Tag Archives: Ben Mellors

Petch Marches to Malton Forest Glory

Stephen Petch and Michael Wilkinson emerged as victors of the 2014 MEM Malton Forest Rally after a day long battle with the similar machine of Charles Payne and Andrew Roughead.

Petch

The 2014 Malton Forest Rally was not even on my radar until I stumbled across the entry list just one week ago.  It may not have been the largest field of cars ever to start an event but this was more than made up for in terms of quality.  A historic entry boasting the likes of Julian Reynolds in a 131, Ben Mellors in the Celica RA45 and Matt Edwards in the Geoff Jones Motorsport prepared MK2 Escort was something that could not be missed.  Not to mention the 4WD Fords of Stephen Petch and Charles Payne together with the new turbo engined Proton Satria of Ollie Mellors!

Having visited Gale Rigg on this years Trackrod, I headed instead to Cropton, staying long enough for the historics to complete the reverse run followed by a quick dash to Langdale to see the whole field attempt the final stage.  It was nice to be back in the Spiers House part of Cropton having not watched there since the 2007 North Humberside Stages whilst it had also been several years since I stood at Langdale’s double junction; a section of stage which has been completely transformed following a spate of tree felling.

OVERALL / CLASS 5

Ollie Mellors defence of his 2013 crown did not last long.  The Proton Satria, with the new turbo development engine under the bonnet suffered from mechanical issues on stage1.  Whilst not finishing the morning loop of stages, the MEM machine, co-driven by the vastly experienced Rob Fagg, did however manage to complete some much needed mileage by rejoining the field in the afternoon.

Instead the battle for rally victory lay with the Fiesta R5+ of Stephen Petch and the similar looking Focus engined machine of Charles Payne.  Number 2 seed and BTRDA regular, Petch, managed to open up an early lead in Gale Rigg, but it was Payne who returned to the halfway service with a 1 second lead courtesy of a very quick time in the first Langdale test.

The SGP Motorsport man had the bit between his teeth after lunch however, taking a mammoth 7 seconds out of Payne in Cropton and a further 2 in Gale Rigg.  And although Payne’s Focus engined Fiesta probably had the power advantage down the long straights of Langdale, it was Petch who appeared the neat and tidier around the tight double junctions.  The tied Langdale stage time enough for Stephen Petch and Michael Wilkinson to take an 8 second victory.

HISTORIC

Fresh from a great result on the Cambrian Rally a couple of weeks ago, Matt Edwards, with Paul Morris on the maps, was back behind the wheel of his GJM prepared MK2 Escort for the Malton Forest Rally, an ideal warm up for the season ending RAC rally at the end of the month.

Edwards

While the man from North Wales was a clear favourite, many were drawn to the stages by the return of the RSD Fiat 131 Arbarth in the hands of Julian Reynolds and the Ben Mellors piloted Toyota Celica RA45; both cars having made their competitive debuts on the recent Trackrod Forest Stages.

No-one was going to make the Italian machine go quicker than the very rapid Julian Reynolds and it was great to see, and hear, the stunning machine being put through it’s paces along some of Yorkshire’s finest stages, seemingly over the teething problems suffered on the Trackrod.

Edwards however was yet again in a class of his own, fastest historic on every stage bar one to claim the class victory by over a minute from the Swift Caravans sponsored 131 of Reynolds and Patrick Walsh.  RSD must have been over the moon with the runner up spot however, proving that the Fiat is more than capable of competing with the dominant blue oval machines.  I have my fingers crossed that Reynolds and Walsh appear on the RAC entry list over the next couple of weeks.

Tim Mason and Graham Wild were the only entered class H5 crew in their Prepfab prepared Porsche 911.  They didn’t rest on their laurels however, taking the fight to the large H4 class entry and missing out on the overall historic runner up spot by a mere 3 seconds.

Porsche

Ben Mellors and Alex Lee had been going well in the huge Celica, lying 14th overall and 6th historic before the second Langdale test.  However a snapped gear lever in the final stage prematurely ended a great run for the Mellors Elliot Motorsport crew.   Disappointment aside, like Reynolds, the Bakewell driver did manage to show the potential of the Japanese machine; both cars providing hope that we might see a little more variety in the class over the coming years. Class H3 proved very close indeed.

