13th Rally of the Tests - Part 2

November 08, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

13th Rally of the Tests 2014 – Part 2


Day 2 LW to LW, via Nanteos Mansion, Aberystwyth for lunch

November the 1st, and the weather changed to winter temperatures overnight, almost frosty in the Metropole car park before the 0800 start.  Having two nights in Llandrindod Wells opened up lots of famous roads to the coast and back for Guy to use, and I bet a lot of competitors wished he hadn’t used so many.  A ‘green box’ instruction on the first regularity of the day certainly showed what a day it was going to be!

We played safe and went to the Tests in Sweet Lamb, not many photos to be had on a regularity section if the competitors don’t find the right road we thought.  By the sounds of it we were right!

After a drive through of the two tests we settled on a nice gravel 90 right after bridge to photograph.

34-RT14_1665'Steady as she goes Captain Frank'The Mercedes-Benz 300SE of Frank Fennel & Kevin Savage tackle the 'Shooting the Breeze' test at Sweet Lamb. Although a cloudy start, we had some sunny spells, so we kept dry, but colder, the forecast was for rain later in the day, (it didn’t disappoint!).

The days route made a sort of figure of 8 from Llandrindod Wells to Aberystwyth, so catching the all cars again before lunch wasn’t an option.  We went to recce a regularity through a forest before the test at Nant-Y-Moch Dam in the afternoon.  Again a Test Commander, Carl, made us welcome as he was setting up the Test, and I decided that a shot with the Dam in the background was the one to get, with Mick taking a different angle. BMW Promotional Photo? What, not clean enough!A spare moment reccing the test at Nant Y Moch, thanks Carl. By now it was getting colder, and the forecast rain arrived a bit earlier than expected, if only the weather had held.  I tried using an umbrella, but the wind up the valley to the dam got stronger as the rain increased, and off went my brollie.  Up, and up the valley side it got blown, at one point we thought it was going to blow across the test, but it disappeared from sight and we later learned it went flying past the finish never to be seen again.  So if you’re ever up walking around the reservoir above Nant Y Moch and see a black and blue Dunlop umbrella, you don’t know where it came from and I don’t want it back!

30-RT14_2198Triumphant TriumphEventual Winners on the 'Dambusters March' test at Nant Y Moch.

From Nant Y Moch we headed off to the Llandovery and the Time Control in the Castle Hotel to check there were no holdups and get a much needed coffee.  The evening’s entertainment had been handed out to crews earlier in the day to plot.  A nice drive through Halfway Forest, Epynt and then Crychan Forest, all in the dark and consisting of 12 TCs and interspersed by numerous Passage Checks.  Again the Map Book we had showed the route with words like ‘Use NAM loop in wide area’, ‘Long way round triangle’ and ‘Use NAM gravel loop on left’, Oh boy were the competitors going to have fun. 

By now the wind and rain was constant, luckily we found an uphill left hairpin in the middle of Halfway to photograph (with the permission of the CoC).  Despite the difficult conditions I, with umbrella No.2, managed to hold my ground and get some shots.  Mick, meanwhile, had been dispatched to the car so at least one of us could keep dry.

Fording AheadRoy Gillingham & David Taylor taking their Zephyr through Halfway Forest

After the last car, the Sweep crew of Andy Inskip and Rob Dominy followed by the enthusiastic closing van, we drove out and up to Dixies.  Then it was across Epynt via Tirabad and a welcome supper back at the Metropole again in Llandrindod Wells.  The main topic of conversation at the dinner table was the weather, the marshals who braved it, and of course the route.  Let’s just say that ‘long way round the triangle’ probably doesn’t even begin to cover the half of it.  The results would seem to show several crews went ‘shopping’ enabling Ryan & Andy to regain the lead, despite them having car problems.  With only one more day to go, could they possibly hold on to the lead to the finish? 

