Archive for August, 2007

Deep in the forest…

bajawales01, originally uploaded by cambrianbiker.

…something stirs!  Thanks to Cambrianbiker on Flickr for this one.

Baja GB

1175074912_444f1c89ae.jpg

Absolutely shattered so just time for a tiny update before I hibernate till next year. (From now on I’m only getting out of bed for Bajas!)

Baja GB this weekend was a phenomenal experience. The stages were like nothing I’d ever done before.  Normally our stages are 32 km max, the usual rally stage is less than half that, but the stages this weekend were 50 and 60 km! 

We had one stage to do on the Friday, a 10 km prologue that would determine our seeding for the next day.  We started really well, with a few changes to the feel of the vehicle with the extra weight (two spare wheels and a whole lot of fuel!) making it seem a little wallowy but Henry adjusted accordingly and we were flying.   Part way through MuddyMoo had a couple of misfires, then after a 90 left and part way uphill she stopped on stage and wouldn’t restart.  We had to roll back down the hill, get clear of the stage, then Henry was straight out of the vehicle and sorted the problem (a plug lead came off) whilst I put out our OK board.  Henry quickly had the problem sorted, so grab the OK board back, jump back into the vehicle, get the belts back on and frustratingly Frazer Williams and Dave Thomas went past in the QT before we got re-started.  We lost about two minutes, which put us at the back of the field for the next stage, really gutting. 

Back to service where our special guest service crew David and Michael (thanks lots both of you, your turn next year!) investigated the smell of oil, dodgy steering and the loose jack handle somehow floating around the back of the vehicle!

The next day we started at the back of the pack but passed four or five cars on stage. We were really flying!  Then things went a little awry, we drove part of one stage (50kms!) with no brakes (pipe ripped out on stage by rough ground) and the next stage (60kms!) with only three brakes! It made braking and setting up for corners REALLY unpredictable, it was sort of Scandinavian flicks before each corner but you couldn’t tell which way it was going to end up after it stopped flicking!  Hilarious! (Well, looking back on it anyway)  Henry managed it fantastically, we only lost about ten minutes compared to the stages we did with working brakes.  On the navigational side, our intercom packed up so I had to shout instructions over the roar of the engine and wave my hands around to indicate severity of corners and bumpy ground!  The final day started early, wet and cold, all bleak and misty at Sweet Lamb but again fantastic fun on stage.  We started with just under two minutes to make up on Frazer Williams and Dave Thomas in their QT Special.  It was just possible, just possible that we could end the day second overall.  Then again, it was possible that we could push too hard and end up out of the event completely.  Anything could happen… 

So we rallied through the final stage, finished close but still 31 seconds behind Frazer and Dave (congratulations guys!), and absolutely thrilled with third national position!  We were presented awards in front of spectators and photographers, and it all felt rather special.  Now it’s back to normal life but with a huge grin and some amazing memories flying through my head. 

Thanks to all the organizers, officials, marshals and spectators for making it so much fun, thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Webster the Muddy Moo Management Crew, to the wonderful Roland Marlow for all your help, and to my husband Richard for the competition, the support, and for not landing on our roof on stage 4!  Thank you to Allmakes for the sponsorship, and last but not least, thanks to Henry for driving so fantastically and letting me shout at him for three days!

I’m counting the minutes till next time…

Baja videos

Some video of us overtaking Ben Gott on the long climb in Sweet Lamb/Hafren.  Thanks for letting us past Ben, sorry about your fuel problems.  Pity I made a bit of a horlicks of the overtaking manouevre!  Still didn’t lose us too much time.

Thanks to DavesTaxi on www.BritishRally.co.uk for this one.

Also some video from the official TV crew for the weekend from www.rallytv.co.uk

Right click and download a free taster from the event – you can see some footage of us at about 3m59s

www.rallytv.co.uk/videos/free/Bajamovie.wmv

Press Release: Udderly Fantastic!

Henry and Sarah brave the elements at the end of the event, happy, but cold! 
For Immediate Release

Monday, August 20th, 2007

Oxfordshire based Motorsport Team – Friesian Racing, claimed an impressive third place in the national section of the BajaGB in mid-Wales at the weekend

After 625.82 kilometers of high speed action in the Welsh forests, the Friesian Racing team with their distinctive Land Rover Discovery, ‘MuddyMoo’ missed out on second place by a mere 30 seconds.

“I am chuffed to bits with the result” said Henry Webster (Middleton Stoney), driver and team principal. “It’s been a fantastic event, the stages have suited us down to the ground. It is the sort of terrain that our car really thrives on!”

“We’ve done especially well when you consider that the sport is dominated by specially modified vehicles. To get on the podium with a Production Class car is virtually unheard of!” said Co-Driver Sarah Suter (Chepstow). The event was not without its challenges for the whole Friesian Racing herd. Having missed last year’s inaugural event, thwarted at the last minute by engine gremlins, the team found themselves in a similar situation this year. With just minutes to go to the technical scrutineering MuddyMoo wouldn’t start. The service crew (largely new for this event!) worked wonders to get the car running and into the event on time.

The king ignition lead came loose on the opening SuperSpecial stage in Radnor Forest forcing a stop to reattach it and relegating them to the back of the national field. The fight back started on the first stage of day two, the first of the true Baja stages (a 60.97km test in Hafren Forest and Sweet Lamb), where the team overtook five cars to claim the third fastest time. A similar feat in the third 54.64km test brought the team right back into contention. This was a truly punishing stage which threw everything at the teams, from river crossings to deep mud, steep climbs to precipitous drops all mixed in with lots of fast gravel tracks.

Disaster struck on the second loop of stages.  Two thirds of the way through the second “Sweet Lamb” stage a brake line fractured leaving the crew with no brakes.  Nursing the car nearly twenty kilometers to the end without brakes, the team were then able to block off the offending pipe and drive the “Tarenig” stage with an ill handling car with braking effort on just three wheels.

Once fixed at the overnight halt, the team were able to claw their way back onto the podium in the remaining two Sunday tests.  Starting nearly two minutes behind the second placed car of Frazer Williams and Dave Thomas, Henry and Sarah flew through the final kilometres to reduce the gap to a mere 31 seconds by the end of the event.

“Getting to the end of an endurance event like this is an achievement in itself, but to do so and to finish on the podium was beyond our wildest expectations!  It is a credit to the quality of the parts supplied by Abingdon based Allmakes 4×4!”  said Henry Webster at the end of the event.

Picture says it all, we’re chuffed!

Picture says it all, we’re chuffed!, originally uploaded by friesian_racing.

Again too late and too fatigued for the full post tonight, but suffice to say that the pic says it all and we’re chuffed to bits after a fantastic weekend.

Quick thanks to Ronnie and Nigel – my parents, service crew David and Mike – all of whom have worked miracles this weekend. Andrew for his time and patience in the build up and of course my long suffering navigator Sarah who did us proud on this event. Also thanks to Allmakes and Dave Bellamy in particular!

I would also like to thank the organisers and officials (including all the marshals) who braved the elements to put on a superb event. We enjoyed it immensely.


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