Dale Shaw Trial - OST 7 Sunday 29th July Wandin 2 back
A sign saying "Home of the Dale Shaw Trial" is proudly displayed as you turn into the entrance to the Wandin property and is the first indication that this past Clubman and enthusiastic competitor's spirit lives on.
In memory of Dale, the trial is always constructed to be more technically challenging than most and today was to prove no exception with some very tricky sections confronting the gathered fray. Mother Nature also lent a hand with rain during the week producing plenty of ground seepage and run off into the newly dug drainage channels at the bottom of the property and a full dam at the top.
Terry Stritch made a welcome return to debut the newly engineered driveline and independent suspension holding up the rear end of "Old Gold" - the last parts being bolted on just hours before the trip up from Gippsland. Also making it back was Brad Stritch in the renovated HOS1 who slowly but surely is reversing the trend of things falling off this unique vehicle and is now actually adding items vital to reliability such as four wheels and other sundry mechanical bits.
The mornings activity centred around a couple of deep drainage channels and some very muddy ground which resulted in plenty of rope work and not much scoring for even more effort. With the exception of Nigel Newman and Grant Campbell there wasn't a 10 to be seen, confirming a degree of difficulty that Dale would have approved of.
Steve Mason's gearbox cried enough on section 3 when bulk revs at one end and spinning wheels at the other became separated due to a lack of willingness for the internal parts to keep meshed together. Steve and navigator Stewart Gelispie were well prepared with a second unit, which was hastily switched over in about 20 minutes, and just in time for lunch.
Despite the low scoring, Nigel had somehow managed to open up a one point lead from Craig Hansen and Grant, with Peter Hill enjoying his best performance this season a respectable single point in arrears of these two. On the other end of the score sheet, Geoff Taylor was having an uncharacteristic time of it all, hanging off more than one easy to get peg.
Encouraged by a healthy crowd, the afternoon saw us working up the property and trying our hand at a few hill-climbing sections under the dam walls. Again the terrain proved not to be that easy and it wasn't until section 8 that Director John Cox was able to award another 10 to most competitors. Property owner Andrew Stritch struggled to feature well after coping one point on section 7 along the way, Andrew had sportingly left the pegging to others the day before to ensure no personal bias crept into the section designs.
The last three sections all centred around the big dam walls that were quite slippy after the recent rains. Just getting up to the dam proved difficult in section 9 with Steve Mason being the only one to successfully climb past the four peg to go on to take a well deserved nine point, the others languishing between three and four.
Grant and Graham Moyle quickly recovered from this setback to outscore the others in the penultimate section, which was a tricky off camber number, set only inches from the waters edge. By the time the first two cars had traversed the area, the slippy clay had most cars taking a bath in the dam, which dragged more water onto the track, and causing mid section stoppages. (Dale would have approved!).
Kevin Hossack had his day setback by an errant steering box which somehow jumped a tooth to give him 3 turns left lock and one turn right. This was not a good combination for the tight turns confronting him from this point forward
Prior to the final section a quick calculation of the point showed Grant on 75, Craig on 72, Nigel on 66 and Peter Hill on 64. Again the dam walls provided the entertainment with pegs being strategically placed to guarantee a quick bath before home time.
Keith Mitchell was first in and could make no forward motion past the three peg followed by Brad and Andrew Stritch who suffered similar fates. Grant got a little further only to find himself slowly sinking with front wheels through the five pegs, which left the trial still open to Craig. Despite the best efforts and thousands of rpm. of Toyota power and encouragement by passenger Robyn Twyman, Craig also hung at the three, leaving Nigel the only other car to get as far as Grant to secure third place.
Many lingered on into the twilight after this most enjoyable day, the many kids played happily in the background whilst their parents indulged in this great sport. The sun shone, the sections were all great and we had a good turnout in cars and crowd - a fitting tribute to Dale.