After a ridiculously early start we arrived around 07:30 at Bovington in Dorset for the BAMA event known as Saxon Express (I don't know why) and were pleasantly surprised to see Gareth and Teresa in their new (old) Disco 1. We didn't even know they had applied for the BAMA event! They were followed shortly after by Bill Homersley and Simon Atkinson in Bill's Disco 4. It was bitterly cold during scrutineering, signing on, an alfresco breakfast at the burger van and finally the briefing. As soon as we were done we went back to sit in our vehicles with the heaters on and await the 10am start.
First up was a scatter phase which we absolutely aced! This requires a random dash around sandy/muddy lanes across a large shrubland area big enough to get lost/confused in. I have a full 45 minute dashcam video of this phase but it needs editing before release as Dave swears quite a bit. I kept the cam on all day but unfortunately the battery appeared to go flat and it repeatedly powered down due to the cold conditions because upon reviewing the evidence back home the battery is two thirds full at room temperature! We were carrying a charging lead but we were more pre-occupied with other aspects of fast off-roading – like a mysterious water ingress through the floor during the scatter which soaked documents and the windscreen on my side! We slowed down for all water after that. Following the Scatter we aced three RTV sections to maintain a perfect score. Before lunch we drove an orienteering phase and only failed to find one punch marker Kite.
Following more alfresco dining we drove a short road section to the Gymkana in the middle of a very large tank training area. This event was on a flat surface and featured forward and reverse driving through cones – all quite easy and pointless really as very few mistakes were made by all the crews. Around this time it started snowing and the next phase was gunnery. Calculate where a target is, drive there and write down the letter board displayed if your calculations are right. With so many crews complaining after a short time that targets were nowhere to be seen, this phase was cancelled due to an admin error.
From previous experience the final Safari phase is normally a straight forward map reading affair and this one seemed easier than usual since there was no map tracing involved. By this time snow blown by the wind was falling fast but thankfully not settling, however it was a bit mesmerising to drive through each time we drove into wind. This phase required five maps but the first map was deliberately of very poor quality and we failed to find any markers until map 2 when normal service was resumed. Initially we had back tracked so much and used up too much time, so we abandoned the last map and got penalties for late arrival at the final checkpoint, but we had fun.
Usually the scores are posted up for review in case of protests etc, but it was cold, getting dark and the twenty one crews were all keen to leave before the snow got worse as it was starting settle. So how did we do? The winners were announced and presented with trophies but sadly, yet again, the names Collins & McCausland were not called out. CCROC have won with Legg and Loveday in years gone by so we will have to try harder in future to uphold the CCROC reputation. In fact we didn't know how well we did until the scores were published online a few days later.
McCausland & Collins: The only crew to clear three of the first four sections, they were running second overall on 9 points and first in the Novice class going into the last phase. Then it was all downhill finishing 6th overall with 33 penalty points and 3rd in the Novice class. This was still our highest ever finish in all events.
Atkinson & Homersley: Okay, Bill isn't quite a CCROC member but he does belong to an ALRC club and we've adopted him. Simon and Bill scored 44 penalties which was enough to finish 9th overall and 3rd in the beginners class, this was a mighty achievement in a Discovery 4 with road biased tyres against some serious off-road equipped opposition. I had fully expected to this vehicle to be in tatters and the crew who had previously boasted about heated seats in tears. In fact they were beaming with smug satisfaction and rightly so.
Davies & Davies: Gareth and Teresa managed 18th place in their second BAMA event. They scored 61 penalties, enough for 8th place in the beginners class and not a bad effort at all since Teresa openly admits to not being a confident map reader. Just so long as she holds it where Gareth can read it then this partnership seems to work! Funnily enough if we had of paired up with Gareth and Teresa we would have won the team prize – how so? Well I suspect that the team class must have had only one crew enter as their two crews scored 59 and 68 penalties, which is only enough for 16th and 20th overall!
The main thing is that we all had good fun without damage and stayed safe. As they say: "It's the taking part that counts" and I wouldn't be so shallow to mention that only six of the twenty one crews cleared all three RTV sections, including our very own Collins and McCausland. Okay, we were using a short wheel base which is another lesson you learn when taking part in numerous BAMA competitions like this.
I wouldn't argue that the non-turbo Defender is a bit gutless on long uphill roads/sections but it does the job and I love it. Which is why I was so gutted at the end of the BAMA event, after having stayed in the cab most of the day, my traitorous Fitbit was displaying a personal best of 29,772 steps for the entire day – the cheeky b@st*rd!
You can find other images, video and a report on the following links:
BAMA - https://www.facebook.com/groups/42943227747/
LRO - https://www.lro.com/blog/news/sand-blasting-saxon-express-event-report