My first forest rally, Robin Hood '99

After what felt fun, but not all that on our first rally at Snetterton - it was the calm before the storm!

Our second event was the Robin Hood Forest Rally held in the Sherwood forest complex in Nottinghamshire. Rain preceeded the week before, with 'weather forecast' watching soon developing into a favourite pastime.

An early start up the M1 on the Sunday morning went a bit wrong, as a new bridge being fittted closed it for a junction - so the half asleep navigator was under pressure long before she thought she would be. The usual palava before the event passed off without incident, and we waited patiently at the Clumber Park hotel, for quite a while...

We were last car out (rightly so with no previous) and the rain kept coming. The Ryton Rally Team were the car in front in their 306GTi on their 2nd event ever too.

Finally we got across the start line, waved on by the supportive parents - by no drowned rats and wondering how long you have to support your kids for?!?!? On arival at the first stage start, it soon became clear what we had to face!

I remember sitting on the start line, thinking to myself "Im not convinced I could get through that in a Landrover, let alone a little 106?" The ruts would mean the little car was bottomed out on its sumpgaurd from the off. And once we finally got some speed up, it was like a skating rink!

Ive found since, this can be peculiar to English stages, as many of them are very sandy - so when it rains, the surface goes slurry-like. The deeper the sand is, the worse it is, until you are aqua-planing on the stuff.

It really was a baptism of fire in the forest! Unfortunatley (or fortunatley, depending on which seat you were sat in) the clutch cable failed after stage 7, and we were stranded in the service park. The Ryton guys helped us with a spare for a 306, but depsite valiant efforts by Sid - it would not hold.

After ignoring the (hugely jovial) guys in the course closing car droning on about 'not needing a clutch' and 'just carry on' we decided to pullout - bearing in mind the words of advice from Simon Galliford when we bought the car. The Peugeot Sport gearbox from Paris amounted to nearly £6K with shafts - so risking that lot for a hopeless rally, mmm - you blokes in the course car wont be paying that bill will you?