Bringing the Metro 6R4 across to Ireland and the Triton Showers ALMC rally is always the highlight of the year, unfortunately this years trip didn’t quite go to plan but due to the superb organisation of the ALMC what was a bad day didn’t escalate into anything worse.
Saturday started well with the Guys bringing the car across from the UK and getting set up in the very well organised service area in the Dunboyne Industrial estate, Mark Jasper ( driver ) flying in later that day due to work commitments back in the UK
So on to Sunday and the rally, we well up for the rally with the car being set up on its old proflex suspension settings and the manual H pattern gear box replacing the so far unreliable sequential unit , perfect for the Irish lanes
A short run out from rally HQ in Dunboyne Castle Hotel to service at the Industrial estate and in the 20min allowance, we decided that due to the warm dry day ahead only a slight adjustment to the rear anti roll bar was made, well within the time allowance, then a short road section to the start of stage 1
Our due time arrived and it was away into stage 1 , a couple of tight corners near the start and then a fast section through the houses with lots of people out watching , into the tight left junction at the end of the straight and down through a series of fast bends, then on the exit of a fast left something broke on the car , exiting the corner at about 180kph the front left tyre was locked and push the car across to the right hand side of the road, Into the hedge and then hit a wall end on, launching the car into a tree leaving marks on the tree about 2.5 metres up , continuing back down onto the bridge wall and over the top into a little stream.
The car came to rest on its side ,pointing back up the way we had come from and against the bridge wall, I loosened my belts and tried to get out , fortunately my door was ripped back and open during the crash and had an easy escape route, Unfortunately Mark was trapped and was stuck in the car , there was a strong smell of petrol so I knew we needed help and quickly.
My main concern was to let the next car know where we were as the car was hardly visible from the road, being over the bridge, I could hear it coming down the road , so climbed out of the car and onto the bridge wall, when I looked back up the road I saw Simon Chapman in his metro slowing as he approached and saw by the amount of debris and bits on the road it was quite obvious we had gone off. It was stressed by rally officials at the drivers briefing before we started how much you were in the hands of fellow competitors and how true this was. Simon stopped and let Codriver Michael Calvert out , he then drove off to the next radio point (about 800m up the road) to raise the alarm, Michael then assisted in getting Mark out of the car, I climbed back in to the car and moved bricks from the bridge wall from above Marks helmet which allowed him to move, we the undid the seat belts and slowly he moved from the seat, not much room in a car on its side . I got partially back out and then Michael helped me to get Mark up and onto the bridge, by now another couple of competitors had stopped and assisted at the scene, also some kind spectators, one of whom gave us some water to drink and wash the dust off our faces , The rescue unit, Doctor and ambulance was now at the scene and attended to Mark as he was complaining of back and shoulder pains . The decision was taken to put him on a spine board and send him to hospital to check him out. The ever efficient Ivan O’Connor and his marshals now had the accident scene under control and as the car was clear of the stage started to clear the road of debris and get the stage reset to run again later in the day for stages 4 and 7 of the rally
I travelled to hospital with Mark and saw he was booked in and then as he had to go for xrays. Ian Chamberlain who looks after the car arrived to the hospital and took me back to service to collect my car so I could get changed and washed, During the accident my mobile had departed the car but by ringing it at the scene they found it in the hedge so I went to collect it so I could be back in communication with everyone. Again a fantastic service from the marshals who returned the phone at the road junction. A trip back to hospital and Mark wasn’t looking too good, feeling faint and sick when he tried to sit up so it was onto a drip and some pain killers , good news on the xrays that all was where it should be and no breaks,
By now time was getting on and stage 7 the last run down the stage was just about over , I drove back to the stage start where Ivan had arranged for a local farmer with a tele-porter to come down and help recover the car, Driving back down the stage was a bit unreal especially seeing where the car had been and what state it was in, I can only thank ICM ( Ian Chamberlain Motorsport ) for building a very strong car and Mark for fitting the best of safety equipment in it.
The recovery was very well organised and marshalled by Ivan and his ALMC stage 1 team :
So once the car was sorted onto the trailer and the guys on there way back to the UK, it was back to the hospital to check on Mark. Glad to say they said he could go for his plane, he would have to be in a wheel chair through the airport as its quite a walk to the departure gates so the hospital provided a letter to that effect.
We wish to thank all at ALMC for the work that went into the rally and that the detailed safety plan worked, ( even though I’m sure you didn’t want it tested ) The marshals and systems in place were faultless, the speed of the rescue crews to the scene, the care shown from the doctor on scene and the paramedics who transported Mark to hospital, all at James Connolly A&E ( cannot forget Georges top toast and tea ) , Ivan O’Connor for his beyond the call of duty help in the recovery of the car , our fellow competitors for their help at the time and best wishes since. What could have been a much worse situation was always fully controlled and organised by a fantastic team of people, well done to you all ,,, and THANK YOU
Don Whyatt , Co Driver car 19