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Thread: Carlow rally report - MK2 challenge

  1. #1

    Carlow rally report - MK2 challenge

    It's been a fair old while since we've been out in the car. Last September to be precise. Since then the engine has been out for a comprehensive refresh. From what I can work out other than the block, head and crank, pretty much everything is new.

    Carlow is always an event we really enjoy. When we stay the right way up It incorporates the MK2 challenge, so one to go for definitely.

    An early start on Friday, down to West Wales Rally Spares to pick up Gareth Lloyd, who we were taking over. He would be competing in his lovely bdx engined car.

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  2. #2
    A few miles in to our journey to Fishguard and Gareth realised he'd neglected to bring his clothes bag . A quick call to his wife who raced them down to us see us arrive exactly at final check in, to the minute. Luckily they let us on.

    Not much else on the Friday, other than arrive, have a beer and eat Italian food.

    Saturday we were up nice and early for the recce. The event was packed with top guys so we were going to have to be on our game. Also slightly worryingly we were seeded 21st. The furthest we've been up the field in the past, with some very quick boys all around us.

    Recce done we were happy with the stages, both fast and flowing and tight and technical. A bit of everything.

    Off for a bit of shopping while we waited for scruty to open. Rob seems to work hard at parking worse than ever in each event. He does a good job at it.

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  3. #3
    Generally we get through scruty with ease. This time the kill switch decided to give up the ghost, so we had to get it resolved. I thought that would be a flash point with Rob, but in fairness he got on, got it sorted and we got the signature in the box. Job done.

    Then the car was taken to parc ferme and left overnight. The weather has been fine all day and the forecast was looking good, so we left it uncovered for a change

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  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Kinghorn View Post
    Rob seems to work hard at parking worse than ever in each event. He does a good job at it.
    This made me giggle. He's some beauty.

    Great stuff Gary, enjoying it. Keep it coming.

  5. #5
    Our running around wasn't finished yet though, so we walked back to the hotel and finished paperwork, before dragging the trailer 15 miles to service, where we set up ready for the morning.

    Back to Carlow it was time to go out for a quick beer and another Italian meal.

    Sunday morning was a fairly relaxed affair. Breakfast at 7.30 then an 8am drivers briefing. Being a little more experienced now means I don't lie awake at night worrying about finding our start times, or setting rally time on my watch, it just kind of flows and happens. However having said that it had started to drizzle and continued to do so on our walk to parc ferme. Hmmmmmmm.

    The next hour while we waited to start our timings for the day we watched weather closely, as it went from dry, to damp to wet and everything in between. Tyre choice was going to be key. Once out of parc ferme we'd be off to service for a splash and dash before heading out to the stages. We had to make our mind up what we wanted to do from a tyre perspective and get it done quickly when we got there. Currently we were on slicks all round.
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  6. #6
    With around 130 cars in attendance it really looked like there had been a jump in level in the last 6 months. Tatty cars are pretty much a non existent thing on the Irish rally scene. The cars are treated like the owners babies and most are exceptional. All bar one, who apparently arrived at scruty where MSI took one look at it and sent the guy packing, saying nope, not up to standard.

    The top 20 cars looked amazing. Real top stuff.











    You'll do well to find 20 better prepared period rally cars than the top 20 here. We were number 21
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  7. #7
    As usual there had been some over night reseeding, with us been pushed down to 26th on the road. That was ok with us because the level of competition was amazing. Bar one or two, all the top guys were there. Frank Kelly, Adrian Hetherington, Condel, Patterson, to name just a few.

    We had this S2000 proton behind us, which in the wet with a 4wd car chasing was a little unnerving. Rob has always said the day we get caught on a stage by another car would be the day we knocked it on the head

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  8. #8
    Regular tallchap's Avatar
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    And........?
    We're all on the edge of our seats!
    I've done it 'cos Gary told me to.....

  9. #9
    Regular leavingeasy's Avatar
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    I really enjoyed reading that.

