SVP, providing full back up and support and knowing who to call at the vital moment.
Saturday 12th March saw the return of SVP to the forests of the Lake District as the team travelled North in support of a customer on the Malcolm Wilson Rally. Promoted jointly by Morecombe, Kirkby Lonsdale and West Cumbria clubs, this single day, multistage rally encompassed almost forty-five miles of special stages around the county, taking in legendary areas such as Grizedale, Greystoke and Hobcarton. The liaison distance ran to a more impressive 133ish miles and so presented all the crews, a mixed bag of historics, ex WRCs and many clubman, with a suitable early season shakedown to try out changes and improvements made since last time out.
For many of the teams, this was their first taste of “real” stage rallying since before the enforced Covid break to the sport. A core team of three came from SVP with the entrant’s car, all meeting up at the team hotel ,on the outskirts of Cockermouth. The plan HAD been for the SVP team to get the car through scrutineering ahead of the crew, but a rather contentious interpretation of the Blue Book saw us rejected and having to call on one of the extensive SVP “little black book” of contacts and within two and a half hours of hitting the snag, we were back in the queue at M-Sport, admiring the plethora of “Fast Fords” in the new building’s fully glazed showroom, and waiting to get the all important approval to allow the guys to go rallying.
The idea of a Friday afternoon noise check and scrutineering with all the action on the Saturday, following a well-established pattern on this event, goes down well with the competitors and their support teams alike. With everything signed off and all boxes ticked, the SVP team and their driver and navigator were in the hotel restaurant and ordering supper by 19:30. A good result and the banter around the table led us to be optimistic about the morning to come.
The start went smoothly and once camera and radio location had been secured, the car set off at exactly the ascribed time and with the support van and trailer in Penrith, the management team headed for the first Management Service rendezvous near Bassenthwaite Lake, which the team would reach after the first three stages. All seemed to be well until the phone went and the co-driver reported a suspension collapse. They had found the first two stages really rough going but had managed to limp out to be parked by the exit of SS 2. A message to the support van as the Management car got on the move and within 20 mins the first two support crew were on site. One look at the near side rear wheel showed us something was very wrong, a quick jack-up and the issue was clear – the bottom mount of the damper had come adrift. Game Over. Within 45 minutes van and trailer arrived and all the kit was transferred out of the rally car into the management car, luckily the driver’s own, and the SVP team had the car secured on the trailer and, other than a stop for fuel and one at Penrith’s service area to report the abandonment and return the camera and gps unit, all of the team were heading South again within 2 hours of the failure.