Mersey Valley Rally 2016
Mersey valley rally
Well, after a year off due to lack of entries the Sheffield based Mersey Valley Rally returned to the Gog Forestry with 12 genuine entries to take on 75 competitive km under blue skies. The event was blessed with a break in the weather and the team that spent multiple weekends visiting the forestry were rewarded with the event going ahead.
CJR Enterprises along with the support of Circular Head Spreading Services not only financially supported the event, they had a 4 car family/business team competing, and supplied a car for an introductory crew creating possible new members and competitors, collected all the road cards at the finish making the organisers job that much easier. So a massive thank you to Brent, Heather and all of the CJR crew.
SS1 was a short little number to get your eye in and a feel of what was to come. Newton/Sheehan were straight out the box with a 2.26 and pipped the event favourites Marshall/Hodgetts by 5 seconds. Next best was event sponsor Rogers/Rogers in the screaming De Tomaso with a very respectable 2.43.
SS2 got a bit of length happening with a 10KM loop back to the forestry man and again the big blue taxi was fastest with seven minutes dead taking another 35 seconds off the Yellow Datsun crew. These two were the only ones with the 7 minute mark with the rest of the field clicking into 8 minutes plus. James Wilson and Melanie Beets all the way from Hobart in their ebay Charade was now starting to show their cards and was going to be one to watch who was next best with an impressive 8.08.
They say that football games are won and lost in the third quarter, well it all started here in SS3 as well. The leading crew of Newton/Sheehan were only 4k’s in when disaster struck. Approaching a turn right at crossroads the road closure officials caught the eye of the usually un-excitable and un-flappable driver with a sign saying “Give it some more Nathan”, well the rest is history with Nathan getting the last laugh as the officials having to assist the now stranded skyline crew off logs and rocks and back onto the road, losing about 4 minutes in the process. His main competition, Team Speedy in the yellow car from the same Marque, similar capacity but two less cylinders managed only 1km when the thing that takes the power to each wheel said, “nope, that’s enough for me today” then became impromptu road closures.
Car 1 from Team CJR went past only to have exactly the same thing happen. This time at the other end of the car some 7 kms further into the stage than Leroy and Hodgo.
Fastest time went to the smiling assassin James Wilson who was getting quicker in the black Charade. Four Charades in the event was like the parking lot at Uni.
The big car battle in the middle of the field was also hotting up with Brad Arnold/Sally Pearce in the very tidy grey Skyline who in only their second event were getting on top of the seasoned Hobart crew of Wiggins/Paine in the yellow Cortina. Despite both cars shifting considerable amounts of real estate throughout the day, the Circular Head crew in the skyline won the 7 stage battle by just under 2 minutes over the 75kms of relentless fun.
Car 2 from Team CJR an all female crew with 2 diffs but no turbo split the two six cylinder cars with a fantastic drive to end up fourth outright, Sara Rogers and navigator Elise Wilson making dad the sponsor proud.
The other battle further down the field was between the young bull and the old bull. The young bull David Cromarty son of rallying’s gentleman Bill Cromarty, and Alex Malcolm in the induction sucking Corolla was swapping times with the old bull David Allwright navigated by Kirsty Mclachlan in the old bulls recently resurrected whizz bang RX2. With the score at 5/2 over the seven stages, the young bull prevailed and showed the more mature combatant that there is some rallying blood in his veins.
Now, stuck in the middle of all of this was Daniel Wilson and Meegan Spurr in what I am led to believe, in Brother James’s “original” Charade. They battled hard all day and chased the big Cortina of Wiggins/Paine and was faster on 4 of the 7 stages but ended missing any accolades and was only 18 seconds in arrears of the big early ford. From what was witnessed by the spectators, service crews and road closures, it wasn’t from the lack of trying. There wasn’t much more he could have done to extract any more speed from this little white beastie. I watched both these Wilson boys race each other at Baskerville at the Historic meeting in their Mini’s and to see both of them on the gravel is fantastic. What a great family. You are welcome back anytime.
So back to the David and Goliath battle at the top of the ladder, with Newton/Sheehan back on Terra Firma they not only had to get back the time they lost but beat the hard charging Wilson/Beets on every stage. This was achieved in the much more powerful big blue Nissan, winning the last 4 stages and creating a 1 minute 52 second margin in a more mature and disciplined drive than SS3 and just like brother Daniel, James wasn’t going to go down without a fight. In a scene reminiscent of cats and dogs at play, he drove away from the rest of the field while trying to keep the hard charging Japanese limousine at bay, but to no avail. Another charade stretched to it’s absolute limits.
Every year at least once we try and encourage new competitors to our flailing sporting discipline by having an introductory class in either a rally or rally sprint. This year we ended up with two very keen and hopefully new competitors in the future. Jarrod Burleigh and Ben Browne participated in Jarrod’s inconspicuous Brumby ute which he uses in Hillclimbs, Gymkhana’s etc. It has a bit more power than your run of the mill Brumby ute and his reaction throughout the day was “why have you kept this a secret from me. You can shove your hillclimbs up your …. This is awesome”. He might just be hooked perhaps.
The second Introductory entry was all the way from Smithton and made up car 4 of the CJR team. Jeremy Bishop works for event sponsor CJR and was given the “Spare” Charade of Brent and Heathers to sample the sport. This was the 4th Charade in the event and the 4th Team CJR vehicle. If the excitement and size of the Grins at the end of the day was anything to go on, we have done something right.
Now, to wind up this page or two of waffle I must thank everybody that has helped this event to run. It is a fantastic concept, compact event. We fell down in a few areas but we can fix that next year. Thank you to all our taping, set up, zero and sweeping crews. The control officials, road closure officials even the two stewards that were awake.
Leroy, Kade, Peter and Nathan with pre event publicity and paperwork. Bob and Dave for the radio communication. Eve and Kade for sign in. David Allwright for everything done in Hobart for me, the 3 scrutineers from around the state. If I have missed anyone, thank you, especially Brent and Heather from CJR
Now let me have a little recap on something. Event sponsor CJR Enterprises is the Rogers Family, Car 69 was Brent Rogers, his wife Heather was navigator. Their daughter Sara was car 68. Car 22 was Brad Arnold. Brad married Brent and Heathers other daughter Elle. Jeremy Bishop works for CJR and was driving Brent’s spare car. All I need to do now is a background search on Sally Pearce, Elise Wilson and Ben Broom. There must be a tie up there somewhere.
Cheers from Gog.
From a cold corner of the state a snippet of rally action. 10 remaining competitors battle out for the honours With six cars from the Hobart area and four from Circular Head the club level rally competitors had a great day. Weather was cold but the forecast rain held off and a bit of sunshine was welcome. Unfortunately this camera spot was in the shade of a big hill.