    Again...,

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by tallchap View Post
    And........?
    We're all on the edge of our seats!
    This, hurry up as can be my lunchtime read
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  11. #11
    Out of parc ferme and up to service we were on the clock. A 15 mile run gave us the chance to access the weather properly and make the tyre choice. It was also the first time in 8 months I'd been more than a mile in the car. Apparently the rebuild, a cam change and different mapping had released another 15bhp or so. I can confirm they all appeared to be present and correct. It's never felt lacking in the power dept. In fact in the wet it's an animal and could do with less grunt.

    We went for a cut slick. Effectively a treaded competition tyre which Rob cuts himself to make a semi inter tyre. It's the way most go about it. We used to spend ages walking the service area looking at what everyone else was running, but soon realised we should do what we felt was right as everyone likes the car to feel different and has a different driving style.

    Our high tech set up



    And the very changeable weather

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  12. #12
    Off to the first stage we went.

    The configuration for this year was different than normal. A slightly smaller event we'd be doing two stages, back to service, then repeating the same loop twice more. So only two stages..... But what that meant was that the second and third time's through the crews would be pushing harder and harder. It would make things interesting.

    Another point to add was again how utterly amazing the Irish organisers of these events are. A recent change in ferry times has meant that us catching our ride home is almost impossible. However the organisers gave the overseas crews special dispensation to cut and run at the end of the last stage, meaning we didn't have to drive back to service, clock out, load up and go. We were to give our time cards in at the end of the stage and leg it..... If we got that far.
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  13. #13
    SS1 a very fast and flowing stage. Some real technical stuff in there, where the handbrake would be needed, but mostly quick, very quick. Rob was worried about the proton. I told him to calm down and get us through the stage safely, then we could see how we were getting on with those around us and go from there.

    Running near the front brought about another change too. You are less likely by some margin to encounter a car off the stage, a yellow flag, or a closed stage and a drive through. You also miss some of the queuing and time to get out and have a pee you find further down the field. You're part of the week oiled machine at the front and kept busy.

    Luckily enough cars had gone through for a board to come out telling us the stage was like ice for about a mile half way through. Hard to believe as the weather has turned and everything was drying up. Oh well, the warning goes on the notes and we'd drive what we found.

    Away from the start our felt like we were running nicely, the car was strong and we were doing ok. We kept an eye on the rear view for the proton, but so far it was nowhere to be seen. When we got to the reported area it was incredible. The roads looked bone dry, but they were like ice. The back end was out everywhere and even in the straights Rob was fighting it. A stage of about 8 miles we got off it, looked at each other and said, that was emotional... Or words to that affect

    The only issue was that on the end of the stage there was a sharp right and immediate left which we came to too quickly and cuffed a wheel. Fortunately we didn't pick a puncture up though.

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  14. #14
    We came off the stage 26th quickest, which was also our starting position after the reseeding. The proton was nowhere to be seen as we left the stage and did the paperwork, so that was good and more importantly we had taken 20 seconds of Gareth Lloyd, the guy we really wanted to beat.
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  15. #15
    Straight from stage 1 to two we had a moment to talk briefly to the guys around us. Normally we aren't worried about other people's times and stay out of that chat, but this time we were a bit concerned at being at the sharp end. All was good though, we had gapped the MK2 in front and the proton behind.

    SS2 A very different state from the first. A quick start before going off road down effectively gravel Laden tracks which are hardly wider than the car. In fact when we did the recce the hedges were touching the ranger in both sides at some points. Things were continuing to dry up and other than a board telling us one of the chicanes had been rearranged we were good to go.
    A pretty good run. Rob was finding grip and with that confidence and was starting to push through some of the 3s and 4s (where a 1 is flat out and a 6 is almost a right angle). The problem with that is that you have no way of knowing what's around, or half way round the bend and if there is standing water. A slip on that and you're in for a big one.

    The stage was good but for one error. We entered a cross roads which had been made artificially in to a chicane. Our exit was a square right. Rob got confused and treated it as an acute right, taking us through the tape and at the marshals. Then soon moved . A quick spin and we were off again having lost 10 seconds or so.... Still we didn't see the proton.

    We finished the stage in the 34th quickest time, with Gareth taking 6 seconds out of us.

