Tag Archives: BTRDA

Edwards Ecstatic to land home BRC Victory

The 2019 Cambrian Rally would combine the opening rounds of both the BTRDA and British Rally championships with runners in the latter National A event intriguingly set to complete an additional 3 stages in the dark.

A healthy contingent of latest spec R5 machinery at the sharp end of the entry list had added additional excitement to the North Wales based event, which included 2 M-Sport entered Fiesta’s for FIA Priority 2 seeded Chilean brothers Pedro and Alberto Heller.

It was another M-Sport Fiesta in the hands of 2018 BTRDA and BRC champion Matt Edwards that again proved to be the class of the field however.  In a field stacked with quality, David Bogie and Tom Cave, would prove his closest challengers but whilst both claimed stage wins neither could match Edward’s consistency, with the Swift backed Ford man (co-driven by Patrick Walsh) going on to claim victory by 26.5 seconds.  Edwards’s later describing success on his home turf as a dream come.

Cave’s challenge would infact come to an unfortunate late end; despite completing the full stage mileage, the unlikely misfortune of suffering 3 punctures over the final loop of stages left the Welshman unable to attempt the final road section, allowng Bogie to claim the runner up position in his Fabia, and the similar machine of Northern Irishman Martin McCormack to round out the podium positions.

Behind, Peugeot 208 crew, James Wilson & Arthur Kierans claimed a hotly contested BRC Junior category victory which saw the top five runners separated by just 30 seconds!  Gaining the lead in stage 5, Wilson and Kierans managed to hold off a fast recovering Will Creighton (puncture delayed) over the final few stages to take class honours by less than 2 seconds!

In the National B event meanwhile, Euan Thorburn made a winning return to action in his WRC Focus.  Benefiting from a healthy lead developed over the morning loop, he and co-driver Paul Beaton had just enough in hand to nurse their misfiring Ford to Goldstar glory, with the Fiesta WRC of Charlie Payne and Carl Williamson a close second.

Perhaps benefiting from a return to running first on the road, it was runners from the 1400 and historic classes  that would fill the Silver Star podium positions.  2018 Champion, George Lepley switched to RWD machinery for the Cambrian and, co-driven by Arwel Jenkins, duly shone in Barry Jordan’s historic spec 8v Avenger, ending the day in a phenomenal 13th position overall and in turn claiming historic honours by over 40 seconds from the BDG powered Escort of Hugh Hunter!

2018 class winners Chris Powell and Jim Lewis, again topped the 1400 time sheets; the Sunbeam crew catching and passing 2019 Champion Dave Brick over the damp afternoon stages to claim a hard fought 2nd overall in the Silver Star category.  With the final step of the 2WD podium just reward for a strong drive by Brick.

Elsewhere, Lancer Evo 9 crew, Pat Naylor and Ian Lawrence, were first home in the showroom category with 4th overall whilst Ian Bainbridge and Daniel May claimed B13 victory with an excellent 5th in their very nicely turned out Subaru Impreza.

FULL RESULTS

NATIONAL A
NATIONAL B

PHOTOS (click “view full size” for best resolution)

 

 

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Edwards Dominates Rallynuts Stages to claim Maiden BTRDA Victory

With the Malcolm Wilson rally falling victim of the weather, the BTRDA contingent would instead head to mid Wales for round 2 of the championship, the recently re-branded Rallynuts Stages Rally (previously Severn Valley Stages).  And, after a month or two of less than pleasant weather, it was rather apt that one of the warmest days of the year so far would welcome the Midland Manor Motor Club Organised event to the championship after several years of association with Historic rallying.

Much like the Cambrian Rally, the entry list was filled with rapid machinery, including 4 WRC Ford’s.  But, also following a similar theme to the season opener, it was an R5 machine, more specifically a Fiesta R5 in the hands of Matt Edwards and Darren Garrod, that would take centre stage.

OVERALL

Edwards truly was in a league of his own on this event and with no protruding logs to halt his progress, would go on to record fastest time on all 7 stages and claim a maiden BTRDA victory by a mammoth 40 seconds from the WRC Ford’s of Luke Francis and Paul Bird;  the Welsh star clearly enjoying his home stages having now set fastest time on 12 of the Championship’s first 14 stages, all 12 of the stages completed by the Swift backed Fiesta man (missed stages 2 & 3 of Cambrian)!  With pace like this, there is little doubt Edwards will be at the sharp end of the British Rally Championship battle when the series kicks off later this month.

Behind, Luke Francis and John H Roberts had a much stronger second BTRDA championship outing in their Melvyn Evans Motorsport prepared Fiesta WRC.  Forced into retirement after clipping a rock on the Cambrian, the North Wales based duo registered second fastest time on every stage bar the last to finish the event in a very comfortable second.

Rounding out the podium positions, Paul Bird, with Jack Morton alongside, continued his strong start to the season after a 2 year lay off.  Locked in a tight battle with the Fiesta of Hugh Hunter throughout the morning stages, the North of England duo managed to snatch third in stage 3 before inching away from their rivals over the final 4 tests; thus ensuring they maintained their early championship lead.

CLASS RESULTS

Well inside the top ten, class B13 victory went the way of Tom Cave and Dale Bowen.  Cave, making a guest appearance in the family owned Subaru, was near untouchable over the classic Welsh terrain, finishing the event 1.5 minutes clear of his nearest class rival; his speed further rewarded with 7th position overall and the honour of first non Ford home.

With 11th overall, Russ Thompson and Andy Murphy claimed a comfortable class NR4 victory in their Mitsubishi Evo 9.  Their day was perhaps made a little easier when usual front runners Patrick Naylor and Ian Lawrence suffered a stage 1 mechanical, however a 40 second class victory over the similar machine of Tom Naughton is proof they would have been a match for anyone on the day.

A thrilling Silver Star battle produced a somewhat surprise result with Max Utting and Mike Ainsworth making a mockery of their seeding to claim category victory in their Ford Fiesta ST.  It was in fact a sensational come back by the Oxford based duo who, having  found themselves 14 seconds behind the Category leading Escort after SS3, completed the Radnor and second Crychan tests some 29 seconds faster than their rivals!  And with just the 2 short stages remaining, Utting and Ainsworth would maintain their advantage to record a very impressive top twenty finish.

