Dixon on Tulip - 4 to 10 May
Reports by Maurice Millar & Ian Dixon
member Ian Dixon is taking his recently rally prepared MGB/GT on the
2014 Tulip Rally, with fellow member Maurice Millar guiding him on the gruelling route starting
in France at Lake Annecy and traveling through Germany, Belgium,
Luxembourg and finishing in Holland.
pair will be keeping us up to date as and when the crew find an
internet connection for Maurice and Ian, also known as the 'Ecosse Rally Team Extrordinaire' to send us progress reports. Wishing the crew and Car 136 good luck on the event.
Saturday 3 May
at Zeebrugge on time. Sunny morning for tramping south across Belgium
for the French border and on to Rheims for lunch. MG running well
in overdrive top. I can almost hear myself thinking, reports Maurice.
In the pits at the Circuit de Gueux, Reims.
Sunshine as the crew reach Reims
Sunday May 4
in Annecy yesterday afternoon with only 30 minutes in hand before the
end of scrutineering. The Sunday morning leg of the drive to Annecy
took longer than expected.
Worrisome noises from the transmission,
combined with a ticking clock made for an anxious arrival. Inspection
revealed that the gearbox had lost all its oil from the rear oil seal.
The rally service crew produced some gear oil and a selection of
funnels and pipes.
Monday May 5
started the rally at 08:35 this morning and headed into the mountains
south of Annecy: lots of hairpins uphill and down The car did really
Ian reported that over dinner yesterday evening he and
Maurice shared a table with 8 Dutch competitors. Their comment was
" Tomorrow we head into the hills". How much of an under statement that
was. We started at Annecy at 0835 and ascended and descended every
mountain in the region which entailed several hundred hairpins on
mountain roads with literally hundreds of feet or in France meter
drops. Ian managed to glimpse at one or two of the views which were
stunning but alas no time to enjoy.
The car is standing up to
the pounding very well with only a couple of minor (fingers crossed )
problems. First, the gear box rear seal has developed a leak, and at
first we thought it was due to a failing bearing but after todays run I
am hoping that the bearing is OK and only the seal is the problem. A
soft drinks bottle, plastic fuel can spout, gaffa tape and a Blue Peter
badge later and we have a solution. We top up the gearbox twice a day
and hopefully it will get us home. Second, the o/s rear wheel bearing
is rumbling but holding on. We hope to pick up a new bearing kit in the
morning and make time to get it fitted.
The fun has started for Ian and Maurice. Visit here again soon for the next installment.
Tuesday May 6
morning started with results from day one and we found ourselves
sitting at 57th in class, no mean feat for two chaps from Scotland. Day
two turned out to be a complete turn round from day one where the car
and driver took the brunt of the punishment with hundreds of hair pins
and turns over 250 miles where as today was a day of intense navigation
with numerous detours in and out of old roads and junctions covering
The car is bearing up very well under the pressure,
the gearbox leak has steadied down to an egg cup full of oil twice a
day and the rear wheel bearing has not got any worse. A new problem
manifested itself this afternoon in as much as an intermittent
electrical glitch switched off the ignition feed for a split second
every time we cornered or hit a bump.
Eventually I realised if
I touched the harness at the column ignition switch it came back on.
Further investigation and I realised that while under the column
filling the gear box with oil I had disturbed the connectors and
quickly made a fix.
Tomorrow we have an 8:55 start time and look forward to see what the rally holds for us.Car 136
Wednesday May 7
have had a good day today, beginning in Besancon this morning at 08:51
from the Midipolis exhibition centre. The centre of Besancon is
disrupted by works to create a new tram system, which is familiar to
anyone living in Edinburgh. We started in light rain, under dark skies
and windy conditions. Several hundred more kilometres on different
roads, including a second karting track. Out-lap, reference lap, Lap1,
Lap2, then an In-lap. The objective is to complete Lap 1 and Lap 2 in
exactly the same times as the reference lap-time. This is not as easy
as it sounds. We also had a simple speed test.
found the wet roads very slippy which brought us some excitement. Today
has been different. We have had fewer hairpins in the Jura and Alsace
regions. The car is going well with regular attention from Ian to the
gearbox oil level.
