Welsh Rally GB 2018 - the Denzel Beetle battered but not beaten
Posted on October 24 2018
Here we are at the iconic Welsh Rally GB, the largest and most prestigious motor rally in the UK. On these notorious tracks raced the Cool Flo sponsored 1953 Denzel-powered beetle, as committed and determined as ever.
Drivers Mark Ferreday and Jordan Joines took to the rallying stage for the first time in 2017, following a 7-year dream to race their rare machine in an FIA official event. In their Welsh Rally debut the Denzel Beetle finished with an impressive 2nd place, marking a huge achievement! The last time a Denzel Beetle raced at a similar level was all the way back in the 1950’s, when a bug competed and won its class in the Austrian Alpine Rally in ’59.
Last year’s monumental effort left the bug battered and bruised, and this year’s rally proved to be a mighty beast still. It was an unpredictable race with some close calls, and we at Cool Flo are immensely proud of the team and their determination to race with classic class.
Here’s a message from the team describing the events of their race first hand:
Despite setting the fastest times on 6 of the 10 stages in our class, we lost the overall class win by 45 seconds. Along the way, we suffered some unfortunate mishaps and serious problems. From the very start it seemed as if the Rally Gods were not on our side…
Day 1: We took a nominal time for stage 2 & 3 because the car in front crashed into a tree at 100mph and the stage was stopped. The car involved in the crash is scrap now: it was our neighbour in service. Thankfully the crew are okay - they avoided major injuries, but unfortunately the driver suffered a broken leg. Nominal time put us behind but by end of day one we were only 4 seconds off class lead.
Day 2: In stage one of this new day, we were fresh and ready to take on the world. We took the lead back by a whopping 18 seconds. And then the real problems started. In stage 2 we took a massive impact after the jump just before water splash section of the track, and straight away we knew something was wrong. The back end was very unstable. We also developed a misfire after water splash. I thought the rear hub was loose or the drive shaft was broken. We nursed her to the end of stage 3, and stage 4 was directly after, so we had no time to look at the problem. We had to drive with care as we didn't want to be in the trees, and it was all over the place!
Before stage 5 we looked what was the problem, and it was a sorry state of affairs. The shock tower had completely snapped off the chassis on the OS. Luckily we have limit straps on there so the shock hadn't gone through the oil tank. We thought, “at least it wasn't the hub that was loose”.
We had now lost nearly 4 mins but made a decision to push as hard as possible. We set the fastest times in class for the last two stages and had some very scary moments! But it wasn't enough, the leaders took a 3min penalty but still managed to win the class by 45 secs. We could have protested the 49 sec extra we got from the crash the day before, but I was just glad the crew we safe. For me, I would rather lose by 45 sec and know all crews involved in the massive crash were ok!
If we hadn't snapped our suspension we would have won, but that's Rallying, you need luck too… even the pro teams need luck and break things when pushing hard.
Slate mountain was a car killer, there were cars with their wheels torn off there. It was a 1km loop driven twice. We gained 30 sec on this 2km loop - that is how hard we were pushing. Poor little car took a hammering. Snapped suspension and either syncro ring or selector is broken for second gear. We needed to hold it in second to stay in gear, which is not the easiest thing I can tell you! Sideways on the corner, with only one hand on wheel and the other holding it in gear…
After the race finished we definitely deserved a much-needed holiday, but as soon as we’re back our Denzel Beetle will be stripped down and fixed. A huge thanks to our new team member & Co driver Dave Vardy for all his efforts over the weekend.
Thanks again to all the support from Cool Flo. The old girl took a battering, but we pushed her as hard as we could. We didn't win class for you, but we will be back stronger and faster!
Feature photo credits to; Bleddyn Davies, Motorsport News, Mark Worsdell, Andrew Beacher, John Waide & Ben Forrester
The awesome Denzel Beetle, always going with the Flo. You can follow their story via Instagram.