Two years of hard work saw the leighrallying.com team of Rob Leigh and Andy Blackmore successfully finished in their first ever rally event on Sunday 14th April. The “Mini-Tempest Stages”, consisted of 8 stages of 4 designs that used different parts of the MOD track at Chertsey, with temporary chicanes, hairpins and sections where other cars merged onto the same part of the track.
Rob and Andy finished 51st out of 90 starters and 9th in class in their Mini 1275. This also resulted in 6th in class in the Rally 2002 Tarmac championship.
The main aim was a finish and not to get into any trouble as we needed to use this as a learning experience. The result was even more significant as the Mini was probably the least powerful car in the entire field. Keeping out of trouble and really pushing in the narrow parts of the course, where the Mini is at home enabled us to achieve and surpass our original aims.
Rob and Andy used the first stage to get use to and find the limits of the car, crew and circuit. The second stage saw the team knock 25 seconds off their time. The third and four stages were a variation on the first two and they continued to improve their performance. By lunchtime the team had made up twenty-one places on our starting position of 89.
The last four stages were run in reverse direction. More confidence in the car resulted in quicker times and we were often matching more powerful cars in class. A big push on the last stage resulted in 51st place, ahead of the remaining finishers which included a Ford Sierra Cosworth, Ford Escort RS2000 and a couple of small Peugeot’s.
The only drama on the event for the team was on the penultimate stage, where a car immediately in front, kicked up a couple of tyres into the path of the Mini. Luckily the little car only sustained light damage to the grille. The Farnborough based team were able to run the last stage without any concerns.
The next event for Leighrallying.com will be at the Abingdon CAR-nival on the weekend of June 8th and 9th.
A big thank you goes out to everyone who has helped us on our quest including Hart Motor Club, Ryan David, John Peckham, John Upham, David Perrelet, Stefan Ardnt, Dave Askem, Mark Sims and our mechanic Ian Gillespie.