Constant Busch, Orthopaedic Consultant with Ashford & St Peter's Hospitals NHS Trust and his co-driver Yasar Jabbar who was a registrar at the hospital participated in this year’s Lombard Rally from 6 – 9 November 2008 to raise money for The Stephanie Marks Diabetes Appeal. This is their story….

“This rally is the revival version of the original Lombard RAC rally that was contested and won by rallying legends such Carlos Sainz. Our original participation in this event was in 2007 after the intended London to India rally was cancelled because of Taleban activity in Pakistan. In 2007 we managed to finish a very creditable 61st out of 120 having rising about £5000 for the Woking Hospice and Sam Beare unit in the process.

Constant Busch rally driver (left) with Yasar Jabbar co-driver (right) in front of the Daihatsu Sirion rally car with Stephanie Marks decals at the finish line!

Our car, a 1300cc Daihatsu Sirion, with a standard engine, modified exhaust, roll cage, race seats was now a veteran of three Lombard rallies. Its participation in the first two races resulted in a top twenty finish for its previous owner. We felt that this car, with the heart of a lion, and the reputation of being “unbreakable” should be good for one more attempt to improve on our 2007 performance.

With my registrar Yaser Jabbar, a good map reader but otherwise a virgin navigator, we set out to start the 2008 Lombard Rally in Harrogate, Yorkshire. Ahead of us would be 4 day test which has the reputation of being the toughest and hardest rally in Britain covering1300 miles through the West of Scotland.

Our car was equipped with a new drive shafts, gear box and clutch. The brakes were upgraded and the oil change two days before the race would certainly make all the difference! Having finished my NHS clinic on Wednesday afternoon I travelled to Harrogate. After some last minute administrative duties the team was ready. Good preparation for Rallies such as this is essential. Including ear plugs in my sparsely packed suitcase was a masterstroke as surely my navigator caused structural damage to the Harrogate Holiday Inn that night!

We missed the drivers briefing early in the morning as we were busy driving up and down a distant piece of road trying to calibrate our Brantz trip meter. At 10 am Thursday 6th November in the company of the Mayor of Harrogate and following the statutory interview with Tony Mason, ex rally legend, we were off!

It became clear early on that my navigator had great talent in getting to terms with the subtleties of map reading and avoiding the time penalties. The weather was a little against us and the windscreen wipers worked overtime which resulted in blackboard like squeaking for the latter part of the rally. The car performed wonderfully. Two cable ties kept the sump guard attached to the car. We suffered one puncture which was discovered at the start of one selective and we changed the tyre in 2 minutes flat, no time lost! A crack in the wind screen obtained whilst overtaking a fellow competitor gradually increased in size and at one stage caused the major threat to not being able to complete the rally. On return to one of the overnight stays we drove for one hour in search for a petrol station. The car literally chuckled to a halt at the entrance to the service station and we freewheeled to the pump.

The rally had it usual heroics. One crew rebuild their engine overnight after it seized. A volunteer RAC crew was present to return a great number of badly injured cars to the battle. Some of the classic cars consumed as much oil as petrol. No personal injuries occurred but like last year a fair number of cars succumbed to the brutal road conditions of some of the tougher selectives.

Our aim was to try for a top 20 finish; especially because of our involvement this year with the Stephanie Marks Appeal we felt duty bound to at least finish the Rally! As it turned out the team of car No 7 did far better than expected. Our confidence was greatly heightened when we managed to do the Colin McRae selective near Castle Douglas only two minutes slower that the minimum time. Jimmy McRae broke his car on that stage that day and when I spoke to him at lunch time he mentioned that he thought the stage was much rougher than what he was used to on the WRC circuit!

Throughout the 4 days we made steady progress. Despite loosing the use of the Brantz trip meter on the last two days and having to use the car’s odometer we still kept on course. We returned back to Harrogate to face our last selective knowing that a clear run would mean a minor miracle could happen. We put in a clinical performance on the last selective and managed to secure a 1st in class win and a 9th place overall. My navigator earned himself the “novice navigator of the Rally award.” We were very proud that a complete amateur team such as ours could hold its own in a field of wise and battle hardened rally drivers. It is going to be very difficult to overtake this result next year!

We are trying to raise £2,000 for the Stephanie Marks Appeal. Please support us by visiting our fundraising page at http://www.justgiving.com/lombardrally2008”