The only way is Essex for momentous weekend in UK rallying
Sunday 22nd April would see a momentous day in UK rallying, the first full closed road rally in England. The Corbeau Seats Rally would be based out of the seaside town of Clacton-On-Sea and would host 45 miles of closed road rally action for 120 crews.
Seeded at car number 81, gravel regular Matthew Jackson would make the switch to tarmac to support the occasion. Speaking ahead of the event, Matthew commented:
‘We are very much looking forward to the event. Having not competed on a closed road rally for a few years now, it will be nice to return to the tarmac and see what we can do. I have spent a good amount of time on the car converting it to tarmac specification so it will be interesting to see how we go against some stiff competition’.
The rally would consist of 5 stages repeated 3 times around the Clacton and Tendring area. Writing their own pacenotes for the very first time, Matthew and co-driver Claire Williams headed out to the opening loop full of optimism and with a game plan in mind.
’For the first loop of stages we plan to just get back into it, ensure the car set up is correct for tarmac, ensure the notes we have written are correct and get settled into the event’ commented Claire on the run out to the first stage.
Returning to service on the Clacton sea front, the pairing were lying a very creditable 43rd overall and 2nd in class, far exceeding their own expectations for the event. Returning out for the 2nd loop of stages lined with thousands of spectators, the Nissan Micra pairing continued their impressive form by posting 2 fastest stage times in their class promoting them to 40th overall. Unfortunately at the end of the 7th stage, the gear linkage would disintegrate leaving the pairing with no option other than to return to the service park and retire the car.
‘I am absolutely gutted. After all the hard work put in before the event and to be having a strong a run as we were, to end the rally this way is devastating. Each stage we were getting quicker and more confident and the times were reflecting that. We certainly had a strong class position on the cards. From a personal perspective I have to take the positives from the weekend. Having jumped back in the car after some time, on a relatively unfamiliar surface to and to set some fastest times is very pleasing. I have to thank Mum, Dad, Dave and Melvyn Evans Motorsport for the help in service this weekend and to Claire for another great job on the notes.’
Aside from the result, the who
le team were overwhelmed with the support for the rally from the local area. There we crowds lining the stages and even the road sections, all waving and cheering the rally cars on, an incredible sight to see. A huge thanks has to go out to all the organisers and marshals from the event as well as the effort by Chelmsford Motor Club to get the event off the ground.
The next event for the pairing is yet to be confirmed. However, after being back behind the wheel, an element of unfinished business remains, please check back for more updates!
Image courtesy Robin Plummer