B12 Class winners, Owen McMakin and Lee Taylor had lead the Silver Star category through the first 3 stages, however the remainder of the event did not go so well;  The Irish / Welsh pairing not only losing the lead to Utting in stage 5 but also falling behind the Class B11 Escort of Rob Dennis and Andrew Boswell.  McMakin’s strong early pace was however rewarded with his second BTRDA class win of the season and third overall in the Silver Star Category.

Class B10/R2 honours went the way of Josh McErlean and Aaron Johnston in their Fiesta R2; the pairing having snatched the lead from the similar machine of George Lepley in Radnor before gradually pulling away over the afternoon stages to record a 9 second class victory with 24th overall (4th in the Silver Star Category).

Rounding out a very successful day for the blue oval marque, James Giddings and Sion Cunniff claimed class N3 victory in their Fiesta ST with 46th position overall; the 4th class win of the day for a Fiesta crew!

In the 1400 category, round 1 winners, Chris Powell and Jim Lewis exploded into a 31 second lead after the first 3 stages only to find themselves condemned to the retirements list just one stage later.  This left the door wide open for Dave and Toby Brick, this time in a Vauxhall Corsa, to take a commanding 3.5 minute victory with 37th position overall.  Meanwhile Perry Gardener and Steve Link would take the 1400C honours with 78th position overall in their Vauxhall Nova.

By the end of SS4, two of the leading Historic contenders, Nick Elliott (engine issues in SS1) and Rudi Lancaster (Gearbox) were out of the event, which left the Escort’s of Ernie Graham and Terry Brown to battle it out for category victory.  There was absolutely nothing to choose between the two cars over much of the morning before a slow time in Radnor for Brown and co-driver Den Golding put pay to their challenge; the 18 seconds lost allowing Graham and co-driver Robin Kellard to go on and record their second BTRDA Historic victory in as many events.

Behind, Tom Coughtrie and Baz Green seemed to have the H4 spec, ex works, Mitsubishi Galant running well and duly claimed class honours with 4th in category and 47th overall.  Whilst, just one place further back in 48th, Gareth Lewis and Mark Crisp dominated class H1/H2 in their MK2 Escort, claiming class victory by nearly 2 minutes from the similar Ford of Jeff Wincott.

After a day long battle with Bart Lang, Andrew Wheatley made it two Rally First victories out of 2 in his Ford Puma.  He and Ian Nichols finishing the event in a very commendable 62nd position overall.

FULL RESULTS

Next up, the BTRDA contenders head further North for another Welsh outing, this time for the Knutsford & District Motor Club organised Plains Rally on 12th May.  A rally in which Stephen Petch will be hoping to repeat his 2017 success and keep himself at the forefront of the title battle.  If the in-form Edwards should make an entry however he and co-driver Michael Wilkinson may well have their work cut out!

All images © Paul Commons (Paul Commons Motorsport Photography)

Mellors Masters Cambrian in Brand New R5 Proton

Ollie Mellors and Max Freeman stylishly proved the pace of the Proton Iriz R5 on the North Wales based Cambrian Rally; the pairing fighting off a large contingent of R5 and WRC machines to claim a maiden BTRDA victory.

The BTRDA season opening Cambrian Rally had by no means attracted the largest of entries, but what it did boast was a quality filled top 20.  And with this in mind, few would have expected Ollie Mellors and Max Freeman, in the brand new Proton Iriz R5 to head the time sheets as the rally returned to the Llandudno finish; especially given the pairing had never even met prior to the event and many a WRC Ford were seeded in front of them.

The technical nature of the Snowdonia National Park stages more often than not reward local knowledge, skill and bravery however, and, despite the power disadvantage, it was the R5 cars which shone in the glorious North Wales sunshine.

Indeed, it was BRC regular Matt Edwards who leapt into a massive 16 second lead after the first run through Penmachno South, only for his victory challenge to be dramatically cut short when clipping a hidden log in stage 2.  Under new regulations however, Edwards and co-driver Darren Garrod were able to re-join the event for the final four stages thus gaining valuable seat time and continuing their utter domination of the stages; claiming stage victories by 6, 12, 8 and 4 seconds respectively!  A case of what might have been …

“To finish first, first you have to finish” is well known phrase in rallying, and Mellors was in prime position to take advantage of Edward’s indiscretion, taking a 7 second lead after stage 2 and managing to hold the Focus WRC of Paul Bird and Jack Morton at bay for the remainder of the event to record a mighty impressive 6 second victory, the most significant to date for the new Iriz R5.  An even more remarkable feat when you consider the Proton suffered a puncture in the penultimate stage.

Bird may well have fancied his chances against R5 machinery but, following a 2 year ban, will have been more than happy to commence his full time BTRDA return with maximum points; reward for the first championship registered crew home in second place overall.

Meanwhile, current champions Stephen Petch and Michael Wilkinson in the WRC Fiesta, made a strong start to their title defence.  After a conservative approach to stage 1 saw them lying 8th overall, the WD40 sponsored Ford crew upped their speed as the day went on to eventually round out the podium positions, just 30 seconds shy of the eventual winners.

Further back, Dylan Davies and Llion Williams claimed B13 class honours with 8th position overall in their Subaru Impreza whilst Russ Thompson and Andy Murphy were the first “showroom” class crew home in 10th aboard their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9.

And, finishing just outside the top 40, Tom Coughtrie and Baz Green claimed the first ever class H4 victory for pre-91 historic machinery in their ex-works Mitsubishi Galant VR4.

SILVER STAR

The battle for 2 wheel drive victory was fought out by a wide variety of machinery and it was Ieuan Rowlands in the freshly built Historic specification Avenger who was quickest out of the blocks.  Usually aboard a Volvo engined MK2, the Ffestiniog resident, with Emyr Hall alongside, was using the event to shakedown the BRM engined machine ahead of a full British Historic campaign and held a 13 second Silver Star category lead until a stage 4 puncture dropped them back.

17th, 14th and 15th fastest time in the remaining three tests would however secure the local crew third place and top spot in the historic category.  On this evidence they will be at the sharp end of the BHRC battle when the series kicks off on next month’s Rally North Wales!

John Rowlands, in his usual B11 class MK2 Escort, would head a 2WD top ten remarkably covered by just 52 seconds following brother Ieuan’s issues in Alwen, themselves lucky to still be in the event following a huge moment in stage 1 (see Facebook!) And using his local knowledge to full effect was able to pull away from the field over the afternoon stages to register a relatively comfortable Silver Star victory for he and Glenn Latham.

