THE PRESIDENTS TRIAL – Nothing To Do With Politics… Honest!

It’s a rather unfortunate title for a motor sport event these days. If you Google “President’s Trial” you find a lot of stuff about impeachment before way, waaaaaaay down the list , a mention of Camel Vale Motor Club’s long running event in Cornwall crops up.  But be assured, this blog has nothing to do with US politics… It concerns only the second event we’ve managed to take part in during  the past twelve torid months and, thanks to the Covid situation, it felt a bit strange at first. It wasn’t just the lack of the usual meeting and greeting at the start venue (often a country pub) with all the signing on and scrutineering that it usually includeds; we just arrived, put the numbers on and drove off,  but just the fact we were actually in Cornwall…which is miles and miles from home! After all the weeks and months of lockdowns, with horizons limited severely, it seemed like visiting another country entirely.

So we lined up for the first hill (“Observed  Section” to give it the correct term) . I wasm driving, my daughter Charlotte was in the passenger seat with an intriguingly complicated route map in her hands with which to navigate between this and the 20th and final ‘section.  The location was a wood near Liskeard owned by “The Duchy”  of that ancient county (Prince Charles…) and the entire event took place within it’s picturesque confines.

After successfully negociating the first two sections without penalty we were both giggling with delight. “Now I remember why we do this!” I said. It was great to be back in action.











The weather was lovely and the conditions dry but the amount of grip available was pretty surprising all the same. Many of the hills we had to climb seemed to be somewhere between 1-in-3 and 1-in-1 but they seemed to suit our Suzuki X90 rather well, normally we’re totting up the pentalties from very early on but this was something new.  After nine sections we’d only dropped 5 points (out of a possible 108)  and and on the followingf ten we didn’t drop any more! The only cars bettering us most of the way were, of all things, a pair of VW Beetles. The engine location does make them almost perfect for the task but it just shows that it’s grip not power that wins these events.  Ben Gladwyn (below) normally shares the driving with wife Nicola while the couple’s two small sons occupy the back seats (useful exra ballast) but on this ocassion he was driving alone and was surprised how much of a difference it made. Normally the more weight the better, but his Beetle seemed to thrive on a lighter payload in these conditions and he would evetually win the event overall.Thankfully unlike our previous event, last September, we were managing to avoid inflicting any damage on the car – although the trees were pretty close at times. The closest we came to disaster wasn’t even on one of the observed sections, it was travelling between two of them. The link road included a very steep descent which at the foot offered us two paths out of the trees.The path we took had a hidden drop at the end and this tipped us up on two wheels. As you can see below, we very nearly rolled over!

Throughout the event we were never headed in our class and at one point were running 2nd overall – and yet , because of the way these events are scored, we remained completely oblivious to the fact untill the results were posted on line that evening.

Annoyingly, having gone through to the final hill without any further penalties, we had “an unfortunate bounce”  clipped a marker post , and lost further 6 points within sight of the finish . This dropped us to 4th overall. But we still won the class, albeit by just a single point. In fact the 2nd and 3rd finishers tied and were separated by the faster time on the single ‘observed test’ – the only part of the event run against the clock. It was close.  We are both delighted.This was our first class win as a father-and-daughter team. In fact the last  win I recorded in my capacity as a driver was an Autograss heat race some 21 years ago.

It is indeed nice to be back!