MARCH HARE TRIAL
Sunday 8th March saw Team Trojan heading off east and around the M25 and up the M1 to the A5 truck stop for the start of the March Hare Classic Trial. This is rather unusual as most events are held in the west of the country, so a welcome change of scenery.
There were six competitors in class 2 thus providing a varied assortment of cars - 2 Trojans, 1 MG TB and 3 Austin Sevens in an overall field of 55 cars.
Scrutineering and breakfast out of the way we duly signed on and awaited our departure time of 08.32, the Trojans being cars 1 and 2. A drive of 15 miles took us to observed section number 1 - Norton Street Lane. This is an unmetalled road (bye-way) with some fairly deep ruts as you climbed up a fairly gentle gradient. No trouble encountered here and surprisingly little mud considering the amount of rain we have had during February and early March.
Next on to Chalk Hill, another unmetalled road , taking us through rolling farmland. A gentle climb and no problems again here. A further six miles took us to Kensworth. Here we had a special test and a section to climb. The drive to Kensworth was not quite as straightforward as one would have liked. We needed to stop on several occasions to let horse riders pass. This required coming to a halt and switching off the engine. There is something about Trojans and horses. They seem to get spooked at the mere sight of them and who could blame them!
The special test should have gone without a hitch but Murphy's Law crept in and as we passed through one of the test gates going downhill and changed direction to come uphill to the finishing gate we stalled the engine. A fluffed gear change was to blame and as everyone knows, stop your Trojan incorrectly at your peril. It eventually fired up again and we completed the list. A time of about 84 seconds or so being recorded and not the expected 25-30 seconds. Not to worry, it's all in good sporting fun. Needless to say, the observed section was accomplished faultlessly.
We left Kensworth with a drive of 13 or so miles to Edlesborough Hill to sections 7 and 8. These are laid out around the hill which is a huge mound of land in the middle of a field. Some fairly careful driving is required as the car twists and turns up and down steep gradients through bushes and markers. These were all negotiated by the Trojans, but the situation would be completely different if it was raining and wet.
So far, so good. Another drive of around 16 miles takes us to 'Brickhills' a site that looks as if it was once a sand pit. Two hills here, one laid out in sloping woodland and one on a mixture of grassy bits, mud, short steep climbs and deep ruts. This is all achievable by Trojan, but we both got caught out by the lack of steering on tight corners caused by the solid back axle, trying to keep the car going in a straight line. Our first failures of the day, one hill for John and 2 for the Potters.
After a brief stop for lunch it was time to head off for Ivinghoe a hop of about 14 miles. As we departed, the sky darkened and within minutes it was raining. This was to spell disaster to the proceedings for the rest of the day. As we headed onwards, the rain changed to sleet. It got noticeably colder and the next 10 miles were dreadful. We duly arrived at Ivinghoe and lined up to do Special Test 2. This entails driving and reversing through gates on a grass surface made slippery by the sleet and rain. We managed to do the test OK as we were first to try it. I didn't give much chance to the following 53 cars, as they gradually churned up the surface. Onwards to section 9 which was at the far end of a grassy field. The organising team had set out the hill in the morning when it was dry and sunny and as they tried to move their cars so that proceedings could go ahead with the trial, things descended into chaos. The rain and sleet had made an easy exit almost impossible. After much pushing, shoving and spinning of wheels things were clear to proceed. We proceeded to the start line and progressed only a few yards before slithering to a halt. Things could only get worse and I'm sure that few people did any better. As we made our exit we could see the line of cars queuing to do the special test and were grateful to have had an early number.
We continued on to 'Hawridge Lane', a drive of about 12 miles and fortunately the rain ceased, making driving a little more pleasant. The section was climbed easily, the surface being quite rocky and rutted, just perfect for the Trojan to pick its way up.
Then a further hop of 7 miles to Hill Farm. This is a track through woodland and has a mixture of surfaces - rocks, slippery mud and some deep ruts. No problem for the Trojan as it has adequate ground clearance. Both cars had gone clear on these hills and running beautifully.
The last 4 hills of the day are laid out in a wooded area and the hills wind their way round trees and across paths and always require a degree of skill, but unfortunately the earlier rain had done its worst and despite being the first two cars to attempt the hills, we very soon came to a halt. When the conditions are dry, we generally do quite well here. As all who drive Trojans will know, things happen very slowly and those people driving cars with powerful engines and lots of revs would have done much better.
The hills concluded for the day, we pumped up our tyres and made our way back to the pub to sign off. There were 6 cars entered in the pre-war class and the Trojans came second and third which was quite a good result, considering all things.
The March Hare Trial has developed into a really good event with a good cross section of hills to attempt. Congratulations to the Falcon Motor Club for a well organised and run event. We look forward to next year to do it again.