2nd in the Silver Star category represented a fantastic result for Chris Powell and Jim Lewis in their 1400 Talbot Sunbeam.  The Herefordshire based duo putting in an incredible performance to end the event just 24 seconds behind John Rowlands in 17th position overall and take the 1400 category by over 3.5 minutes!

Elsewhere, James Williams and Ross Whittock claimed the combined B10/R2 honours with 19th overall in their Vauxhall Adam.  BRC regular, William Creighton in his Peugeot 208 had provided stiff early competition and held the class lead before losing 2 minutes in Penmachno North (SS6); thus leaving the door wide open for Williams and Whittock to claim the honour of first front wheel drive crew home.

Owen McMakin and Lee Taylor registered class B12 victory with 24th position overall in their MK2 Escort after a day long battle with Richard Sykes.  Sykes was in fact leading the class by 4 seconds in his Citroen DS3 before ending the day in a stage 6 ditch.

Josh Browne and Jane Edgington would wrap up a 23 second combined H1 & H2 historic class victory with 26th position overall whilst the second placed MK1 Escort crew of Ernie Graham and Robin Kellard were left to rue the 26 seconds lost on the opening 2 stages of the event.

Zak Hughes and Tom Wood claimed N3 class victory with 33rd position overall in their Fiesta ST whilst the Vauxhall Nova crew of Perry Gardener and Toby Brick were first home in 1400c with 48th position overall.

Rounding out the class winners, Sam & Liam Johnson and Matthew Baddeley & Shaun Hughes claimed the respective RF1.4 and RF2.0 classes in what turned out to be a tough event for the small contingent of Rally First crews.

Full Results

Concentrating on the front of the field you could be forgiven for believing UK Forest Rallying to be in good health.  However just 4 Rally First cars and not that many more 1400 machines started the Cambrian; the ludicrous MSA running order regulations surely contributing to the decline in numbers.  The second running of Llyn Elsi was described as rough by the top runners so you can only imagine how it felt for the smaller runners at the back.

Rally 2WD appears to be the way forward for some rallies but this format is unlikely to suit the BTRDA Championship and Nicky Grist, amongst others, has called for a return to running 2 wheel drive and historic machinery nearer the front.  Let’s hope common sense prevails before too long as with just over a week to go before round 2, the Malcolm Wilson Rally, the entry list is not exactly bursting at the seams!

However, this should not deter from was ultimately an excellent Cambrian following the snow and ice enforced cancellation of last years event.  The battle at the sharp end was as close as ever and despite long delays early on no stage mileage was lost, for which the organisers deserve massive credit.  But whilst the Cambrian has BRC ambitions for 2019, the question that has to asked is how sustainable the current BTRDA entry levels are? especially given last seasons hike in forestry commission charges.  Changing the running order may well be the only viable solution …

All images © Paul Commons (Paul Commons Motorsport Photography)

Ahlin & Petch Claim Nicky Grist Spoils

Since my last visit in 2015, the mid Wales based Nicky Grist Stages has gained British Rally Championship status, and with it, an additional day of action of the very fast Tarmac roads of Epynt; uniquely making the event the only multi surface fixture on the 2017 BRC Calendar.

The 2017 British Rally Championship hasn’t quite attracted the same level of interest as it’s re-birth year however and thankfully the modest 28 international entries were swelled somewhat by a healthy 102 national B competitors taking part in the Saturday only BTRDA round; a pivotal round 6 of 8 in the 2017 championship.

There are few better views in British rallying than that offered by Route 60 and from our vantage point between junctions 5 & 6 it was easy to see why Osian Pryce and Dale Furniss had taken an early lead in their Spencer Sport Fiesta R5.  Their commitment over the infamous crest was second to none with this moment alone making the 7 hour round trip worthwhile!

But, having been quickest on 5 of the 8 gravel stages and having built a lead of just over 19 seconds by the overnight halt, things would all go wrong for the Welsh pairing as the event headed for the Tarmac.  Disappointingly, having played their joker, the pre-event championship leaders would initially pick up a five second penalty before being forced into retirement on stage 12 with fuel pump failure.

This left the door wide open for Fredrik Ahlin and Torstein Eriksen to claim their 3rd win of the year.  Just eight seconds in arrears heading into SS12, the Swedish/Norwegian pairing were more than worthy winners and will look to consolidate their championship lead over the final 2 Asphalt rounds of the season.

Whilst not able to benefit from the same pre-event recce as the BRC competitors, the action at the front of the BTRDA field was just as fierce; a three way fight for the event win soon developing between the WRC fiesta’s of Peter Taylor and Stephen Petch and the R5+ machine of Callum Black.

Two early stage wins for Peter Taylor, co driven by Andrew Roughead, had seen the Carlisle man take an early lead before a puncture in SS4 would drop them back to third.  Taylor would fight back during the afternoon loop however, claiming 3 of the 4 stage wins, but the overall victory proved just out of reach.

Whilst consistency had been the key for Stephen Petch and Michael Wilkinson to emerge as leaders following Taylor’s problems in stage 4, it was a turn of pace in stage 7 that would ultimately seal victory.  Callum Black and Peter Taylor were just a respective 5 and 6 seconds in arrears heading into the second running of the Halfway stage, however a clear fastest time overall for the Bishop Auckland man ensured he and Wilkinson would take a relatively comfortable 9 second margin into the Crychan finale.  And whilst Taylor claimed his fifth stage win to snatch second from Black, Petch maintained his nerve to record an 8 second victory.  A victory which puts him right back in the title hunt with just the Woodpecker and Trackrod to run.

The production based Group N machines excelled in the dry and dusty conditions with eventual class winners, Sacha Kakad and James Aldridge, finishing the day in an excellent 5th position overall.  Kakad didn’t have it all his own way however; the evo X driver first having to fend off a fast starting Patrick Naylor and later an afternoon charge from the vastly experienced Richard Hill.  Naylor and Hill’s victory challenges would end with time losses in SS4 and SS7 respectively however, leaving the consistent Russ Thompson and Andy Murphy to claim second, just 5.7 seconds in arrears.  An apt result given Kakad and Thompson shared fastest time overall on the days third test.

