage and so there is a queue at the Arrival? Well the Co-driver gets out and walks to the Red board and the Marshal running the control.

The Marshal should not walk down the queue giving out times as they go, what if the Marshal gets lost in the queue and a sea of tabards and Hi Viz jackets and you need to get your time. They should stand at the Red board and if the delay is long have a huddle of Co-drivers around them awaiting their time and as the minute arrives call it out for the Co-driver to present their time card, get their time and then return to their car.

Once again in British rallying there is a habit of Marshals saying they’ll give you the time you want when you finally get to the Red board, fine if true and it’s great of them to do this on a wet and wild rally but make sure that you as the Co-driver hear it for yourself and don’t take the word of a random Co-driver who may have misheard the Marshal or have his own agenda. The last won’t happen but as a Co-driver it’s your job to check.

15_RNW_0099-128You’ve now got three minutes from the Red Arrival board and the Start, this is a regulation and not a nice to have. It’s for the crew to prepare for the stage so you can in theory not have Helmets, HANS or belts done up but I prefer these days to be ready with the added complication of a FHR but you still have 3 minutes to sort your notes, stow your road book, turn the camera on and make sure you’re on the right page of the notes.

StageStartYou can hand your time card over to the Start Marshals over at any time before the start but make sure you have the correct start time written on the card and it’s in the right box and if a signature is required it’s in place.

So what if your start is aborted by the Start Marshals/Stage Commander. Well get them to amend your time card and initial the change and hand it back to you, remember to amend your part of the time card also, especially if your doing an event on International timing where your start time matters for the road timing.

StageStopSo you’ve flown through the stage and put on an impressive performance delivering the notes at the right time clearly and precisely and the Driver has displayed god-like car control and you arrive at the Stop board in a glow of satisfaction.

2015_SACC_Marshals2medWhat happens at the Stop line? Well find the time cards you’ve carefully stowed and hand them over to the Marshal. They’ll fill in the time and hand it back to you. Don’t leave until you’ve got the card back. The Driver will be pumped and ready to go to the next stage so make sure he’s aware that he’s to go no where until you’ve got the cards back and you’ve checked them.

What are you checking? Well as before check that the hours, minutes and seconds are in the correct place and they’ve signed the appropriate place. Did you time the stage yourself, did you capture the minutes and seconds, do they correspond with the time card? If they don’t the stop line is not the place to argue and get the correct time. Instead politely advise the Marshal you think you’ve been given a wrong time and you want it checked so can they make a note on the check sheet, and once again make a note on your part of the time card or in the road book so you can query it later with the CLO or event officials.

If your driver is so pumped at the end of the stage and fails to stop at the Stop Line do NOT reverse back to get your time but instead you get out of the car and walk back with your time card and ask for the time.

Repeat the above as often as you need and always remember it’s up to you to check the time cards but don’t get angry with those for a perceived error but ask them to make a note that you have a query over the time and that you want it check, but don’t expect your error to be corrected without you following it up at HQ after the event. Timing is your responsibility. Check your times and ask the Marshal to make a note if you’re not happy.

So thats control etiquette and behaviour in my opinion.

 

The photo’s in this post are borrowed from other websites and I apologise to the owners of these photos if they are upset and it causes them distress and will immediately remove if requested but as this is a website for non-profit and the photos are used to illustrate the blog and I hope they don’t mind them being recycled.

 

 

March/April Motorsport Blog

March/April – My Motorsport Year.

So we’re at the end of another month and it’s two months since I published my last Blog, so what’s happened in the interim?

March

March my competitive year finally kicked off with the long haul north from my home in Berkshire to Cumbria for the Malcolm Wilson to sit beside Boyd in the Escort.

Long story short we won! We clinched the class and Silver Star with a great run. We weren’t quickest early on and benefited from others misfortune at times but we were consistent and quick enough to be in with a shout, and shout we did. The car ran like clock work and we won from Gavin Edwards and Caron Tomlinson by 17 seconds, great way to kick off our BTRDA title defence.

At the end of March I was supposed to be acting as a Competitor Liaison Officer for my clubs Sprint held at Hullavington Airfield in Wiltshire, raising funds for Combat Stress a charity close to my hear, but due to a personal issue I had bow out the week before.

On the last day of the month I attended the first planning meeting for this years Abingdon Car-nival. I’ve been involved with the Car-nival, I think, from the beginning of my motorsport in one form or another and this year I’m back as a Deputy Clerk of the Course again after being “promoted” last year to a Club Steward.

This years event is the same weekend as the Severn Valley Stages so I’ll be rushing back from the event to stand on the start line of Abingdon and look after the stage and the competitors, can’t wait!