    Back to service.
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  16. #16
    Regular Nige's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Kinghorn View Post

    We went for a cut slick. Effectively a treaded competition tyre which Rob cuts himself to make a semi inter tyre. It's the way most go about it. We used to spend ages walking the service area looking at what everyone else was running, but soon realised we should do what we felt was right as everyone likes the car to feel different and has a different driving style.
    Did that turn out to be the best option or did you feel a different tyre would have been better ?

  17. #17
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    Oh, the suspense is killing me!

    Gowangowangowangowangowan.....
    I've done it 'cos Gary told me to.....

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by tallchap View Post
    Gowangowangowangowangowan.....

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Nige View Post
    Did that turn out to be the best option or did you feel a different tyre would have been better ?
    Hard to tell Nige, but yes I think so. Full wets were out of the question and due to the wet around slicks might not have worked. Then you're down to compounds within each. From memory we had run soft on the front and hard on the back. Only so much space on the trailer for wheels and tyres too
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  20. #20
    Back to service everything was drying out so Rob opted for slicks all round. In anything other than torrential conditions we use either slicks or inters. We have tried wets on a wet but not swamped day before but it ate them fairly quickly. Not cheap either at £700 a set.

    Gareth was sniffing around our tyre choice and changing accordingly. That's another change, he was obviously worried we were getting the jump on him.

    Good lovely BDX powered car





    He has a BDG powered historic and a newly made E30 M3 at home, he is just in the process of stripping and improving. There's no pleasing some folk

    The allotted time came and we went back out for stages 3 and 4.

    There was a short delay after time check in, with a bit of jostling for position, but that's normal. What happens is you have to finish your road miles to the minute. That is done from the point you leave service to the point you check in to the stage. From there it's generally supposed to be something like 3 to 5 minutes before you are off and running. That's the time when cars can move around. If there's a quick car behind who went through the last stage 25 seconds quicker than you, you might be inclined to let him through, no point worrying about him catching you. One guy who was a late entry, so badly seeded was a front runner, so he came on by. No drama

    SS3. A repeat of the fast flowing SS1 stage of around 8 miles, but this time quicker. The slippery board was still out for the same section as last time and it proved to be correct. Although bone dry the road must have been greasy, as there was no traction to be had. It was a bit emotional, but we got through it. We knocked 21 seconds off our first time, but that was only the 26th quickest time through the stage. The boys at the front were absolutely flying
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  21. #21
    Straight out of SS3 and it's only a few miles down the road to the next. Not quite enough to take the helmets off and run with the headsets. Your a sweaty mess, but the noise is unbearable without something on and a headache is always on the cards.

    SS4. The technical section again which is around 10 miles long and full of very narrow lanes, gravel and acute bends. Happy days.
    Nothing dramatic again on this one. The car was flying and Rob was doing a great job. I'm gradually calling the notes further in advance and he is learning to switch off his brain and drive 100% on what he hears, rather than what he sees. That's the ultimate in trust. If he does it wrong it's going to hurt, if I call it wrong, it's going to hurt. We knocked 30 seconds off our first run through, but that included a spin too. Not bad, but only the 22nd fastest time on the stage.

    And back to service.
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  22. #22
    We had a bit more time to have a look around and to catch up with people.

    A chap who services by us was there in one of his Nova's. He has several. This is a quick 1.4 and he was running first in class, eventually winning it.



    And Yan was there.... Actually Iain but we aren't good with the Welsh lingo, so he gets called Yan. He too has a crate M3 out of Holland or Belgium which he runs as a historic. A lovely lovely man who comes along with his wife Stella who makes lovely Welsh cakes, so we always go say hello they own a caravan park in Newquay Wales and among other cars he drives one of the new Bentley SUVs. Obviously doing ok for himself. His son was there too. He's stepped out of his R5 fiesta, back in to a lovely new MK2.



    And so to the final 2 stages.... But before we left we had to pack our service area up. While we were out the guys with Gareth were going to take our truck to a pub near the exit of the last stage to aid our getaway.
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  23. #23
    Regular stevem's Avatar
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    I preferred the other report tbh..
    Simon no longer owes me anything, Dave does though.
    Floyd probably owes me at least twenty with the interest rolling up...