Class B13 honours would go the way of Subaru crew,  Toni Carannante and Simon Coates, with 11th position overall; a class which Dylan Davies and LLion Williams had dominated before retiring with power steering failure in SS6.  Davies’ unfortunate demise did however throw the battle for class victory wide open with just 4 tenths separating Carannante and the Mitsubishi Evo 6 of Simon Rogers as they approached the final 2 stages.  And despite Rogers, with Wyn Davies alongside, recording a time 6.5 seconds quicker in the Crychan finale, Carannante and Coates would take class victory courtesy of a super quick pass through Halfway.

With 13th position overall, Richard Sykes and Simon Taylor claimed an excellent Silver Star victory in their Citroen DS3; the Black Country/York based pairing dominating proceedings in both class B12 and the two wheel drive category to take victory by almost 50 seconds.

Second in category, and 16th overall, was the MK2 Escort of B11 class winners Owen McMackin and Lee Taylor.  Strong performances in both runs of Halfway and Crychan the deciding factor as they headed home another MK2 in the hands of Nick Dobson and Steve Pugh and the Andy Davison/Tom Murphy piloted Sunbeam.

Just one place further back in 17th were 1400 victors Dave and Toby Brick.  The “Flying Farmer” was at his flamboyant best over the morning run of Route 60 and would find himself locked in a day long battle for class victory with the Talbot Sunbeam of Chris Powell and Jim Lewis; the duo separated by just 4.2 seconds as they headed into the final stage.  Unfortunately for Powell however, the Herefordshire Raceway backed machine would not emerge from stage 8 leaving Brick to take a very hard fought victory.

Bob Vardy and Keaton Williams fought off a healthy gathering of B10 rivals to claim class victory in their Ford Fiesta R2.  Lying second at the mid point service, Barry Jordan and James Gratton-Smith had closed the gap to just 2 seconds after the second running of Route 60 but would ultimately drop to third behind another R2 in the hands of Jordan Reynolds.  Neither of whom quite had the pace to catch Vardy and Williams as the pairing registered a 12.9 second class victory with 22nd position overall.

Steve Ward and Mike Crawford enjoyed a strong run over the Mid Wales gravel to claim overall Historic and class H2 honours with 33rd position overall.  Josh Browne had taken an early lead in a similar MK2 Escort but was forced into retirement after stage 4 leaving the way clear for Ward to take victory from the H3 class winning Ford of Paul Gunter and Jack Walby.  Meanwhile Class H1 would go the way of Ken Davies and Alan Jones in their Volvo Amazon.

Elsewhere, Joe Evett and Matt Fowle would claim 1400C honours with a superb 35th whilst Sam Bilham and Cameron Fair would record class N3 victory with 38th position overall.  Bart Lang and Sinclair Young meanwhile defied their seeding with a dominant Rally First victory in 53rd position overall!

FULL BRC RESULTS

FULL BTRDA RESULTS

CLASS WINNERS GALLERY

Having not managed to attend any BTRDA events in 2017 prior to the Nicky Grist it soon became apparent what I had been missing.  The variety of machinery is the key, made even better by the inclusion of the BRC competitors; the extra commitment of whom, probably aided by the recce, was at times simply breathtaking!

The addition of the BRC certainly helped bolster entry levels too; something which the Trackrod Rally in late September will be hoping to replicate as the event closes out the season for both the BTRDA and BHRC championships.  With many events struggling for entries in 2017, maybe searching for more ways to entwine the 3 major UK championships is the answer …

All images © Paul Commons (Paul Commons Motorsport Photography)

Outrageous Orme Charge Lands Francis Cambrian Victory

Luke Francis & John H Roberts claimed a sensational Cambrian Rally victory, defying the odds to convert a 10 second deficit into a 1 second winning margin with a phenomenal run over the Great Orme finale.

Francis_Alwen

With the Wyedean Rally no longer part of the BTRDA rally series, the Cambrian Rally, based in Llandudno, would take it’s place as the opening round of the season, just 4 months after concluding the 2015 championship.

An intriguing 127 car entry list had been compiled by North Wales Car Club which included the stage rally debuts of Euan Thorburn’s 208 R5 and Connor McCloskey’s WRC Mini.  The moderately sized field set to face 7 stages within the Snowdonia forests, rounded off by a quick blast over the infamous Great Orme toll road.

GOLD STAR

Amongst the leading crews were ex Gold Star champs Steve Perez, Hugh Hunter and Shaun Gardener but the main story of the 2016 Cambrian rally featured the contrasting fortunes of 3 crews in particular; 2015 King of Yorkshire, Charlie Payne in the Focus WRC engined Fiesta, local crew Luke Francis and John H Roberts in their familiar B13 Evo and 2013 Gold Star champ, Euan Thorburn, in his glorious new Peugeot 208 R5.

Few crews would have passed through Gwydyr before the event and with this in mind Charlie Payne’s 5m23s benchmark was mighty impressive.  Only Euan Thorburn, with Paul Beaton on the notes, was able to get within 10 seconds of the Ford man, the Peugeot possibly suffering a horsepower disadvantage on the steep climbs.

Payne, co driven by Carl Williamson, would continue his strong start with top 3 times on both the following Elsi and Penmachno tests.  In fact the Yorkshire-man was never outside the top 5 all day and it was this consistency which left the Fiesta crew heading into the Great Orme finale with what appeared to be a comfortable 10 second rally lead.

Payne

Thorburn meanwhile also went well in stages 2 and 3; the Scotsman setting second fastest time in Elsi before topping the time sheets in Penmachno to sit just 3 seconds behind Payne.  It would all go horribly wrong in Clocaenog East however as a trip into a ditch would cost the Peugeot man over 40 seconds and with it any chance of a debut victory.  The 2014 Scottish Rally Champions most definitely seemed at home in their new ride though and would be back in the podium positions before the day was out.

On paper Francis was up against it, his older Mitsubishi no match for many of the newer B14 machinery.   However, the local man’s secret weapon is his knowledge of the stages and whilst he and John H Roberts had not topped the time sheets on any of the forest stages,  consistent top 7 times had left them sitting 10 seconds behind Payne in second with just 2.95 miles of tarmac remaining.

