OST11 Panton Hill 23rd September back
Panton Hills has been kind to us this year by providing a venue with consistent mud and water and coupled with some blackberry slashing the day before, some new and interesting sections.
Having said that, we started off the morning at the top of the property with a variation of an old section which turned out to also be our driest of the day. The gully proved very tight to turn the car in and out of and most ended parked up the banking for a 7 score. Notable exceptions were Grant and Brad Stritch who cleared the section with ease. Brad also gained his first 10 of the year driving brother Andrew's vehicle after HOS was placed into temporary retirement (again).
Andrew Stritch took wife Joanne for a Sunday outing in the Dale Shaw Elastic Flyer, the family venture nearly ended prematurely at this first section when a bottom wishbone parted company with it's balljoint. Fortunately Andrews expert welding and foresight to have the arc welder in the back of the ute saved the day and with a little bit of help from United Energy was able to stick the two items together again and continue on as if nothing had happened.
From then on it was all down hill as they say, as we worked our way past the top dam and towards the slow moving stream at the bottom of the gully.
On the way down we paid a visit to the dam and dipped the wheels in real water instead of the slippy mud offered in the surrounding areas. The basic figure of eight performed underwater caught out Craig Hansen, Keith Mitchell and Kevin Hossack as they tried to spin the cars around the 3 peg, with only Graham Moyle being able to negotiate the tight turns and leap out the other side for a well earned 9 points.
The pre event blackberry slashing exercise from the previous day opened up the section under the dam, which proved quite slippy underfoot and wheels. With a well thought out section pegged within the confines of this quagmire there was little question of anyone clearing the ten peg. Only Steve Mason and Craig Hansen managing to persuade their trusty steeds to get as far as the seven peg, most others left languishing between the four and five.
A quick tally at the lunchbreak saw Grant clear ahead of next rival Graham Moyle by an incredible 13 points (after 6 sections) who then lead Steve Mason by a further 5 points.
The afternoon opened in the bottom gully with another difficult section with a figure "S" being performed down the side of a slippy embankment, across the stream and up the embankment again. Brad Stritch was the only one to come near Grant in terms of scoring, Brad revelling in the rear engined vehicle which offered a much higher degree of steering lock and handling that the front engined HOS he has become used to this season. Graham Moyle had drivetrain problems in the middle of the section that unfortunately put him out of contention for the rest of the sunny afternoon.
A couple of sections later and we were once again at old favourite, Callum's Dam. This little water filled gully isn't quite wide enough for even the narrowest of trials cars so the only option is to high side or lowside the thing to get through. With the option of the changing of a few pegs every now and then, this is the ultimate section -water, mud, slippy sidewalls and a couple of steep banks to play with.
No matter how approached, the narrow cut always gets me. Today was no exception as the car hung on the six peg, fortunately being joined by Geoff Taylor, Craig Hansen, and Andrew Stritch to hid the embarrassment - one day I'll conquer that section!
Once passed the demon dam it was a matter of working the gully and mud through another three sections before heading up towards the top of the property again for the final two sections. By this stage Grant had etched out a very sizeable lead which he consolidated with another outstanding 10 points when we returned to the top dam to round out the days activity.
Steve Mason managed to keep Grant in sight for a well-deserved second place with Geoff Taylor a distant third. All in all a perfect day with sunshine and shirt sleeves most of the afternoon to round out another visit to this top location.