Andrew Siddall had initially set the pace in Gale Rigg but failed to emerge from the first Cropton test, leaving Phil Jobson and Ian Watson to battle it out.  The pair traded times throughout the day but it was Jobson, with Arwel Jenkins on the maps, who managed to overturn a 5 second deficit in the final stage to take the class victory by 4 seconds from Ian Watson and Mike Dickson.

Snowy

While class H2 may have been a little less competitive, Barry Jordan and James Gratton-Smith still put in a strong performance to claim 25th overall in their Hilman Avenger, finishing exactly 1 minute ahead of the MK1 Escort crew of Robert Rook and Miles Cartright; the latter not shy in throwing their Ford around the classic Yorkshire forests either.

Jordan

CLASSES

Ian Jemison and Dean Kellett followed up a great run on the Trackrod with a well deserved 21st overall (10th in the open class) in their very unique Porsche Boxster.  Whilst their only class opposition retired on stage 1, 21st overall, against some very strong crews, meant they would have taken some beating and were one of the most committed crews through this section of Cropton …

Jemison

Class 3 was a mainly Ford Escort affair; Dave Lewis and Steve Southall ending up on top of the pile, with the similar machines of Paul Hudson and Robert Carr just under a minute further back.  Lewis and Southall finishing just one place behind the Boxster of Jemison in 22nd position.

Class3

In class 2, Michael and Josh Davison managed to get the better of the Peugeot’s of Andy Stretton and Steve Megson. The bright orange Proton Satria, overturning an 8 second deficit on the final stage to claim class victory by 17 seconds from Stretton and, co-driver, Ian Harden’s 205.

Class2

In class 1, 2014 BTRDA 1400 champ, Mat Smith, proved that it is not just a Ford Ka that he can throw around the forests as he and co-driver, Chris Row, went on to take a convincing class victory with 23rd place overall.  This after suffering gear linkage problems in stage 1 which left them down in 50th position! A happy household was guaranteed as second car home in class was Amanda Cornforth-Smith in the White Ka, with her father, Derek, alongside.

Smith

The 400 mile trip had most defintiely been worthwhile; the Malton Forest Rally proving once again to be a great little event which turned out to be one of best days viewing this year.  Queues on the A64 were more than made up for by a much needed stop off at dad’s for refreshments before the final leg of the journey home. Next up is RALLY GB, still one of the highlights of the motorsport year …

 RESULTS

1. Stephen Petch / Michael Wilkinson – Fiesta R5+ (5) – 0:38:27
2. Charles Payne / Andrew Roughead – Fiesta (5) – +00:08
3. Peter Stephenson / Ian Windress – Focus WRC (5) – +00:57
4. Ian Joel / Graeme Wood – Escort WRC (5) – +01:42
5. Paul Benn / Richard Cooke – Focus WRC (5) – +01:50
6. Steve Petch / John Richardson – Mitsubishi Evo 9 (5) – +03:00
7. Matt Edwards / Paul Morris – Escort MK2 (H4) – +03:02
8. Tony Jardine / Peta Todd – Mitsubishi Evo 9 (5) – +04:10
9. Julian Reynolds / Patrick Walsh – Fiat 131 Arbarth (H4) – +04:18
10. Tim Mason / Graham Wild – Porsche 911 (H5) – +04:21

Full Results

For digital images, professional prints or any other requirements please email me at paul.commons@yahoo.co.uk.

All images © Paul Commons (Paul Commons Motorsport Photography)

Trackrod Trophies end up in Chesterfield

Steve Perez and Paul Spooner ensured the BTRDA title fight will be settled on the final round of the series with victory on the Trackrod Forest Stages.  Meanwhile fellow Chesterfield man Richard Hill, co-driven by Steffan Evans, was able to claw back all of the previous day deficit to take top spot in the Historic event.

Winners

HistoricWinners

The Trackrod rally, based in the forests of North Yorkshire, represented both the final round of the RAC Rally Championship and the penultimate round of a very tightly contested BTRDA season.  The slightly longer Historic event starting on the Friday evening with two night stages in the Dalby forest complex.

