THE DALBY GRAVEL SPRINT – A HISTORY
The concept of the Gravel Sprint came about from and idea of Ian Maddison’s (MAD Video’s) that was enhanced by the committee of Malton Motor Club.
During 1997/8 the club was looking to run an event in the Yorkshire Forests. The club had recently lost the use of its Wombelton and Elvington venues, where it has successfully run single venue event’s for many years. However after looking at the project more closely the club realised it lacked the finance to put on a full forest event. A Gravel Sprint could be a cheaper way of getting into the forests.
The club Committee spoke to the local forester and enquired about the cost of running such an event, it was good news, and the next step would be to contact the MSA to see what they would have to do regarding the rules and regulations for the event.
The MSA allowed the club to basically write its own regulations, they just gave them a few pointers in the right direction, and some information regarding compulsory safety issues needed to cover the fact that there would be no co-drivers in the cars!
The basic rules were that the lone driver went out on a practice run to check the stage – this would be as competitive as he liked, and would not count towards his overall score. (The first year one competitor didn’t really grasp this concept, and rolled his Cortina on the Practice Run!) They would then get up to 3 timed runs over the stage, and from this his best score would count towards his overall time. The event is timed to a tenth of a second. A competitor doesn’t have to complete all the allotted runs.
We have used the same stage since the event’s conception in 1998, for the first two years it was run in a single direction, with the top 12 competitors getting the chance to compete in the “Top 12 Run Off” for a separate award at the end of the day. Although this was a good part of the event and enjoyed by the spectators, it was shelved in the third year when it was decided to run the 4mile stage in both directions. Competitors then got a practice run in each direction, followed by 3 timed runs, again in both directions. For 2002 we have decided to alter the route (please see enclosed map) as for the last year or two we have struggled with part of the stage cutting up and feel that the drivers are ready for a new challenge after 4 years of the same stage!!
Going back to the first year, the event was not quite the success the club had hoped for… We had been too bothered about promoting the event and getting some big names to it, without realising that some of the regulations and rules we had written were a bit ambitious…
However, we were realistic and realised that more work was required for the second year. We learnt from our mistakes and built on our successes… And with a lot of hard work the event is in its 5th successful year and is running strong with an average entry of 50 cars each year.
Chris Mellors of Mellors Elliott Motorsport came on board as sponsor of the event in its inaugural year, and has been a valued supporter ever since – both as a sponsor and a competitor. Although he is yet to win the event – coming close in 2001 when he was 2nd to Jonny Milner by just a few 10ths of a second! Alongside Chris and his team, Prontaprint Middlesbrough has been involved as associate sponsors since the offing. Rod Thrower of Prontaprint has proved invaluable over the years producing all the events paperwork as his side of the sponsorship deal. In 2000 Chris Mellors bought his personal sponsor Guitel Castors, who we are again pleased to have on board this year under their new name of Rolltek.
The Gravel Sprint has become a good start for new up and coming drivers, and is also getting a name as a shakedown for events such as the Rally GB, as well as being good for testing and a good end of season social craic.
Malton Motor Club have to thank Selby Motor Club for their help and support over the years – they run a superb results system for the event and help with the overall organisation.