So March was slim pickings really with just one rally, one sprint that I missed and one meeting but April’s been a little busier.

April

The month kicked off with my first BTRDA Rallies Committee meeting. I’d been asked to join this esteemed body at the end of last year and this was the first of three meetings where the popular sealed surface and gravel championships are discussed and the strategy for this season and forthcoming seasons.

I’ve been a member and competitor on BTRDA events for as long as I can remember and it’s an honour to help shape their championships and be part the most popular British rally championships.

The day before the meeting I should have been competing on Rally North Wales with Boyd but I was at a friends wedding instead. Gutting in a way as Boyd had his best ever result with a 4th overall in the clubmans section of the rally, but sometimes you have to park motorsport and join the normal people.

Jumping forward a couple of weeks and it’s another committee meeting for me. I’ve been an executive member of the Association of Central Southern Motor Clubs for a number of years now representing my home motor club, Craven Motor Club, but this year I was approached just prior to the AGM to take on the role of Vice Chairman of the association for the year, I accepted the nomination and was duly elected. I’m looking forward to seeing how this pans out.

The weekend after and I’m back in my comfort zone, I’m sat in the car with Boyd on the Somerset Stages. Well no win this time out just a second in Silver Star and class, reversing the positions with Gavin Edwards and Caron Tomlinson on the Malcolm Wilson.

We lost out by just 10 seconds but it was a great fight over the reduced mileage, a number of stalls on hairpins cost us dearly and we took some interesting choices on tyres to reel them in and given a bit longer we think we could have over taken them but rallying is full of if buts and maybe’s. Congrats to Gavin and Caron on the win. You boys have speed!

The final weekend and I’m acting as a Club Steward for Farnborough and District Motor Club on their sprint in Aldershot. It’s not rallying but it is motorsport and that’s the important thing once petrol is in your blood it never leaves and I enjoy sprinting. They’re a friendly group of competitors with a diverse group of cars.

2016 Motorsport Blog – January and February

My Motorsport Year: 2016

In the last few years I’ve been quite sporadic at blogging but having been challenged by the Mrs I thought I’d have a go at recording my 2016 Motorsport year, I hope you find the posts an interesting read…

January

The year started early with a bit of marshaling on a road event on the 4th. I dragged Nic (my wife) out to man a couple of controls for an event running across Salisbury Plain, a location I know very well from when my motor club, Craven MC used to run a round of the Tarmac championship across the range roads.

Next up was the BTRDA Awards night in Sutton Coldfield. Boyd and I recieved our 2015 trophies and celebrated in style with our father and son mechanics Dave and Rob Walke and Nic who joined us on quite a few of the events last year (she’s very good at buying the crisps).

Prizegivings are always a good night out when you’re a winner, and in Boyd’s words… we smashed it!

February

I finally submitted my completed training documents to become an MSA Steward. Its an odyssey I actually began in late 2013, but took my time over as I got married and had a rally championship to try and win. Plus I was told early on that the MSA wouldn’t look kindly if they thought you’d rushed through it. The two years I have spent completing it have been enjoyable and varied and it’s very interesting looking at motorsport from a different angle. You start to watch racing on TV in a vary different ways and arguing with friends about decisions where once you may have just agreed the other party was a prat!

This month I’ve also been invited to join the BTRDA Rallies Committee, it’s a genuine honour to join the steering committee of a championship that I’ve enjoyed competing on for so many years. I hope the championship continues in good health and can live with the revived BRC. The customer base for both are slightly different and there has always been room for the two of them. Who remembers when there were three national championships, BTRDA, ANCRO and BRC? I’ve been fortunate enough to compete on all three over the years and they each offered something different.

February should have also seen the start of Boyd and my Silver Star title defence but sadly as I write this I’m sat on the sofa watching the Six Nations instead of being in LLandudno competing on the Cambrian. Sadly Boyd was doing some testing last week at Walters Arena and the gearbox cried enough. The guys had secured the parts to fix it but sadly on Thursday lunchtime it was obvious there was something more serious and so I was asked to pull our entry. Gutted doesn’t cover it… so I’m following the rally via Twitter rather than being in the car spitting the notes.

I thought that was going to be it for the month of February and was ready to publish this blog mid February but the email and phone is never to quiet and I’ve been approached to join a panel looking at a safety innovation. I can’t say more than that at present but sounds interesting and something close to my heart.

I was also asked to act as a Club Steward on a road event over my birthday weekend, the late night and early hours didn’t appeal as I should’ve been in a pub propping up the bar but hey it’s motorsport!

March Blog to follow…..

