In response to requests for a guide to what our events are all about, I will attempt to provide enough information to tempt you along to an event to get your wheels muddy. Above all else, and this really is the most important bit, we are there to have fun. I guess the editorial and event reports elsewhere will bear testimony to the fact that we like to have a laugh.

All our off road events are run under the auspices of a permit issued by the Motor Sports Association (MSA) - that gives us the license to run an event, so long as we play by their rules. We are also a member club of the Association of Land Rover Clubs (ALRC), and they issue their rules that sit below the MSA rules in terms of authority, so we comply with these as well. To clarify a little, the MSA only recognise a trial as an 'Off Road Trial', but the ALRC subdivide this to Road Taxed Trial and Cross Country Vehicle Trial. At club level we also publish the 'SR's' (Supplementary Regulations) which specify the vehicle classes, what happens if the event is cancelled and all the other event specific information that we need to have in place. The event competition secretary will always have copies of the MSA rule book, ALRC year book, event permit and supplementary regs at the event (just in case you want to look at them).

When you turn up to an event (whatever the status) you will 'sign on'. This is where you sign to say you have read the rules (the MSA, ALRC and SR's) and that you will abide by them. The process of a bona fide club member signing on is to invoke the MSA insurance that covers the event.

After signing on you will have your vehicle inspected for safety by the scrutineer, and that is another subject for a later issue. He will sign your card to say that you meet the minimum requirements, not that your vehicle is safe. The scrutineer can fail you, but will give you the opportunity to correct the fault, and at most of our events if you miss the first section(s) we let you catch up. Details of what is covered by scrutineering are covered in the ALRC yearbook.

All this officialdom could get out of hand, but it is there to protect the club, its officials and members. There are many clubs that don't run under any form of permit - if anything goes wrong it could get expensive for all involved.

So, to the events themselves. There are 5 main types of event, in order of difficulty they are Tyro, RTV, CCV, 'winch' and comp safari. I will give you an overview of each if these in the following sections.

Tyro: Contrary to popular belief this does not stand for 'Tip Your Rover Over' trials. Tyro is Latin for novice, and so this is the novices' trial. That's the original thinking anyway, but it has evolved into being a trial for clean shiny factory standard vehicles complete with road tyres, side steps, tow hitches and spoilers.

The regulations are quite strict on what you can or can't drive in these trials, side slopes are kept to a minimum, climbs and descents are limited in length and steepness, and water is to be no deeper than the tyre, that is you shouldn't get the rim wet. That is not to say the trial is easy by any means. You will still face the thinking and difficulty of a RTV, but against terrain that will not damage the vehicle (unless you go completely off the course).

Passengers can be carried from the age of two in a forward facing seat with proper seat belts. The trial is aimed much more at the family end of trialling, and is generally good fun.

We run these events depending on availability of land and peoples time. We set out the sections (usually 8) and then run them the same as all the other trials.

RTV: Road Taxed Vehicle Trial, as the name suggests is for vehicles that are road legal. In the spirit of the regulations you shoud drive your vehicle to and from the event (and be road legal both ways!). Over the years the RTV's have got harder as some RTV drivers demand more. In response to this some clubs run Family Vehicle Trials (FVT) which is a half way house between a Tyro and RTV.

The RTV should be non-damaging if driven properly, although to see some competitors vehicles this is hard to believe. But, because there is always a but, some of our sites are not friendly to nice body work due to the fact they are wooded sites and it's a well known fact that trees are harder than Land Rovers.

In the events listing care should be taken at sites such as Dersingham, where the low branches can easily damage roofs or the trees have a habit of jumping out to be in the middle of the front bumper.

You can carry one passenger/navigator in an RTV provided they are a club member and are 14 years or older.

CCV: Stands for Cross Country Vehicle. These are equipped with roll cages and are normally not road legal so are towed to each event. This is basically a harder course than that driven by the RTV drivers, and there is every risk that you might bend the odd bumper or panel on every outing. Harsh, but fun.

