Frustrating Differential Disaster

After a great result on the Malcolm Wilson Rally Kris Farrell and I in the Millers Oils backed car were looking forward to my local event the Butlins Somerset Stages.

But it ended up being a ‘character building’ event I think I can safely say it was a weekend to forget with everything from Friday afternoon to Saturday evening; from traffic, finding accommodation, the rally… all my bad luck over the last 4-years must have happened in this one day!

You can also see Paul’s Facebook gallery: CLICK HERE

SS1 Knowle:  Less than a mile in on a tightening right hand bend the car decides it’s going to swap ends leaving us more 90 degrees to the track 20 seconds lost.

Then the same again on the hairpin right on the steep downhill section (think in front of the cameras) but this time we lose the engine and Kris has to do everything he can to stop the car rolling down a steep bank.

Got going and managed a different line on the 3R thru post into HPR, don’t know if it was quick but probably looked spectacular.

SS2 Chargot: Pretty unspectacular decent time but could have done better unfortunately the car seemed to bog down out of the tight hairpin and on the run up the hill.

SS3 Croydon: Felt really good and smooth picking up the pace, but all went horribly wrong approximately 0.5 mile from junction 14, very fast flat over crest section but a bump meant I lost my place hanging onto the notes and it meant a visit to the scenery. Kris did everything he could to scrub the speed off but unfortunately we were beached on a bank but managed to miss any trees.

Spectators appeared and tried everything to get the car out even using their own hands to start digging the bank away, finally we popped out and managed to get going – 2 minutes lost and then we got caught in dust meaning any chance to make up some time had also gone.


SS4 Timberscombe: Short stage and no dramas got the chicane spot on and the kink at the beginning not quite flat but nearly!

SS5 Croydon 2: A good push some very rough and very bumpy sections in all my time I’ve done the rally this is one of the roughest I’ve done.

Half way through gutted to see Chris Hellings and Glyn Thomas had just clambered out of their car with the nose pointing downwards against a tree.

Car not responding well so took it easy along the road with big fresh air drops

Service 1: Change over to tarmac tyres no real dramas made sure Kris’s door did open before tackling the 2 Porlock stages.

SS 6 & 7 Porlock 1 & 2: A good run, so much can be lost on this short stage but we felt good hit a bank on an early 5L cutting a little too much and decided to drive the two hairpins the bottom one we hit the wall on full-lock! Probably the fastest I’ve been through the toll booth! It’s quite frightening…

Caught a car on the second run but no significant time lost it’s amazing the difference in line and power when you can follow someone. They were in sight from the second hairpin but we didn’t really catch them until the very top.

Here’s a video of another South Hams Motor Member father & son James and Ben Harvey in the Langage Farm backed Subaru:

Service 2: Noticed some chattering on the front left wheel but it continued despite changing the drive shaft. Also a chance to sort out some of the battle scars and have a natter with the crews around us but it seems that we picked the wrong spot with everyone around us either packing up or having big issues.

SS 8 Knowle 2: Hooray at last a stage we can shout about on the pace and felt good no spins and a clean run only slowed slightly by the crew of a Ford Focus after putting their car off the road on the inside of a hairpin right.

SS 9 & 10 Chargot: Went off the start line and the car was making a funny noise every time the clutch was engaged and again it was trying to swap ends and throw us off the road. Made for an interesting moment in front of the spectator pen and on the 6R>/bump were the car was all over the shop.

Second time around we were a little neater again setting competitive times only a second off the leaders.

Aux service: Fault diagnosed as a problem with the differential. Decided to try the final stage and pick-up some points so we can go 3rd in the championship.

SS11 Croydon: On a mission and all going well especially on the down-hill ‘big balls’ section which is rough but it seems the faster you are the smoother it is.

Start catching the car in front after being very brave along the back of Nurcott Farm hit the hairpin right but more choking dust we missed a bend a spun with the car cutting out and not wanting to restart. Again relying on the spectators to give us a push but we were facing the wrong way on the stage so had to be extremely careful. The spectators pushed and pushed but nothing was happening. We got to a steep section were finally we got some momentum and somewhere to turn round and the car fired into life. Car 226 a red Micra passed us and we took off with a drag race up the hill managing to get passed him and have a clear run to the end of the stage.

So a complete disaster losing another 2 minutes. But we achieved more championship points and we have taken 3rd so we’ll assess the damage and see if we can make the Plains Rally in 3 weeks time.

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