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The 3 Legs of Mann Rally 2010

Published: 07 Apr 2010


Click here to see a photo gallery of the rally


After the forest, hence mud, on Jurby Race Circuit
After the forest, hence mud, on Jurby Race Circuit

The 3 Legs of Mann Rally, takes place, not surprisingly on the Isle of Man and equally unsurprisingly is split into 3 legs. The relevance of this, for those who are unfamiliar to the island, is that the islands logo is a star made up of 3 human legs. The rally is a tough navigational and test event, with 2-day legs and 1 night leg.

At short notice Bernard Northmore rang and asked if I would like to do the Rally and I couldn't think of a reason to say no. The event, organised by the Classic Rally Association (CRA), was a world-class event attracting a very strong entry. This included some very well known international drivers and navigators, amounting to 63 entrants in all, ranging from 50s cars through to 1974 Porsches. There were 8 TRs taking part, including 6 TR4s, along with a TR3A and a TR7. Interestingly I took along our works TR4 6VC which along with 3 other powder blue TR4s made it quite confusing for spectators, as they all tended to look the same. Also it's interesting to note that the very first Manx rally was organised by 2 well known TR people in 1962, John Hopwood and Roy Fidler and they used as the course car on this rally, none other than 4VC, the sister car to 6VC.

The event took the form of a road rally, but with the benefit of closed roads. This meant that the organisers could circumnavigate the restrictions that are usually imposed on UK road rallies and make the event really tough to try to keep to time. Various types of navigation were used, tulip diagrams, lists of instructions and map references, along with marked maps being typical of the instructions provided. The competition was split into 3 elements; Road Sections, timed to the minute; Regularity Sections, timed to the second; and a variety of tests, timed to the second.


One of several Fords
One of several Fords


In the Forest, this was probably the lease bumpy part!
In the Forest, this was probably the lease bumpy part!


Generally road sections were reasonably generous on time and intended to get you around the rally, without falling behind. However some road sections were on closed roads and as a result the organisers could make life very difficult for the competitor, such that inevitably you would be late. One device for ensuring this happened, was the stationing of passage controls along the route. An unmanned passage control would be a code board, where it would be necessary to slow down and almost stop to note down the code letters. In addition some passage controls were manned; here it would be necessary to have the marshal sign your time card. Needless to say marshals would delight in taking approximately 20 seconds to do this, which of course ensured that you were always monstrously late and had to go like a bat out of hell to try to get back on time!

Regularity sections were timed to the second and once again were very difficult to keep to time, due to the nature of the roads. On each of the legs there were at least half a dozen tests where speed was the order of the day, on race circuits and private ground. One of which was surprisingly in the car park of the police headquarters, which indicates a level of support and commitment to rallying on the island by the local constabulary. Finally we spent some time in forests, which were incredibly hard, as it had rained consistently for the preceding months, resulting in the tracks being very soggy.


Flagged off by the Mayor at the Start
Flagged off by the Mayor at the Start

The event started in Douglas on Friday the 19th of March, where the Mayor waved us off. We set off for the first test along Cliff road, with a stunning view out across the bay. This road twists and turns along the edge of some jagged cliffs, I'm sure it's a lovely road if you have time to stop and look! From there we headed inland, where the scenery soon changes, from pastureland to windswept barren bracken covered terrain. There are many interesting places on the Isle of Man and the organisers tried to make sure we visited as much as we could. Laxey was a particular highlight, where there is the famous 'Lady Isabella' Water Wheel. This is where we assembled to start a regularity test, where we were actually parked on the tramlines. This would never be allowed in England, because some jobs-worth Health and Safety bloke would surely deem it unsafe! One notable driving test was a regularity through the night, on the disused airfield of Andreas. You can imagine the difficulty of this test when faced with an instruction: "Turn Left at Crossroads", where the crossroad is the intersection of two runways, covered in grass and some 100 meters wide! Another interesting test location was Shoreline Cottage used in the 1997 film, Waking Ned. Although the film was set in rural Ireland, it was actually shot on location in the Isle of Man.


At Shoreline Cottage, used in the 1997 film, Waking Ned
At Shoreline Cottage, used in the 1997 film, Waking Ned


Laxey Station
Laxey Station



Douglas Waterfront
Douglas Waterfront

All in all, whilst tough the rally was very enjoyable and certainly proved the rule that to finish well you need 4 elements: A strong reliable fast car, a good navigator, a good driver and the presence of lady luck. Out of the 4 the car was the only one that shone, running faultlessly throughout the event and proved a competent machine for the job. Bernard and I agreed that we had a little room for improvement and lady luck drifted off and watched over somebody else periodically. Having said all that Bernard and I were pleased with our result, being 10th overall and 2nd in class. TRs did well, with 4 TR4s in the top 12, Tony Sheach and Rob Kiff came first in class and 6th overall and behind us Jonathan Hancox and Richard Lambley came 11th, with Michael Harrison and Lorna Harrison coming 12th.

The event was won overall by Owen Turner and Matt Fowle in a borrowed Mini Cooper S.

Rallies such as this organised by the CRA are very popular but tend to be expensive on a 'pounds per day' basis, compared to other rallies in Europe. However a lot was packed in and there were dozens of marshals required, because of the style of the rally. The Rally was very tough on the car and with the benefit of hindsight; I would have taken my Rally TR5, which is perhaps a little more "disposable" then 6VC. Having said all that if you have a suitable car, I would thoroughly recommend the rally for being a) a good rally in its own right and b) a good way to see the Isle of Man,

Neil Revington

Readers may be interested in the Isle of Man tourist website, where much more information can be found about the places we visited throughout the rally, as well as details on the history of rallying on the Isle of Man.

The Action shots of 6VC in this article are courtesy of Tony Large Photographic, those who are interested in photos of the entire Rally may wish to point their browser at: http://www.everybodysmile.biz/tonylargephotographic/ for shots of all the competitors. Browse to Rallying>The Three Legs of Mann. All other shots were taken by Bernard Northmore

Click here to see a photo gallery of the rally