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Whickham and District Motor Club Limited

The 488 Rally - 16th Oct 2012

Well, its many a year since I last did a Road Rally but I always used to enjoy them when I did, and the thought of Whickham and District's forthcoming 488 Rally was certainly enough to whet my appetite and make me think about getting the old Roamer and Pottie out again

It must be more than twenty years since I was last sitting in the navigator's seat for a full blown proper event, although Brian and I have been out regularly on the various Wednesday Night events put on by Colin Fish, Guy Wickham and Peter Metcalfe and Andrew Roughead over the past couple of years, and so it was only natural that we fancied having a go at the first Proper, legal 12 Car that's been put on for ages.

The philosophy was simple enough: create an event that any crew could do; was totally legal and run to RAC Blue Book Rules; that was challenging enough for the more experienced yet wasn't so easy as to give a false impression of what a novice crew could expect if they turned up to do a National 12-car.


Brian and I turned up with Jet, all washed and ready, to find a healthy buzz in the air and a number of crews all quite excited about the forthcoming evening's event. Paperwork was all completed in order and the Black Spots and Give Ways plotted and checked by the organisers. We sat down and chatted with some of the other crews and waited with anticipation for our start time.

We were off at Car No 6 so our start time was 19:36 and we waited outside Kibby Club to be given our first Route Instructions. We were given them as we left the start, (known as 'Plot and Bash' due to having to plot the route on the go as you drive along) and so we started gently to give me a chance to get at least the first few junctions on the map so Brian knew roughly where he was going. It was obviously quite difficult to do this but it's a great way to slow everybody down and as we drove along there were plenty of Passage Checks and Route Checks to make sure you were on the correct route - (handy for making sure you didn't go too far off track!)

The Route

It had been raining quite hard for some time during the previous 24 hours and so many of the roads were suffering from quite deep puddles, (something that was to cause us a great deal of trouble along the way) but we managed to overtake a couple of cars before too long and everything was looking rosy, until we hit a sudden and very deep puddle across the road near Kibblesworth, causing poor old Jet's engine to virtually die almost instantly. Luckily Brian kept him running although we were chuffing along like a 1940 Fordson Major Tractor for a few miles, causing quite a bit of hilarity at the various Passage Checks we came to, along with the expected cries of "Left your Plough behind?" and "Sounds like you've had a harrowing time!" All thoroughly good natured banter!



As we progressed Jet started to dry out although we were obviously being very wary of any dips in case they contained the equivalent of Lake Geneva - and it was just outside Holmside that we hit the "Big One" - causing poor Jet to drown out completely and stop dead. No amount of coaxing or kind words could get him to start although he was trying, and all we could do was sit in our own little cloud of steam and wait for the bit of him that was wet to dry out and burst into life. We watched as car after car drove past - thank you to the guys that stopped and asked if we were ok - and eventually, he struggled into life and we managed to cough and chuff our way along the road for the next ten miles or so until he finally warmed up enough to run properly. After that we definitely got much better at spotting the water!

488 Rally Night

Plotting was a pleasant mixture of Map References with approach and departure plus some tulips, so nothing too complicated although we have to admit that as we left Audrey Roughead's check point and disappeared into the night I realised after a quarter of a mile I had missed the immediate slot right - which caused us to turn around and go back :-( - that certainly reminded me to be a little more careful and had the absolute desired effect of adding a little bit more to our time and making things just that little bit tighter.

The further we went the more we enjoyed the event. OK the roads were wet and it was difficult to see where we were going with our rubbish headlights, especially when some much more modern machinery came up behind us with their fabulous lighting, but we persevered on and the further we went the more we enjoyed ourselves. The second half of the event was absolutely brilliant - Brian admits that hes not so keen driving along unfamiliar roads - but he drove brilliantly and I was navigating and plotting like a demon. Or maybe a dervish. Either way we made the finish with all the code boards and passage checks, and only lost marks due to time spent sailing along the back roads of County Durham. We have considered renaming Jet as AquaRiva - after all he is Italian, exudes Style and Panache and could be considered a timeless Classic, however his poor performance in the deep water sections meant he did not qualify for that.

It was challenging enough to make it a proper event, quick enough to please the old school, plotting was a good balance of keeping the navigator on his toes but not having the driver hanging around waiting for Judgement Day, and it was all finished in time for a pint at the excellent finish, where results were quickly produced with the minimum of fuss.

In summary we both thoroughly enjoyed the event - the organisation was excellent, it was a truly fantastic route and it was as completely legal as you could expect from an event run by Whickham and District Motor Club. Will we do the next one? You bet!


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