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Next section meeting - Thursday 31 August at The Bull Hotel, Bull Lane, Wrotham, Kent, TN15 7RF.

Brands Hatch Autosolo – Thursday 12th July 2012

Following on from the Tulip rally that one of the Sevenoaks car club members organised for "Drive it Day" where we had 2 Duettos and one series 2 spider turn out for Arockes Jack and I were keen to see what other delights Sevenoaks could offer.

So on a cold, wet, cloudy 8th July early evening we set out in Jack's 155 Q4 for Brands Hatch where we had little idea of what to expect or if indeed anyone else might turn up. We had instructions to proceed towards the main entrance and then swing behind the hotel which leads to the vast grass car parks reserved for the larger events. Our fears of being the only fools out that evening were misplaced and there were plenty of cars in the near distance slithering around on the grass.

Jack and I only intended to have a look around to see what it all involved but it all looked quite straightforward and good fun. So we sought out the organisers to see if we (Jack) could enter. There was gazebo set up in the corner where we were warmly welcomed and all that was needed was our Sevenoaks membership card and £12 and we were given the route map for each of the 6 tests. Have a look at the attached copy and you will see that the 1st was pretty easy as it was drive out approx 150 yards between 2 cones, stop and reverse back another 150 yards between another 2 cones and then back to the finish line. It was timed by a delightful old couple who then filled in your time card (where do they find sufficient such aged enthusiasts who should be at home with a cup of cocoa). I should add that Jack's 155 being 4WD had a distinct advantage and he was pretty quick. The other cars present were an eclectic mix with old Micras, an old Reliant Kitten, some knackered looking Corsas (which had all been trailored in being unfit for the road) rubbing shoulders with a Porche Boxster, a Niissan Skyline etc. So basically you "Run what you Brung".

The tests got progressively more difficult with more twisting and turning but over relatively shorts tests taking about 20 - 30 seconds each. Being our first time I co- drove i.e. navigated for Jack as it wasn't easy remembering the routes and we got it wrong at least once. Being "2 up" we were relegated into the Junior category as the clue is in the name - it was an AutoSOLO and to do it correctly you had to drive alone. You had two goes at each test and by the end the tests were very muddy and several cars had to be towed out but not your intrepid duo who made light of the conditions but due to steaming up problems we had the front windows open all the time for sideways visibility. The impact of that showed up later the next day when sitting on the train to London I realised my right arm (the car is LHD) was caked with mud. In fact the inside of the car was nearly as muddy as the outside. We had a few strange looks when we got home and proceeded to hose down the car in the steady rain.

Finally ( and thanks for sticking with me) we thanked the organisers and explained why we were there and were offered the chance for any of our members to have a go without joining the 7oaks club to see if you like it. I will try to find another event in our area in the near future to allow us to take advantage of this generous offer. We really enjoyed it - you might too!!

Doug Hodson (Chairman AROCKES)

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