Motorsport is a Cruel Mistress

As I write this I’m sat on the Isle of Mull, Tuesday evening after Andy Mort tragically lost his life on the Saturday afternoon Leg of the Mull Rally…

I have mixed emotions.

The Mull Rally is called by many the best rally in the world and to many it probably is.

To me it is a rally I travel over 500 miles to marshal on every year and I have done so since 1997. I have missed a couple of years for different reasons including 2014 when I’d travelled to the island to marry my now wife (and couldn’t return a month later to marshal) so the island is a special place for us both.

Rallying is a massive part of my life. I have devoted 20 years to it as a marshal, competitor and organiser. I was fortunate enough to meet my wife through motorsport, I love rallying…

So that said, when there is a death you start to look and think about what you do, and how it affects those around you. Since the accident I’ve had a chat with my wife about the risks. I think for the first time for her it’s seemed real, but I don’t think she can, or would, ask me to stop. For me to stop would be to take away a big part of who I am.

I am a Rally Co-driver first and an IT Manager second or third or fourth, IT pays the bills and rallying gives me a reason for being. I love this sport.

Motorsport is a hard mistress; she takes your money and your time. She can steal your relationships and can ultimately take your life, but the good times are the greatest. You make wonderful relationships in and out of the car; rally people are genuine people, a true community in every sense. You visit some wonderful locations, even if you are just speeding through them.

So are the risks worth it?

If you were to look at it sensibly then no, doing a sport that could cost you your health or life is not worth it, but then competing in rallying can make you feel alive and you need to feel alive to know you are.

There are so many more dangerous pastimes, or seem to be to those of us on the outside but they, like us in motorsport, take precautions so that they can enjoy their hobby time and time again.

In motorsport we sit in a tin (or glass fiber) can, surrounded by a roll-cage, wearing fireproof overalls and a crash helmet, and from 2016 our necks will be looked after with the enforced introduction of frontal head restraints (HANS). At the start of every stage we have a Doctor or Paramedic and a fully trained rescue team present. What other sport provides you with such comprehensive safety cover?

Yes the sport could be safer still, and probably will be as things develop but it can never be 100% and in my opinion it shouldn’t be, as you need an element of danger to make you feel alive.

But how do we make those that are not in the sport and who believe that they need to look after others wellbeing understand this? You can’t, what you need to do is work with them and look for compromises where possible.

How do we make our love ones understand that we need to undertake this sport and the risks involved? I don’t know, that’s an individual task and each loved one is different and has different levels of comprehension.

On the Monday after John and Andy’s accident I felt compelled to visit the site of the accident, firstly to pay my respects to Andy but also to try and make sense of the accident, and I believe I have done that. I think I know why the accident happened, but what I don’t know yet it is why Andy died and I now wait the report so I can understand why our mistress decided to take his life so soon.

As I said at the beginning I’ve been fortunate to have been in the sport of rallying for 20 years, in that time I’ve had a few accidents and unfortunately broken a few bones (fingers) and have a neck that a Doctor described as being older than the rest of me, but I have not had serious injury and I hope that continues.

There are no guarantees in life, I could have equally have hurt myself crossing the road or driving to work, but I wouldn’t have the memories or friendships that I’ve got now, and maybe not the wife I have either.

Do you fancy some rallying in the Isle of Man?

Are you available for 3 day’s of fast Manx bumpy tarmac next month
Driver Steven Ormond-Smith (local) is seeking a co-driver who has experience of pace notes and road maps, and is willing help towards entry fee.
Competing in 205 gti 1.6 B2 class, aiming for a class position. Free accommodation.

Contact stevenos@ocplc.com 07624 225205 or PM through facebook

Rally Yorkshire in a Mk1 Escort

A co-driver is required for Rally Yorkshire. Half entry fee and co-driver pays own expenses,

Driver is Craig Cleaver who recently finished Greystoke Stages 17th o/a and has previously had some good results on Rally Yorkshire. He’s ideally looking for someone with plenty of experience.

If you’re interested please drop me a line in the first instance.

Tour Ireland

So the phone rings as I’m driving along.

“Bit of a strange one!” the voice says on the other end.

“We’re looking for a navigator for the Tour Ireland, do you know anyone?”

Well my thoughts straight away are nothing strange about that. It’s RallyMatchers bread and butter, it’s what we set this up to do.

So who fancies it in a Sunbeam Tiger?

Drop me a line and I’ll put you in touch.

Fancy doing a Rally?

Whether you are a Driver or Co-driver and you fancy competing on an event or as part of a championship drop me a line and we’ll see if there is a partner out there who also wants to compete rather than sit at home.