Tag Archives: James Gratton-Smith

Pritchard in Pole Position after Manx Maximum

In fabulous early autumn conditions, Jason Pritchard and Phil Clarke judged the pace perfectly to claim an excellent Rallee Classicagh Isle of Man victory; collecting maximum BHRC points to head into the final round as clear championship favourites.

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2015 BHRC champions, Jason Pritchard and Phil Clarke, have been out of luck for large parts of the season and found themselves heading to the Isle of Man for rounds 7 and 8 of the championship in desperate need of a good result to keep their title hopes alive.  Requiring 6 strong finishes from the 9 available rounds, a combination of the odd mistake and mechanical woes had seen the pairing record just 3 notable scores with only 3 rounds remaining.

Having never been to the island before, the prospect of witnessing the title battle unfold over 20 classic ‘Manx’ stages in glorious September conditions was one I was keenly looking forward to.  And whilst the likes of Joe Price and Nick Elliott had elected not to make the trip across the Irish Sea the rally was still blessed with an excellent historic entry; one which contained more Minis than I ever remember seeing before!

With Pritchard not able to afford another non-finish it is hardly surprising that the usually time-sheet topping Escort pilot would approach the event with caution.  Indeed the Welshman found himself lying 4th overall by the end of proceedings on Thursday evening behind the similar Fords of early leader Ryan Barrett and RAC Asphalt championship competitors, Will Onions and Guy Woodcock.

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It was all change on the Friday morning loop of stages however; ignition issues causing Barrett and co-driver Paul McCann to drop over 45 seconds in stage 6, whilst a couple of consistent stage times for Pritchard saw he and Clarke take the lead by the narrowest of margins from Onions and Woodcock.

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Barrett was soon back up to speed however and after 2 stunning stage times in Ravensdale and 179+, the Northern Irishman was back in second place.  In part due to the loss of oil pressure enforced retirement of Woodcock, and a slow time for Onions in stage 9.  All this meanwhile allowed Pritchard to continue to lead the historic classes and collect the much needed maximum BHRC points on offer at the halfway stage of the event.

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Having clawed back much of the lost time to sit just 8.6 seconds behind Pritchard after stage 9, Barrett would suffer a further set-back; the Northern Irishman issued with 40 seconds worth of road penalties as a result of earlier ignition related lateness.  Without which, he and McCann, would have been leading the rally, such was their pace through the Castletown darkness.

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And despite the cancellation of stage 14, Barrett had managed to get within 31 seconds of the rally lead by the end of the day; his pace over the first leg of the event suggesting rally victory was still a distinct possibility, especially with 6 special stages totaling 60 competitive miles still remaining.

Whilst Ryan Barrett had been making the headlines, it was elder brother Paul who was in title frame.  And whilst struggling to match the pace of his BD engined rivals, the Pinto powered man was doing an admiral job of staying in touch; Paul Barrett and Dai Roberts claiming the spoils for 3rd place in the BHRC classes at the halfway point and lying 4th overall at the close of proceedings on Friday, just over 24 seconds behind the third placed crew of Will Onions and Jamie Edwards.

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Saturday, the final day of the rally, was blessed yet again with glorious weather, perfect conditions for the lead battle to be fought.  However, Ryan Barrett’s victory charge was further hindered by the cancellation of the 11.5 mile second stage of the day, leaving the rapid Escort man just 40 miles to close the more than half minute gap.  The position looked much more positive after SS17 however; Barrett taking a massive 15 seconds out of both Pritchard and Onions in just under 4 stage miles!

But just as victory momentum was starting to build, an up and down event for Barrett and McCann came to an end on the penultimate stage of the rally;  A loss of oil pressure tragically ending their very competitive run.

This left the way clear for Jason Pritchard and Phil Clarke to round out a perfect weekend by taking maximum BHRC points from both legs of the event; an ultra consistent run culminating in a 1 minute and 40 second victory over the leading RAC Asphalt championship crew of Will Onions and Jamie Edwards.

Paul Barrett and Dai Roberts would finish the event in third after another strong performance, the deficit in horsepower really showing on the demanding Manx roads.  And whilst the pairing  have now sown up the Category 3 title, the overall honours appear just out of reach; a top 10 finish on the Trackrod now probably enough for Pritchard and Clarke to claim a second title.

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CATEGORY 2

In 2016 Simon Tysoe and Stanley Orr have been the front running category 2 contenders in their respective BD and Pinto powered Ford Escort MK1s and it was no surprise to see them lying 1st and 2nd on Thursday evening.

It was Orr, with Guy Weaver alongside, however who was quickest through the night stages and the pair managed to maintain their healthy 40 second category advantage over the Friday morning loop.  Unfortunately the engine decided to call it a day on stage 7 though, which along with their enforced retirement, also put pay to their championship hopes.

