Gregor’s (short) Run
8th November 2009
During the week leading up to this year’s ‘Run, the weather forecasts were indicating that on Sat and Sun we could expect showers. Well, we do need the rain…..
Dawn broke on the 8th after a night of some good steady rain and the morning was still overcast with occasional showers. Nevertheless, even with a 10 AM start scheduled, at 8:30 there was a strong showing of 6 entrants undergoing scrutineering which was conducted by MGCC Newcastle President, John Collins. Since this was a joint effort between MGCC Newcastle and AHRG, the MG clan were the dominant early birds in the showers that hampered proceedings and John was to be seen going about his tasks with the protection of a large brolly. Well done John I say !
By the time of the briefing, 15 hardy crews had signed up for Gregor’s Run which was an excellent turnout considering the conditions which must have kept many an MG at home in the dry garage. AHRG starters included amongst others, Rod Towers and Rob Towell in the ex Geoff Thomas white Fiat 124, Jim and Ron Pope in their TR7 and Dan and Jane Robinson in their brand new Nissan 370Z having just the week prior joined the club ! It is certainly a very sexy Z. Great to see Dan and Jane who were looking forward to what the day would bring.
Since the event was not timed, Gregor deemed it satisfactory to ensure that all teams had the necessary documents and that they could start in their own time from the usual departure point after making sure that trip meters were zero-ed. Each team was given a choice of either Route Chart instructions, or Navigation style instructions. Five teams elected to tackle the Navigation and the rest the Route Chart. In both cases, 23 Observation Questions were to be answered along with the Route Check Boards and Passage Controls that needed to be recorded, Post Box cards that needed to be posted and the Special Question of how many times a railway line was crossed.
Laurie Cunningham had entered his Ford Territory and had secured the services of Bill Murphy to act as navigator. The Territory was first away from Freeman’s Waterhole.
From Freeman’s, the field headed east in the direction of Toronto before turning north for Barnsley, West Wallsend, then on to George Booth Drive and across the F3 Freeway through Seahampton. At Richmond Vale Road, the route took a left turn and wound its way through Mulbring and Kurri Kurri before changing direction on John Renshaw Drive up to Buchanen. A left turn onto Buchanen Road took the field towards Maitland. But before that a diversion along Louth Park Road was required where the first Post Box was located .
After a little zigging and Zagging the competitors found themselves on Melbourne Street and were required to cross the New England Highway and onto Morpeth Road to historic Morpeth village. From Morpeth, the field were directed south to Raymond Terrace Road via Eales Road. Some diversions along the way took the cars away, then back onto Raymond Terrace Road over the Hunter River up to the junction with Seaham Road. At this point, on the outskirts of Raymond Terrace, the Hunter and Williams Rivers converge and the cars were taken over the Williams River before a left turn brought them onto New Line Road and then followed the course of the Williams in a northerly direction all the way up to East Seaham. A right turn onto East Seaham Road for a short distance before Italia Road was encountered. Familiar territory for many as this road led the field onto the MGCC’s Ringwood Park for the lunch break. It was on this last stretch into Ringwood Park that many encountered a torrential downpour as the heavens opened up and dumped at least an inch or two causing much consternation, some aquaplaning and in the case of Rod Towers in the Fiat 124 – complete and unexpected loss of windscreen wiper operation !
