With the trials season back under way after the summer break it was time to return to the hills on the Kyrle Trial, held in the picturesque Forest of Dean. As always, I would be taking part in the trial alongside my Dad in our VW buggy. We have had some mixed results so far this year so were hoping that we would perform well on a trial said to be challenging even for the top competitors.
Our journey into Ross-on-Wye was certainly a spectacle, with a low fog greeting us as we made our way to the start at the Symonds Yat West Leisure Park. After a quick breakfast we were ready for our first climb of the day which was changed to Goldsmiths as Widow Maker had been cancelled due to the previous days torrential rainfall.
For Goldsmiths we would have to adhere to the 12 psi tyre restrictions which would certainly make the climb more difficult. We also had a restart on this hill which would add to the overall challenge. Fortunately, the grip levels were better than anticipated and changing into gear two gave us more traction as we approached the restart marker. With a lot of bouncing and plenty of power we moved away from the restart and cleared the section.
The infamous Pill Box would be the second climb of the day and looked more daring than ever with a low-lying fog and streams of water running down it. Having set the tyres to an optimistic 7 psi, we set off up the hill with good momentum, which was slightly lost when we opted for second gear. After a quick change back down to first gear the traction and grip was regained, and we climbed to the ‘5’ marker, a good result on what was one of the toughest climbs of the day.
We then travelled to the well-known Jack and Jill sections which had luckily had their tyre restrictions removed in light of Saturday’s biblical downpour. The section itself was set in a densely wooded area with a sharp turn at the bottom, before a long climb up through the trees. Having watched veteran trailers Dean Partington and Brain Partridge struggle on the section we were left thinking, maybe it would be easier to fetch a pale of water rather than attempt the hill. Our pace up the section was somewhat limited after we ran wide when taking the right-hand corner at the bottom of the hill, but with plenty of bouncing on my part we managed to reach the ‘3’ marker. It was then onto Jill, which was in every way the same as Jack, but featured a restart. After a good getaway from the restart marker the grip simply dropped away and had to settle for 4 points. However, we were still in contention for a good result as all class 8 cars were struggling on the slippery hills.
Ty’s Trek was next and was a climb where we gained unnecessary points. We opted for 7 psi for the section, but in hindsight could have risked going even lower. A good initial getaway meant we were too fast for the right-hand turn into the forested area and however hard we tried to regain traction the car was going nowhere, giving us a disappointing score of 7 points.
Section 6 was a very tough climb amongst the trees and came with a 15 psi tyre restriction. This was certainly a climb where plenty of power and torque was needed, hence why Gary Browning in his missile-like Fugitive was the only car to clear the section. We had to settle for 8 points on a climb that I can only describe as a mud bath.
We then headed on to our first timed observed test. If you want a lesson in how to set a fast time on an observed test watch Ryan Eamer in his Cannon as he set a blistering time of 20.3 seconds with the next car 4.4 seconds adrift. It was then onto the next section know as Snompers. Now if I was going to give any feedback to the organisers of the trial might I suggest a name change for this section as I feel ‘Everest’ to be a more fitting. The gradient of the hill was immense, not to mention the fact that streams of water were pouring down the rocky woodland. Fortunately, we had free tyre pressures here and opted for 7 psi. When we got on the section, although very steep the traction was surprisingly good, and we were soon out the top ready for Barty’s Bank.
Once again, we were able to choose our tyre pressures for the stage and decided to go down to 5.5 psi as the terrain looked slippery and wet. Those attempting the climb before us were visibly struggling for grip with many of them slithering their way to the top. Our decision to go for lower tyre pressures paid off as we had good grip throughout the section and sailed out the top with a flourish.
Section 9 was a relatively easy climb. Although we had to abide by the 12 psi tyre pressures and had a restart, we had good grip overall and was able to complete the climb unchallenged. Then came Jacobs Ladder which despite its difficulty was an excellent section. With our tyres restricted to 10 psi we knew that traction would be limited. Luckily, we had good momentum on the initial part of the climb, but as we began to rise up again past the ‘7’ marker all grip was lost and we could go no further, finally ending up with 5 points. Having parked up in the trees next to the section were able to watch Ray and Hannah Ferguson’s superb attempt as they raced their supercharged Liege all the way to an excellent 3 points.
Blaize was the next section of the day and came with tyre pressure limits of 12 psi, but we would not have to do the restart. After a good getaway we carried to much speed into the narrower part of the section and got stuck on a right-handed kink. This was disappointing as we knew this was a climb where we could have improved, but sadly gained 7 rather annoying points.
Section 11 or Badgers was perhaps the most thrilling stage of the trial. Even though the incline wasn’t that great the amount of mud was truly outrageous, not to mention that it was mixed with thick, sticky clay. We dropped out tyres down to 5 psi and attacked the climb as hard as we dared. From the bottom to the top we always on the rev limiter and I don’t recall a moment where I wasn’t bouncing. We thought our luck had run out when at one stage we lost the rear end of the car and slewed up the bank with two wheels in the air, but we managed to correct ourselves and regained some momentum to clear the best, most demanding section of the day.
Last on our list of climbs was Abenhall. With free tyre pressures we were able to complete the section with good traction and moved away from the muddy restart with minimal effort. Even though the front end was somewhat wayward we cleared the section drama free.
In conclusion, our first Kyrle Trial was highly enjoyable. Although very tough on the car the event had some excellent climbs with my particular favourites being Jacobs Ladder and Badgers. I think the organisers did a good job in trying to make the event as fair as possible for all classes and proved that the Kryle Trial is one of the best events on the ACTC calendar.
We finished 3rd in Class 8 and 7th overall and were the best Clubman entry on the day. This was a fantastic result for us as our car has had some extensive work done to it (by trialling wizard, Dean Partington) and it’s great to see that work pay off after completing a challenging event. Our next trial will be the Allen where I will pilot our VW Buggy for the second time this year.