We had a good final regularity of the day, losing 17 seconds over five ITC’s. Then it was a ten mi- nute blast up the motorway with the car wandering about more than it should to Gretna and a large but old and well-worn hotel. I went straight to the mechanics to ask them about the brakes and to check the wheel bearing (Matt’s suggestion). As the jack lifted the NSF off the ground the extent of the problem became apparent as the wheel could be moved about an inch without af- fecting the steering wheel. 8pm on a Sunday night isn’t an ideal time to try and find a wheel bear- ing (I’ll carry one in future!). When I got back to the car after checking into the hotel, I was told the car was fixed! It apparently was the big hub nut that had come loose and not the wheel bearing. Phew! But why? Oh well, it was tightened as much as possible and I was assured that all would be well. A good night’s sleep at last, ready for our 0855 start in the morning. The overnight re- sults showed that we still had our Gold Medal, along with three other crews.
It was –40C that night, so a bit of ice scraping was the first thing to do – and get the car warm for the crew! As we left the hotel, we were issued with the route information for the morning’s enter- tainment. A short trip up the motorway and Matt had most of it plotted. We were to be hit with a seven ITC regularity to start with – certainly a wake-up call. We still had no trip and that caused us to wrong slot. We knew we had to take a white on the right, so we took the first one, found an- other car stuck in the mud with him waving us not to follow him, and got out quick. 20 yards fur- ther was the second white and the inevitable ITC immediately round the first bend. 50 seconds gone; at least we weren’t a minute late and therefore a potential Gold Standard loss. I then pushed on too hard on some private land and we ended up 25 seconds early at the next ITC; calm down, Simon, do what your navigator tells you! Another Karting circuit test was next after a fair road journey – don’t ask me where – which was an enjoyable two minute test on good asphalt. The second regularity of the day went well, losing just 2 seconds over the four controls – we were getting the hang of this no-trip lark now. Then it was a foggy slippery test at yet another Karting circuit. I had done it two years ago with Dood, but the other way round on sheet ice. This time is was not icy, and it seemed to go OK, with the fifth quickest time of 2mins exactly, ten seconds off quickest.
Another regularity was next, and the temperature was not rising. This one proved to have a par- ticularly slippery ending; three seconds for the first three ITC’s which was tough to keep up the speed, and on the fourth bit Matt just kept on saying, we’re still behind, we’re still behind. It wasn’t the lovely swooping moorland roads taht stopped me keeping up with time, just the ice and frost and trying to keep the car on the road. Eventually we lost 49 seconds (not over a minute – phew!), and only 18 cars lost less than 30 secs. Hats off to those drivers, as that was tough.
I think we had a late lunch then, somewhere near Cumberbnauld, but time and events tend to blur at times on LeJog. Another regularity, and, although I didn’t tell Matt,
the brake pedal started becoming unreliable again. We did well on
this including a ‘hidden’ ITC at a T junction with a six foot triangle
(split left, T right, ignore h’pin right) with the marshals on the T right. It was after dark and their car was tucked away to the left and they had no lights until we had stopped at the T right. Others just T’d right without the triangle and missed the control completely. Then it was a visit to a Loch Lomond car park for a test – 12 cars within a second of each other (including us) at quickest. The mechanics at the 15 min rest halt up the road tightened the nut again and this time put some loctite on. Matt came out and said that we had five minutes to be ready, with our start time at the next Regularity Start Control be- ing given at this TC. Less than a minute before Matt came out, we were ready with, hopefully, a fit car.
For some inexplicable reason, the trip started measuring distance again! Although Matt didn’t rely on it too heavily, it was accurate. However, as it was still on battery power (and I had got some more spares) we turned it off at the end of the regularity and it never measured distance again! Anyway, over seven controls of the next three regularities, we lost four seconds in total. Then it was off to Fort William and a late supper at about 2200 for a restart at midnight – regulation two hour halt after 14/15 hours driving.
It was a little icy on the first regularity of the early hours of Tuesday, but it was patchy and we were able to keep up to speed on this one, before we had quite a long non competitive section with patchy fog – sometimes clear, sometimes 25 yard visibility. I started to really struggle with tiredness for a while, but having the window open for as long as we could stand the cold (it was still minus 4) helped……