Hamilton Classic and Motorsport TR7V8 flat out on Jersey Rally.
The first Jersey Rally was held over 80 years ago in 1935. In those early days the rally consisted of a series of twelve driving tests and was a far cry from the high-speed rallies against the clock of today. In 1977 the rally returned but was later put on the back burner by local authorities that refused the closing of roads until 1983 when the first rally recognisable by modern standards took place. The winner of the inaugural stage event was Tony Morgan in a Vauxhall Chevette.
The Jersey Rally has grown into a hugely challenging two-day with night stage event and with its tight and tricky lanes and often slippery conditions proves a tough prospect for even professional world-class rally drivers. Nicky Grist commented after his participation in 2009 that he was “surprised at the toughness of the event; the course is very narrow with dangers everywhere”. This was a view shared by Alastair Flack, “31 stages over the two days is tough enough but when the longest service time throughout the day is 10 minutes to change wheels, refuel and eat etc. it all adds to the challenge!”
The 2016 event saw 83 drivers take on the course from Jersey, Guernsey the UK and farther afield. Alastair Flack and co-driver Gary Johnson were placed in Class D and once again grappled with balancing the immense power of the TR7V8 with the tight and often greasy lanes that make up the varied stages of the Jersey Rally.
Alastair had some testing prior to the event at Castle Combe’s Rally Day event a fortnight beforehand; “Every event we have done this year seems to have been wet and slippery so assessing and improving the car has been difficult as its always been held back from its potential but ready for the Jersey Rally we rebuilt the gearbox and fitted the car with new brakes, the car is running well so we should have a lot of fun”.
After 9 stages Alastair had completed without any penalties and tabled some very respectable times. The final result was 7th in class and 28th overall, which included two 30-second penalties. Impressive considering the competition consisted of everything from Mark 2 Escorts through to Subarus, BMW E30s and even Porsche 911s. It was a Mitsubishi Mirage R5 that scooped its first international win driven by Simon Mauger and navigated by Brian Cammack.
Speaking after the event Alastair explained that it had been quite an eventful rally for the Triumph TR7V8, “Great event! The car ran faultlessly, I just had to tighten the alternator belt on Friday and then on Saturday the wipers stopped working, luckily just as it was stopping raining so we got away with just wiping the screen before the stage. I managed to grab 2nd gear instead of 4th which had the same effect as pulling the handbrake on at 60mph and we clouted the curb quite hard as the rear wheels locked under engine braking, then hit another curb on Saturday which put a nick into the tyre but did not puncture.
Apart from that I just need to learn how to drive it harder, it is all about the tyres really.”