BLRC run combined RTV and CCV events, using slightly different routes for each class (we make the CCV drivers do the silly bits for the entertainment of the RTV drivers). We do this because we do not have enough officials or people willing to set out to run completely separate events. It works well enough, so we will continue for now.

Winch: Not actually a recognised title of an event type, but it was all I could think of. BLRC don’t run a winch recovery event at the moment, but who knows what the future may bring. There are the commercial events like the Bulldog Trophy that pit man and machine against all manner of difficulties. These are basically team events where the key component is the winch. If this takes your fancy you will probably have a winch, and if you've gone that far you probably know more than me.

Comp Safari: A speed event for the clinically insane!! The name is derived for the leisurely pursuit of the safari drive, but done competitively... The rules and regs for these go on some, but they are great events. We run around 5 of theses per year at BLRC because we want to give the competitive Members something to aspire to. The entry fee is more expensive for these events due to the amount of equipment and personnel involved.

So there we have it, a quick run down of the main events. The only other information you need is a who's who of the main officials and their tasks:

Competition Secretary: is responsible for ensuring all the paperwork is in place, checking eligibility of entrants and the like. When you sign on, you will normally do so with the Comp Sec, and he will issue your score card for the day once you have passed scrutineering. At our events it is often this poor sod who has to do all the score keeping as well.

Scruitineer: is a friendly form of vehicle inspectorate. Your vehicle will be checked prior to the event, and at any other time during the event if deemed necessary (after you've tipped your Rover over for example). If your vehicle is deemed 'unsafe' or 'unsuitable' (infringement of the published rules or similar) the scrutineer will fail your entry. If the failure is on marginal safety grounds you may appeal to the Clerk of the Course (CoC) or if an eligibility failure you can appeal to the Comp Sec or CoC for a decision. It's not often, however, that the decision of the Scrutineer is overruled. That's why we have him.

Clerk of the Course: is a lot more than chief stick planter. This person, with helpers, will have set out the trial, usually driven the course (or supervised it being driven) and be satisfied that it is safe for the entry list (this is why we like you to pre-book for a trial). During the trial the CoC will ensure the event is running safely and will direct the chief marshal as to what is required for each section.

Chief Marshal: has the task of managing the general marshals who watch to maintain safety and to check for vehicles scoring points. These people also 'manage' the spectators to ensure they are not in a place of danger when a section is live.
Start Marshal: At our events is responsible for getting competitors onto the start line in good time (so usually has to do a lot of shouting). He will then tell them when to start when the other marshals have confirmed the course is clear.
Recovery Marshal: is a position that we appoint (not strictly an MSA requirement) to manage the recovery of stuck vehicles. He will be the one doing the shouting to direct operations, not actually driving the recovery vehicle. He will co-opt people to help and direct everyone else to keep well out of the way to ensure that a recovery is carried out effectively, safely and speedily.

Steward: should be somebody independent of the other roles. The steward is the final authority on all matters concerning the event from scrutineering to scoring. If you have any difficulty accepting a decision of one of the other officials this is who you come to see. Minor grievances will be dealt with immediately but if it is a formal complaint the rules of the MSA will kick in and the complaint must be submitted in writing with a monetary fee that is only returned if the complaint is up held. Luckily at BLRC we have never had to put this rule into action.

Because we don't have that many people acting as officials on the day we often have to double up on the roles. Life would be so much easier if there were hundreds of volunteers, but there aren’t. Basically, if you get a request from an Official – do it, because you can’t be sure which official role they are in.

The MSA rule book is issued to anyone that holds a MSA competition license and within BLRC the scruitineer, secretary and competition secretary all have copies. The ALRC year book is free to all BLRC members.

That's about it for our club events. I plan to add further details of event arrangements for Tyros, RTVs & CCVs with respect to the rules, requirements and scoring and eventually details for current vehicle regulations and scrutineering issues.

