STALWART Dudley Sterry claimed the premier award for the second successive year in South Dorset’s only classic trial.
At the wheel of his 1,466cc supercharged MG J2, the New Forest ace displayed his skills and the ability of his extensively developed machine to defeat both his adversaries and the ground conditions.
The wet weather experienced in recent months made for challenging conditions on this year’s Woolbridge Motor Club-organised Southern Counties Hardy Classic Trial.
The demanding competitive sections on old county roads, on farm tracks and some within fields throughout South Dorset, made for a challenging day’s sport for the 75 competitors (more than twice the number of the 2011 event) who departed the Southern Counties Shooting Lodge start at the Clay Pigeon Kart Track.
The entry, which included motorcycles (courtesy of the Bridport and Weymouth Motorcycle Club), cars and four-wheel-drive machines followed a route in excess of 60 miles, including 14 competitive sections or climbs and two special tests, (against the stopwatch) before finishing at the George Albert Hotel.
Although the conditions under wheel were often wet and muddy, a dry day with clear skies greeted competitors as they embarked upon the short run-out to the first section at Batcombe.
With one exception, the motorcycle riders were penalty free here with a few cars and 4x4s gaining penalties.
Telegraph Hill only caused a problem for a number of the more standard cars in Class O with at least two sustaining punctures, but the following two climbs, Sturmeys one and two, saw the complexion of the event change with the majority of the cars failing to climb further than halfway up the sections.
The second of the two tests was the more severe examination of the drivers.
Eventual victor Sterry was penalty free on both Sturmeys, the only car driver to do so, although Keith Sanders took his Reliant Scimitar SS1 to the top of the second test.
The route then took competitors back to the west via Sydling St Nicholas, where Ken Bassent effected a rapid differential change on his Ford Escort, to sections at Coombe Barn, Butt Lane and Green Lane.
The latter certainly provided a challenge for the two-wheel brigade with the best score of three penalty points being achieved by one rider, Richard Sinclair-Hardy on his 199cc Beta Alp.
The stoney road surface at Meerhay, near Beaminster, did not hinder the competitors at the top of the leaderboard but the more muddy tests at Boarsbarrow, Knowle Lane and the first of two at Nick’s Pits certainly did.
A wide spread of penalties were accrued at the first, while the failures at Knowle Lane mostly occurred on the steep ascent at the end of the section therefore limiting the extent of the penalties.
Sterry and the J2 were storming along with no penalties until Nick’s Pits where eight were gained (the maximum penalty on a section being 12 with zero being achieved if the section is climbed successfully).
A penalty of eight points was only bettered in the car classes by two entrants, the aforementioned Keith Sanders and Dave Broom in a Marlin Roadster.
The final three tests presented no problems for Sterry and Reliant driver Sanders.
The latter claiming second overall some 11 points in arrears of the MG pilot.
Kevin Butt took the overall honours in the three bike classes on his 250cc Gas Gas Pampera having only dropped four points across the 14 sections, which gave him a margin of three over Richard Sinclair Harvey, who claimed class B2 honours ahead of Bridport rider Mark Daubney.
Weymouth Honda XR 250 rider, Richard Dearden claimed the Novice award in the two-wheel categories, while Jago Jeep exponent Chris Tite collected the same accolade for the car classes.
The best performance by a member of the Woolbridge Motor Club went to Volkswagen Beetle exponent Antony Young from Henstridge.