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Snowman Rally - Saturday 15th February 2003

The Snowman Rally is the first event in the New Pig Scottish Rally Championship. It takes place in Inverness and is always a cold start to the year. The car needed a lot of work doing to it over the close season. The underside had taken a lot of abuse and a few patches had to be put in where the floor had been damaged. On the Monday before the event the team discovered that the gearbox ws damaged with one of the gears missing a few teeth. This meant that everything was a bit rushed and the car was finished at around 12:30 on the Friday.

The event was using stages further south than the previous couple of years so the stages didn't have any snow on them for a change. The temperature was very cold however so the biggest problem was the occasional bit of ice on the road. Stage 1 had about three or four miles of ice on it which made for difficult driving conditions. The car was also handling quite badly, probably as a result of finishing the car so late and not having time to set it up properly. We had a small spin in the middle ofthe stage which left us facing the wrong way up the stage. We had to wait for a car to get past then we were able to turn round and continue. We caught the car that went past us with about two and a half miles to go but he wouldn't let us past so we were forced to sit behind him till the end of the stage.

We had a service halt on the way to stage 2 and Sam was able to make some adjustments to the suspension in an attempt to make the handling a bit better. The changes helped a bit and we had an OK run through the second stage with the only problem happening near the end when we hit a big log and bent a wheel. Fortunately we were able to continue and it didn't cost us much time.

Stage 3 was also going reasonably well until about a quarter of a mile from the end when the throttle cable became detached from the pedal. Luckily it was all downhill and we were able to coast over the flying finish. We then made a temporary repair to allow us to get along the road section to the next service area where Sam fixed it properly.

Stages 4 & 5 went well with no incidents to speak of. The only problem was the handling which still wasn't quite right and meant that we couldn't go above 70 or 80 mph as the car became very unstable.

After our bad start we had gradually worked our way back up through the results giving us an 11 second lead in our class with only the sixth stage to go. There had been a delay of about an hour on the stage meaning that it was almost dark by the time we took to the start line. As our lead wasn't that big we had to push quite hard in order to stay in front. Everything went well with us setting 25th quickest time and catching two cars through the stage. We extended our lead to hold on to first in class.

The team recorded one of their best ever results after a slow start with 1st in class, 29th overall (out of 98 starters) and also picking up the SVL Trophy for the 1st GM car.

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