 

In this part to my guide to the competitive side of the club I am going to look at the technicalities of trialling: scoring, basic rules and general requirements. I am going to focus on tyro, RTV and CCV trials since they predominate our calendar and are essentially the same. I will address other types of event later, when I get time.

All of what you read here can be found in more detail in the green ALRC yearbook. It just so happens that we recently took delivery of 2009 yearbooks and are issuing them to members. You can either collect one from an event or send an A5 self addressed envelope with postage to Sue (Secretary). The yearbook has a couple of specific sections regarding trialling that you would do well to read, as well as reproducing the rules & regs that the MSA publish in the ‘blue book’.

Scoring

This is quite straight forward really, even though some marshals get confused in the heat of the moment. The objective of trialling is to get the lowest score at the end of the day (here, points don’t win prizes). A section will comprise a series of ‘gates’ – a pair of bamboo canes- that are numbered in sequence from either 12 or 10 down to 1. The canes are clearly numbered to guide you through the section, and as we are terribly politically correct the red cane is on the left and the white is on the right.

Having identified the canes, all you simply do is drive between them without touching them with any part of the vehicle or ceasing forward momentum. That would be so simple if it wasn’t for the fact that most clerks of the course set canes in awkward positions on difficult terrain.

You must start at the start gate (logical so far) with your front wheels at the start line, and be stationary unless otherwise directed. You then proceed in an orderly fashion through the course marked by the canes without deviating from the driven route. What this means is that there is an imaginary route directly between the canes that you should follow, no scenic country drives are permitted between two gates unless the course is set that way.

To explain more clearly, take the example of passing gate 5, and clipping the red cane with the roof – you score 5 points. If you pass through gate 5 successfully but stop before gate 4 – you score 4 points. If you pass through gate 5, but only manage to get one front wheel through the 4 gate before stopping, you are considered to have passed gate 4, so score 3 points.

On some sections you will find that the 1 gate has been set such that you are only able to get one wheel through at an angle – this to the pro’s is known as ‘hubbing it’. The diagram below explains all this far more clearly, and has been re-produced from the MSA yearbook.

In the diagram the F number indicates the points scored.

An exception to all this is for vehicles with a wheelbase of more than 95”. Because of the reduced turning circle, these are allowed 1 ‘shunt’. That is, they can stop (before they come to an involuntary stop), reverse a little to re-align themselves, and then carry on. Generally there is only one shunt allowed per section, although occasionally a clerk of the course (CoC) will permit more. The reverse move is restricted though. I mentioned the ‘driven line’ earlier – a reverse move must be made so that at least one wheel remains on the driven line.

On the day of the trial, the marshals (where we have them – hint, hint) will watch the canes carefully to make sure that none are hit. The CoC will advise the chief marshal where the marshals should stand so that they are not in a place of danger and can see canes that are likely to be hit. The more wily driver should take note of marshal positions to have some clue as to where difficult bits may be.

General Rules

The rules I describe below are, as the title suggests, just the general rules regarding trialling. The full rules are in the green book, and are far too long to reproduce here.

First and foremost all drivers and passengers must be a member of BLRC, or another ALRC competitive club, with their own membership card.

The vehicles being entered must be of Land Rover origin (for ALRC events) and comply with the regulations that the ALRC set out. At closed club events, i.e. those open only to our members, it may be nice to take a more relaxed stance, but where would we stop.

When trialling we always run in order so that everyone has a fair chance and also ‘drop a driver’ (or two): by this I mean that on the first section competitor one goes first, on the next section competitor two goes first and so on. On some sections it can be an advantage to go first, and on others a distinct disadvantage, so this seems to be a fair way of organising it. A novice will never have to go first, and the running order will be re-arranged to accommodate this.

When you have driven a section, you need to have your score card signed by the keeper of scores so that we can check that you are awarded the correct score for a section. You are then required to hand these in to the event secretary at the end of the trial.

