Archive for the 'cross country' Category

It wasn’t cold, it was Friesian!

Ronnie Webster

Joel checks in to time control Photo: Ronnie Webster

In arctic-style conditions, Friesian Racing continued their domination of the Super Production classes and made a bid for the overall honours on the Scottish Borders Hillrally at the weekend.  A stunning fifth overall was a fantastic result for the team after a trying weekend.

With stages that really suit MuddyMoo and Henry’s driving style and with Joel back on the maps in the forest, we were always hoping for a good result on this end of year bash, especially after last year’s disappointment. We had set ourselves a ‘stretch’ target of a top five finish and we weren’t disappointed.

Day 1 dawned as a frosty and cold November morning and even by the time that we had reached the start of stage 1 at about lunch time, the tracks were still completely covered in ice in the exposed areas.  Slippery conditions were definitely the order of the day and any thought of heroics on day one were firmly out of the window.  Survival was clearly going to be the key to success on this event.

Ronnie Webster

MuddyMoo rolls into service for the final time Photo: Ronnie Webster

Despite the steady start, and an annoying misfire which plagued them for several stages, Joel and Henry found themselves in fourth place before the final stage of the day – a twilight 16 miler!  Although the team dropped back to 7th overnight with the misfire finally cured, the team were more than content with the days work.

A layer of snow greeted the early risers on Sunday morning and provided a whole set of new challenges.  Ice was tricky enough on the Saturday stages, but at least it was fairly distinguishable from the more grippy gravel sections.  With a full coating of snow, the underlying ice was much less predictable and almost impossible to spot.  Henry had hoped to push hard on the early stages of day two, but the prevailing conditions suggested that once more a more circumspect approach may be more pragmatic.  MuddyMoo’s predictable handling in the slippery, snowy and icy initial corners of the stage allowed the team to gain confidence in the conditions and settle into a good rhythm quickly and set a brace of good times in the opening stages.

Now in sixth place the Friesian crew took a further 40 seconds off their times in each of the re-run final stages, and despite a heroic last lap dash from Niall Meehan in his Tomcat to place him fourth, the Friesian crew did enough to secure the sought after fifth place, a mere two seconds ahead of Robin and Nat Rymell in their Mud Rover.

A very many thanks must go to all our supporters.  First of all the Friesian Racing herd; Joel for his excellence in road reading, that gave me the confidence to push on in the tricky conditions.  Andrew for his tireless expertise and willingness to get stuck in, no matter what the conditions are like!  Sue for her fantastic attention to detail and for always asking the questions that no-one else has picked up on!  My mother Ronnie for endlessly cleaning the sponsors names, catering and for gracefully wiping my feet everytime I got back into the saddle!  And of course, my father, Nigel for his constant help in building and maintaining MuddyMoo to such a high standard and for his detailed approach to all the event logistics and planning without which I would be lost.

Henry and Joel (L&R) collect their prize from rally director Ian Sykes

Henry and Joel (L&R) collect their prize from rally director Ian Sykes

Thanks must also go to our sponsors, Allmakes 4×4 for continuing to supply us with the best in Land Rover parts to enable us to maintain our excellent reliablity record with a Super Production car, and to allow us to push the envelope ever further to challenge the expensive specials that dominate the sport.  Milner, too, whose remote-reservoir Varidamps have enabled us to move significantly up the pecking order, with the ability to maintain the pace in the rough, as well as contributing to the car’s fantastic poise in the fast stuff!

Friesian Racing triumph at Scottish Perthshire Hillrally


Piston Broke? – The spoils of our labours

So the dust has settled, or at least the mud has started falling off, from a really successful Scottish Perthshire Hillrally for the Friesian Racing team!

After a challenging weekend Henry and Joel brought MuddyMoo home a mere 6 seconds outside the top ten in eleventh overall and with a resounding first in class against some considerable Super Production competition – equalling our best ever Scottish finish.