A ten second gap over such a short stage may have seemed unbridgeable, but Francis has form on the Great Orme.  Just 4 months ago, the Rhuddlan man set fastest time by 8 seconds with a 2m38s stage time to claim an incredible second place overall.  Could he go one better in 2016?  With Payne registering a 2m51s stage time, the win was definitely on the cards.  And whilst Francis was not able to match his 2015 time, 2m40s was enough to claim the rally victory by a solitary second.  With that opposition a B13 car should not be taking BTRDA rally victories.  A simply stunning drive!

B14 top spot is unlikely to have been much consolation for Payne and Williamson in the circumstances, however they have got to be happy with their pace over the event.  After all, finishing ahead of Thorburn is no mean feat!

Elsewhere, fourth position overall represented a strong debut for Connor McCloskey and  Damien Duffin in the WRC Mini; ending the day just 32 seconds down and setting a fastest time along the way.  BTRDA Rally wins may well be on the cards in 2016 for the Northern Irishman.  Meanwhile 5th and 6th, on equal times and just 38 seconds down were the Fiesta R5’s of Hugh Hunter and Rhys Yates; both showing promising pace ahead of expected full season campaigns in the rejuvenated British Rally Championship.

PRODUCTION CUP

Perhaps lacking the strength in depth of 2015, the production cup battle quickly turned into a rally of attrition.  In fact, by the end of stage 3, we were down to just 4 remaining NR4 competitors with Aaron McClure rolling in Penmachno and Andy Davies retiring with gearbox problems.  Whilst Davies had been quickest in stage 1, it was 2015 front runners, Russ Thompson and Andy Murphy who lead for most of the day; building a 54 second lead over the Subaru of Paul Davy and Roger Allan by the end of stage 6.

Clitheroe man, Thompson, would however be cruelly robbed of a victorious start to 2016 following a mechanical failure on the stage 7 start line leaving Davy and Allan in pole position to take the Production Cup honours.  And that they did, building a 54 second winning margin over the Mitsubishi Evo 10 of Roland Llewellin and Ian Lawrence by the end of the day to claim an impressive 13th position overall.  With Davy not BTRDA registered however it was Llewellin and Lawrence who picked up maximum championship points.

Davy

Elsewhere, Owain Rowlands, with Tom Jordan this time alongside, repeated his 2015 success to claim class N3 victory with a strong 34th position overall.

SILVER STAR

Traditionally, Ffestiniog brothers, Ieuan and John Rowlands have featured at the sharp end of this event.  But whilst John was able to follow up his 2015 class B11 and Silver Star success with an impressive 15th position overall, early category leader, Ieuan, in the 2.8 litre Volvo engined MK2 was forced to retire with gearbox problems after just the third test of the day.

Rowlands_Alwen

John Rowlands, with Glenn Latham on the notes, was not as dominant as you may have imagined however.  In fact, number 53 seeds, Gavin Edwards and Caron Tomlinson kept the Welsh crew on their toes throughout the day.  And by the Llandudno finish were just 35 seconds in arrears in 16th position overall.

Meanwhile, 2015 RAC Championship winners, Phil Burton and Mal Capstick, had turned their attentions to the BTRDA series for 2016 and, whilst not able to match the pace of the aforementioned B11 Fords, were able to capitalise on the unfortunate retirement of Ieuan Rowlands; The Morecombe man going on to claim top spot in class B12 and 3rd place in the Silver star category with 18th position overall.

Burton

Elsewhere, BRC hopefuls, Josh Cornwell and Dai Roberts claimed class B10 honours with 30th position overall in their Fiesta R2, whilst the top scoring BTRDA registered crew were Bob Vardy and Sarah Ceen in 42nd position.  The latter pairing getting the better of Vauxhall Nova crew, James Hutchings and James Hood by a mere 8 seconds!

Cornwell

THOMAS PANELS BTRDA 1400

Whilst the entry list may have lacked 2015 champion David Bennett and fellow front runner Ash Slights, the expected FWD/RWD battle between Dave Brick and Josh Powell was tough to call; the latter having claimed a brilliant second in class back in October.  Disappointingly however the battle was over before it had really begun; the Sunbeam of Powell and Jim Lewis ending the day on it’s roof less than 1 mile into stage 1.

Despite his main opposition out, Brick, with 2015 BHRC champion Phil Clarke alongside, was never going take it easy; the Ludlow man going on to set fastest time on every stage bar the last to claim a commanding 1400 class victory with 22nd position overall.  A final position which may have been stronger were it not for a slow time over the Great Orme finale.

Behind, Jordan Hone finished second in class with 27th position overall; a strong result for the Proton Satria convert, whilst Matt Jackson and Claire Williams rounded out the podium positions in their Nissan Micra.  Rory Jones and Tom Hughes would claim 1400C top spot with 51st position overall in their MG ZR.

BTRDA HISTORIC CUP

Whilst Matthew Robinson and Sam Collis made all the headlines pre event by swapping their formidable MK2 Escort for an RSD prepared Fiat 131, it was Jerry Bailey and Graham Lacey who emerged from the Gwydyr opening stage with the category lead.  A lead which the Ford Escort pairing were able to build to as much 15 seconds by the end of stage 3.

From then on in though it was all about Theo Bengry and Les Forsbrook.  The vastly experienced Leominster man leaping into the class lead on the super-fast Alwen test before going on to record a 37 second Historic and class H3 victory.

BengrySS1

Bengry_Alwen

In class H2, it was David Dobson and Steve Pugh who were leading the way before taking a wheel off in Clocaenog East.  This left Dave Forrest and Steve Ward to battle it out for class honours over the remainder of the event.  Ward held the advantage over the morning stages but the tables turned on stage 6; a slow time allowing Forrest, with Charlie Carter on the notes, to slip into the class lead.  And from then on in the Yorkshire based crew never looked back; claiming 4th in the historic category with 40th position overall.

Forrest

Like Ward, H1 Winners, Robin Shuttleworth and Ronnie Roughead had been in front of Forrest for much of day but a slow time on the second running of Gwydyr allowed the Eaton Yale Escort to close in and ultimately take the position on the final stage.  Still, 5th in category, and 1st in class H1 was a great result for the MK1 Escort crew.

Shuttleworth

VITAL EQUIPMENT RALLY FIRST

And finally, the MSA running order regulations have not been kind to the rally first crews; a noticeable drop in entry numbers as a result.  However, Dominic Hodge and Stefan Arndt put in a great performance to claim category and RF1.4 victory in their Nissan Micra with a fantastic 44th position overall, beating several 1400C class cars in the process.  Meanwhile, Roger Lovatt and Osian Owen claimed RF1.0 honours and Des Fletcher and Bridge Carey were the first RF1.6 crew home.