Seat belts are to be worn at all times by drivers and passengers. Smoking is strictly prohibited and chewing gum or eating sweets is discouraged.

For tyro trials the vehicle entered must be a standard Land Rover that was on sale to the public – technically, therefore, a lightweight and 101 are not eligible. Neither are hybrid specials. At club level, however, we will admit these vehicles in the spirit of promoting our sport to our members. We will accept ‘specials’ on driver merit rather than vehicle specification. I wouldn’t expect a hardened trials driver to enter a tyro, but a novice might in a borrowed motor. Drivers must be over 17, but drivers over 14 can enter if accompanied by an experienced driver holding a full drivers licence (certain vehicles though). Passengers in front seats must be over 14, passengers in rear seats must be over 4, but can be as young as 2 if strapped into a proper car seat that is strapped in. All rear passengers must be seated in forward facing seats.

For RTV trials vehicles entered must be  as defined in the ALRC green book – essentially this means it is built with Land Rover (or BMC) parts, and have all the parts on the vehicle during the trial (that is you cannot remove the door tops for instance). It must be road legal, taxed, have a current MOT and road tax (as should a tyro entry come to that). Passengers are only allowed in a front seat, and there can be only one of them, and they must be over the age of 14. Drivers must be over 17 and hold a drivers licence. You should carry a tow rope and have suitable points to attach it to.

For CCV trials the vehicles must be basically Land Rover and built from Rover type parts. A roll cage is required, and the roll cage must be to ARC design and be ‘log booked’ (inspected and signed off by two ARC scrutineers). A fire extinguisher is to be carried and there must be an electrical cut off switch.

Drivers must be 17 or over and passengers must be at least 14.

General Requirements

With regards the vehicles, as suggested above, to be in an ARC event they should be of Land Rover type. Quirkily a cut and shut Range Rover with a Series 1 style body made from flat aluminium, with a Honda 2.7V6 is considered to be a Land Rover and can be entered into a RTV as a Series 1 special if it is road registered. A standard Series 3 with a retro fitted Perkins diesel cannot. Strange but true. A read of the ALRC yearbook should clear up the reasoning for this...

All vehicles entered into a trial will need to meet the basic scrutineering requirements for safety, and I will address these in future but the following basic points must be addressed.

Except for vehicles with ‘fly by wire’ throttle control, a return spring is required to be visible to the last linkage of the throttle. This is required in case anything should break, or an accident occur, to stop an engine racing away. This requirement applies from tyro trials right through to comp safaris. Fitting a spring should be relatively straight forward, and can often be arranged such that it can be disconnected for general road use.

Although not demonstrated at all our trials, all entries should be self starting – that doesn’t mean bump starting them by rolling down a hill… To achieve this, one useful piece of equipment is a good battery. It is even better, nay, essential, for this to be properly secured. Once going, the vehicle should also be able to stop relatively quickly without the need for a manual impression of an antilock system in action. The Handbrake is also required to work, and be able to hold a vehicle on a slope without the assistance of either the footbrake or being left in gear.

There is a risk when trialling that you will get stuck at some point. If you don’t, you aren’t trying hard enough. It should be your own rope that is used to pull you out, and it should be fixed to suitable towing points that are easily accessible and suitably strong both front and rear of your vehicle. The ties down points found on most coil sprung motors are not suitable for recovery.

As far as the general issues regarding trialling go, that is about it. If you want to know more, there is always the ALRC year book, or you can ask any of the committee.

In the next issue of this series I intend to look at insurance and scrutineering. If there is anything else that you would like to see covered, give me a call, or drop me an e-mail and I will see what I can cobble together.

Kevin Peake

 

The Small Print

 

This information is primarily intended for use by Members of the Breckland Land Rover Club and invited guests. It should not be copied or disseminated without the prior written consent of the Committee. All mapping data published is for internal Club use only and should not be copied to non-members as this constitutes a breach of our Copyright license. Members may produce a printout for personal use.
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