A FAST RUN IN THE COUNTRY- DWT 2017
Anxious weather watching is a normal preoccupation of motorsport competitors. Following the weather patterns normally starts the week before an event and follows through until the flag drops. Barra Best was never so interesting. Well, the week before this year’s Derek Walker Trial in County Antrim was pretty horrendeous and fields were left sodden. The prospect of PCTs vanished early on and the event this time around was clearly going to be a multi-venue autotest without a muddy fields element.
On Saturday February 4th however, we woke up to a beautiful sunrise and, although cold, there was no sign of rain, and so it continued throughout the day. We were very lucky.
Scrutineering started on time at 8.00am and with three scrutineers, the backlog of eager competitors quickly eased but, with everyone arriving at once, a queue soon formed at signing-on and the event started to run a bit behind time. Happily though, the short road miles between tests helped to get things back on track later on. Those who were signed-on enjoyed a terrific hot breakfast thanks to our magnificent dinner ladies whose number has increased. Sharon Carson and Lucinda McKee are now helped by Wendy Faulkner, Maire McLaughlin, Isobelle Clarke, Sue Fagg and Sandra Fleming (of TTS), most if not all proudly sporting MG polo shirts. Very smart. A very sincere ‘thank you’ to all of them and to Martin Hutchinson for the use of the amazing TTS premises.
Soon the chirpy figure of COC/Chairman John Clarke, standing on a table, towered over us for a drivers’ briefing and competitors and marshals were despatched to the tests. The sound of rorty engines broke the silence at TTS as cars began to warm up and proceed either to the first test or out of the premises as two different roadbooks split the entry in order to speed up the running of the event and minimise queueing.
The tests around TTS were occasionally technical and on a grippy dry surface with the key ‘memo to self’ to keep away from those unforgiving kerbs. Drivers enjoyed the test around the CITB buildings and then down a loose lane before turning back and through the buildings again. Quite a rush! The Pits at Dundrod is always fun with a mixture of tarmac and loose surfaces. There were a few particularly dodgy items to avoid, notably a cess pipe and an electricity box that would have brightly lit up any car that failed to avoid it. Then there is the ‘Tony Post’ reserved exclusively for a reversing Mr McLaughlin at Test 9. The car was always going to bend before the robust steel post would, but Tony got off light with minimal damage.
After the regroup in the afternoon, it was off to Ladyhill Quarry for a blast around the natural features. Although there was a large queue at the entrance, things soon cleared and the tests were completed via a one way system through the quarry before emerging at the exit gate. One of the tests in the quarry basin had suffered badly from the deluge of rain throughout the week and getting traction was a major problem. But overall, the drivers thoroughly enjoyed being a bit sideways although one or two were caught out by the simplicity of the tests, lost their focus and promptly failed them.
Then came the final test at Stirling’s Farm, a tight run through farm buildings that included completing a 360 turn in front of an audience of cattle feeding through the bars of their shed. They really didn’t seem that impressed! The finale was a technical tail throw to separate the men from the boys before another 360 to the finish. Indeed a worthy true autotest finish to scrub off the mud of the quarry from the tyres.
Back to TTS and a cup of hot soup and bread & cheese. Unfortunately a few glitches delayed the results so many competitors, including a number from the Republic, could not stay for the provisional results.
The winners overall were Will Corry/Pete Moreland-Moore who ‘borrowed back’ the gorgeous light blue K Series engined Midget for a day and showed everyone else the way. Second was Sam Wilson, partnered by Simon Brewster, in a Mini and, in third place were Eddie Peterson and Craig O’Rourke in a Mini Cooper. Very well done to them and to the class winners.
Feedback for the Trial has been terrific with the new sites proving a huge success. Some lessons have been learned and hopefully we will return soon to have another run at those tests.
Thanks to John Clarke and his team, in particular Stephen Dawson, Carol Willis, Trevor Reid and Noel Cochrane who spent a lot of their time devising, setting up and clearing up tests. Thanks also to our good friends in the TSCC, UAC and Peak Performance clubs for their invaluable help and to our other marshals. Finally, another round of applause must go to those redoubtable Dinner Ladies who kept us well fed throughout the day. What would we do without you?
FINAL RESULTS: Final Results DWT 4 Feb 2017