Just back from rallying in one of my favourite places, the Isle of Man. After last year, Adrian & I had some unfinished business with the Island. We were excited to be going back there with the revived MSA Asphalt Championship this year. After a broken engine mount put us out of the Tour of Epynt, Adrian worked really hard before the rally replacing parts and checking the car, including commissioning specially built new driveshafts which we used for the first time on this event.
We had a careful start in atrocious weather conditions on Friday night, particularly not wanting to put the car off on SS2, Druidale which claimed several cars. Fog at the beginning of the stage meant we were counting down to corners on the trip (thanks to former British Rally Champion Justin Dale for that top tip!) Heavy rain meant that the stage was flooded, with all the bad dips turning into fords for the water cascading off the mountainside after the famous Brandywell hairpins. The top part of the stage had incredible amounts of standing water too.
Unfortunately we were running well down the order and stages 3 and 4 were cancelled for us, but we got runs over all of the first four stages again on the second leg of the night. Running down the order meant a very late night - we started SS7 at 00:00:00 which doesn’t happen often, and finally got into service at 00:50!
Day two dawned fine and sunny, but there were more long delays for us at the start of SS9 Keristal. The stage uses part of Marine Drive which has spectacular views of the coast south of Douglas, and we got to chat to lots of other crews while we were waiting. As we went through the stage there was a car off up the bank at the first chicane, so we weren't surprised to find that the second run through Keristal was cancelled.
We started SS11 feeling like we’d only just got going and were getting nicely dialled in when the n/s driveshaft twisted itself into a pretzel. Somehow mechanical failure is a lot more disappointing than crashing, and to say we were completely gutted is a total understatement.
I hope to be back out on the IOM on the International event later this year with Andy in the Evo , but my next event with Adrian is the 3rd round of the Protyre MSA championship, Rally Wervik in Belgium. Before that I'm getting some more Belgian mileage under my belt next weekend on Rallye de Tournai in Belgium with Bradley Howlett in his Citroen C2.