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Whickham and District Motor Club Limited

Legend Fires North West stages, 5th & 6th Feb 2011 – car 61

The first outing for Pete Gibson in 2011 was the North West stages which is based in Blackpool. Co driving was Chris Dodds who has driven on the rally in the past himself. The days leading up to the event were hectic as the evo needed a new clutch and bushes for the proflex, the parts not arriving until the Monday before rally. To make matters worse on Monday night Pete scratched his eye working under the car which resulted in a trip to A & E. This put even starting the event in doubt but luckily by Friday afternoon he could see well enough to make the start.

The first problem of the event came to light before the car had even turned a wheel in anger. On the way back from scrutineering the heater matrix failed and leaked engine coolant all over the floor of the car. The service crew (thanks to Pete’s dad) did a good job bypassing the heater, but this was to be a problem which would blight the crew throughout the rally.

Pete Gibson 2

The first two stages were in the dark at Weeton Army Camp. The Barracks were in a horrendous condition with huge puddles flooding even the access roads on the way in. The crew were possibly a little over cautious but avoided the carnage and came out of the venue with two clean runs. Stages 3 and 4 were run down the promenade at Blackpool. These were far more enjoyable than Weeton and resulted in two good stages 15th and 14th quickest respectively, and a bit of handbrake action in the spectator area! As they headed back to the overnight halt Pete and Chris were lying 29th overall.

Saturday brought rain, rain and more rain. Despite an overshoot on the first stage of the day at Hillhouse, by mid morning the crew had got the Mitsubishi into the top 20. The rain kept coming, making it difficult to see out of the constantly steaming up windscreen without a de-mister. The stages all had varying levels of grip which made it difficult to know how hard to push. This resulted in another overshoot at Weeton Camp, and being held up when the unfortunate Nick Stamper went off in a big way into the sea wall on the Prom.


Biggest moment

The biggest moment/almost accident came on the Clifton water treatment plant stage. Pete outbraked himself on the approach to a split and slid off the road and up a grassed bank. Luckily the ground was very soft which slowed the car down before it nudged a concrete block at the front. Not too much time was lost and the Evo was lucky to carry onto the finish with just a little cosmetic damage.

The final loop took in two more stages at weeton camp. By this time it was late in the day, the lamp pod was back on and the relentless rain was almost torrential. The windscreen problem had now become almost impossible due to a combination of repeated wiping and cleaning and the rally car being soaked through. On the first stage Pete really struggled to see the stage and at times it was sheer luck the car stayed on the road. A solution had to be found quickly and it came in the form of a stick with a cloth fashioned on the end of it. Chris then skillfully used their new low-tech device to wipe the screen in between reading his notes.

All finishers agreed it was an extremely tough rally, but the hard work by the whole team both before and during the rally resulted in a very respectable finish in 14th overall.

Pete Gibson Promenade

The lads on the promenade stage on Saturday afternoon, courtesy of Barry Lindsay

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