Sunday 15th March saw the intrepid Trojan crews up at the crack of dawn ready to head down West to Stroud in Gloucestershire. We decided to enter the Mechanics Trial never having done it before, putting us in the unusual position of trialling two Sundays in succession, not really ideal in case there is work to do on the cars or indeed other commitments to fulfil.
Leaving home at 4.45am was probably my least favourite part of the day but there was no traffic as I drove down to deepest Wiltshire to meet up with Phil, my brother and regular navigator.
An uneventful drive saw us arrive at the SKF bearing factory in Stroud by 7.15am, plenty of time to get the car off the trailer, get scrutineered, meet up with John Wilton and Richard in the queue for tea and bacon rolls.
As our departure time approached, I started the Trojan and moved into line ready for the off. Then, as sometimes happens, 'Murphy's Law' came into being! The engine ceased to do anything other than tick over and we were going nowhere. A quick dismount from the car and removal of the floorboards revealed that the accelerator had fallen to bits in the bottom of the punt, no doubt shaken loose by the vibrations from the engine caused by high revs. After retrieving the locating screw from the mire of oil and mud, things were reassembled and all was alright once again.
We were a few minutes late setting off to the first section, a drive of 5 or 6 miles. Soon back on the pace we arrived and successfully climbed section 1. Continuing onto sections 2, 3 and 4 both cars had performed well and didn't lose any points.
On arrival at section 5 'Mack House' I was reminded that we used to do this section on the 'Cotswold Clouds' always challenging and in those days very tough for a Trojan. This time however, there were no deviations from the main track.
The climb was quite rough, lots of deep pot holes strewn with loose boulders, and just to make things more interesting, an optional restart. The choice was stop at the restart box and don't take the three point penalty or go through and add three points to your score. Of course if you don't manage to get going again it's a six point penalty. I chose to stop convinced I could go clear. John's decision to keep going paid off.
A short hop of 8 or so miles took us to Ansteads Farm, a largely wooded area on quite a steep hillside. We were to encounter five sections laid out among the tracks and trees. Section six started on a forest track and turned sharp right around a tree with a steep bank opposite. As mentioned in a previous report getting the Trojan round tight bends is quite difficult but good fortune was with both cars and we managed to slide them round and glance off of the opposite bank then carefully pick our way to the top, much to the delight of the onlookers and to my amazement.
After the euphoria of the climb, things were to take a turn for the worse, although attacked with much vigour, we managed varying degrees of success on the next four hills, some very steep and others just plain slippery.
Moving out of the woods, I managed to take a wrong turn, and much to our annoyance found ourselves back in the queue for the first hill, so a bit of back tracking was required to get us out and back on course, heading for section eleven, King Charles Lane. Quite rough and with a restart both cars cleared the hill.
On leaving the woods, we headed out past Painswick and Sheepscombe on the Cheltenham road, an absolutely stunning part of the country and enjoyed the drive of about ten miles to three sections at Greenway Lane. The first hill was unachievable by Trojan, having a really tight turn just as the section ended and so both cars scored a 1 here.
The second hill would have been alright but I finished the wrong side of the track marker, causing me to drop another point. John and Richard did it faultlessly needless to say.
The third hill wound its way up a hillside meandering through bushes and paths and would have been impossible if it was wet but by carefully choosing a line of attack on virgin grass we both succeeded.
Next was a special test against the clock, driving forward and reverse between lines and not overshooting. This we managed, but not before I had picked up a puncture in a front tyre. Everybody pitched in and things were back to normal very soon and we got on our way.
Section sixteen was Bull Banks which we have both done before on lots of occasions, although quite steep, both cars went clear here.
The final section of the day was Viaduct, a mixture of mud, rocky and pot holed bits with a steep finish. Both Trojans manage to scrabble their way to the top. The end of an excellent day's motor sport put on by Stroud & District Motor Club.
We made our way back to the 'Crown' at Minchinhampton to sign off and onto collect our moderns and trailers and headed off home in eager anticipation of up and coming Lands End Trial, the ultimate test of car and crew.