Well what can I say, just a couple of days after the final round of the MSA British Cross Country Championship Britpart Freelander Challenge I'm sat here writing this as the 2014 champion! What an achievement for this little team from Hertfordshire, this was a dream and adventure that started last year at Wales rally GB when I watched the Race 2 Recovery team cross the finish line.
We got the season off to a flyer with first in class (2nd overall) at Pikes Peak, round two at Ebblw Vale was not so good with a broken exhaust and our first non-finish, that was a long drive home from Wales, round three was the longest haul all the way up to Forrest Lodge, in Dumfries, was it worth the drive? Oh yes! We won by 30 minutes over the 2012 champion. What a high and it brought us back to within six points of the leaders in the championship. Round four at Radnor and again we were leading by a good distance till disaster and cam belt failure and that was us done, round five saw the BCCC head to Bovington and the tank training ground, the plan was to take it easy and finish to keep us in touch with the leaders and as we had another big event in the pipeline to look after the car, with other falling around us we managed a fastest stage time and even better the overall win! Going into the last round, we were now joint leaders of the Championship.
Round six, the winner takes it all round, we needed a finish to get a minimum of 2nd in the Championship. If we beat R2R by one place, we’d win. Things didn't get off to the best of starts, with a broken alternator on the first stage although we set some of the fastest time of the weekend, which was good as we needed that 10 minute lead. Sunday and the clutch failed, we had drive but no way of changing gear but we carried on taking stage max's for the final four stages, so for me at the back of my mind I knew the Championship had gone but we had achieved 2nd which for me was better then I could of dreamed of. However, my navigator Demelza, had gone to look at the results and came back with a silly grin on her face and asked if 2nd was okay? At that moment, the R2R crew came over to congratulate us on the Championship! All the time we had made on the Saturday had helped us take first in class and 2nd overall and this year’s Championship.
At that point I didn't know whether to laugh, cry or just stand there with a silly grin. The grin won. Sitting here a few days later my grin is still as big and what this team has managed in our first season is still sinking in. The champagne in my local Sunday night helped dull the shock, but I will never be able to thank my crew enough for what they have helped Demelza and I to achieve, so far this year.
I’d like to thank Ben Brough, Brian Taylor, Tim and Rosa Reynolds and Louisa Felice for all their help, enabling us to win this year’s Championship and I’d also like to thank our sponsors too. You’ve all given me the biggest grin and high that I’ve ever had in 20 years of off-road competition. So much for a three year plan, with this year about learning about the events and maybe next year getting some wins and getting up the leader board and then year three going for the Championship; we did it all in our first season!
What's next? Well, that's the big one, where this dream started back in Wales and the last round of the World Rally Championship and Wales Rally GB. We are running car 272 so if you are there give us a wave as we bounce past in our plucky £350 white Freelander 1. We will do our best to uphold the honour of the green oval.
ONE LIFE LIVE IT! Team Sheepie certainly is!
2014 Msa BCCC Britpart Freelander Champion