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This left Simon Tysoe and Paul Morris in pole position for both the category honours on the event as well as the championship itself; the pairing holding a 1 minute 30 second Friday night lead over another pinto powered MK1 in the hands of Phil Jobson and Arwel Jenkins.

Jobson’s strong run would however sadly come to a premature end after a stage stopping off in Snuff the Wind on Saturday lunchtime, thus leaving Tysoe as the clear favourite for category victory.  That is until the Leicester man visited the scenery himself on the penultimate stage of the event.   Such was their lead advantage however that the 12 minutes lost would only drop to them to third; more than enough to secure the category title after an excellent season.

Instead it was Barry Jordan and James Gratton-Smith who slipped into the last minute category lead in their 1600 Hillman Avenger BRM.  And the East Midlands pairing duly went on to take a well deserved victory having put in a very strong performance throughout the rally; the first none Escort BHRC/RAC crew home in 9th position overall in the combined historic events.

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Behind Jordan, a conservative drive saw Roger Matthews and Tom Marrott in their MK1 Escort claim second in category 2 .  The result enough to secure overall RAC Asphalt championship victory  with one event still remaining.

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CATEGORY 1

For once a wide variety of cars made up the category 1 entry including a couple of Porsche 911s, a Lancia Fulvia, Triumph TR4, BMW 1800 and an Imp to mix it with the usual Minis and Cortinas.

And given their numerical advantage, it may not have been too much of a surprise to see a Mini at the front; the extremely Rapid Ray Cunningham and Jared Gill holding the category lead until retiring from the event in stage 7.  This left Bob and Dale Gibbons to take up the mantle in their Ford Cortina GT; themselves getting the better of the Adrian Kermode and Colin McDowell piloted Minis.

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The Mini challenge would however fade and the father and son Cortina crew were able to build a lead of well over 2 minutes by the end of proceedings on day 2 with Dessie Nutt and Geraldine McBride moving their infamous 911 into the podium positions.  In fact, Nutt increased his pace as the event progressed, which combined with road penalties for McDowell, would see OLC6E move up to second by the end of the event.

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There was just no stopping Bob and Dale Gibbons though as they went on to finish the combined event in 57th position overall.  The Cortina GT has been near unstoppable in 2016 and another stellar performance on the Isle of Man was rewarded with not only a 4 minute category victory but also BHRC category 1 championship glory.

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COMBINED NATIONAL A/B HISTORIC RESULTS
  1. Jason Pritchard/Phil Clarke | Ford Escort MK2 | 02:21:30.5
  2. Will Onions/Jamie Edwards | Ford Escort MK2 | +01:40.5
  3. Paul Barrett/Dai Roberts | Ford Escort MK2 | +02:03.1
  4. Will Rowlands/Lion Williams | Ford Escort MK2 | +06:24.5
  5. Christophe Jacob/Isabelle Regnier | Ford Escort MK2 | +09:09.9
  6. Shawn Reynar/Declan Dear | Ford Escort MK2 | +09:33.9
  7. Declan Jackson/Barry McCarney | Ford Escort MK2 | +09:46.0
  8. Mark Holmes/Mark Perryman | Ford Escort MK1 | +10:13.1
  9. Barry Jordan/James Gratton-Smith | Hillman Avenger | +12:57.4
  10. Barry Stevenson-Wheeler/John Pickavance | Ford Escort MK2 | +13:30.9
FULL RESULTS
FINAL THOUGHTS

My first trip to the Isle of Man had been a good one, made even better by the weather, competition and company.  You have to be partially mad to follow rallying, but it is nice to know that you are not alone; a couple of familiar faces more than happy to offer a couple of gratefully received tips to ensure our trip to the Island included most of the classic spots.  This had been a weekend to remember and I am sure we will back.  However before next years plans start to take shape, there is the small matter of the championship decider on the Trackrod in just under 1 week’s time.  Where, with Barrett not entered at the time of writing, surely Pritchard will make it 2 outright titles in a row …

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)

 

 

Successive BHRC Victories for in form Elliott

Nick Elliott and Dave Price recorded their second straight BHRC win of the season with victory on the 2015 Pirelli Carlisle Rally; the third time that Elliott has claimed historic glory on this event.

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The third round of the British Historic Rally Championship saw the teams head to English border country for 6 stages within the super fast Kielder Forest complex; the new compact format a clear hit with the competitors as 97 cars made the start of the combined National A and National B events.  After two years in the doldrums, the BHRC has been invigorated by a change in organising team to the RAC Motor Club for 2015; just the motivation to convince me to make the 500 mile round trip to the ‘Pirelli’ for the first time since 2012.

With the forestry gates finally opened at the White Sike spectator car park we made our way to junction 7 of stage 2 where Nick Elliott was as neat and tidy as ever around the open uphill hairpin left.  This approach allowed the Cheltenham man to increase his overall lead to 12.6 seconds over the chasing Matthew Robinson and Sam Collis.  Earlier, Elliott, with Dave Price alongside, had been electric out of the blocks, setting a time that was 2.5 seconds quicker than any other historic and crucially 10.6 seconds faster than Robinson on stage 1.