  24. #24
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    That Proton is possibly an ex Mem works car.
    I think they got fed up with the Proton lump & fitted a Millington when the works deal ended.

    I'm not sure what the start intervals are but I wouldn't have thought there was scope to be caught unless they're taking 20 secs a km out of you.

  25. #25
    30 seconds intervals. If you aren't on it, you can be caught easily enough.
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  26. #26
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    A really good read; thanks
    Chris
    The older you get, the faster you used to be.....

  27. #27
    The old set of tyres were close to the limit, so Rob decided to put a new set of slicks on. These were medium compound. Hard enough not to go off on the quick first stage, but soft enough to stay in on the tighter second. At least that was the theory...... And then it rained !!!!

    On the way to the stages we tried to scrub the tyres in and do a few stop tests. Not good. The road was getting wet quickly and the grip was going. Oh well it was what it was, we just had to get on with it.

    Driving to the stages we were followed by some lads in their older golf GTi. It's easy to forget the performance of these rally cars until a moment like this. Rob was driving at about 50% probably less, just hugging the tight corners and the golf just couldn't keep up. It kept dropping back on the bends only to roar up behind on the straights. We weren't playing though, just getting ready for the last two stages.
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  28. #28
    Really enjoying this read Gary, thanks again for doing it.

    Though I get the feeling that there's bad news yet to come...

  29. #29
    SS5..... at the start of the stage the rain was drizzling at most. Nothing more. What we didn't know was what the stage would be like. It wasn't wet enough to overly concern us, so we'd be able to get a reasonable move on. Having said that we wanted nothing more than to get these last two out of the way and take the car home.
    From the off the roads felt greasy. We were unable to open the throttle fully and Rob had to be quick to catch it on several occasions. Then we had an odd situation where we arrived at a chicane to find one of the bales missing, however on exciting the chicane we found the best bale. It had been demolished and was now strewn fully across the road to a height of about 2ft. We ploughed through it. I warned Rob to keep an eye on the water temp incase it clogged the rad, but we were ok. However the rest of the stage was horrible. It looked dry but it was leathal. On a couple of occasions I told Rob to be steady and not bin it. We came off the stage knackered. It was hard fought.

    We had no idea if the nature of the car was due to the weather or the new rubber we were using. When we arrived at check in for the next and last stage we were relieved to here we weren't the only crew who were struggling. We took nearly 35 seconds more than our last run through, with a time that was around 27th fastest..... We were still in it.

    Off to the last.
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  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Kinghorn View Post
    Off to the last.
    ****ing Hell. Just how slow were you on the last stage................
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  31. #31
    SS6. The final stage in the event. After the nightmare that was the previous stage we really weren't looking forward to it. A much tighter stage the margin for error and tail out was very much reduced.

    A quick hand shake and good luck and we were off. Strangely enough this one wasn't as wet as the last and it wasn't long before Rob started to push. Not as hard as previously, but enough to make me think about standing water in the exit of a corner fortunately there wasn't any and we got through the stage trouble free. As we crossed the line we were knackered from concentration, but also elated at having finished. Our time showed us as being slow. We were fully 30 seconds slower than our last run through and only 29th quickest. But we had finished. The engine has been fully checked after the rebuild, other then cuffing a wheel we didn't break anything. Job done.

    The event was won by Barry Meade in his lovely MK2 with the louvred rear window. Frank Kelly was 10 seconds behind in 2nd. I was beginning to think Frank has lost it slightly, but his time on the last was amazing. In the damp he was over a minute faster than us and a fair bit quicker than Barry too. He'd really pushed for the win.

    The quality of the guys there was amazing. Wesley Patterson who is normally there or there about could only manage 10th and Adrian Hetherington was down the order too. It very much looks like the bar had been raised again and just when we were getting somewhere we are way off the pace again.

    We managed 26th overall out of nearly 130 cars, so not too bad, but not good enough for where we want to be. More seat time required I think.

    Off the stage the boys had left the trailer and truck waiting in a nearby pub car park. Loaded up we were on our way and caught the ferry with time to spare.

    Oh and we beat lloydy by 22 seconds. Not that in the grand scheme of things that meant much, but hey little victories etc.

