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A Drivers Perspective...

Jan 03,2006 by Julian Grattidge


So it all began approximately 14 or 15 Mull’s ago when I was dragged up by Dave Hopwood and co. since then I have been making the annual pilgrimage to the beautiful island of MULL. I have been into rallying and indeed motor sport from as early an age as I can remember, so when the time became available (along with space, money, more pace and even more money) my dream started to be born. In 1998 (I think, remembering at my age gets harder every year, as I’m sure most members will know) I joined the Ecurie Royal Oak Motor Club, so that I could have ago at road rallying with Paul Grattidge, who is now Dave Hopwood’s navigator. We did two events in a 309 GTI. I then went on to do two more road rallies (including the Oaks Trophy Rally) in a pretty rapid 306 D-Turbo (raised a few eyebrows that did I tell you). In 2002 I bought a new house complete with adequately sized garage (this was a major selling point), which allowed me to start a new project. Unfortunately the 306 was sold to help fund the building of a 205 G TI MI16, which I got from Plymouth. After MULL 2003, I began to strip the little 205 to a bear shell. This was mainly due to an obscene colour choice by the previous owners.......this being a really bad pink to a shade of lavender.........YUK! A new front end was fitted along with strengthening the strut tops and renewing the two sills, etc. The car was then painted a much more spectator friendly, yet just as bright, Ford Olympic Blue, Many thanks to Dave Miller, Andy Bailey and crew, for their help.

So the re-build began, with many parts being sourced via the internet, Derek Carless, Gateway Peugeot in Crewe and not to mention the all important Squires brothers, many thanks to all for their help and advice. I must also point out that Daniel Simcock, Paul Grattidge, Dave Hopwood, Spike, Paul Ralphs, Adger, Mathew Willett his uncle Andy and his friend from Myerscough College Luke have been nothing more than FANTASTIC with their help and effort in assisting me build a car for MULL, my gratitude goes out to them, and also to Matt and Lee from Auto Glaze Ltd. of Stoke on Trent. (01782 281884) who have been fantastic with their professional actions in getting me up to MULL with windows in my car and sponsors names on as well. Now all the thank you formalities or out of the way lets get down to MULL 2005.


Saturday 8th Oct 2005

We finally arrive on MULL, Yippeeeeeeeeee yet again, after a stressful drive up with the clutch slipping on the towing car. From Sunday to Wednesday we did nearly 700 miles recceing this years event, that was hard enough as it was, but the wildlife you see early on in the week is fantastic, every thing from pine martins to eagles, frogs to otters and seals, you don’t get that in Stoke let me tell you. Wednesday and Thursday required a little fine tuning to the car, in other words the bits we didn’t get finished in time, and a replacement steering rack as the original failed.


Friday 14th Oct 2005

It finally dawns on me that we are actually going to compete on this year’s event, and the trips to the toilet became more and more frequent as the nerves got the better of me. We sneak early into noise, that went fine but it was scrutineering next, the nerves build and build, the brain working overtime “have I done this right, have I remembered to do that”, Why do they always seem to take more time looking over your car than anybody else’s? It soon became apparent, just as I was closing the bonnet I was asked by the scrutineer, “just a minute I need to show somebody something, can you please open the bonnet and tailgate”. Of course my heart sank what was it? Who was it that he wanted to show? Suddenly another person appeared from behind another car “oh no!” I thought, as he went over my car with a fine tooth comb. I was then asked if I had built the car myself to which I replied “yes, with the help of my navigator and friends”, “excellent” he replied “we’re putting you in for the ‘Best Presented Car’ award”. I was so relieved it didn’t quite sink in what he had said, but when it did I was over the moon. I couldn’t quite believe it as this was my first rally car project ever.