FULL RESULTS

From our point of view the Cambrian Rally proved to be a thoroughly enjoyable start to the 2016 season and I personally prefer it’s new position in the calendar.  Photography was tough as always on this event but thankfully the weather remained dry, and despite cold temperatures, viewing on the Orme turned out to be unexpectedly pleasant.

If we learned anything from last weekend it is that Luke Francis and John H Roberts may well be the fastest Mitsubishi Evo 9 crew on the British Isles and if the pace of Rhys Yates, Hugh Hunter and Euan Thorburn is anything to go by, this year’s BRC will be an absolute belter!

Next up is the Red Kite Stages, see you in Mid Wales …

All images © Paul Commons (Paul Commons Motorsport Photography)

 

 

Cambrian Crown reward for Bogie Brilliance

David Bogie and Kevin Rae were in a class of their own during the 60th running of the Cambrian Rally; claiming victory by 54 seconds after 45 competitive stage miles.

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Despite the overall Gold Star title being wrapped up, the final round of the 2015 BTRDA rally championship had attracted one of the highest quality entries of the season, headed by Scottish Championship regular David Bogie and joined by the likes of Sam and Josh Moffett in WRC Fiestas, Jonathan Greer in an R5 Citroen and Osian Pryce in the brand new R5 Mitsubishi Mirage.  And whilst the top prize had been claimed, it was all to play for in the 1400, Silver Star and Historic categories as the BTRDA regulars headed to Llandudno for the 60th anniversary running of the Cambrian Rally.

GOLD STAR

It was clear from the outset that it would take some drive to defeat number 1 seeds David Bogie and Kevin Rae in their Fiesta R5+; the Scotsman opening up a 20 second lead after setting fastest time on the first three stages of the day.

With such a strong class B14 entry list however it was with some surprise that Luke Francis and John H Roberts were lying in second place overall at the halfway point in their ageing B13 specification Evo 9.  The local man clearly had the bit between his teeth and it was he who halted Bogie’s run of stage victories with a stunning time in Penmachno South, trimming the overall lead to 18 seconds at the Glan y Gors service halt.

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2 stages later however we were looking at a very different leaderboard.  Outgoing BTRDA Gold Star champion, Steve Perez had being lying 3rd at service, but lost over a minute on the second running of Crafnant when the turbo pipe became detached, before ending the day in the Llyn Elsi scenery after trying to make up the lost time.  Meanwhile the fast starting Luke Francis dropped 43 seconds in the same stage, demoting the North Wales man to third and splitting the two WRC Fiestas of Josh and Sam Moffett.   As a result Bogie now held a commanding 57 second lead.

With just 2 runs through Penmachno followed by a loop of the Great Orme remaining you could have forgiven Francis for consolidating his third place overall and class B13 lead.  However Francis is blessed with an all or nothing attitude; the deficit to Josh Moffett reduced to 4 seconds with just 2.95 miles of tarmac to go.

And whilst local knowledge is a big advantage on the Orme, no one would have expected Francis to set a time 8 seconds quicker than anyone else, especially given the traction of some of the newer machines!  This had been a phenomenal drive by the Mitsubishi pilot; B13 rally victory also enough to claim the BTRDA class championship glory and end the year fifth in the Gold Star rankings.

The victorious Bogie had done all of the hard work early on and once Francis had dropped back in stage 6, the victory was never really in doubt; a leisurely run over the Great Orme finale reducing the winning margin to just under 1 minute by the time the crews arrived at the Llandudno finish.  This had been a mature and accomplished drive by the Scotsman on the tight and twisty North Wales stages; surely a BRC championship contender in 2016 should he appear on the entry list.

HYUNDAI GENPOWER PRODUCTION CUP

In a category marred by the tragic loss of Andrew Mort on the previous weekends Tour of Mull, it was Patrick Naylor and Ian Lawrence who took the victory with an excellent 7th place overall in their N4 specification Evo 9.

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Having claimed category victory on both the Woodpecker and Trackrod rallies, the West Midlands based duo had already wrapped up the title and so were free to fight for class honours on the final round of the season;  Naylor and Lawrence recording N4 victory by 34 seconds from the similar machine of Russ Thompson and Andy Murphy who themselves claimed the runner up spot in the title race.

Elsewhere, In a great sporting gesture, Aaron McClure elected not to claim championship points, which had he and Elliott Edmondson finished, would have still allowed Tom Naughton and the late Andrew Mort to finish the year in third position.  It is fitting that the much loved Scotsman will be forever in the BTRDA history books.

Further back, even after suffering a 1 minute time penalty, Owain Rowlands and Caron Tomlinson claimed class N3 honours with 78th position overall in their ME Rallysport Ford Fiesta.

SILVER STAR

Callum Black was clear favourite for the Silver Star title coming into the final round of the championship, requiring just a 7th place finish to wrap up the honours.  And all was going to plan by the end of stage 5, as the Northamptonshire man held a 4 second Silver Star lead in his Citroen DS3.  But disaster struck on the second run through Llyn Elsi as he and co driver Paul Wakely were forced into retirement with a gearbox issue.

This paved the way for Boyd Kershaw to snatch the title away from Black at the final hurdle, realistically just needing to complete the 3 remaining tests to take the crown.

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And that they did.  While local man John Rowlands, co driven by Glenn Latham went on to take their MK2 Escort to event Silver Star and class B11 victory with a strong 13th position overall, Kershaw and Bryan Hull finished in 24th, 4th Silver Star crew home; this after a very steady time on the Great Orme finale courtesy of clutch problems.  Bryan Hull may have missed out on the Silver Star title courtesy of his Malcolm Wilson Rally absense, however his points tally was enough to share the B11 championship victory with his Reading based driver.

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After the unfortunate demise of Black and Wakely, B12 honours went the way of Meirion Evans and Jonathan Jackson with an impressive 15th position overall; the Welsh duo increasing their speed over the drier afternoon stages to climb 11 places from 26th position at the halfway point.

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Meanwhile Class B10 saw one of the closest finishes of the event; Rene Torcato and Keegan Rees taking victory by a mere 2 seconds from Kit and Tim Leigh, denying the latter class victory on what was their 100th event.  The class had been expected to be claimed by Tom Cave in his Fiesta R2, however the WRC regular was forced into retirement after the second stage, leaving Josh Cornwell and Dai Roberts in a similar machine to take up the mantle.

