A friend recently hit the big 4-0 and what better way to spend it than ticking off a bucket list item and hooning a classic Ford Escort around in the mud?
The full day event took place at TI Rally School near York. The team there have over 20 years experience, and that shows. They have a small fleet of classic Ford Escort MK2 rally cars and dedicated support from the staff and instructors, a number of which have rallied professionally for many years.
The day started off with a very simple course at slow speed, to introduce the drivers to the all important handbrake turn. A 3 corner affair which you think would be easy but was anything but. However after a few goes, you could see the speed and confidence of all the drivers picking up with quicker turns and more accurate slides. It’s worth mentioning that there was 10 drivers on the day and everyone got ample time in the cars, all with one-to-one tuition from the instructors – not something you get from many experience days.
The morning session moved on further with the practise stages getting a little longer and more involved, introducing longer sweeping bends, and changes between tarmac and muddy off-road sections.
The afternoon session begins with a much longer stage, taking in some faster sections again and combining the covered skills so far. Quicker changes of direction, chicanes, hairpins. Then it moves onto the really competitive stuff, with an even longer stage almost rally cross styled with changes from tarmac to mud to gravel, with everyone’s time being recorded and a trophy going to the winner. Spectators are well catered for as well, not only are the staff great to chat to between runs, they also have a seating area with free hot drinks out of any wind or inclement weather (this is rallying after all).
What struck me was how well the cars were cared for – these Escorts get some stick, but they ran well and didn’t have any mechanical issues during the day. Although the instructors did explain they have to change the wheel bearings nearly once a week due to the amount of grime that attacks them!
It was a refreshing change to see an experience day handled like this, a number of them I’ve been to are fly-by-night organisations but the dedication of the team at TI Rally School was great to see and with their upcoming venue move to the other end of the airfield, I hope they continue to provide these great experiences.
Finally the day ended with a high-speed passenger ride as most of these experiences do! This was the instructors showing how it should be done and luckily one of the cars had a go-pro mount stuck to it. Sorry about the noise, this isn’t the best quality camera!