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It all started in November 1995
In the early hours of the morning my phone rings. I reach over, pick up the hand-piece and the Australian twang hits me. "Hello, it's Pip here, I am shipping my PB to the UK for the Rally in June, will you come along as my co-driver?" Which Billy? "The 1996 FIVA Rally you idiot." Not to show my ignorance and half asleep I agree. Click! goes the phone before I can change my mind. (9 hours difference between Brisbane and Cape Town.) By now I am wide awake and doubts set in about the cost and timing. But, what the hell, I always wanted to drive a M.G. PB through the UK countryside.
10th June 1996 saw Hilda and myself on the Jumbo to the UK. Hilda with a fist full of travellers cheques and me clutching a specially prepared "Rally Kit" (One alarm clock, two antiquated stopwatches, clipboard and dozens of pencils, "Big Deal".)
We arrived at Edinburgh the next day to be met by the most welcome sight you could have in the form of Tom Gray, an Edinburgh M.G. Centre member and a M.G. PB owner as well. Tom and Oonagh Gray were tremendous in assisting us, the Australians Pip and Lynne Bucknell and the Mullens, in preparing for the Rally. They also provided assistance in collecting the cars from the containers near Edinburgh Airport. Here was M.G. Magic at its best. What a wonderful club we belong to, with solid caring members cheerfully helping people from the other side of the world.
Three hundred and ninety cars were entered in the Rally requiring massive logistic in terms of accommodation, transport and catering. The sponsors, Rover, did a fantastic job in moving people and providing meals, etc. At each hotel there were hospitality desks manned by efficient staff and also at the start and finish each day.
Pip Bucknell and I took part in his supercharged M.G. PB and were allocated to Class D, Rally No. 240, and the orange route throughout the Rally.
|Chris Rood and Warrick Orr
from Auckland, N.Z.
in their PA
Sunday, 16th June
We rallied South East of Edinburgh. Both days took us through spectacular country, impressing us with the beautiful Scottish countryside. It was difficult to concentrate on the Rally schedules in amongst this scenery.
Monday, 17th June
We rallied to the Lake District and stopped at Windermere, followed by a trip on the Lake Ferry. The rally required a fair amount of schedule calculating which had to be done at night after the civic receptions. My lasting memory of our Windermere Hotel, was me working on the Rally schedules on the loo seat in the toilet as the lighting there was better than in the bedroom.
Tuesday, 18th June
We rallied to York and spent an extra day there at leisure.
Thursday, 20th June
We rallied to Nottingham.
Friday, 21st June
We set off confidently, having done reasonably well on the previous two days. But one hour from the start, we apparently made a route error and fell behind on schedule. Then to compound the problem, the back axle carrier broke, most probably under duress of the tuned engine and the attempt to make up time. We were stuck at the Donington Circuit but managed to get the car to the finish for the day at Stratford-on-Avon.
Fortunately the organisers decided to scrap the result of any competitor's worst day's performance and this saved us for the driving test the next day.
We rebuilt the differential at Stratford in the parking area and took part in the driving test at Gaydon, managing to win an award. The final day of the Rally, Sunday, was a leisurely parade of all the cars from Stratford to Coventry.
We were sad to see the little PB being containerised on Monday 24th June for its long trip back to Australia.
After the Rally we spent three days with Mike Hawke, the chairman of the M.G. Car Club. Mike and his wife Ann provided us with outstanding hospitality and comfort, much needed after the Rally.
We were privileged to see Mike's famous J2 M.G. and his equally famous K3 previously owned by Horton and Goldie Garner. Mike rescued this car from Singapore where it was in the hands of the Japanese during the war. Mike's library and database on M.G.s in mind boggling. I could have spent weeks there.
Whilst we were in the area we were entertained by David and Anne De Saxe where we saw his beautiful Twin cam MGA and his car collection. We were treated to a superb lunch and needless to say, much M.G. talk. The next day we met with Barry Foster of pendine Sands record breaking fame and saw his superb Blown "C" type. The day ended with tea at Ann Thornley's home.
After going off to Chard and London we got together in Stuttgart and were kindly met by Gerhand Maier of Hausach fame. Again we experienced the M.G. magic or mania, call it what you will. Gerhard and his wife Barbel provided openhouse hospitality. We were feted in an all Sunday party with the local M.G. enthusiasts. Loads of food and drinks were laid on.
We had the rare privilege of seeing Jim Nillson from Australia arriving there with his K3 prototype and Gerhard Maier brought his K3 out as well. There were two supercharged J2s, TD, TC and Bs - what a sight to see.
The final day we did a trip into the Black Forest and saw the famous Freiburg Hill Climb venue. What lovely countryside. We will definitely go back some time. Sadly we took leave of the Maiers on Tuesday 9th July and arrived back in Cape Town on 11th, having had a super trip, meeting and making new M.G. friends.
Hopefully all of them will visit in 1998 to celebrate our 50th Anniversary Indaba, when the Cape Town Centre will be able to reciprocate the hospitality extended to its members overseas.
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