A stage maximum in stage 7 dropped Cornwell to third however, leaving a two way battle for the class honours over the final 2 stages.  Having lost 29 seconds to Torcato in stage 2, Leigh was on an afternoon charge, cutting the gap to 21 seconds by stage 4, 12 seconds after 6 and 8 seconds as they arrived at the Orme.  61st quickest time however was enough for Torcato and Rees to keep the Fiesta crew at bay in their Citroen C2.

KICK START 1400

The championship was destined to go 1 of 3 ways heading into the Cambrian with David Bennett, Ash Slights and Dave Brick all in with a shot at the crown.

By the end of stage 2 however, the championship was looking a little more clear cut as Bennett and Alistair McNeil held a 34 second lead over Brick with Slights 7 seconds further back following a puncture after a trip into a ditch.  Chris Powell in his Sunbeam meanwhile was interrupting the championship battle as he held an excellent second.

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In fact Bennett and McNeil went on to claim the title in style by setting top 25 stage times on all of the remaining tests to finish the event in 14th overall, equal on time with top 2WD crew, John Rowlands and Glenn Latham, but losing out on 13th courtesy of a 1 second slower opening stage time.

Behind, Chris Powell and Jim Lewis put in a great performance to take second in the 1400 class, while third was enough for Dave Brick to claim the runner up spot in the title race.  Ash Slights may have had a disappointing end to the season, however he and Alex Lee can reflect on what has been a successful year, a year which has seen the Yaris become a front runner in the class and at times more than a match for the super quick Bennett.

BTRDA HISTORIC CUP

The historic category on the Cambrian rally had attracted several none registered crews and it was Simon Webster and Frank Richer who inherited the lead from Ben Friend after stage 2 and never looked back; the MK2 Escort crew taking the Historic and class H3 rally victory with 25th position overall.

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Paul Street however was the first BTRDA registered points scorer home in 5th, allowing the Mansfield man to snatch the Historic cup and class H3 titles away from RX-7 pilot, Jake Scannell by just a solitary point.

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H2 victory went the way of David Lloyd-Roberts and Dei Jones with 38th position overall.  Meanwhile second in class was enough for Dave Forrest and Charlie Carter to claim the BTRDA class title.

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In Class H1, Barry Jordan found himself up against the similar Hilman Avenger of Gary Edgington and Kate Bannister.  Jordan and Gratton-Smith are a formidable pairing these days however, the H1 class championship winners going on to claim victory by more than 2 minutes with 48th position overall.

FULL RESULTS
THE FINAL WORD

Having not been in the forests for the best part of three months, it was great to encounter David Bogie on top form; his speed and pin point accuracy a pleasant reminder of what we had been missing! This, combined with the balls out approach of Luke Francis amongst top commitment from several other crews, made the BTRDA season finale an enjoyable day out.

Llyn Elsi is another stage to tick from the list, and maybe more new territory can be explored early next year as the Cambrian becomes the opening round of the 2016 BTRDA championship.   After a year of being in the news for all the wrong reasons we can but hope that 2016 represents a new dawn for British rallying.

IMAGES

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All images © Paul Commons (Paul Commons Motorsport Photography)

 

 

Nicky Grist Win Blasts Bird into Title Contention

Paul Bird and Aled Davies ended David Weston’s BTRDA winning streak by taking Nicky Grist Stages victory for the second consecutive year; as a result putting themselves firmly back in the title fight.

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A Mammoth 169 car entry had been compiled by Quniton Motor Club for the 35th running of the Nicky Grist Stages rally, where David Weston and Kirsty Riddick were looking to claim their fourth consecutive BTRDA victory of the season.  However, the Scottish duo would face tough opposition in the form of 2014 victors, Paul Bird and Aled Davies, and 2015 Malcolm Wilson Rally winners Euan Thorburn and Richard Cooke.

While there was little to choose between the three main protagonists on stages 1 and 2, the longer stages 3 and 4 proved decisive.  In the space of 13.5 miles, Bird and Davies had leapt from third to first, taking a 19 second advantage into the Builth Wells service halt; the Cumbrian setting a particularly impressive time in Crychan to go 9 seconds quicker than anyone else.

Thorburn set about closing the gap straight after lunch with a very quick time in Monument reducing the gap to 15 seconds, but braking issues in Route 60 dropped the Scotsman to third; his push for victory fading as he sat 29 seconds adrift of Bird and Davies with just 2 stages remaining.  And while they were back in form on Halfway 2, ultimately the Amigos sponsored Focus crew would end the day on the final step of the podium.

Weston meanwhile was setting a strong pace over the afternoon stages; joint quickest on Route 60 promoting the championship leader to second while a sensational time in Crychan 2 secured the runner up spot.  Weston and Riddick ended the event just 14 seconds behind the winners; a story which may have been very different had they not lost 18 seconds to Bird over the first pass of Crychan and Halfway.

Behind, Charlie Payne, Stephen Petch and Jamie Anderson all started the day well; Payne and Petch joint fastest on stage 1 while Anderson claimed stage 2 victory to leave Payne and co-driver Carl Williamson in the lead of the event after the first pass of Route 60.  But while Bird set Crychan alight, Payne, Petch and Anderson began to lose touch; Payne sitting 24 seconds behind the Focus pilot at the Builth Wells service halt, while Petch and Anderson were 9 and 11 seconds further back respectively in 5th and 6th.

Whilst both Petch and Anderson were quicker than Payne on certain stages of the afternoon loop, their inconsistency ultimately allowed the Amigos Fiesta to wrap up 4th position.  Anderson had gone into the final stage just five seconds adrift of the Yorkshire man, but instead of challenging Payne, a slow time relegated the Mitsubishi driver back to 6th.  Petch had earlier fallen behind Anderson courtesy of a couple of overshoots in route 60, however 4th and 5th quickest times in stages 7 and 8 were enough to re-gain 5th by the time the cars arrived back at Builth Wells.

Further back, 10th overall would secure Dylan Davies and Llion Williams top spot in class B13, beating the older specification Subaru of Sara Williams and Mark Glennerster to class honours by 51 seconds.

