Firstly Happy New Year to you all. I hope you had as good a Christmas as one can have in these odd times and have set out your motorsport related new year resolutions. I only made one- to only have cars I was going to use. The three Fiesta Zetec and one ST racecars were all sold at the end of last year and, as readers of this column will know, were replaced by a VW powered Mudplugger, or Sporting Trials car, and an Autotest car (more of that anon.)
Following an unspectacular debut at the first event we did, Donal and I were far more optimistic heading into the next one, which took place on the 28th of December. The Leinster Motor Club “Le Fanu” event was in a quarry outside Ashford in Wicklow- a fantastic venue. We had had the car serviced and it was running far better than before. The mechanic did say that he wasn’t happy with the (SU) carb, saying it was probably too rich and could foul a plug, so warned us to get the choke off as soon as we had it started, and to get it back to him after the event. To say the car was transformed was a massive understatement. It was so much more drivable than before, reacting far better to the throttle, making the big climbs far more tacklable (is that even a word?) and not half as scary! We didn’t do too badly at the first section and were chatting excitedly about how much better it was than before on the drive down to the next section. Having walked through the section, I tackled it first. All was going well until I approached a medium sized crest. I’m not sure if it was the angle of attack, or a case of too much throttle, but the front of the car went well up in the air and came down heavily on the front right wheel, which folded in underneath the hub- meaning the section, and maybe even the day, was over. The front wheels on most of the pluggers are home made affairs, using motorcycle rims. Donal had previously mentioned that the “spokes” could probably do with some strengthening in the form of a metal disc- it appeared he was right. We walked back down to the area where everyone was parked and borrowed an agricultural looking iron bar and a lump hammer. Back at the machine and we (I say we, but I didn’t do much apart from offering encouragement) managed to get the wheel back to an almost circular shape. It wobbled like Laurel and Hardy’s Model T, but we reckoned if we were careful, it might last the day. Off we went and managed another two sections, before, as our spannerman had predicted, it fouled a plug. Thanks to his foresight, we had arranged to get plugs at the event (thanks Enda!) and, having spluttered our way as far as the lunch break, replaced the offending item before tackling the tea and sandwiches. In the afternoon section, we had a reasonable run, with Donal making a far better fist of it than me, but the car didn’t seem quite as sharp as before, and an ominous clanking sound had made itself known, especially on start up. We finished the event, but knew we had a few issues to be sorted out. Our spannerman has unfortunately contacted Covid, so is up on blocks, so to speak, but we will get his expert opinion on the state of the engine as soon as he is out and about again. As for the wheels, the plan is to leave them into a machine shop and see what they suggest or offer. This means we missed last weekend’s MEC Freeman Cup event- which is a shame. Fear not though, we will be back, and hopefully the (slow) improvement will continue!
Congratulations to Christopher Evans on another win and the ever helpful Enda Byrne for being top VW powered car- and third overall.
Thanks to John Nolan for the pictures. To see more of his work and to find out more about Sporting Trials, click on the below image to visit their Facebook Page.