Neil Fletcher Racing
HAVOC Article No 2.
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It's now a few months since I last wrote and I'm sending you this letter to bring you up to date on events with our Mexico. First of all I like to correct a mistake I made, the original registration of my Mexico was OGF411L and not OGL411L as I stated. Will you please check what I put on the registration form?
We started our attack on the 1989 N. I. Navigation Rally Championship back in March and it couldn't have been a better start. We won the first two events of the championship to give us maximum points; we even got to write up in Motoring News. Unfortunately for us the same crew finished second in both events so our lead was rather slender. The next event was on a rather wild night - ice, snow, and floods, which were to be our downfall. We set off with all the gear, M and S tyres, shovels and plenty of weight in the boot. Our good run came to our rather watery end in the biggest flood of the night, our Mexico drowned out. The cause was simple, we had always sprayed our H. T. leads and ignition with W. D. 40 and this turned out to be a rather mixed blessing. As well as dispelling the water the W. D. 40 also made the rubber covers on the ends of the leads spongy, this left them a loose fit on the coil and let water in, result one dead engine. We had to wind her over on the starter to get out of the flood. Well the flood was deep and I don't like wet feet, thank goodness for 24 revolt starting. By the time we got our leads and distributor cover changed we had lost over 12 minutes into the next two controls. This disaster dropped us from the third down to the fifteenth and try as we might we could only claw our way back up to ninth.
With three events gone we were holding what was now a distant second in the championship. For the next event my usual navigator was on a business trip to Scotland and couldn't get a plane back in time for the start so I had a last minute rush to try to get a good substitute, unfortunately all the top navigators were spoken for. The night before the event, I got hold of a chap who while not top class might just get me into the top ten. It was the best I could hope for. Well my temporary navigator really surpassed himself and we finished best "non local" crew in fourth place. It was even better for me when the championship leaders had a bad night and finished down in seventh place, this brought me back up to only one point behind them in the championship. Our local event round Banbridge brought to the first half of the season to an end and we had high hopes of a good result. Our night started really well and at the halfway petrol halt we were lying in first place. It wasn't to last, a wrong slot down lanes only half a mile from where my navigator was born (he should have known better) proved rather costly, it lost us three minutes and dropped us to third, one place behind the championship leaders. With some committed driving in the lanes round my home we managed to slip back into second but a fuel problem kept us from winning, I had to keep both fuel pumps switched on to keep the engine running. Another good result and second place was good enough to move me into the joint lead of the championship so it's all to go for when the season restarts in October. It was only a week later when we were doing a small club rally that we discovered how lucky we had been the previous week. A mile into the event I've missed a gear, or so I thought, 50 yards later I dropped down a cog, there was a bang and we coasted to a halt with no drive and what turned out to be a blown clutch. Good job it didn't happen near the end of the previous event but then that's the way it goes.
With the navigation events finished for the summer we tackled a few local stage events. Our first event was the Antrim Festival Stages - an all tarmac event. We fitted a plumbed in fire extinguisher, intercom and a few other bits and pieces. We got really rash and spent "Loadsamoney" on two new sets of tyres. One set of slicks and a set of intermediates and we headed off to record what was for us a great result - we finished ninth out of 25 in our class and 23rd overall out of 65. Though for me the best part of the night was all the admiring glances our car got. Over here Mark 1's on the roads are rare and almost non-existent in competition. At scrutiny there was a bigger crowd around our car that around the No.1 seeds Metro 6R4.
Another thing which surprised me was the number of people who came over at the prize giving and either told me how they used to have a Mark 1 and wished they still had it or the others who told me it was a terrible pity to be rallying such a good car. Maybe so, but for me the fun is in driving the car in the style it was intended.
We did two more forest stage events, one loose and one tarmac but we retired from both. In the first our L S D housing broke and destroyed the rest of the diff, in the other event we broke the first and second gear selector hub, our 2000 E box is not really capable of withstanding the power we have so we're trying to buy a 5 speed Quaiffe. As you can see our car is a long way from Mexico specification but its spirit still lives.
The loose event we did was a real eye opener, most of our events over here are tarmac, either on tarmac forest drives or "Closed Roads" and we get little chance to do loose forest events. It came as a shock to find out how much the tail of the car weaved as we accelerated hard in a straight line, then came the corners, it was always a great thrill to come tearing up to a corner, stamp on the brakes, slide the car into the corner, pile on the power and come out of the corner sideways. I usually managed to get the car pointing the same way as we were going about halfway up the next straight. It might not always be quick but it sure is great fun going sideways and an Escort Mexico is just the car to be doing it in.
I'll sign off for now and get back to work. I'll just have to rebuild my 2000E box until I can get hold of a Sierra five speed to build a Quaiffe kit into. Our season restarts in a couple of weeks so I'll drop you another line or two at the end of the year.
All the best.
800J - RS1600
JIJ 9975 – Mexico
FIA 6386 – Mexico
Membership No. 1472
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