What a great few days. We travelled down to Dorset Wednesday evening and stayed at Frank's, got up early and on the ferry from Weymouth to Jersey. We were at the front of the ferry queue and 500Tie ended up at the top of a ramp in the bows of the vessel. I asked them to strap her down as steep slpes and 35 year old handbrakes aren't a good mix, evenin flat calm. It was a good crossing with only one rough bit. Martine, Chris and the boys joined the boat in Guernsey with both their rally cars and it started to realy feel like it was Jersey Rally time.
Off the boat, checked in at The Merton and then took a drive up to the cafes of Gorey. I hadn't eaten all day and Sharon hadn't eaten since breakfast so we were starving. Had excellent curries in Louise's Cafe. Popped back to The Merton and then went up to Scrutineering at The Jersey Showground. Scrutineering was the usual chaos with lights being 'adjusted' and Andy scraping tthrough noise testing. I helped sticker the cars with the rally sponsors stickers and it felt just like the good old days. Both cars straight through scrutineering and Sharon and I celebrated by having chips for supper from the catering van.
Fairly slow start to Friday, everyone else had gone off early, but we enjoyed a bit of a lie in. We had worked out where the stages ran and picked a spot just up from The Showground we could walk in to and watch. Must have been a good choice as the official video cameraman chose the same spot. Unfortunately there was an accident in the stage during the first run and we didn't see the second half of the first run as that and the second run were cancelled. That meant we stood for an hour and three quarters in the cold without seeing a car. But it was worth it. We walked back to the car and then drove back down to Gorey via the first of the night stages where the roads hadn't been closed yet. We drove it in the light and it scared me. At one point there is a three wire fence at the side of the road and then a 200 foot drop to the sea. I suppose in the dark you can't see that.
We had planned to eat and then go out and watch some of the night stages. But, after a superb meal, we came out of the restaurant into torrential rain and howling gales, so we decided an early night was a better idea. From all reports, we made the right decision. I put the cover on 500Tie in the car park, but when we came down Saturday morning it had blown off and, luckily, was on the floor in front of the car.
We were up at a reasonable time and drove up to Greve De Lecq. The stage here runs down the hill to the coast and then off back up the hill and you can see loads. The sun was shining, the cars were flying and all was great. There is also a cafe with a table football table, I was 4-1 up when I stopped using my midfield and Sharon scraped back to a 5-5 draw. My wrists aren't as strong as they used to be, I can still slap a ball all the way down the table from my full backs, but it doesn't rattle the glass anymore.
We called in to the service area on the way past. Whilst we were there Dan came in with what he said was a bent rear hub pin. He had in fact bent the entire rear beam and the boot floor. The service boys burst into life, I passed spanners, hammers and nuts, but we were beaten by the clock and couldn't get the damaged repaired before they ran out of time and had to retire. Shame really as Dan was flying and in 3rd place when he retired. It was really frustrating to be there, but of so little use.
Our spectating point for the afternoon stages was great for parking, but not so great for viewing. It was a 90 degree left hander, but you couldn't see the approach and could only see them leaving from half the available space. Was still fun though. We saw Andy through once, but he didn't reappear. I texted him and he called to say they were sat in a field at the side of the penultimate stage with a broken driveshaft. Another great shame as he was in 4th place and only had 5 miles to the finish. That's motorsport.
We went straight back to The Merton for a break before the Awards Dinner and a drink. The dinner was great, so many familiar faces and close friends. I managed to last until half past midnight, but Sharon tells me I was in bed and asleep by the time she put the light out. It had been a long, hard, enjoyable day.
I have thoroughly enjoyed the weekend. I would have loved to have stayed up all night on Thursday helping Ed and Chris fit a replacement engine to Chris's car. I would have loved to have been in the service area for every service panic. I would have loved a few pints on Saturday night. But I can't do any of those, so I have loved just being here, the company and watching the stages. Chris and Martine have had to get an extra baggage allowance on the ferry home for their trophies, so some of the rally family had some success. Highest Placed Lady, Highest placed Guernsey Crew, First in Class. Not bad considering Chris had no engine at 6:00 pm on Thursday and the car caught fire on the way to the ferry this afternoon!