BTRDA

First up was the longest stage of the event with 10.5 miles through the infamous Langdale test.  And it was Steve Perez and Paul Spooner who shot out of the blocks and opened up an 8.4 second lead over championship rivals Paul Bird and Aled Davies.  Local man Jim McNeil also put in a stellar first stage performance in his B13 Subaru, splitting the two Fiesta R5s of Stephen Petch and Charlie Payne.  It would not last long though as a stage 2 off caused the York driver to take a stage maximum, sending himself and co-driver Tom Hughes tumbling down the order.

Meanwhile in the 1400 section a much anticipated tussle between David Bennett and Mat Smith was over before the cars reached Gale Rigg as Smith, co driven by Giles Dykes, broke a drive shaft following a trip into a Langdale ditch.  They would manage to carry on but lost 8 minutes to their rivals as a result.

David Weston and Kirsty Riddick, having lost a significant amount of time to their rivals in stage 1, jumped 4 positions to 4th overall with stage victory in Gale Rigg (Stage 2); more than 5 seconds quicker than anyone else.  It was a good stage for Steve Perez also as he increased his overall lead to 12.9 seconds.  A 4.5 second increase in margin that was then effectively reversed following Bird’s first stage win of the day in neighbouring Cropton.

As in previous rounds, the Fiesta’s just don’t seem to have the outright grunt of their elder siblings and Stephen Petch, try as he might, could not keep up with the two foci in front, or the now charging S12 Impreza of David Weston; Weston claiming third overall from the SGP Motorsport machine following the Cropton test.

Bird found his rhythm as the day went on, taking his second stage win in Staindale to leave a 5.9 second margin heading into the Dalby finale.  But whilst the Cumbrian took his third consecutive stage victory, Perez had done just enough to hold onto top spot, taking victory by a mere 3.4 seconds.  David Weston rounded off a solid performance with 3rd overall, 25 seconds behind the leader.  A what might have been story given the Scotsman lost over 23 seconds in stage 1.

GroupN

Group N honours went the way of Russ Thompson and Andy Murphy who had the edge on Thomas Naughton and Andi Mort’s similar machine throughout the day, eventually taking class victory by 21.3 seconds and finishing a very credible 6th overall.  Fellow Mitsubishi crew, Thomas Preston and Jamie Forrest claimed the B13 class victory with 9th overall while Martyn Hawkswell and Benjamin Cohen were the first rear wheel drive competitors home with 14th overall in the B11 MK2 Escort.

B11

David Bennett, with Alistair McNeil alongside had set a blistering pace throughout the day in the 1400 category, eventually taking class victory by over 3 minutes with a mighty impressive 12th overall.  Justin Lawson had been challenging early on but lost a wheel in Staindale causing retirement whilst also ending his title hopes.

1400_winners

15th overall was enough for Paul Street and Clive Hilton to take the historic class victory in their Ford Escort, with B10 victors, Kit and Tim Leigh, finishing one place further back.  The Porsche Boxster of Ian Jemison and Dean Kellett was going better than ever on home soil, finishing 17th overall and claiming B12 honours in the process.

Championship wise, the gold star title is now a purely Ford Focus WRC affair with just the Cambrian Rally remaining.  Perez currently has 167 points banked and can improve to 175 with a victory while similarly Bird can tally 176.  Essentially whoever wins the final round will take the crown with various complicated outcomes should neither be on the top step of the podium.  Luke Francis, David Weston and Stephen Petch are now all out of the running courtesy of the 167 banked total of Steve Perez.

It is mathematically a 4 way battle for the 1400 crown; Ryan Weston and Marcel Freling still in with a chance if Dan Gray and Mat Smith fail to finish well on the Cambrian Rally next month.  Realistically though it is a dual between Dan Gray and Mat Smith; the odds stacked heavily in Smith’s favour with Gray needing to take maximum class points and have 3 cars between his 106 and the little KA to take the title.  Smith’s impressive fight back on the Trackrod, resulting in a 21 point haul, may just be enough to take top spot.