Leaving the cattle shed at Perth Mart at the start of the event – Photo: R Webster

Apart from the engine cutting out in the second stage which lost the team over a minute and a half, the car ran almost faultlessly!  Whilst there was always more than enough for our excellent service crew to attend to when MuddyMoo made her appearances in the service area, most of the issues were pretty minor.  This is testament to the thorough preparation that took place in advance of the event, even if it did all seem a bit last minute in the final weeks!

Pressing on in the Dron stage – Photo: R Webster

With so many major changes over the winter break; a completely new shock absorbing arrangement now using Milner Off Road’s excellent Varidamps, a complete re-wire courtesy of our resident electrical/electronic wizard, Andrew, and a set of comfy and supportive new seats from Motordrive, we could have been forgiven a few teething problems.

Instead the wiring performed faultlessly from the moment the last few connections were made – and the Terratrip rally computer now seems to work reliably! (Even if we didn’t use it much here – MuddyMoo pretty much knows her own way to the the stages, and Henry certainly does!).  Thanks Andrew an absolutely fantastic job.

I was concerned by the lack of any testing on the new suspension, but needn’t have been.  The Milner Varidamps have been awesome out of the box allowing us to carry much more speed and take a lot less risks than before.  Andrew Lees has done a great job guesstimating our set up and getting it almost spot on.  There is some tuning to do, largely where I tried to pretend I knew better than the experts at Milner Off Road, but this just means that there is more speed to be found. 

Thanks must also go to my dad for doing most of the welding and fabrication.  The suspension took a real beating at the weekend, but all that should be stuck remains firmly welded to the chassis.  Another excellent job!

Joel and Henry in the office – Photo: R Webster

Having broken Joel as well as the steering box in The Hillrally in 2006 it was a pleasant surprise that he was willing to have another go!  With Y Rali Bryn Cymru cancelled earlier in the year, Joel decided to take on the roughest one of the lot – the Scottish Perthshire.  Not only did Joel survive (you did didn’t you?) but he also quickly adapted to the new set of skills required for co-driving on open moorland stages.  Much less about reading the map and more about giving advance notice of obstacles, corners and hills!  Joel’s contribution to the event was absolutely critical to our success this weekend.

Chuffed at the presentation – Photo: R Webster

The Scottish Perthshire Hillrally is one of the toughest challenges of the year.  The stages are proper, arduous off-road terrain which taxes the cars and the crews to the utmost, but thanks to the quality Land Rover parts supplied by our main sponsors, Allmakes 4×4, we had virtually no trouble with the car throughout the event.

I must also pass on my thanks to my mother, Ronnie who tirelessly fed and watered the whole team, Lesley for her support and Daisy for keeping Andrew so well amused, Sue for putting up with not seeing Andrew for days on end whilst he was under the dashboard with the coloured spaghetti and the many other people who make up the extended Friesian Racing herd and who all contribute generously to getting us through the start line and to the end of the event.

What are we up to in 2008?

A while ago I promised I’d let you know what we were planning for the year!  The calendar has been up in the ‘Events’ section for a while, but it might be worth saying a bit more about what we’ve got planned.

First up is rebuild time – every winter there is something new.  Last year’s themes were engine and livery and this year its suspension and wiring.  We passed the point of no return on the suspension front a while ago, as you may have seen on our Flickr stream.  We hacked off the existing 10″ ProComp shock absorber towers and replaced them with some new Tomcat Motorsport 12″ shock mounts in preparation for the new Milner Varidamp shockers that arrived last week.  (Thanks Tony for bringing them back to Oxfordshire for us!). 


Two of the new shocks are in place and I can’t wait to try them out and start the development process!  Hopefully with some helpful advice from Andy at Milner’s we should be reasonably well set up out of the box, but it would be sensible to do some testing before the first event if we’ve got time!


Thanks to Nigel and his skills with the grinder, the gas axe, the stick and the torch, not to mention the pop-rivetter, most of the fabrication is now complete and waiting for the axle internals to be checked and re-assembled. 


