Walk Motorsport- Red Dragon IT Stages
Walk Motorsport- Red Dragon IT Stages
The Red Dragon IT Stages at Down Ampney was one we’d been looking forward to. The venue, a former RAF base turned farm provides a real test for both car and driver. This year’s event was a long one at 75 miles. The surface is Concrete, which has started to break up over the years, with a layer of dust sat on top. Held on the 29th of May, it was surprisingly warm and dry for a Bank Holiday weekend!
As with all Rallies this year, the entry was strong. The 1400 class was always going to be dominated by one of the many, well sorted Nova’s that are about these days. We’d set our sights on the current BTRDA 1400C Champion in a wide body Micra and one of the quick locals in a Vauxhall Engined Escort.
We hit the ground running in Stage One, quickly catching a higher seeded Impreza. We had a couple of goes at getting past, including going sideways round the outside of him in front of the Cameras covering the event Live! He did let us past before long and we carried on our charge. We finished the Stage joint 2nd 1400. Stage Two was a repeat of the first. Again, we were quick to catch traffic, this time an E36 M3 was our next target. After catching him on the brakes and through one tight section, we managed to nip up the inside and pull away. We were very lucky mid-way through the stage, the rear end stepped out on the exit of a chicane. We hit a large lump of rubble with the back left wheel, expecting at least a puncture we backed off for the next couple of corners. Our luck was in, the wheel had held up, the tyre stayed up and the rear suspension survived the hit.
Stages Three and Four were slightly longer, with some tighter corner sections between the outbuildings. Stage Three started the same as the previous two with us catching some quicker cars. Our target in this stage was an E30 M3, which we managed to catch midway through the stage. The close ratio Quaife gearbox supplied by Co-ordSport was proving its worth. The ratios were perfect. We finished this pair of stages 2nd in class. Our only issue was the exhaust. The rough conditions had caused the hangers to break.
We’d strapped the exhaust in place for Stage 5. We struggled to get into a rhythm on this stage. We weren’t as neat as we had been in the previous stages and with the pace of the rest of the class it cost us 2nd. We didn’t help ourselves when we hit a barrel full of water early on. No mechanical damage done, but we had to bend the wing off the door with a crowbar to get out the car in service! Stage 6 felt much better, but we matched out time from the first run through! By this point the Wide body Micra had pulled out a small lead on us, and the local in the Escort was breathing down our neck in 4th.
Stages Seven and Eight were the longest of the Rally at 9 miles each. By now the rough conditions had started to take its toll on the opposition. The Gaz Gold suspension on our car, again from Co-ordSport, dealt with ever bump and hole in the road all day. We decided we’d have a big push in this stage. Everything about the car was perfect and we made the most of it. We managed to cover the 9 miles in 11 minutes and beat the class leading Nova that was running just outside the top 10 in this stage! In Stage 8 we ended up behind a Fiesta ST, he could get away from us on the straights, but we were taking all his advantage back on the brakes. This rally requires a lot of Left Foot braking, that teamed with the heavy braking zones, we were expecting some brake fade. But once again Co-ordSport had supplied us with the top-quality parts we needed, and the Mintex pads stayed as good as ever from the first corner to the last! Sadly, the time lost behind the Fiesta dropped us back to 4th, 6 seconds behind the Escort.
Going into Stage Nine we were determined to regain our 3rd place. 2nd was just a bit too far out of reach. Our task was made harder when the intercom packed up on the start line for the stage! Even with this we still had to go flat out. We were leaving our braking as late as we dared, braking later than we thought possible in some places. We could also carry almost unbelievable amounts of speed through the chicanes. We managed to beat the Escort we were battling with by 7 seconds, taking a slender 1 second lead over 4th into the last stage.
We thought our time through Stage 9 was quick, but in stage 10 we were 13 seconds quicker! We hurried back to service to check the times. The Escort matched our time in that stage, so we held on to 3rd in class by just the 1 second! Our class battle had taken us up the leader board, even managing to over hall an Evo 6, into 20th overall from 75 starters
Our next event is in the KA, The Flying Fortress Stages near Kettering. We’re using this one as a warm up for the BTRDA season that kicks off on the Nicky Grist Stages in July.
as some video footage of the event there
Event Final Results: