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Pembo- Promenade Stages, New Brighton – 24th July 2004

Posted on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 @ 05:00:15 BST by audioc

Alan Pemberton
Martin Young

Audi Coupe quattro

This event is one of the few events in England run on closed public roads. In Scotland, Ireland and Wales events such as Jim Clark in Scotland, Galway in Ireland, and Eppynt in Wales all use the lanes and roads that are used by the everyday motorist. The New Brighton event closes the ‘Coastal Drive’ Promenade for the day and Rallying arrives on the Wirral. This is a high profile event with numerous Metro 6R4’s and several World Rally Cars and also quite a list of previous winners, including John Price who has won the event an incredible 11 times, and those who only compete in this event each year.The scrutineering is always help at ‘Perch Rock’ and is well attended by the public, where they can get really close to the cars and chat to the crews. With Mart back on the maps again, after signing on and feeding ourselves, it was back to my home town to stay with friends. ‘The boys are back in town’ was the music being selected as the ‘Stig’ and Mart drove through the Mersey tunnel back to Liverpool.

An early morning start was needed, as first car was due at 08.30 and the service area had to be set up. It is always tight at the ‘Prom’ and finding a sea wall location (nice view of the Mersey Estuary) just outside the main service area was easier that fighting for room. We were soon joined by several others competitors, so it was safety in numbers.

The venue is mainly straights joined together with roundabouts. The stages are about 4 miles long making use of all the roundabouts, traffic islands and gaps in the central reservation as much as possible. Cars start at 30 second intervals and normally have two laps and in some cases three laps making it quite busy out on stage. There are as you can imagine plenty of kerbs out there and priority one is to avoid them all.

Stages are fast and the straights see cars doing in excess of 100mph (us included) and the top cars see closer to 125mph with the 6R4’s hitting 10,500rpm in 6th! (its not fair!!) The Audi is still geared wrong despite it being lower geared that a standard S2, whose top speed is 155mph, the Rally car will see 135mph in fifth gear. As you by now know rally cars are not interested in top speed they need acceleration and even the current WRC’s only top 120mph on the quickest of Tarmac events and might be geared for only 100 mph for rough gravel events like Turkey. Here at New Brighton I did not get into fifth at all but we were still pulling hard in fourth on several straights.

Now, to slow you down on some of the longer straights they put chicanes in the way. These are not the usual straw bails but big steel barrels filled with water! When cars hit or clip these they start to leak making the area very wet and slippy. When the stages are run in ‘reverse’ direction the braking area and turning in points are saturated and very treacherous making it very interesting! I must admit that out of the first 4 stages I clipped the same chicane 3 times (that is precision consistent driving) adding a few more scratches to the car and requiring a screwdriver to assist the door opening on Martins side after one stage.

Stage 5 was the end of the rally for us as we accelerated hard out of a roundabout we snapped a front drive shaft. It clean broke shearing itself. Too much power I think! Not being able to get out of the stage we were assigned to spectator status and an early departure toward home. Still, many thanks to Martin’s wife for feeding us (eventually!), and Sue Rushton for the bed/floor for the night in Liverpool. Big thanks to Tim and Jan from QRSport for supporting us at this event.

Next competitive outing for the rally car will be in October (yes it does seem a long way off) and that will be on Rally Nederlands in Holland. In the mean time the car will be prepared for ‘Internationals’ which means more work for yours truly!

Alan Pemberton and Martin Young

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