Abingdon CAR-nival Stages Rally


Richard Barnard,22, from Cockermouth, returned to the Abingdon CAR-nival Stages Rally, after a 12 month lay-off, on the 13th June but this year in his newly acquired Subaru Impreza WRX. The clubmans specification car, built by RDR Motorsport in Yorkshire, had been shaken down at a test day at Blyton just a couple of weeks prior to the rally when the new XYZ Auto UK coilover suspension was also bedded in.  This was Richard’s first competitive drive of the car and only his third special stage rally. Seeded at number 43 out of a full entry of 100 cars  and co-driven by his father, Andy, the aim of the day was to finish and better their seeding position on this first outing.

Stages 1 and 2 on the airfield venue were both 10.9 miles long and featured a mix of very fast sections with some more twisty parts around the ‘complex’ and the old control tower. On Stage 1 Richard set a time of 15 minutes dead and then on the second run of this test knocked 28 seconds off his first time stopping the clock at 14 minutes 32 seconds, obviously starting to acclimatise to the car and 4 wheel drive. A soft brake pedal at the end of Stage 2 was rectified by the service crew with the brakes being bled and refilled with new fluid.

Stages 3 and 4 were slightly longer at 11.1 miles each and saw the first introduction of a couple of short sections over the grass, very interesting on slicks! Now starting to feel more confident in the Subaru Richard clocked 14 minutes 18 seconds on Stage 3 and improved to 13 mins 54 secs on Stage 4. The first mark was put on the rally car when a chicane pallet was clipped on Stage 4 and the car entered service with the clutch pedal going to the floor. This was easily sorted out in the service area and the car was ready for the afternoon stages with the intention being to have a real go at them with Richard now understanding more about the driving style needed in four wheel drive.

Stages 5 and 6, reverses of 3 and 4 at 11.1 miles long were done in 14 min 3 secs and 13 min 47 seconds respectively but on entering the final service of the day a rather serious scraping sound was coming from the rear of the Impreza. On inspection it was discovered that the rear pads were down to the metal but thankfully a complete set of second hand hubs had been taken to the event along with the calipers and including a set of old standard pads. These were quickly fitted into the calipers and the crew set off for the final 2 stages each 8 miles long. A good time of 11.08 on Stage 7 was bettered on the final stage of the day by 2 seconds, at 11.06.

So the first event in a four wheel drive car was successfully completed by Richard and all the team were delighted with a final position of 30thoverall and 5th in Class. Thanks goes to RDR Motorsport who built the car and serviced on the event along with Tony Grisedale. Their attention to detail, professionalism and calmness ensured the car always went out ready to have a confident go at the stages. Thanks also goes to XYZ Auto UK for the suspension and Opie Oils for the lubricants and brake fluid. Next event for the RABrallyesport Team, subject to having an entry accepted, will be the Mull Rally in October when Richard is  home from his work abroad again.

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