So as the night drew in and the start became ever closer “Team Autotec” gathered near the start ramp. First to go was Dave Miller and Andy Bailey in their new Subaru car no.10 Second to go was Dave Hopwood and Paul Grattidge in their pristine Mk2 (you know, the one that tried to impersonate the Anglia from Harry Potter, last year on Gribun jump) car no. 34 Now unfortunately we had to wait a further two hours nearly before we left the start ramp, which I might add was no good for my bladder or McGochan’s toilets. Anyway our time came and away we went. Off to stage one, we queued in an orderly fashion, being the gentlemen that we are, and waited until our time was due. We rolled up to the start line and just as the traffic lights started . . . the engine stalled and wouldn’t start! Every blaspheme and swear word under the sun was said as I’m sure you’d expect. Eventually after at least three minutes we left the start line of stage one with a misfire most of the way through. Stage two wasn’t much better but service was near. In service we moved the ignition module, replaced the spark plugs and gave the ignition module another earth for good luck, well done lads, it worked! A splash of the old motion lotion and it was of down to Ardtun for stages three and four. We thought we did pretty well on our first run through but when we got our time for the second run through, which we thought was slower, we were in fact 13 seconds quicker. So on to Scridain, where we were getting so into the swing of things we totally missed the flying finish boards and the time control itself! So after a rollocking off the marshals we were off to Gribun for stage 6 and Calgary for stage 7 by this time the adrenalin rush must have pickled my memory cells as I don’t remember too much other than being wet through with sweat and grinning from ear to ear like a Cheshire cat. Why oh why did I not start this sport earlier in my life? 04.30hrs is the approximate time we went through the last time control to finish Friday nights section with out too many moments. 05.30hrs lights out and off to noddy land, well that was the idea anyway, way too much adrenalin rushing thro to let that happen.

Anyway, Saturday morning came and we were up at 09.00hrs ripe and ready for it. So after leaving Salen it was off to stage 8 only to be hit by big delays and a non competitive drive through. Stage 9 went ok with a few near off’s as the verges on the hill road tried to drag me in and spit me out with a vengeance, although we did manage to please the crowd with a blast on the horn as we went passed. Stage 10, Calgary Bay, we thought was ok but hard going as, unknown to us, a problem started to grow. Stage 11, Hill road 2; saw us 2 seconds quicker than our earlier run even with this growing problem. Stage 12, I believe was cancelled due to a certain Oak member dumping most if not all of his engine oil on the road. Stage 13, saw a comical moment as my navigator was on the phone to Paul (as the lights were counting down) to find out where the start control was (in the notes) as he had forgotten to mark it in, oh well it’s a BIG LEARNING curve. Phone away, finger on the right spot, away we went. This stage the problem was made aware to us as the sweat started to pour over my eyes and the car became more and more difficult to keep in a straight line, and more unpredictable turning into right handers. One more stage to go then we’d be in service. During service we found the problem to be the n/s/f hub which had worn where the wishbone ball joint fits, we tried swapping the wishbone this made no difference so we made the decision to tighten it up as much as we could so we could finish the rally, or at least try. Stage 15, the 22 miler looking forward to this, I, was not, well not with the nearside front geometry doing pretty much as it well liked. 27 minutes and 10 seconds of wrestling a 205 mi16 brought us to the end of “The Big Un” albeit soaking wet through. Stages 16, 17 and 18 saw the car getting worse and worse and then we had a 1.5 hr wait at the start of the last stage, stage 19. By the time we started moving and cars were starting the last stage another problem started, but this one could have spelt disaster, the lights failed. After all we’d been through and the lights fail how cruel could Mull be? After what seemed like hours of searching for the problem it was found to be a dickey connection on the back of the indicator stalk, this was duly corrected with the aid of some insulation tape and the trusty old Mr. Tie Wraps. Panic over and off to start the last stage with bags the size of rucksacks under our eyes. Eventually we came to the time control in Dervaig where my dear fiancée was waiting. We then had to drive back to Tobermory to hand in our time cards and collect what we came for.............THE TOUR OF MULL FINISHERS AWARD. And of course a well earned beer.


So once again a big thank you to all those people who make the tour of mull the best rally in the world, and again all those who helped me compete this year including Mr. Joe Liew who supplied me with two tyres. Counting down the days to next year. . .


 . . 337 at the time of writing!


Pierre Newton

Car 140

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