Meanwhile Joe Price had made a mighty impressive start to the event; the Kielder debutant, ably assisted by previous winner Chris Brooks, was lying 4th, just 20 seconds behind the leader and 8 seconds behind third placed Meirion and Steffan Evans after the first 2 stages.

It would all go horribly wrong for both Price and Evans on stage 3 however, with Price dropping nearly 4 minutes and Evans’ out of the event following an excursion to one of Kielder’s many deep ditches.  The Welshman was joined on the retirements list by Richard Hill and Iwan Jones who had been lying in 7th after stage 2 but were another front running crew to fall victim of a Buck Fell trench.  As the vastly experienced Bob Bean discovered at our location in White Sike, once you are in there is no getting out!

Upfront the event was fast becoming a duel between Elliott and Robinson after the Yorkshireman was able to trim Elliott’s lead to 9.5 seconds by the time the crews arrived at the halfway service halt.  However, given Elliott’s uncanny knack of remembering stages, Robinson would have to be at his very best over the afternoon repeated route to catch the reigning RAC champion.

And while Robinson was able to better his morning times on both the drier afternoon runs of Black Craggs and White Sike, Elliott, true to form, was able to go that little bit quicker, inching his lead out to 11.1 seconds with just 1 stage to run.  It was all looking very rosy for the Cheltenham based crew.

Meanwhile, championship leaders coming into the Pirelli, Jason Pritchard and Phil Clarke, had been lying in fifth place at the halfway point after taking some time to get up to speed in unfamiliar territory.  Having been all set for an afternoon charge however their day would come to an unfortunate end at the finish of stage 4 with the immaculately turned out RS1800 suffering from clutch failure.

Back at the front, the gap was realistically just too big for Robinson to close on the final stage without a mistake from Elliott.  And whilst the Kellands.com sponsored Ford Pilot recorded a relatively conservative time on the second running of Buck Fell, it was still fast enough to take his third Pirelli Historic rally victory by 7.7 seconds to follow on from his successes in 2011 and 2012.  Robinson will feel that this was a good opportunity to beat Elliott, however there is all to play for as only 6 points separate the two competitors after 3 rounds of the series.

CATEGORY 3

Behind the front two, Paul Barrett and Dai Roberts put in a stellar performance in their pinto powered MK2 to come home third overall in the National A Historic event and first in class D3.  This has to be one of the stand-out performances of the day, especially considering they beat the evergreen Steve Bannister by nearly 30 seconds which is a more than suitable benchmark for any competing crew in the North of England.  To add more perspective to this result, Ben Friend and Cliffy Simmons, who themselves are no slouch, came home second in class and 18th National A Historic, but over 3 minutes behind the Northern Irishman!

Barrett

Peter Smith and Patrick Walsh may have been the only crew competing in Class D4 however 13th historic competitor home represented a more than respectable result in their Opel Kadett against some very powerful machinery.

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In Class F2, Tomas Davies and Gwynfor Jones made the most of Jason Pritchard’s clutch problems to register class victory with 14th in the National A Historic event.  The Welsh duo may not have been as far up the order as they have become accustomed to but did enough to take class honours by nearly three minutes.

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Meanwhile Chris Skill and Ken Bills claimed the combined D1/D2 class victory with 45th overall in the combined event.  The 1600 MK2 Escort duo finishing over 4 minutes clear of Toyota Corolla crew John Midgley and John Pullan.

Skill

CATEGORY 2

David Stokes and Guy Weaver were yet again the crew to beat in class C5.  However it was John Perrott and Keaton Williams who lead the combined C4/C5 class at the halfway mark in their similar MK1 Escort.  Rupert Lomax had also been ahead of the category stalwarts before a slow time in Buck fell as a result of an off and puncture caused he and Rich Jones to drop back; an off which Lomax would go on to rue as he was quickest in class over all three of the afternoons stages.

Perrott meanwhile could not match the pace of his rivals over the drier afternoon loop due to a noisy diff bearing, and when combined with a 2 minute penalty for checking in early for stage 6 the Welshman dropped to 6th in class by the end of the event.

Stokes

Consistency was the key for Stokes and Weaver; the pairing were not quickest in class on any of the six stages, partially as a result of clutch problems in the morning, but managed strong clean runs nonetheless to end the day in 9th position overall in the National A Historic event and on top of the Category 2 results.  Warren Philliskirk and Nigel Hutchinson rounded off a good performance by passing rally legend Jimmy McRae on the final stage to come home second in class, while McRae and Pauline Gullick’s time was still good enough to register third in their awesome V8 Firenza Can-Am.

