This weekend the team travelled down to Ludlow in Shropshire, to compete in the Woodpecker Stages Rally. This was a round of the BTRDA Gravel Rally series.
The build up to the rally had been full on and just a week prior to the rally we had a visit from Sam Johnson – a fellow competitor – who had only just realised that his seat was out of date. This was no problem for us at Motordrive and within days Sam had been for a fitting and his seat was made – check out his team’s Facebook page to see some photos. The hard work paid off as Sam and his team finished 2nd in class on what was a tough event!
New steering rack fitted, the Motordrive Seats Ford KA flew through scrutineering on Friday afternoon, and after a quick check of the pacenotes with my co-driver Ian it was time to get a good night’s sleep, if that is even possible the night before a rally!
Once we got to the start on Saturday it was clear that dust could become a problem during the day, with the conditions being bone dry and quite warm. I put this out of my mind and after a long road section to the first loop of stages in the Radnor Forest Complex, it was time to get suited up and launch ourselves into stage one.
I found it hard to get into a good rhythm on these early stages of the rally, having had no chance for any testing since our last event at the Nicky Grist Stages in July. The roads in Radnor are very quick and I felt like I was lacking confidence on the high speed sections which was losing us time. But come on this is only my 4th proper time on gravel!
On the long road sections throughout the day we really started to appreciate having the right seats in the car, especially on these rougher gravel events. My co-driver Ian and I both agree that our fitted Motordrive seats have made a massive difference to how we feel during an event. From a driver’s perspective, I don’t have to hold myself into place anymore as the seat holds me in place tightly. I feel less tired, and no longer do I have to put up with the aches and pains in my body.
A quick check-over in service was followed by two stages in Wigmore and Haye Park. I felt a lot more confident on this loop and the twisty nature of these stages just seemed to suit me and the car much better. This is only my first year of gravel rallying in a much quicker car than I am used to, after spending 3 years driving a Micra in the Junior 1000 series, so every corner is almost an experiment. The harder I push the KA, the better everything seems to work; the suspension, tyres and brakes.
We were starting to put in some respectable times in the little car, after a good run through stage 5 where everything just clicked. The final stage was a 13 mile test back in the Radnor complex, and I had planned to push hard through here to try and move up the leader board whilst others would just be cruising to the finish. However this was not to be – just 3 miles into the stage I tried to change gear, but nothing happened. I did my best to engage any gear possible just so that we could limp to the end, but the car had other ideas. After inspection it turned out that a rock had found its way between the gear selector on the end of the cables, and had caused the selector to snap off under load.
So sadly that’s another DNF for me this season, but this is all part of developing a new car. The car really does have a lot of potential and with more seat time I’m confident that the speed will come.
It was great to see so many other Motordrive seats out at the event and of course the overall win for Paul Bird/Jamie Edwards, as well as the Silver Star category wins for Ashley Davies/Sam Fordham.
My next outing will be the Trackrod Rally Yorkshire at the end of the month, and I can’t wait to drive some of those classic stages. But before that, I’ll be heading down to RallyDay at Castle Combe on the 23rd September with the Motordrive Seats team. If you’re based in the south of England or if you were thinking of attending anyway, then why not come and see us to take advantage of a free seat fitting and check out our seat range?
I hope that you’re enjoying hearing about my experience. Being a competitor helps me to understand what makes a difference in the car and especially what’s important in choosing a racing seat. I’m here at Motordrive or visit Tommi Meadows Rallying Facebook page if any of you wish to share any ideas or have any questions. Until next time……….