Positions after Day 2 – LW to LW

Lowest Penalties: Roger Powley/Leigh Powley, Porsche 911, 07:59

Overall: Ryan Pickering/Andy Ballantyne, Triumph TR4, 11:04

Second: Dermot Carnegie/Paul Bosdet, Volvo PV544, 11:52

Third: David Morgan/Martyn Taylor, Volvo 123GT, 12:17

Fourth: John Abel/Andrew Duerden. Alfa Romeo Guilia Sport, 14:40

Fifth: Frank Fennell/Kevin Savage, Mercedes-Benz 300SE, 15:04


Day 3 – Llandrindod Wells to Bristol, via Chepstow Racecourse for lunch

The last day, the weather in stark contrast to the day before, was now bright and dry with the sun even peeking out occasionally.  With a 0730 restart there wasn’t  lot of light that early in the morning, and I knew the B4519 climb up to Epynt, with the viewpoint at the top would be a good location and by the time we got there, hopefully, there would be a bit more light.  So we decided to skip the first test and regularity and head for the viewpoint. On the climb, nice view!Stephen Owens & Ian Mitchell in a Mini Cooper S scooped the Post 62 Concours d’Elegance award.   It was nice to see my good friend Mark Griffin’s father Alan standing there, ‘great minds think alike’ immediately sprung to mind.  Obviously the ‘use farm road’ at the end of the preceding regularity down the hill caught a few out.  Several cars came passed us, only to do a 180 when they realised the end control wasn’t at the top, still it meant we got to photograph them 3 times!

Watch out Mick!The Esso Drexel liveried Escort of Drexel Gillespie and Gill Cotton took the Best Mixed Crew award.

From there we headed down to Brecon and the A40 to the coffee stop TC outside Crickhowell. Conversation amongst the crews was still on the navigation, and who had ‘found’ the end control on that farm road.  We knew we would end up at Chepstow Racecourse for the tests either side of lunch, but planned to try and fit in a spot before then.  Whilst we would miss the lower cars, with reverse seeding again today, we knew we could catch the rest.  So off into Regularity 3/3 which ran either side of the A4042 south of Abergavenny, the western side showed it crossing the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal, where found a nice hump back bridge to photograph. Must keep my fingers out of the way!Dermot & Paul crossing the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal   This gave me a chance to get close and use my fish eye wide angle lens.  Even here one or two crews found a different direction of approach to the bridge, but we won’t mention the German car!

After completing my use of the fish eye lens, which picked out one or two cars now sporting ALDI signage, we sped on to Chepstow. Been shopping?Ryan & Andy's Triumph sporting additional signage. I thought advertising wasn't allowed?  Two tests here and some nice backgrounds of the racecourse, but then it rained.  Whilst only a short shower, it did give me a thorough soaking, standing up by the ‘rails’, although my Craghoppers trousers soon dried out afterwards.

Under 'Starters Orders'Roger & Leigh Powley on their way to collecting the lowest penalties and 1st in Class 11.

Just the last trek now onto the M4 to the finish in Bristol remained.   A last minute change due to roadworks saw us photographing the cars next to the Grand Hotel.  At the dinner after the Prologue, as punishment for a misdemeanour on the previous event, Guy Woodcock had presented Bob Rutherford with a heavy old fashioned ‘portable’ telephone to be carried for the duration of the event.  Bob exacted his revenge at the finish, by ambushing Guy with Shaving Foam, all over his head.  I think Guy got the joke!

Shaving Foam - go!

Oh dear - revenge will be sweet I fear!










The result was still in doubt, had Ryan and Andy kept their lead?  It seemed they had, with rumours of ‘by only a handful of seconds’.  And so it turned out, just 8!

Winners!Ryan spays the bubbly.

Final Positions after Day 3 – LW to Bristol

Lowest Penalties: Roger Powley/Leigh Powley, Porsche 911, 12:48

Overall: Ryan Pickering/Andy Ballantyne, Triumph TR4, 14:34

Second: Dermot Carnegie/Paul Bosdet, Vlovo PV544, 14.42        

Third: David Morgan/Martyn Taylor, Volvo 123GT, 16:33

Fourth: Jonathan Hancox/Richard Labley, Triumph TR4, 20:56

Fifth: John Abel/Andrew Duerden. Alfa Romeo Guilia Sport, 22:01


The awards that evening saw a packed house with a popular win going to the ‘Triumphant’ TR4 crew of Ryan Pickering and Andy Ballantyne.  Andy’s thank you speech was one of the best I’ve heard, but then he is a radio presenter.


And just to show the navigators work just as hard as the drivers:

Are you sure that's the right way?That's one hell of a pair of glasses! More colouring in?I'd get a bigger magnifying glass Paul


















Roll on the 14th Rally of the Tests – Newcastle to Blackpool 


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