Class C3 victory went the way of James Slaughter and Keegan Rees in their MK1 Escort.  The Ford pair were quickest in class on every stage of the event to take a convincing 2 minute 21 second victory over the similar machine of Phil Jobson and Arwel Jenkins and the BMW of Terry Cree and Richard Shores.

Slaughter

In the combined C1/C2 class Robin Shuttleworth and Ronnie Roughead held a convincing 26 second lead over Dave Watkins and Thomas Jordan at the halfway service halt.  However the drier afternoon stages must have suited the Avenger crew of Barry Jordan and James Gratton-Smith as the Geoff Jones Motorsport prepared machine reeled in both aforementioned Escort crews to record the class win by 15.6 seconds.

Jordan

CATEGORY 1

The rough nature of the stages really impacted the more delicate category 1 historic machines; a class which was already down on numbers as a result of the MSA’s decision to enforce performance based seeding.

In a category usually dominated by Porsche, Paul Mankin and Desmond Bell ended the day with category victory in their B4 specification Lotus Cortina; getting the better of Bob and Dale Gibbons’ MK2 1600 GT.

Mankin

Gibbions would however claim class B3 ahead of the fast charging Malcolm Rich; the Ford Anglia man unable to make up for his dropped time in stage 1, allowing the Mk2 Cortina crew to take class victory by 31.4 seconds.

Gibbons

Meanwhile, given the huge ruts left in White Sike, Phillip Harris and Alan Walker did a great job just to finish in their little B2 class Morris Mini Cooper and although they were the only registered competitor in class more than deserved the winners trophy.

Harris

RAC CHAMPIONSHIP

Phil Burton and Mal Capstick utterly dominated the National B event, coming home amongst the lead National A runners to take H2 class victory by over 2 and a half minutes; 5th historic when looking at combined times.

Burton

Class D2 meanwhile went the way of James Potter and Bob Duck, who had to overhaul the fast starting similar Escort of Charlie Taylor and Alan Ward before going on to record a 43.4 second winning margin.

Potter

The popular C1 class looked to be heading in the direction of Vince Bristow at the halfway point as he and Tim Sayer had built a lead of over 1 minute.  Yet another Kielder ditch was to end the Ford drivers charge however, leaving the way clear for Robert Rook and Miles Cartwright to take the class victory by over 50 seconds; themselves having to catch and pass Stuart and Linda Cariss after a steady start to the event.

Rook

Meanwhile Stephen Higgins and Don Bramfoot in their Saab and David Hopkins and Tony Vart in the Sunbeam took the respective B1 and D1 category victories.

Higgins

Hopkins

MODERN

Taylor

Peter Taylor and Andrew Roughead were in a class of their own in the Fiesta S2400 as they recorded modern and overall victory on the Pirelli Carlisle Rally.   The 4wd Ford pairing finished over 1 minute and 25 seconds ahead of the Citroen DS3 of Daniel McKenna and nearly 2 minutes in front of the Focus WRC of Peter Stephenson and Ian Windress.

MY TWO PENNIES WORTH

I had a thoroughly enjoyable return to the Pirelli rally but after reading and hearing much about the rough nature of the stages and the impact it was having on some of the older and less powerful cars it got me thinking whether spectators really are an issue in Kielder given there was hardly anyone there to cause a problem.

Surely the issue is event specific with tarmac rallies such as the Jim Clark being inherently more dangerous to spectate on, and events like the Wyedean always likely to attract more ‘casual fans’ due to the close proximity of the stages to local towns and villages!  With this in mind surely enforcing performance based seeding on just the rallies with perceived spectator issues would be a better solution.  It would be a crying shame if the new regulations further reduce the Category 1 competitors taking part just as historic rallying has reached new heights in terms of entry levels.  Everybody loves a MK2 Escort but for me it is the older machinery that makes the event.

I guess one saving grace is the fact that the Kielder forest tracks have always been rough and maybe the Severn Valley will be kinder to those running at the back.  But with the recent sad news regarding the cancellation of the Neath Valley Stages as a direct result of the running order regulations you do worry about the future of historic rallying.  I hope for the sake of the sport that the MSA have another look at this in the coming weeks …

COMBINED RESULTS

1. Peter Taylor / Andrew Roughead | Fiesta S2400 (M3) | 0:48:10.7
2. Nick Elliott / Dave Price | Ford Escort MK2 (D5) | +00:48.6
3. Matthew Robinson / Sam Collis | Ford Escort MK2 (D5) | +00:56.3
4. Daniel McKenna / Andrew Grennan | Citroen DS3 (M2) | +01:25.8
5. Paul Barrett / Dai Roberts | Ford Escort MK2 (D3) | +01:52.4
6. Peter Stephenson / Ian Windress | Focus WRC (M3) | +01:59.9
7. Steve Bannister / Louise Rae | Ford Escort MK2 (D5) | +02:18.7
8. Phillip Burton / Mal Capstick | Ford Escort MK2 (BH2) | +02:32.1
9. Brian Bell / Matthew Whattam | Focus WRC (M3) | +02:52.3
10. Rudi Lancaster / George Gwynn | Escort MK2 (D5) | +03:08.6

FULL RESULTS

IMAGES

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For JPEGS or any other enquiries please get in touch via paul.commons@yahoo.co.uk

All images © Paul Commons (Paul Commons Motorsport Photography)

 

 

Thorburn Triumphant in the Lakes

Euan Thorburn and Richard Cooke put in a sensational afternoon drive on the Lake District based Malcolm Wilson Rally to convert a 15 second deficit into a 46 second winning margin.

