Well, that’s how a lot of participants in the 2023 Gymkhana felt after discovering the limits of traction on a ‘rather soggy’ field next to the Northern Car Club.
The weather seemed to limit the participants to only the very enthusiastic. Rod had taken on organisation responsibilities, but while the weather conditions on the day itself turned out to excellent, we could not escape the effects of unceasing rain over previous weeks.
After Mike made extra sure that the participants signed the liability forms, Daryl laid out the first course – carefully avoiding the ‘dampest’ parts and keeping the vehicles close to the car park. There was much commenting about what might happen if you went ‘over the edge’ and further down the hill.
Janine was the first to attempt the cones and discovered that long grass and a low sports car don’t mix, with the G-Wagon being required to make its first ‘assist’ of the day to get the SLK back to the start. This turned into a pattern for this vehicle with the ‘tow hook’ becoming a required accessory on the front bumper. There was much hilarity about the ‘9 minute’ recorded time – until those drivers had to try the conditions for themselves.
After realising that E430’s on low profile tyres can struggle for grip, Spencer (as the second competitor) ‘bailed out’ of the course and headed for the tree line to make it back to the finish. This turned into a pattern, with almost all the competitors seeking ‘style’ points rather than following the actual course. A later attempt to get a great ‘selfie’ of the E430 resulted in Spencer needing to discover where the tow hook was, and somehow being too heavy for the G-Wagon (that’s the E430 – not the driver …)
Daryl gave the SLK another attempt to prove itself – the result did not change. Trevor to the rescue.
The S500 had the combined (and unexpected) advantage of a raised air suspension, with Noel using every bit of power to keep the heavy machine moving in a very ‘non-S type’ manner.
Honour of the ‘E’s was restored with Rod and his co-driver demonstrating how a philosophy of driving smoothly at 9/10ths will get the job done.
The same could not be said for Sue – a style that required a foot flat to the floor and the engine hitting the rev limiter created spectacular results. The spectators agreed they have never seen a 350SL driven in that manner, and the club trailer got some temporary tattoos.
Once Ken recovered control of the SL, he showed how these amazing R107s are just at home in the mud as they are cruising along the Corniche on the Cote d’Azur.
The CLA45S AMG driven by Francois turned out to be the surprise of the day – it loudly proclaimed its enthusiasm as it made its way around the course multiple times sending grass flying in all directions. A real sight to behold as it is unlikely the Mercedes design engineers considered it would be used in such a ‘fun’ manner.
The day ended with as much grass and mud as possible being returned to its rightful place, and an enjoyable BBQ where tales from the day were shared before the drivers headed home to clean, and clean, and clean.
Thanks to the hosts, and to all those who organised the day. Thanks to Tony for providing some amazing video footage. It was a very unique gymkhana.
Click here to view photos on our Gallery page.
The complete list of results is here