REPORT: The Forge Garage Mewla Rally 2014, 24th August 2014
|Driver||Andy Hawkins, Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire|
|Co-Driver||Peter Littlefield, Leeds, West Yorkshire|
|Support Crew||Jemma Sherlock Watson, NorthamptonshireSeb Hawkins (Andy’s Son), Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire|
|Vehicle||VW Golf Gti|
|REIS Championship||2nd in Class|
The run up to this event had seen Andy Hawkins having to use different co-drivers for each event so far this season; this event was to be no different. However, there was a further problem for this event in that the team had no service crew, as the usual ones were on holidays at this time of year. Without wasting time Andy turned to social media to find crew, within a few hours he had a team. Peter Littlefield, recently re-located to Leeds from Newcastle, would sit alongside and Jemma Sherlock Watson would help his son, Seb, out in service.
The day before the event was an early start for Andy and Seb, leaving Newark in the dark morning hours to get to the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells. The good news though was that the sun was starting to burn through, with a possible promise of a good day weather wise for the recce. It wasn’t long after getting the car unloaded that the co-driver, Peter, arrived scooped up Andy and set of for the recce; leaving Seb to get the golf ready for scrutineering later in the day.
I’VE SEEN ENOUGH
First time together in a car and the recce of the stages went well. Some great technical sections around the German Village, used by the military to practise their FIBUA (Fighting In Built Up Area) techniques, along with some long flowing bends and the obligatory jumps of the Epynt ranges. A few hours later and the crew were all re-united back at the showground ready for the golf to go through scrutineering. Jemma had now joined the gang and the “team” was starting to gel. The golf presented itself with normal flying colours through the technical examination; burbling exhaust keeping nicely under the required decibel reading and the scrutineer getting to the point of saying “I’ve seen enough” – which is always a nice feeling. At this point there was nothing left to do so golf on trailer and off to the overnight digs before returning the next day.
AND THEY’RE OFF
The event was based over fourteen stages, with five loops. Following the early morning ceremonial start at the showground the crew were straight off to the first stage, this was a great start for Andy and Peter; with no major dramas and the pair getting to grips with the notes. Stage 2 would see the golf flying for the first time on the day over a large crest, the car landing well and giving Andy the confidence for the same crest later in the day – when the stage would be run in reverse. The second part of the stage would see the crew traverse the Burma Road, a section that had almost caught Andy out early in the year and still sat in the back of his mind – it went well and although some nerves the pace was still good. The long third stage of the loop would be the first run through the German village, the surface was very slippy and the team worked well though the obstacles and buildings. Confidence in the car was building; however, a slight mistake over a crest had to be quickly corrected but no major issue.
Later on the stage Andy miscalculated a turn into a chicane and undershot the turn, costing vital seconds as he had to reposition and start again. All said and done the first loop was a great run and at a good pace, the team climbing two more places since the end of stage one and lying second in class.
LOOP 2 & 3
Following a slight issue in service, during a very short twelve minute stop, the car was forced to go out on the same tyres for the next loop of stages; a repeat of the first three. Again the car ran faultlessly and there were no major issues with the driver or co-driver; Andy managing to find the chicanes and Peter pushing him and the car with good clear, confident calls.
The pre-lunchtime loop would see the crew running two stages, this time with a couple of issues. The first issue was the team were pushing the tyres to last until the lunch halt service, which would give them time to get them changed, and the second issue fuel. It in the final few miles of the second stage that Andy realised that the fuel gauge was bending downward, he had forgotten to get the crew to fuel up at the last service – what to do back off and hope, push hard and hope. With the thought that someone could always tow them back on the road section Andy continued to push to the end of stage and then limp back to service. The golf made it back, but that could have been the type of error that could have cost the championship points.
FRESH BOOTS & REVERSE LOOPS
Fuelled up and ready to go, wearing fresh tyres, the team headed of for the first of the two afternoon loops of stages. These were to prove some of the best stages of the day. Stage nine, which took the pair back through the German village, felt fast and precise with the pair wearing silly grins by the end of it. Stage ten was another visit to the Burma Road and all was well, even with Andy taking the final jump a little too enthusiastically. However, the car landed well and was a great photo opportunity! Stage eleven would see their times be hampered by the catching up of the previous car on the narrow twisty lanes, staying behind it until an opportune moment to blast past after a hairpin turn – where Andy found a grass route around the struggling escort. A great loop of stages seeing them climbing up the leader board and remaining second in class at this stage heading into final service.
A quick nut and bolt check, after the “big air”, and all ready to go out for the final loop. This was to be a final push for the team and a hope of a finish to gain those all-important championship points. Stage 12 was another long stage, taking in the German village again, but times would be affected for various reasons; Andy had a slight moment over a crest braking hard to ensure that the three right was achieved and it would not be a visit to the shrubs, a car off in stage blocked the route so a slight grassy detour was required, being stuck behind another car in stage through the German village and the stage being slowed dramatically to ensure nobody ran into the stricken car of Peter Taylor. However, it was still a great run through for the team and they were on a high heading to the next stage. Stage 13 went without a hitch, Andy taking the big jump better but almost over cooking the final hairpin chasing down the car in front. So off to the final stage, all they need to do is finish. Finish they did – with another massive jump and chasing the preceding car to the line.
IN THE POINTS
A great days event saw the pair finish the event 2nd in class and leading the REIS Championship Class B11 by six points. Well done to all involved.
Big thanks go out to:
the organising club, Epynt Motor Club the emergency crews
the marshals and volunteers that make our day possible Nick for lending us his trolley jack the service crew, Jem and Seb sponsors:
- NAMIK Ltd.
- Newark Self Drive Hire
- JAZ Computer Services
- Max Sport Tyres