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A 2.30am alarm was required for the long journey up to the Cumbria for round 2 of the BTRDA rally series.  The 40th anniversary running of the Malcolm Wilson Rally would see 118 cars leave the M-Sport based start to attempt 8 stages, covering 44 competitive miles, within the Whinlatter, Grizedale and Greystoke forests.

High winds and occasional showers greeted our mammoth climb to junction 7 of Comb for stage 2 and it was Paul Bird and Aled Davies who made the most of the tricky morning conditions; opening up a 5 second lead over Thorburn and Cooke on completion of the undulating Whinlatter forest tests.

Bird then continued his excellent start to the event, making full use of his local knowledge to register fastest time in both Thornsgill and Greystoke to complete a clean sweep of morning stage victories.  Thorburn was however able to keep the Cumbrian man in sight, and by the time the cars reached the first Penrith service halt the reigning Scottish champion was just 15 seconds adrift with more than half of the rally remaining.

Thorburn was using Paul Benn’s 02 Focus WRC for this event and maybe the Scotsman just needed the morning to re-acclimatise with this particular car, having used a similar model to claim the 2013 BTRDA and 2014 Scottish titles.  This seemed to be the case as an excellent drive through Grizedale North saw him take stage victory by 15 seconds before going better still in Grizedale South and registering a time that was a whopping 29 seconds quicker than anyone else to now lead the event by the same margin from Bird and Davies.

Stephen Petch and Ian Windress meanwhile had found a good rhythm in their Fiesta R5+ and joint second fastest time in stage 6 promoted them 3 places up the overall standings to 4th overall; now just 11 seconds behind the very rapid B13 Subaru of Jim McNeil and Tony Bassett.  Conversely, David Weston’s strong morning display, which had seen the WRC Subaru lying in third place overall, unravelled with a puncture in stage 5.  He and Kirsty Riddick however remained just 12 seconds behind the final step of the podium in fifth following the completion of the Grizedale loop of stages

While Bird’s victory hopes had faded, second appeared to be safe having secured a mammoth 1 minute and 17 seconds gap to third with just 8.5 miles left to run.   The fight for the final step of the podium however was most definitely on; now between Petch and Weston following the unfortunate retirement of Jim McNeil’s Subaru with an electrical gremlin.

Heading into the wet final stage, the WD40 backed Ford held a slender 2 second lead.  But try as they might, Petch and Windress could not quite match the 7 minute 30 second marker laid down by the Subaru of Weston and Riddick; eventually missing out on third place by a mere 4 seconds.  Weston on the other hand will have been pleased with third as even without the puncture, the top two would have been difficult to catch.

Upfront, Thorburn continued his total afternoon domination by claiming another impressive stage victory with a time that was 17 seconds faster than Bird to end the rally with a winning margin of 46 seconds.   His time in the wet afternoon running of Greystoke was a whole 21 seconds quicker than the morning test!  This had been some drive by the Berwickshire man.

There was little that Bird could do to defend his lead with Thorburn in this sort of form and so his search for a fifth Malcolm Wilson Rally victory will have to wait another year.  However the Cumbrian will be consoled by the fact that he has a healthy BTRDA championship lead after adding 28 points to the 30 earned from his Wyedean Rally victory.

CLASS B13

Luke Francis and Jim McNeil locked horns early on in the battle for B13 honours; Francis setting third quickest time overall in Revellin Moss, only for McNeil to go quicker in Comb and then Greystoke to take an 8 second class lead into the first Penrith service, with the Mitsubishi of Wayne Sisson and Fiesta of Andrew Gallagher lying 12 and 16 seconds further back respectively in 3rd and 4th position in class.

McNeil then dominated the two Grizedale stages setting 3rd and 5th fastest times overall to take a commanding 42 class lead into the final 2 stages.  Meanwhile, Andrew Gallagher, with Jane Nicol on the notes, had managed to haul in Francis and was now six seconds in front of the Welshman; a battle that would prove key given the demise of McNeil before the start of stage 7.

Indeed, Francis may have been able to cut the gap to just 2 seconds heading into the Greystoke finale, but 5th fastest time overall for Gallagher would ensure that he and Nicol would head back North of the border with class victory and a fine 5th place overall.

B13_MW

In fact a slow time for Francis on the final test cost him second in class too; Wayne Sisson and Neil Shanks putting in a strong final stage performance to take the runner up spot in B13 with 6th place overall.

