The ‘Perfect Trial’?

Day 6 of Michael Leete’s research project, over on the Classic Trials Facebook Group and available from this link, has caused to me think, once again, about the formula for a ‘Perfect Trial’, as discussed many times in the past but maybe unknown to recent newcomers to the sport.

Tony Branson once referred to this as the Toulmin/Brown Formula, but I know it’s been chewed-over by many others, including Pete Hart, so I make no claim for originality. There is, of course, no such thing as a ‘perfect trial’ (except maybe the one that you win) but the intention was to define a trial that would be enjoyed by the maximum number of average competitors – “to please most of the people most of the time”.

The Formula states that the ‘Perfect Trial’ has:

  • 1/3 of the sections climbed by every competitor, unless they make a stupid mistake. These sections might include the ‘Classic Lanes’ which Michael refers to in his Day 6 question.
  • 1/3 of the sections climbed by most competitors, but presenting a challenge to the less expert, or those in less-developed cars.
  • 1/3 of the sections are where the trial is decided, and can be as challenging as the organisers wish (to get a result on the hills and without resorting to special test times). These sections would probably include the forests and private land which Michael refers to in his Day 6 question.

It would be a boring world if every trial worked to this formula, and no one wants to change events like the Camel Classic (traditionally won with ‘cricket scores’), but I still think it’s not a bad re-starting point for events which may be struggling in their current format.

Someday I’ll get-around to analysing recent trials to see which are a best-fit with this formula, but don’t hold your breath.

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The Golden Age of British Motoring

I’ve just re-published, with very minor editing, the page from my previous Wheelspin website which lists lots of information about the (in)famous large-format book of Brunell photographs by Roy Bacon. Read more here. The cover of my version (1995, reprinted 1996) looks different from the one that Mark Milne has posted here on Facebook, so I hope the page numbering is the same. I now realise that I have a lot more information to update and improve my notes, it’s just a matter of finding the time to process it.

Cotswold Clouds page updated

I have just updated the list of sections used for the Cotswold Clouds Trial. I will shortly be:

  • Adding the information for the events from 1996 to 2003.
  • Updating the information about the Grid References.

If anyone has any information about the sections used from 1972 to 1981, and from 1992 to 1995, do please contact me using the email address in the right-hand column.

MCC Night Runs (yet again)

The issue of MCC Night Runs, and whether they should continue, has been raised, yet again, on the Classic Trials Facebook Group – see my previous blog posting on this site.

As someone who loves the fact that MCC trials require tackling observed sections at night, but who hates the Touring Assembly and the hanging-around which this involves (Exeter and Lands End Trials only), I’ve done some investigation:

Exeter Trial (2018 data)

  • Average distance from Starts (Cirencester, Okehampton, Popham) to Start ‘Proper’ (Haynes): 85 miles.
  • Distance from my house to Haynes, avoiding motorways, according to Google Maps: 80-90 miles according to selected route.
  • Distance from Haynes to the first section: 20 miles.

Lands End Trial (2017 data)

  • Average distance from Starts (Cirencester, Popham, Plusha) to Start ‘Proper’ (Bridgewater): 94 miles.
  • Distance from my house to Bridgewater, avoiding motorways, according to Google Maps: 80-90 miles according to selected route.
  • Distance from Bridgewater to the first section: 23 miles.

Edinburgh Trial (2017 data)

  • Distance from my house to Tamworth Services, avoiding motorways, according to Google Maps: approx. 70 miles according to selected route.
  • Distance from Tamworth to the first section: 48 miles.

So, if I want the ‘adventure’ of the Night Run (= Touring Assembly in my view) as so many competitors claim they do, why can’t I just drive to the Start ‘Proper’, avoiding motorways, by whichever route I choose? I reckon that would save a minimum of two hours of hanging-around time or, more seriously, allow an additional two hours in bed before setting-off. If I chose to use motorways, I could save even more time or get even more pre-event sleep. Maybe even more significantly, my passenger could drive from home to the Start ‘Proper’, reducing driver fatigue still more.

For those who wish to trailer their car to the start, the current system means that the trailer is 85 miles (Exeter), or 95 miles (Lands End), from the Start ‘Proper’, with all the logistic hassle which this involves. Surely the system in place for the Edinburgh is preferable?

Personally, I can see no justification for the current system of Touring Assemblies and lots of good reasons why the Exeter and Lands End Trials should adopt, even if only on a trial (excuse the pun) basis, the same system as for the Edinburgh Trial.