We are doing fine, but continuing to miss
route control checks in unknown, obscure locations, hence the high
penalty points total. Most of the other competitors are Dutch and most
of these are very friendly to a couple of hooligans from Scotland.
We have kept to time all day today, unlike yesterday.
has replaced both front tyres this evening. The rears are also worn
out. The set of four has lasted 3 days. Don't get the idea that this
international rallying is just dawdling between meals.
we are in Horbourg-Wihr, near Colmar, still in France, near the German
border and not far north of Mulhouse (where the famous Schlump
Collection car museum is).
It all starts again for us tomorrow morning at 09:34. - destination: Saarbrucken.
Friday May 9
was no report from us of yesterday's progress as we were late in
finishing in Saarbrucken last night and we had a 07:28 start time this
Today's route has taken us through parts of Germany,
Luxembourg, Belgium and we have finished in Vaals in southern Holland;
just over the German border from Aachen.
The MGB is going well
and stopping and turning better with the new tyres on the front. We
have not been able to find a further pair of new tyres for the rear
because the schedule has given us no time during the day when tyre
suppliers are open for business. Internet connections have been rather
hit and miss, so I have been unable to search for suitable suppliers.
We had one lined up for last night or this morning, but the time
schedule ruled that out.
This rally is fully of tricky
surprises. Yesterday's second regularity started when the afternoon
routebook was issued after lunch. We were already losing time before I
got in the car, before we had worked out our route and before we knew
the regularity section had even begun. Every crew in the Sporting Class
incurred 2,500 penalties. The route cunningly used a small piece of
road which had a name printed all over it. I took us a long way round
Another Dutch trick is to issue route maps with the
route shown as a plain black line on a white circular background, with
no other roads or markings of any kind. This plain white circle is
imposed on the usual roadmap. You have to measure the distances and
interpret the actual road and junctions etc to find the correct
We are off to the Rally HQ now for dinner and a
probable early start tomorrow. The weather forecast is for rain which
will reduce the numbers of Dutch people out cycling and walking
Ian sent our kilts to Noordwijk by courier to save
room in the car. We will find out tomorrow afternoon if they have been
received at our B&B.
Saturday May 10
and Maurice arrived in Noordwijk-aan-Zee in the afternoon to
heavy rain and strong winds. There was only one navigation section in
today's route, but five speed tests (flat out against the clock); one
regularity run on a karting circuit; and one short regularity up a
The crew beat the bogey time by 2 seconds on the
first test; plus 5 seconds on the second one. The third speed test was
10.6km around an airfield - long flat-out straights
and various bends with no codes or landmarks: not easy.
between venues, there were lots and lots of motorway miles to get from
the very south-east corner of Holland to the coast not far south of
The car has held up well. The rain and the worn rear
tyres meant that the going was slippy in places, especially on the
The final, traditional test of the Tulpenrallye
is a straight-line sprint on the boulevard by the sea in Noordwijk.
This is a simple thrash with two stop-astrides. Maurice had their
Saltire unfurled all the way on this test, as Ian struggled with the
slippy wet tarmac.
The pair have concluded about 2,300
competitive miles since early last Monday morning. The sun is out at
the finish and Ian and Maurice are putting on their kilts for the
gala dinner. We won't be troubling the engravers, but we have had a
great time and enjoyed every minute; and met some friendly people along
Driver's comment: a lifetime's experience in one week. Can we go back and do it all again?
Car 136, MG BGT, REN114K
- built, driven and maintained by Mr Ian Dixon of Scotlandwell;
- navigated by Mr Maurice Millar of Blairgowrie.
For a look at how the pair got to the start check out the preparation HERE