CLASS N4

Russ Thompson and Thomas Naughton were again the front runners in the top production class; the pair each taking 2 class stage wins on the morning stages, but with Naughton and Andi Mort holding a 9 second margin over Thompson and Andy Murphy at the first Penrith service.

As in other classes though it was the Grizedale tests that proved decisive; Thompson coming out on top and taking a 17 second lead into the final 2 stages.  While Naughton was quicker in both, the gap was just too big to close, leaving the Clitheroe man to wrap up his second BTRDA class win of the season with 7th position overall.

GPN_MW

CLASS H3

Matthew Robinson, with Kim Baker on the notes this time, put in yet another stellar performance to claim both the Historic and Silver Star honours on the Cumbrian event.  The Escort crew were kept on their toes early on by the evergreen Steve Bannister.  The infamous red striped MK2 however suffered from a puncture in Grizedale North, causing them to take a stage maximum as a result and ending any hopes of class victory.  That aside the Ripon man would have taken some beating; finishing the day in 10th position overall to take Silver Star honours by 1 minute 28 seconds and H3 by a massive 2 minutes 55!

H3_MW

CLASS B11

You would not have believed Boyd Kershaw had been away from the sport for 2 years after he and co-driver Mark Fisher opened up a 29 second class lead after the first four stages.  In fact the Escort crew went on to set fastest time in class on all eight stages to take a comfortable 1 minute and 14 second victory over the front wheel drive Astra of Stuart Egglestone and Brian Hodgson; ending the day as second 2 wheel drive crew home in 14th position overall.

B11_MW

1400

The much anticipated pre-event duel between Yorkshire rivals Mat Smith and David Bennett unfortunately ended on the morning loop of stages.  Bennett, with Alistair McNeil alongside, had been lying 16th overall with a 10 second class lead before incurring event ending damage in the short Thornsgill stage.  This left Smith and Giles Dykes to take a comfortable 1 minute and 15 second class victory in their newly liveried Proton; but more impressively ending the day as third 2 wheel drive crew home, claiming 15th position overall in the process.

1400S_MW

Meanwhile victory in the 1400C class was again claimed by Keith and Mairi Riddick in their MG ZR, giving them a large championship class lead at this early stage of the season.

1400C_MW

CLASS B10

Class B10 was settled sensationally on a tie break after both Greg McKnight and Barry Lindsay registered the same overall time after 44 competitive stage miles.  In a fantastic battle that saw the class lead change 4 times throughout the day, Greg and Chris McKnight finally ended the day as class winners courtesy of their quicker stage 1 time.

B10_MW

CLASS H2

Andy Kelly and Roger Herron came out on top of the all Escort affair that was class H2.  David Dobson had however been leading the class in his MK2 before an off in Grizedale South ended his hopes of victory.  Instead Andy Kelly picked up his pace as the day went on to take class honours by 47 seconds with 36th position overall.

H2_MW

CLASS N3

Tony Simpson and Ian Bevan were guaranteed class victory with an event finish by virtue of being the only car entered in N3.  However a solid performance by the Fiesta crew was rewarded with 43rd overall.

N3_MW

CLASS H1

Barry Jordan and James Gratton-Smith were holding a near 4 minute class lead when the only other H1 crew in the event, the Escort of David Thirlwell and Graham Reader, retired in Grizedale South.  Jordan and Gratton-Smith however beat several more powerful cars on their way to an excellent 44th overall.

H1_MW

RALLY FIRST

Mick Quinn and Neill Cameron in their Nissan Micra got the better of Phil and Chris Spilsted’s similar machine to take RF1.0 class victory with 80th overall.

RF1_MW

Nick Carr and Joe Sturdy claimed RF1.4 victory with a winning margin of 2 minutes and 33 seconds to finish the day in a very respectable 55th position overall.

RF14_MW

While James West and Steve Eggington put in a strong performance to claim RF1.6 honours by over 3 minutes with 49th position overall in their VW Polo.

RF16_MW

RESULTS

1. Euan Thorburn / Richard Cooke | Focus WRC 02 (B14) | 0:45:55
2. Paul Bird / Aled Davies | Focus WRC 07 (B14) | +00:46
3. David Weston / Kirsty Riddick | Impreza WRC (B14) | +02:27
4. Stephen Petch / Ian Windress | Ford Fiesta R5+ (B14) | +02:31
5. Andrew Gallagher / Jane Nicol | Ford Fiesta (B13) | +03:12
6. Wayne Sisson / Neil Shanks | Mitsubishi Evo 9 (B13) +03:29
7. Russ Thompson / Andy Murphy | Mitsubishi Evo 9 (N4) | +03:38
8. Luke Francis / John H Roberts | Mitsubishi Evo 9 (B13) | +03:40
9. Thomas Naughton / Andi Mort | Mitsubishi Evo 9 (N4) | +03:48
10. Matthew Robinson / Kim Baker | Ford Escort MK2 (H3) | +04:50

FULL RESULTS

IN SUMMARY

To be honest I didn’t think anyone would have the beating of Paul Bird in his own back yard but Thorburn’s afternoon charge was simply breathtaking and hopefully he will be making a few more appearances south of the border in 2015;  a major highlight from a great day following yet another well run BTRDA event.

