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Today is the thirtieth anniversary of the debut of what was, undoubtedly, the worst rally car in the world.
Now I need to qualify this statement. The details are that 30 years ago today was the first time that my brother Geraint and I competed in our newly acquired beast. It was a very second hand Mark One RS2000, registration HRH 339N. We’d previously been campaigning a 1.3 Escort, so this was our introduction to the big power league. The event was Quinton MC’s Acropolis Rally. We were raring to go, which was more than could be said for the car; after just thirty miles the gear linkage broke. These were in the days before ubiquitous mobile coverage, so I was left to make the long walk to a telephone kiosk to phone the recovery service, aka our father.
Seven days later we started Sixty and Worcestershire Motor Club’s Autumn Leaves Rally. Guess what? Thirty miles in the gear linkage broke and I was left with another long walk to a kiosk to phone home.
Despite the fact that by now I’d probably clocked up more miles on my feet than in the car, we embarked on Birmingham University MC’s November Rally. I think we were using an RSJ for our gear linkage, so hopes were high. Indeed we were the first car to reach the finish; unfortunately this was because we had to crawl back with a very sick gearbox halfway through the rally.
It may be hard to believe but the car’s shortest event was yet to come. This was our local Holrus Rally which rounded off the year. As we accelerated away from the start of the first competitive section the alternator light came on; two miles later we stopped.
Over Christmas we gave the car a stern talking to and this transformed it from being unreliable to unlucky. Not being a total fool I volunteered to do the AGBO Rally with Jonathan ‘Dibna’ Templeman in his Escort while Geraint got Phil Mills to sit with him in HRH. We finished and won an award, Geraint and Phil didn’t - they picked up more punctures than they had spare wheels.
The same thing happened on the Gemini. We hit a pot hole and punctured both near side tyres. On a night on which SAS men were dying of hypothermia on near by Epynt, I had another long walk to find a phone. Enough was enough. Six non-finishes from six starts was too much to bear. HRH was replaced by my road car, a 1.3 Escort. On its first event we won our class. We then went on to finish seven more events in it as HRH sat unloved and rusting in a field. I’ve still got its bonnet in the barn. I kick it every now again.