On completion of Section 1, the leaders were:
|Navigation Class||Car||Points Lost||Place|
|Laurie Cunningham & Bill Murphy||Territory||0 pts||= 1st|
|Russ Baldwin & Ern Parsons||Cortina||0 pts||= 1st|
|Scott Warner & Amy Warner||240Z||3.5 pts||3rd|
|Route Chart Class:|
|Lyall Clarke & Darren Hodgson||MGF||0 pts||= 1st|
|Andrew Parke & Lorraine Mordue||Pug. 504||0 pts||= 1st|
|Geoff Thomas & Colin Stace||Fiat 131||3 pts||3rd|
The heavy rain gave some cause for concern for the running of the planned driving test which was to act as a possible tie-breaker. The run-off from the rain had created an area on the hill climb track that was a fast flowing rivulet and would be an added challenge for the drivers. Fortunately, this quickly dispersed as the rain eased away and so the test was declared and drivers quickly lined up. The test consisted of a short motorkhana style event where two “garages” were positioned on the track. The first of which the cars were to start and finish from. The second was to be the point where cars were required to come to a complete rest within the perimeter of the garage before drivers had to reverse all the way back to the starting garage and again come to a rest. Failure to stop within the bounds of either garage would incur a 5 second penalty. The times for each driver were recorded for tie-breaking purposes if required at the end. One of the first up the hill was Laurie Cunningham who did a sterling job managing the big Ford back down the hill. As a consequence of his skills and no-doubt the added benefit of tricks like traction control, the Territory was the quickest of the Navigation class. We were treated to some spirited driving by Jim Pope in his TR7, John Collins in his MGF, and Geoff Thomas in the Fiat 131.
Best Times included:
|Laurie Cunningham||Territory||25.45 sec.|
|David Walshe||Dolomite||28.04 sec.|
|Scott Warner||240Z||28.06 sec.|
|Route Chart Class|
|Geoff Thomas||Fiat 131||23.39 sec.|
|Dan Robinson||370Z||24.48 sec.|
|Andrew Park||Peugeot 504||25.05 sec.|
After departing Ringwood Park, the crews were taken south through Medowie, then across to Grahamstown Dam. Next, they headed south of Williamtown RAAF Base via Nelson Bay Rd, then on to Cabbage Tree Rd which was followed as far as Masonite Rd. Masonite Rd leads up to Raymond Terrace, so the Pacific Highway was carefully crossed before a tricky tight bit of suburban Raymond Terrace had to be navigated. It was then back onto Seaham Road in the opposite direction to that which was traversed in the morning section. At Hinton Road a TL took the field in a westerly direction toward Morpeth.
Have you noticed that there is always a “best laid plans of mice and men” story in every Rally ? This was no different. In the area west of Raymond Terrace, a road which was well sealed the previous week had been torn up and was now a mud-bath!
From Morpeth, the track led down to nearby Thornton. On the way, a second Post Box was located on Macfarlanes Road. However, many crews were unable to locate the box. This of course caused much confusion and one competitor lodged a protest as a result. Puzzled by this turn of events, Director Gregor returned to the scene the next day and discovered the missing box hiding amongst the bushes with 2 cards posted in it ! Hmmmmm !!
After Thornton, the field were directed onto the New England Highway and on to Weakleys Drive. At the big intersection with the F3, the cars turned right onto John Renshaw Drive which was followed to Black Hill and onto Black Hill Rd. After travelling under the F3 at Lenaghan, the field turned right onto Leneghan Drive and on to Minmi. From here it was a straight-forward cruise to the MGCC Club Rooms at Birmingham Gardens for a very welcome sausage sizzle and a chance to catch up with all concerned with the ‘Run while Gregor made a start on scoring.
|1st||Laurie Cunningham and Bill Murphy||0 pts|
|2nd||Scott Warner and Amy Warner||3.5 pts|
|3rd||Russ Baldwin and Ern Parsons||5 pts|
|4th||David Walshe and Barry Prasil||11 pts|
|5th||Andrew Ference and Vicki Topp||36 pts|
|Route Chart Class|
|1st||Geoff Thomas and Colin Stace||3 pts|
|2nd||Dan Robinson and Jane Robinson||5.5 pts|
|3rd||Lyall Clarke and Darren Hodgson||10 pts|
|4th||Andy Peters and John Collins
(decided by Driving Test)
|5th||David Chippendale and Nat Moule||12 pts|
|6th||Dave Mitchell and Dylan Mitchell||16.5 pts|
|7th||Rod Towers and Rob Towell||18 pts|
|8th||Dave Carter and Bill Pearson||20 pts|
|9th||Jim Pope and Ron Pope||37.5 pts|
|10th||Andrew Park and Lorraine Mordue||DNF|