Wednesday, 15 June 2011

June 3rd, 4th & 5th- The International Autoecosse!

Friday June 3rd saw me having a rare day off work and setting out in readiness for the International Autoecosse event in Scotland. The day was bright and sunny and due to everything being ready and loaded early (and the car had even been washed!) we left two hours earlier than intended.
We decided that with it being a Friday, the M1 & M6 was a definite no no, and we decided to go M11, A14, A1, then off at Scotch Corner and across the A66 to pick up the M6 at Penrith. We stopped for a short break at York services where Floyd swapped a ten pound note for something described as food, but clearly wasn't and due to me still feeling shite, (I had been ill all week) I didn't have anything. (good move!)
Some five and a half hours later, we arrived at out hotel, the Graham Arms in Longtown just north of Carlisle.
Along with other Club Triumph members we decided to retire to the bar and talk cars and drink beer. A short break to the fish & chip shop across the road saw us all suitably fed and we then went for a stroll around the town to check out the other pubs. After not finding any we returned to our hotel and stayed in the bar until bedtime!
Saturday morning saw us a the start location at Gretna Green services where Club Triumph made up two  thirds of the entry list. There were other unusual cars there too such as a Ferrari, a three wheeled Lomax and a vintage Bentley!
We were soon underway and set out through Lockerbie, Dumfries, Galloway forest park, then past Cumnock and to out halfway location at Kames. Here we had to do two autosolo tests and two laps around a circuit. Bacon rolls and coffee were on the menu for lunch and very nice they were too! We kept a clean sheet on the autosolo's with no errors too!
After Kames we headed further north past Lanark and Shotts and then had a hill climb section to complete at Forestburn. This was great fun although the big saloon struggled to get round some of the hair pins in a decent time. With the hill climb completed, we then headed north west until we came to our final location at Loch Lomond Shores. There was another autosolo to do at this location and once again we completed it with no errors and a good time. The total mileage for today's route was 209 miles.
Saturday night saw another night involving beer and good food. Dinner was consumed in a local Indian restaurant and a great laugh was had by all. (Especially in the pub after the Indian!)
Sunday morning saw us back at the same autosolo circuit as the night before only this time with the course in reverse. Our time was a bit slower this time (must have been the fuzzy head) but we were fault free again.
We then set out for our Sunday route which was less miles than Saturday. (152 miles) We had been promised quite a spectacular drive on route on a road called the 'Rest and be thankful'. All I can say is that they were spot on. It is quite a spectacular drive and makes for some great pics. (See Below)
We also had some absolutely beautiful scenery on these roads and the views were sometimes quite breath taking. The drive down towards Colintraive where we had to catch the ferry for the Isle of Bute was one of the prettiest I've seen. Oh for a huge lottery win! I'd spend a lot more time up here!

Once on the Isle of Bute, we did a tour around the Island before finishing at the town of Rothesay for a final autosolo on the quayside. This one was very tight and you didn't want to go too fast for fear of crashing through the railings and ending up in the sea! We did well and again had no errors only to be told we had to do it again because the Marshall had forgotten to start his stop watch! Do it again we did, again with no errors and we were faster this time too because we now knew the course!

After everyone had had their go we retired to a local hotel for the results and awards ceremony. We were very pleased to learn that out of 53 entrants we had finished 4th in class and 8th overall. Pretty damn good for our first time on this rally!
When it was all over and the beer had started flowing (again) we decided to head home rather than face another night on the beer and a long drive home on the Monday with a bad head and crap traffic. (Must be getting old!)  So we caught the 6.15pm Ferry back to the mainland on the Sunday night. This took half hour and landed us west of Glasgow. Once off the ferry, we just kept going with only two stops. One for petrol and one to change drivers. The run was traffic free and I made it home by 2.55am Monday morning.
        The car had covered close on 1200 miles since Friday morning and we'd not had to top up oil, water or even open the toolbox. I cannot praise this car enough. As well as doing this rally she has completed the 900 mile HCR and the 2000 mile RBRR events all without fault. She's done me proud, but I now feel she's earned a rest and is therefore being retired from being my events car. My real love are Mk1 Triumphs so I'm currently preparing not one, but two of these for use in the events. I'll never forget the good service this one has given me though and I'll always have a soft spot for her. :-(

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