Hot Sun. Red Hot Rally Driving. White Hot Nightlife. London is Hot.

9 Apr

An early start on Saturday, once again, saw the Campervan speeding towards a very bright , sunny and 23 deg C Brands Hatch. A club day racing event was underway involving Mazda MX5s, Fiestas challenging each other and some fast single seaters. (Formula Ford?). We were not there for spectating though.

“We” being a group of six, Luc, Darren, John, Brendon, myself and Barney. Sadly, Kieran could not make it.I had booked the RallyMasters’ “full monty ” twin stage Rally Experience. We were to drive the fabulous Toyota GT86s. These are virtually identical to the Suburu BRZ using a non-Turbo, high revving, 200bhp boxer engine. Rear wheel drive for that “vintage”, Mk II Escort type , loose surface, handling experience.

During the pre-drive safety instruction, it became apparent that one of six GT86s had a clutch go pop and somebody needed to switch to a 14 years old 1600 cc Peugeot. Front wheel drive with lim slip diff for grip. BHP not given. RallyMasters thought that this was a problem and claimed that this was a faster car. Mmmm?? Not to worry, I felt like Brer Rabbit being thrown into the bramble bushes. This was a treat for me with my previous stage experience with British Leyland’s finest Classic Mini.

We each had one x  twenty minute session on each of two stages. As the time ran out, repeating each stage over and over, we would be given one final “run” to be timed for post session , bar time discussion.

I was quickly , totally,  delighted that this would NOT  be a “drive” cautiously, safety handcufted, leisure drive. Once your instructor was confident of your ability, he will let you loose and encourage you to red line that engine and go for it. I quickly went for the full attack approach. LOL . This is a must do event if you want to emulate your Rallying Heroes! My instructor, Ben, was both knowledgeable and latterly demonstrating his honed skills. All six of us said the same about each instructor, which you had for the entire event.

The others,in the Toyota GT86s, did have slight differences to contend with. One car had scrubbed tyres. Another had obviously new rear tyres. This can mean, all things being equal, much different stage times for the same driver. Only myself and Barney had any competitive karting and/or Rally experience but my brother used to do horrible things with a 1600cc VW Beetle.Then a Talbot Sunbeam Tii, a fast Fiesta and and and………..The other three drivers had different fast road experience. One virtually none at all but in the end all of us achieved decent stage times.

Barney set fastest time of day. A full 4 seconds over the two stages in front of me. Pleasantly surprising for his first time on the loose stuff in a 200 BHP Rally Car!  Things then got hotter !

After showering, fresh clothes and the best Papa Johns can deliveroo we had a cold beer and overland railed to the Old Truman Brewery area of Shoreditch , London E1. An exciting, young part of the immediate East End. You will either Love it or loath it. We LOVED it !

Weird for me, but turned out to be great fun. The Junkyard, crazy golf venue. Loads of bars, wild, freaky lighting and a young, tolerant, vibrant crowd.Try the Czech Kozel Black Lager. Chilled.  This picture below sums up the area:

We then moved on to the next booking. Thanks John! Cafe Kick. A table football theme pub. We mixed with a friendly, cosmopolitan crowd, which took me back to my student days. The group following us on to our table were a man short, so we stayed over to fill the gap. Everyone had a smile on their face!

   Another, slightly sobering walk, took us to Bounce. A massive ping pong venue, lit by lots of Ultra Violet. By chance, my white shirt with tiny black check made the best of my portly shape. My white laces took on a radioactivity of their own. We were still locked into our RallyMasters and Junkyard flourescent wrist bands. I hid mine, as they made me look as if I had just come from the A &E assessment ward or nursing home. One is conscious of one’s age…………. The people and place looked brilliant! We played out out time on the table tennis and enjoyed the later part of the night. We did bump into a hen party and when they realised that we were a “stag” party, a lot of slightly naughty pictures were sent by mobile phone to goodness knows where. Is my multi decade marriage safe?????? Definiitely yes !

A huge, brand UBER “taxi” eventually got us back to our accomodation.Thanks John!  Kebabs, more beer, tequila and the last of the pizza took us to bed. What a party!I did restrain myself though as I was driving next day.

I can honestly recommend all of the four event/ venues mentioned above. I am now home. tired but rejuvenated.

After a huge full English fry up, using the Blackwall tunnel and the M11, then M1 we whistled home in a record sub 3 hours 30 time. Bonus!

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