Southdown Stages

Saturday 7th February 2009

Gavin had been spending 4 or 5 hours a night in the workshop last week, DVY was finally ready enough for Goodwood, he’d had no time to set up the front suspension but it looked about right.

Friday morning he headed over to Yate and bought some very soft Hankook slicks, before taking DVY up the road for the first time, finding the brake pedal had quite a lot of travel (but could still lock the tyres) and the steering wheel was a bit far away from his laid back driving position luckily Gavin had bought another steering wheel off ebay with a 3" dish so that was added that to the tools in the Scorpio, loaded up and headed off through the snow to the south coast Friday night to stay at a mates in Bognor

I stayed the night at my fiancés parents in Alton and woke to a cold Saturday morning but I wasn’t sure what the weather had been like over night so decided to leave Alton at 0530 just in case the roads were covered in snow and ice. I need not have worried as I was at Goodwood by 0630 way ahead of time so decided to have half hour kip in the car, Gavin wasn’t due till 0715.

DVY started nicely and passed noise and scrutineering without any problems, giving Gavin and I enough time to fit the slicks, change the steering wheel and adjust the tracking before the start

Stage 1 and the organisers warned us about ice in the car park that was the first part of each stage and some more ice on the circuit, so we started off very cautiously, having trouble seeing the chicanes through the low sun, then got overtaken by the Celica GT4 of Gary Le Coadou which was putting out tons of smoke every time he braked, think it was over fuelling by the flames that accompanied the smoke and we were 14th quickest out of the 32 starters

Stage 2 after giving the windscreen a good scrub Gavin could see the chicanes a lot better, but the handbrake stopped working in the car park section, so we had to take to the grass to get round, but 18s quicker than Stage 1 was a bit better

Stage 3 & 4 - Gavin was hoping by this time the damp patches would have gone but it was so cold they stayed which made it a bit interesting in places, and we resorted to driving round the hairpins (the handbrake bracket had snapped at one end). A couple of steady runs saw us lying 9th at the lunch break, surprisingly 2nd in class but 33s off the class leader - we were Car 7 but cars 1, 2, 5 & 6 had pulled out earlier in the week, including last years class winner

Stage 5 & 6 - After an hours lunch break, we were going the other way round the circuit (the racing direction now) and it had dried completely and suddenly everything fell into place, the tyres were working well, and Gavin had got use to where the chicanes were positioned, the hairpins had gone from the car park and the circuit just flows better that way round - we took 13s then 20s out of the class leader to be equal with him after Stage 6, and set 4th fastest time on this one. I decided by this time it might be sense to tighten belts to the harness a bit more as we were going a lot quicker

Stage 7 and everything nearly went wrong, going to start DVY the starter jammed in the ring gear so we couldn't even bump start her. A large hammer didn't work either so we jacked the front up and Gavin loosened the starter enough to wiggle it and the engine was free. We rounded up some bystanders, bump started her and arrived at the start control a bit flustered and a couple of minutes into our 5 minute lateness. Starting a few cars lower down the field, on lap 2 we were catching a BMW M3 Compact when I hit a tyre on one of the chicanes quite hard, but we still overtook them and pulled out a 10s lead in our class

Stage 8 - the tyre we’d hit had put a dent in the navigators door (it’s always my side of the car) and the rear arch (nothing serious) but the wheels were still pointing the right direction so we just bump started again and had a good last lap

Final result was 7th overall and 1st in class not bad for a shakedown.

David Morgan