    Now to find our next event and some more time on every stage

    A nice video showing the conditions and how quickly nigh on 350bhp shoves you up the road in one of these things... We make an appearance at 4.30.

    https://youtu.be/1ohmPVgFoUU

    Last edited by Gary Kinghorn; 24-05-2018 at 10:59 AM.
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  32. #32
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    Bloody well done & you finished in 1 piece, a good effort

    Cheers for posting up these, really look forward to them.
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  33. #33
    Regular simonsaunders's Avatar
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    Using all the road there Gary!

    With a bit more seat time, where do you think you could place?

  34. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Kinghorn View Post
    A nice video showing the conditions and how quickly nigh on 350bhp shoves you up the road in one of these things... We make an appearance at 4.30.

    https://youtu.be/1ohmPVgFoUU
    Bloody hell, ye came through that corner like lunatics!
    Properly on it!!

    Well done on your finish and you should both be proud of your result against such competition.

    Thanks for the write-up Gary.

  35. #35
    And a fly by at about 2 mins 30

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lF76HOjlvuY

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  36. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by simonsaunders View Post
    Using all the road there Gary!

    With a bit more seat time, where do you think you could place?
    That's a very good question Simon. Technically I don't think there is much missing. He has great car control and is lightening fast to catch things as they happen. Looking at the equipment we use, again it's all top notch. The only area where change could benefit is going to 15's instead of 13's. This would allow us to run bigger brakes. Most of the top 10 run 15's so there must be something in that. The car he has in development has 15's on it.

    From a driving perspective there are times when a blind 1 or 2 gets a blip down a gear, or a pussy lift.The top guys won't be doing this. Much like circuit stuff we probably lose ten yards in and ten yards out by doing this. However, stopping yourself from airing on the side of caution will be very very hard. You can see how hard he pushes, so getting him to push harder still on those 6th gear over 100mph kinks is tough, both for him and me. When you make your notes and call a ''flat 2 left'' it's very hard to visualise how fast you will be approaching it and how it will feel at speed. My gauge is probably, if he can see the exit he will do it - even at high speed. If the exit is unseen there may be a lift, or blip down a cog. That's only when we are hitting high speed though, from lower down there is no thought, it's gets taken flat. That's going to be the difference between winning and losing and binning it hard. The top guys do this fairly often.

    So to answer your question On another day, with the normal line up, our drive might have been good enough for top 15, or maybe top 10. We have finished 13th there before. With the same line up and us chipping away, in to the teens at least. There's absolutely nothing stopping us taking wins though, just need to keep pushing and progressing. The trouble is the others are doing the same

    Here's an in-car from Frank and his daughter.


    Last edited by Gary Kinghorn; 24-05-2018 at 11:26 AM.
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  37. #37
    Regular simonsaunders's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Kinghorn View Post
    That's a very good question Simon. Technically I don't think there is much missing. He has great car control and is lightening fast to catch things as they happen. Looking at the equipment we use, again it's all top notch. The only area where change could benefit is going to 15's instead of 13's. This would allow us to run bigger brakes. Most of the top 10 run 15's so there must be something in that. The car he has in development has 15's on it.

    From a driving perspective there are times when a blind 1 or 2 gets a blip down a gear, or a pussy lift.The top guys won't be doing this. Much like circuit stuff we probably lose ten yards in and ten yards out by doing this. However, stopping yourself from airing on the side of caution will be very very hard. You can see how hard he pushes, so getting him to push harder still on those 6th gear over 100mph kinks is tough, both for him and me. When you make your notes and call a ''flat 2 left'' it's very hard to visualise how fast you will be approaching it and how it will feel at speed. My gauge is probably, if he can see the exit he will do it - even at high speed. If the exit is unseen there may be a lift, or blip down a cog. That's only when we are hitting high speed though, from lower down there is no thought, it's gets taken flat. That's going to be the difference between winning and losing and binning it hard. The top guys do this fairly often.

