Gavin arrived this morning from London following a 12 hour bus journey and was not overly pleased to find that tomorrow we start the rally at 8am and finish at Llangollen in North Wales at 4.30 am. It will be a long day – and night.

I spent most of the day plotting our first regularities. Relatively straightforward on the map – I expect more tricky on the road in the dark. We have never competed at night so the long night sections will be a challenge.

It took a very long time to get the TR6 through scrutineering this morning. And it’s fair to say we are not entirely happy with her. She feels sluggish, has poor oil pressure and makes the sound of a car that’s only firing on some of its cylinders. HERO assure us all is well so we shall see. She also steams up on the drivers side ( inefficient heater) and the fuel pump makes an appalling constant high pitched whine. HERO will change it on Sunday. Hope it lasts till then.

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Weather forecast is ok though very cold for the night sections through the Welsh mountains and into the North West on Sunday. Frost and black ice may be a real problem.

We have just returned from a black tie dinner with the other competitors and are comforted that there are others with even less experience than us! Lots of nervous but excited chatter!

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I arrived at Lands End this morning to give myself plenty of time to get to the navigators’ briefing this evening. I was astonished at Newquay Airport to find that a taxi to Lands End was £120! Luckily Avis had a car I could hire to get me to Lands End and tide me over until the TR6 was ready. The only car they had was a very girly white Fiat 500, but for only £50 including pick up from my hotel when we leave, I was not complaining. In fact it’s been fun to drive. Handles well and great brakes. I had so much fun I took the long way to Lands End via St Ives and the Tate gallery.

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Once I got to Lands End I had a chance to look over the TR6 in the dark. It’s a nice looking car, red with a black hard top and wire wheels. It was comfortable inside too with new MX5 seats. Worryingly they were somewhat damp and closer inspection revealed sizeable gaps between the hard top and the tops of the windows. Looks like we will be getting both cold and wet!

The navigators briefing was scary. The only comfort was that there were plenty of other navigators there looking as pale as me. To do my best to prepare I spent 5 hours in the pub marking up the maps (only managed a third) and revising navigational technique. Lets hope it pays off.

Tomorrow I collect Gavin from Penzance where he alights from an overnight coach from London ( his sleeper train was cancelled due to flooding). We then have to put the car through scrutineering and sign on leaving the rest of the day to mark up maps ready for the off on Saturday morning.

The Lands End to John of Groats historic rally is one of the most gruelling in the UK and has long been on my list of must do events. It covers over a thousand miles in three days with long regularity sections and 20 or so competitive tests. Taking place at the beginning of December the competitors often face terrible weather as they slip and slide on narrow B roads through the West Country, Wales, The Lakes, and The Highlands.

I entered the rally last spring and since then my friend Gavin and I have practiced in a relatively leisurely fashion. Hopefully we will not embarrass ourselves when the rally starts next Saturday. One thing our rally day at Throckmorton (see below) taught us was the importance of getting the tests right. These often require competitors to navigate a tight and complicated course against the clock. Clear communication between the navigator and driver are essential and Throckmorton showed us that we needed a system to help us improve our accuracy and times. With that we have been practicing our new method on a table top with me shouting instructions whilst Gavin navigates a Porsche 917 around various paper cones. For a Le Mans racer the Porsche proved surprisingly nimble on the slalom , the huge brakes also helping us stop accurately across the line when required. Lets hope the TR6 we have hired for the actual event proves as good!

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