The last couple of years I’ve been blogging about blue skies and sunshine on the Tempest Rally in Hampshire, this year was a little different, the week before had been a mixture of rain and cold and the day before the event several roads near us were flooded out. So I went to bed on Friday with a rain check for Saturdays action, a poorly Lily meant very little sleep but come 7am it was dry, overcast, grey, miserable looking, but not raining. So I saddled up and headed out. Following on from last years discovery that its not actually that hard to see some forest action I headed for the same spot and parked up. The crowd pushing through the bracken pointed the way and soon I was standing on the inside of a hairpin, a ribbon of rutted gravel track encircling me and the rest of the crowd, the whistles blew and the rally was underway.
The 2WD crews were first through, MK1 and 2 Escorts, modern Fiestas and Peugeot 205s sped past spraying gravel around, this was more like it, far better than the detached views you get at the Arena stages.
With the last cars through it was time to head over to the service park, the stage may be a bit far away compared to what I had just seen, but it’s the perfect opportunity to see the cars up close and muddy, wheels off, mechanics rushing round and drivers relaxing for a few minutes before the off. Like club racing at Castle Combe its very open, provided you don’t get in the way teams seem happy for spectators to wander freely around soaking up the atmosphere.
After service the 2WDs ran the Arena stage, two laps of the area that houses the mighty Wheels Day on Good Friday.
Then it was back into service for the 4WD crews. Flame spitting WRC style cars, Imprezas both old and new as well as some Focus and an old Escort Cosworth.
I wandered back to the stage to catch the first few cars through before heading back to the forests again.
Back in the muddy forest there was a short delay to the 4WD start. The beauty of this modern age of communication is being able to get the information straight away. The first time I came to the rally a few years ago I had to wait till I got home to get any news. This year via Facebook and the events website running on my Galaxy S I was able to keep up to date with it all, even asking the people back in HQ a few question from the field. Soon though the quiet of the woods was shattered by the ear splitting noise of anti-lag systems, gravel flew and spits of flame shot out as the big boys came past. Standing on the inside of a left hander raised several feet above track I could have reached out and touched some of the cars with the end of my lens if they hadn’t been flying by so fast.
After a bit I moved back to the corner I first started at, the hairpin.
The last few vehicles through are the Land Rovers of the armed forces, the white lumbering 4x4s leaning over as the crews worked the wheel, bouncing across the rutted track. Unfortunately, following a previous close call, one of the Landies did clip the rut quite fast and the inevitable happened.
Quick as a flash the watching public, many of them in military fatigues rushed out to right the stricken crew.
The team left in a cloud of white smoke and were even able to help pull a fellow competitors car out of the stage. The crew were unharmed and finished, it was 2nd and last but they didn’t give up despite the battering they took.
And that was it, with the stages running up to 30 minutes behind and thhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gife nearest stage not due to start until it was almost dark I headed for home. Another brilliant days action, getting out in the stages was fun, next year I need to get over to the Yateley stage as well.
The rest of the muddy shots are here.
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