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All this leaves David Weston and Kirsty Riddick sitting pretty at the top of the BTRDA points table with a whopping 173 points from their first 6 events of the season.  However it is not over yet as three wins for Bird over the final three events would guarantee the Gold star crown.

HYUNDAI GENPOWER PRODUCTION CUP

Ever a close battle, the Nicky Grist Stages proved no different with the Mitsubishi Evo 9s of Roland llewellin, Tom Naughton and Patrick Naylor fighting it out for event honours in the top show-room class.

While regular front runners, Russ Thompson and Andy Murphy appeared off the pace, Roland Llewellin and Jamie Edwards were most defintiely not; recording 10th and 11th quickest times overall on the opening two tests to open up a 2 second class lead over the chasing pack.  And while Naughton was able to fight back in Halfway, Llewellin and Edwards were faster in Crychan leaving them returning to Builth Wells with a 3 second lunch time lead.

Llewellin was again quicker on stage 5, but Naughton took stage 6, leaving the pair separated by just 2 seconds with 13.5 miles remaining.  The great battle would however come to a premature end in stage 7 as Llewellin and Edwards left the road in Halfway, sadly bringing to an end what had been a great performance.

As a result the path was clear for series stalwarts Tom Naughton and Andi Mort to claim victory by 11 seconds from the chasing Pat Naylor and Ian Lawrence.  Russ Thompson and Andy Murphy meanwhile made up for their slow start to the event, recovering to claim third in class by the finish.

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After a morning battle with Tony Simpson, Ben Crealey and Phil Hall dominated class N3 in their Fiesta ST, climbing 22 positions over the afternoon loop to finish the event in 61st overall, taking class honours by 1 minute and 17 seconds.

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RAVENOL SILVER STAR

In a packed 2 wheel drive field it was the front wheel drive Citroen DS3 of Callum Black and Paul Wakely who got the better of their rear wheel driven rivals to claim the Nicky Grist Stages Silver Star honours.

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Rudi Lancaster had started the event well and found himself leading the Silver Star category after stage 1.  However a quick time for Black in Crychan left the DS3 driver with a 10 second lead at the the Builth Wells service halt.  In fact Lancaster, accompanied by George Gwynn, had an up and down day in terms of stage times but ended on a real high to jump from 4th to 2nd on the final stage of the event; claiming top historic honours in the process with 24th position overall.

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Meanwhile Black and Wakely were consistently the quickest 2 wheel drive machine over the second half of the event, taking 19th position overall and extending their Silver Star lead to almost 1 minute by the end of the rally.

Fourth place in the Silver Star section went to Max Utting and Mike Ainsworth in their Fiesta ST.  After a day long battle with the MK2 Escort of Boyd Kershaw, Utting and Ainsworth claimed class B11 honours after turning around a 27 second deficit on the final stage; Kershaw and co-driver Bryan Hull unluckily suffering from a double puncture on the longest stage of the event.

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It was all Ford affair in class B10, as Mike Harris and Steven Davey overturned a 10 second lunch time deficit to claim a 4 second victory over championship class leader Rhys Yates.  28th quickest time on the final stage, 7 seconds quicker than Yates, rounded off a great afternoons work for the Southern England based crew.

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Meanwhile, within the Historic cup, David Lloyd Roberts and Dei Jones defeated the fellow Escort crew of Neal James and Kevin Jones by 16 seconds to claim class H2; a lead grasped on stage 2 and never relinquished although a slow time on stage 8 somewhat narrowed the final class margin.

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And last but not least, Barry Jordan and James Gratton-Smith claimed top spot in class H1, bringing their Hilman Avenger home in a very credible 63rd position overall, a result that would have been even better but for a slow time on the final stage.

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KICK START 1400

Ash Slights and Alex Lee claimed a very well deserved first ever 1400 category victory on the Nicky Grist Stages, bringing their Toyota Yaris home in 30th position overall, 4th two wheel drive across the line.

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David Bennett and Alistair McNeil would have been many observers pre event favourites, however the Vauxhall Corsa crew were out of contention before the event had really gotten started, suffering from drive Shaft issues as early as stage 1.

Instead it was Dave Brick and Ryan Weston who mounted the main challenge, with both crews in front of the Yaris after 3 of the morning stages.  However, as with many of the classes, Crychan was the turning point as Slights leapt into the category lead with 24th quickest time overall.

From then on, the York man never looked back, setting fastest class time on all remaining stages to take 1400 victory by 26 seconds.  Weston in his Proton meanwhile had the beating of Brick’s Nova over the afternoon loop to claim 2nd in class and cement his place at the top of the championship points table.  This could yet turn out to be a very good year for the Weston family.

Fourth position overall in the 1400 class represented yet another fantastic result for Keith and Mairi Riddick in their 1400C specification MG ZR; the Scottish duo claiming class victory by a massive 2 minutes and 41 seconds!

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VITAL EQUIPMENT RALLY FIRST

Nick Carr and Joe Sturdy claimed overall rally first victory in their 1400cc VW Lupo, beating 1600cc class victors, Matthew Thompson and Charlotte Banner by 24 seconds.  Meanwhile John and Duncan Freeman claimed top spot in the 1 litre class with their Nissan Mica.

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RESULTS

1. Paul Bird / Aled Davies | Focus 07 WRC (B14) | 0:46:14
2. David Weston / Kirsty Riddick | Impreza WRC (B14) | +00:14
3. Euan Thorburn / Richard Cooke | Focus WRC02 (B14) | +00:27
4. Charlie Payne / Carl Williamson | Fiesta (B14) | +00:41
5. Stephen Petch / Ian Windress | Fiesta R5+ (B14) | +01:01
6. Jamie Anderson / Jon Scott | Mitsubishi WRC05 (B14) | +01:01
7. Dave Wright / Michael Wilkinson | Focus WRC01 (B14) | +01:19
8. Desi Henry / Liam Moynihan | Skoda Fabia S2000 (B14) | +01:26
9. Bob Ceen / Andy Bull | Impreza S9 WRC (B14) | +01:27
10. Dylan Davies / Llion Williams | Subaru Impreza (B13) | +02:07

FULL RESULTS

The Ludlow based Woodpecker Stages is next up for the BTRDA crews, where Bird must win again to keep the pressure on David Weston.  Having claimed Woodpecker victory in 2014, the prospects look good for the Focus WRC man …

IMAGES

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All images © Paul Commons (Paul Commons Motorsport Photography)