    So to answer your question On another day, with the normal line up, our drive might have been good enough for top 15, or maybe top 10. We have finished 13th there before. With the same line up and us chipping away, in to the teens at least. There's absolutely nothing stopping us taking wins though, just need to keep pushing and progressing. The trouble is the others are doing the same

    Here's an in-car from Frank and his daughter.


    Interesting.

    It has got to be nice going in knowing that you have the right kit under you. So many bemoan the gulf between their kit and others. Rallying and the TT are the two sports where you see personal risk tolerance so closely intertwined with skill. Fascinating stuff. I donít think youíd catch me in the Co-drivers seat, thatís for sure.

  38. #38
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    That makes for great reading as ever Gary, it's fantastic that you get yourselves out there to scare yourselves silly.

    Next time, tell him to keep his foot in, or push down on his right leg (no, not like that).

  39. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by simonsaunders View Post
    I donít think youíd catch me in the Co-drivers seat, thatís for sure.
    I get asked all the time. How can you do that sitting next to him, you must be mental? Genuinely I don't think about it. You don't have time to. You catch a hay bale, you knock a wheel, it gets out of line and you're on the grass.... You're too busy calling the next note to even think about it. The second you think about anything else, you're done, you lose the notes and you're a passenger. Then it gets scary
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  40. #40
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    I've enjoyed reading your report & found the below video on YouTube where you make a couple of 'appearances'.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1ohmPVgFoUU

    By your own admission you've got all the kit but come on guys you finished 12th out of 15 finishers in class 26, 4:34mins from the winner, where incidentally the top 10 had 8 class 26 cars & the top 8 were within 55 secs. That's about 0.6 secs/km to the winner at position 8 whereas you guys are 3secs/km. That's a fair gap.
    Obviously class 26 is the car to have & of course won the event.

    Looking at the stage distances it seems that it was 2 stages repeated 3 times ?

    I'm guessing the class 23,24 & 25 are lesser spec cars. Some of them also finished in front & behind you.

    Overall it looks fab fun & good value at e545.
    Don't give up.
    Last edited by Fitz711; 24-05-2018 at 01:19 PM.

  41. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by jacobyte View Post
    That makes for great reading as ever Gary, it's fantastic that you get yourselves out there to scare yourselves silly.

    Next time, tell him to keep his foot in, or push down on his right leg (no, not like that).
    When I know it's fine I'll call "1 right over crest brave", which means don't you dare let off, but the rest of the time I let him gauge it. The last thing I want to be doing is laying in hospital with him in the bed next to me giving me the "what the xxxx did you say that for" look
    I'm arresting you for murdering my car you dyke digging tosspot

  42. #42
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    Congratulations, great result. Especially with the amount of seat time you've had.
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  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by simonsaunders View Post
    I donít think youíd catch me in the Co-drivers seat, thatís for sure.
    This, without the "think". Just no chance.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Kinghorn View Post
    I get asked all the time. How can you do that sitting next to him, you must be mental? Genuinely I don't think about it. You don't have time to. You catch a hay bale, you knock a wheel, it gets out of line and you're on the grass.... You're too busy calling the next note to even think about it. The second you think about anything else, you're done, you lose the notes and you're a passenger. Then it gets scary
    Still nope.
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  44. #44
    Fitz, Having a class 26 car doesn't automatically guaranty you a win, although it certainly helps . As is evident by the Darrians in 5th and 6th, who run in a much lower class. They did good.

    With more seat time and work we could get in to the teens as mentioned previously, a gain of just over a minute. Not spinning would help too

    We just need to get better.
    I'm arresting you for murdering my car you dyke digging tosspot

  45. #45
    I think it's fair to say that Frank's car is a little loud now....overly loud in my mind

    I'm arresting you for murdering my car you dyke digging tosspot

  46. #46
    Regular simonsaunders's Avatar
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    Makes me sad that modern WRC doesnít have that look and feel to it.

    Such a shame that they just donít get people to chop up some Citroens and make them RWD with a screaming 2 litre up front.

  47. #47
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    Gary. Are there no / little noise restrictions?
    SteveM owes me £5
    I owe Dan £5
    Steve. Pay the man!

  48. #48
    None and it's VERY evident.
    I'm arresting you for murdering my car you dyke digging tosspot

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