We just about made it to three stages, having almost been turned away from Greystoke due to the car parks being jam packed.  I am not sure I have ever seen so many people in there and for the first time ever I actually enjoyed the stage.  A significant amount of tree felling and surface changes since our last visit has completely transformed the viewing.  Clearly charging a mere £5 for parking works and is most definitely the right way to get spectators to park where you want them to.

After a full days action it was gone Midnight before I arrived back in Birmingham; the 21.5 hour day probably the longest period of time I have gone without sleep since last years Le Mans.  Was it worth it?  Absolutely!

The next rally for me is most likely to be the Pirelli in late April although I may yet be tempted by Rally North Wales …

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Riponian Rally Victory No.9 for Payne

Charlie Payne and Andrew Roughead were in a class of their own on the 2015 Riponian Stages; claiming all but 2 fastest times to take victory by over 2 minutes from mighty impressive historic winners, Matthew Robinson and Sam Collis.  This being the 9th occasion the Ripon man has claimed victory on the event following successes in 92, 93, 2000, 01, 09, 11, 12 and 13!
Payne

Having missed this event in 2014 it was good to heading back to the little used forests surrounding Helmsley for the Riponian Stages Rally; a collaboration between Ripon Motor Sports Club and Whitby and District Motor Club resurrecting the event from what seemed like the end after last years running.  Disappointingly, an entry list that was lower than anticipated meant that the competitive mileage was cut from 44 to 39, achieved however without the loss of any of the 14 stages, allowing the unique nature of the event to be maintained.

It was positively Baltic at the Thirsk rally HQ for ‘sign on’ and unsurprisingly the conditions in Wass for stage 1 were a tad on the slippery side.  While Robinson and Collis were without doubt the most spectacular through the final part of the stage, it was Payne who went quickest setting a time that was 3 seconds faster than both the Focus WRC of Peter Stephenson and Ian Windress and the Escort Cosworth of Ian Joel and Graeme Wood.  This trend would then continue over the morning loop with stage wins in College Moor, Pry Rigg, Waterloo, Riccal Dale, Roppa and Boltby allowing Payne to eek out a 19 second lead over Stephenson at the halfway service point with Joel a further 11 seconds adrift.

As anticipated the heavens opened after lunch which made the afternoon loop of stages a completely different challenge for the remaining crews; torrential rain where we were in Waterloo, but snow and sleet for the stages on higher ground.  And while Payne continued to take stage victories, a string of second quickest times brought Ian Joel ever closer to the Focus WRC of Peter Stephenson; eventually snatching second on stage 10 after the event sponsor was only able to register 34th quickest time in Pry Rigg and subsequently forced into retirement.

Robinson and Collis were clearly revelling in the conditions; the pair never outside the top four stage times over the afternoon loop, even clocking fastest time overall on the second running of Roppa to end Charlie Payne’s clean sweep of stage victories!  They were even gaining on the 4WD Cosworth of Joel and Wood, as the number 3 seeds only managed 16th quickest time in Riccal Dale and 5th in Roppa, leaving them separated by just 32 seconds heading into the Boltby finale.

The gap appeared unbridgeable but Robinson clearly had the bit between his teeth and went on to set second quickest time in the final stage.  A time which Joel was not able to match; in fact he lost 1 minute and 21 seconds to the Ripon man, dramatically dropping to the final step of the overall podium.  Payne and Roughead meanwhile had a controlled run through Boltby, registering only the 4th quickest time but still achieving a winning margin of 2 minutes and 15 seconds over the MK2 Escort of Robinson and Collis.

HISTORIC

Robinson and Collis utterly dominated the historic section of the event; setting top six stages times all day to claim victory by almost 3 minutes.  However the battle behind was a much closer affair.

Robinson

While David Goose and Dick Wardle started well, they gradually slipped back as the pace heated up, leaving a 3 way battle for the runner up spot between the MK2 Escort of Charlie Taylor and Alan Ward, the similar machine of Paul Street and Jim Goodman and the Opel Kadett of Peter Smith and Matt Edwards.

The trio remained close in terms of times throughout the day but it appeared as though the final order was all but settled after the penultimate snow covered Roppa test; Taylor managing to increase his margin over Mansfield man, Paul Street, to 21 seconds with the Swift Caravans backed Kadett 10 seconds further back.  However, Street and Goodman put in a sensational final stage performance to set fastest time overall and come within 2 seconds of snatching second in class from Taylor and Ward; their stage time a whole 6 seconds quicker than the 4WD Fiesta of Charlie Payne!