BTRDA RESULTS

1. Steve Perez / Paul Spooner – Ford Focus WRC (B14) – 41:08.0
2. Paul Bird / Aled Davies – Ford Focus WRC (B14) – +00:03.4
3. David Weston / Kirsty Riddick – Subaru Impreza (B14) – +00:25.4
4. Stephen Petch / Ian Windress – Ford Fiesta R5+ (B14) – +00:36.8
5. Charlie Payne / Andrew Roughead – Ford Fiesta (B14) – +01:14.2
6. Russ Thompson / Andy Murphy – Mitsubishi Evo (N4) – +01:58.4
7. Tom Naughton / Andi Mort – Mitsubishi Evo (N4) – +02:19.7
8. Pat Naylor / Ian Lawrence – Mitsubishi Evo (N4) – +03:31.3
9. Thomas Preston / Jamie Forrest – Mitsubishi Evo (B13) – +03:51.2
10. Steve Petch / John Richardson – Mitsubishi Evo (B13) – +04:19.7

Full Results

RAC

There may have been no Stratos in the Yorkshire forests this year but this was more than made up for by an entry list boasting Ryan Champion in a Porsche, Julian Reynolds in a Fiat 131 and Ben Mellors in a Toyota Celica RA40; enough to wet the appetite of any enthusiast.  With the early morning sun shining on a recently felled section of Gale Rigg there really was no better place to take in the action.

In similar fashion to the 2013 event, Matt Edwards, co-driven by Paul Morris, had been able to build a healthy lead of 14.9 seconds after the two friday night stages.  Many competitors suffered problems however including local hero Steve Bannister, who went off the road and out of the rally in Staindale.  Champion also had issues but was able to restart on Saturday morning under Super ‘Rally rules’ where he and Craig Thorley managed a stage victory on the Cropton test.  Matthew Robinson and Sam Collis were another front running crew to lose time; an off in Staindale causing a time loss of over 2 minutes.

Unlike last year however Edwards was not able to maintain the top spot throughout Saturday’s four stages.  Instead Richard Hill and Steffan Evans, having taken time out of them on every stage, snatched the victory on the very last test, winning the rally by just 7.4 seconds.

Behind, Tim Pearcey and Neil Shanks recorded some solid stage times on their way to a well deserved third overall with Category 2 victors, David Stokes and Guy Weaver finishing 4th in their Mk1 Escort.  An impressive result given vastly experienced local man and class runner up, Warren Philliskirk, was over a minute behind.

Cat2

Meanwhile category 1 victory went the way of Bob Bean. The evergreen MK1 Cortina pilot securing a winning margin of over 25 seconds by the end of the day.

Cat1

Nevertheless, second in class was enough for Ray Cunningham to wrap up the title; greatly deserved as it is a long time since the UK rally scene has been treated to a Mini driven like that!  I for one hope they return in 2015.

RESULTS

1. Richard Hill / Steffan Evans – Ford Escort MK2 (D5) – 54:41.3
2. Matt Edwards / Paul Morris – Ford Escort MK2 (D5) – +07.4
3. Tim Pearcey / Neil Shanks – Ford Escort MK2 (D5) – +01:10.9
4. David Stokes / Guy Weaver – Ford Escort MK1 (C5) – +02:17.0
5. Tim Freeman / Paul Williams – Ford Escort MK2 (D5) – +02:19.6
6. Warren Philliskirk / Nigel Hutchinson – MK1 (C5) – +03:23.3
7. Charlie Taylor / Steve Bielby – Ford Escort MK2 (D5) – +03:48.7
8. Chris Browne / Ali Cornwell-Browne – Escort MK1 (C5) – +03:49.9
9. Tim Mason / Graham Wild – Porsche 911 (C4) – +4:01.3
10. Andrew Siddall / Carl Williamson – Escort MK1 (C5) – +04:11.6

Full Results

And so a big well done was in order for the Chesterfield rally community having produced both winning drivers.  The annual trip to the North Yorkshire stages had been as enjoyable as ever, with the irritation of Midge bites and a split pair of jeans more than made up for by a fish and Chip tea at the one and only Thompsons!  I really have no idea which way the Gold Star title pendulum will swing, but I am thoroughly looking forward to finding out on next month’s Cambrian Rally finale.

For digital images, professional prints or any other requirements please email me at paul.commons@yahoo.co.uk.

All images © Paul Commons (Paul Commons Motorsport Photography)