Before we can go testing we have also got the wiring to complete – we reached the point of no return a couple of weeks ago with this too – out came reams of spaghetti of unknown origin, to be replaced with reams of spaghetti that we understand and goes where we want it!  Well that’s the plan anyway.  The new loom is loosely conceived and is laid in, but there is plenty of routing and connecting to do before we are ready and the clock is ticking.  There are plenty more photos on our Flickr account.


As for events we are planning once more to tackle all the UK Hillrallies and the Baja GB in September.  My feet are definitely beginning to itch and I can’t wait to do our first event, but for the meantime its back to the workshop to rebuild the axles and finish the wiring and suspension. 


One last look back

With the memories of the 2007 season now beginning to fade a little, I thought I’d allow us one final look back on a highly successful but challenging and interesting season – as well as giving you an opportunity to see some of the team outside of their usual grubby rally attire!

Henry and Sarah pick up their awards at the National Hillrally Championship dinner

Henry and Sarah pick up the prize for top Super Production entry in the National Hillrally Championship at the awards dinner last month.

2007 was a year of firsts for the Friesian Racing team:

  • First engine rebuild
  • First headline sponsor:  Thanks for your help all the folk at Allmakes 4×4
  • First podium finish:  Baja GB 3rd Overall (National)
  • First fastest stage time:  Final stage of Scottish Border’s Hillrally
  • First stage time under bogey:  Final stage of the Scottish Border’s Hillrally
  • First time we’ve met a closed farm gate on stage route:  Scottish Perthshire Hillrally
  • First time we’ve got stuck on stage:  Scottish Perthshire Hillrally
  • First time we’ve completely swapped roles:  Michael Bruce co-drove for me on the Scottish Borders Hillrally (It used to be the other way around)

But third time we’ve come home Super Production class champions in the National Hillrally Championship.

For 2008 – we’ll elucidate on our plans for 2008 further in a future post, but current plans include a full rewire of the car (underway) and interior fettle as well as a fresh look at the suspension. 

Competition wise, we hope to compete in whole the National Hillrally championship and the Baja GB.  Dates and links to more information on the events page –

Just left to say thanks to everyone who helped us out this year:

Sarah Suter for her excellence in the co-driver’s seat.  I’m going to miss your dedication, concentration and giggles this year.  It’s going to be difficult to replace your enthusiasm for the team and the competition in 2008.  Sarah’s going to be a mummy!

Richard Suter for his patience in seeing the love of his life strapped into a Discovery masquerading as a Friesian cow and for his graciousness in defeat! 😉

Andrew, Sue, Joel, Dave, David and Mike for using up their precious holiday to follow us around the country and keep us in the straight and narrow in all conditions – it fair to say that 2007 wasn’t the driest of years and the cold and wet makes servicing all the more unpleasant and a lot less fun.  Thanks guys – I’ve booked the weather for 2008.

Some of the herd prepare for the long trip home after the Perthshire Scottish Hillrally - first time that weekend that the sun had come out!

L-R Sue, Joel, Andrew, Sarah and Henry mentally prepare themselves for the long journey home after the Scottish Perthshire Hillrally last July.

My parents Nigel and Ronnie for doing more than their fair share of fetching, carrying, fabrication, car-building, de-stressing and catering.  Not to mention far too many gearbox rebuilds – I will learn!  I can’t thank you enough.

Michael Bruce for stepping in at the last minute to navigate on the Scottish Borders and doing a sterling job, guiding us to a class win as well as physically dragging the car over an kilometre out of the stage when the steering rod failed in the dark on Saturday night.

To the guys at Allmakes who’ve delivered the goods to tight timescales and panic requests all year long with no sign of a grumble.  Dave, Sam, Grace, and Richard thanks!  Their stockholding was invaluable to us this year delivering quality parts on time!

And to all our other suppliers – most of you know who you are – too many to mention by name just now, but thanks!

Scottish Borders Hillrally – Video

Some video coverage of the Britpart Scottish Borders Hillrally.  MuddyMoo stars from about 2’17”

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