Behind the raging H3 battle, Barry Jordan and James Gratton-Smith in the combined H1 & H2 class had a less pressurised run to victory.  The Avenger crew putting in some solid times, especially over the final two tests, to end the day in 16th position overall.

Jordan

CLASS D

After the morning loop of stages the class was lead by the Porsche Boxster of Ian Jemison and Dean Kellett who were holding a 29 second lead over the BMW of Jon Finch and Paul Vasey.  Citroen DS3 crew, Richard Sykes and Simon Taylor, were clearly one of the quickest in class but were 2 minutes 36 seconds behind Jemison courtesy of a 3 minute penalty for an early arrival at Pry Rigg.

Again quicker in the afternoon, a joint fastest time overall in Waterloo was the turning point for Sykes and Taylor; still sitting 5th in class but now less than a minute behind new class leaders Finch and Vasey.   5th soon became 2nd after 4th fastest time overall in Riccal Dale; and with the FWD machine clearly working well in the wet and snow the amazing fight back was completed on the very last stage of the event.  The Black Country man managed to overturn an 8 second deficit to take class victory by a mere 3, ending the day in 21st position overall.  Had it not been for the penalty they would in fact have finished 10 places higher.

Sykes

CLASS C

Class C, as always, was one of the most competitive on the event and while Nick Dobson and Steve Pugh went 7th quickest overall on stage 1, a spin in College Moor dropped them back.  Instead it was the consistent Nick Cook, with Jemma Champion on the notes, who held the lead at the halfway service point with Dobson 20 seconds adrift.  Chris Haigh and Sally Peacock in their MK1 were another 20 seconds back while the MK2 of Andy Gibson and Chris Pattison was lying 4th.

Ilkley based Dobson, keen to make up for lost time, put in a string of good times after lunch to get within 14 seconds of Cook’s MK1 with just 3 stages remaining.  However disaster struck in Riccal Dale as an off in 4th gear ended he and Steve Pugh’s charge.   With the pressure off, Cook and Champion upped their speed, registering 3rd, 4th and 3rd quickest times overall on the final 3 stages to come within a whisker of dislodging the Evo 2 of Andy Rowe and Cat Lund from 4th place overall!

Cook

CLASS B

From the outset it was clear that Class B would become a duel between the Peugeot 206 of Barry Lindsay and the 205 of Ben Cree.  And by the halfway point the duo were separated by just 13 seconds in 14th and 16th overall respectively.  In fact try as Cree and co-driver Richard Shores might they couldn’t quite match the speed of Lindsay’s 206; the margin between the pair growing to 33 seconds by the end of the event.  Barry Lindsay, with Caroline Lodge on the notes, ending the day with a 7th fastest time to claim 11th position overall.

Lindsay

CLASS A

Smith

Mat Smith and Giles Dykes put in a dominant performance in their Proton Satria; the current BTRDA 1400 champions registering 3 top 5 stage times on their way to a fantastic 6th position overall and a 2 minute 41 second class win.  Behind, Daniel and Matthew Thompson had a great run in their Peugeot 205 registering a phenomenal 5th fastest time in the tough Boltby finale to claim a very well deserved 18th overall and 2nd in class.

IN SUMMARY

Along with Peter Stephenson, Charlie Payne probably had the highest specification machine on the entry list but given the changeable, tricky conditions, it was far from a case of just driving round the stages to take the victory.  In fact the large winning margin represented a mighty fine, controlled drive and a great way to follow up his 4th overall on the previous weeks Wyedean Forest Rally.

From my perspective It was great to back in these little used stages; Wass being another new stage visited to tick off the list.  Prior to the event I had been worried about what to expect in light of the MSA’s open letter regarding spectator and media problems and the cancellation of stages.  However the organisers handled the difficult situation perfectly.  This event has to stay alive as rallying cannot lose these stages.  We can only hope that 2016 will bring a few more entries.

RESULTS

1. Charles Payne / Andrew Roughead | Ford Fiesta (E) | 42:07
2. Matthew Robinson / Sam Collis | Ford Escort MK2 (H3) | +02:15
3. Ian Joel / Graeme Wood | Ford Escort Cosworth (E) | +03:04
4. Andy Rowe / Cat Lund | Mitsubishi Evo 2 (E) | +03:50
5. Nick Cook / Jemma Champion | Ford Escort MK1 (C) | +03:52
6. Mat Smith / Giles Dykes | Proton Satria (A) | +05:05
7. Charlie Taylor / Alan Ward | Ford Escort MK2 (H3) | +05:10
8. Paul Street / Jim Goodman | Ford Escort MK2 (H3) | +05:12
9. Chris Haigh / Sally Peacock | Ford Escort MK1 (C) | +05:40
10. Peter Smith / Matt Edwards | Opel Kadett (H3) | +06:04

FULL RESULTS

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