Tag Archives: Justin Lawson

Trackrod Trophies end up in Chesterfield

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

Winners

HistoricWinners

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

BTRDA

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

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

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

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

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

GroupN

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

B11

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

1400_winners

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

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

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

BTRDA RESULTS

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

Full Results

RAC

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

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

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

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

Cat2

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

Cat1

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

RESULTS

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

Full Results

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

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

All images © Paul Commons (Paul Commons Motorsport Photography)

Bird Flies to Nicky Grist Stages Glory

Paul Bird and Aled Davies upped their pace over the afternoon stages to jump from third to first and claim their second BTRDA top score of the year.  Meanwhile Matthew Robinson and Sam Collis wrapped up the Silver Star Championship with yet another maximum score in the 2WD class.

PB&AD_NG2014

The Nicky Grist stages, being event 6 of the 9 round schedule, was set to be pivotal in the race for the Gold Star crown.  With 6 scores counting, Scottish rivals David Bogie and Euan Thorburn had effectively ended their challenge by not entering the event.  Meanwhile Dave Weston Jnr and Paul Bird’s chances lay on a knife edge with both needing to score big on the remaining 4 events to be in with a chance of taking the championship honours.  A championship lead by Russ Thompson, having scored on each of the first five rounds.

Torn between Monument and Route 60 we eventually settled for the latter given the unpredictable weather forecast; the open spaces offering greater flexibility in terms of photographing the event should the heavens open.  We were however greeted with glorious early morning sunshine on arrival; It was good to be back on the stages after 3 months away.

The early running suggested the battle for victory would be between the Focus WRC of Bird and Davies, the similar machine of Somerset and Dukeries winners Steve Perez and Paul Spooner and the Subaru Impreza WRC of Dave Weston Jnr and Kirsty Riddick.  By the halfway point each had taken at least 1 stage win with Weston Jnr holding a 5 second lead over Bird, and Perez 6 seconds further back in third.

In 4th, Stephen Petch and Ian Windress, in the newly acquired Fiesta R5+, were struggling to keep pace with those ahead and would find themselves 27 seconds adrift after 4 stages.  While Alex Allingham and Chris Williams were only just behind in 5th with 4WD new boys Desi Henry and Damien Duffin putting in a great performance to be lying 6th overall in their B13 Evo 9.

It was all to play for after lunch as the crews repeated the first three stages of Monument, Route 60 and Halfway with an extra loop added to the Crychan finale.  Bird seemed to have the bit between his teeth, taking 4 seconds out of Weston Jnr’s lead on the second running of Monument and then a further 2 on stage 6 to take the lead heading into the final 2 tests.  Perez had been able to tie Bird on stage 5, but could not match the Cumbrian on Route 60,  and remained 11 seconds off the lead.

Dave Weston Jnr was obviously suited to the Halfway stage; having been quickest on stage 3, the Subaru pilot was again top of the times on stage 7.  This left a deficit of just 1 second between himself and Bird going into the final stage.

Crychan however was most definitely Bird’s stage as he and Aled Davies emerged as rally victors by just 3 seconds.   This was their second BTRDA win of the season after taking top spot on Bird’s home event, the Malcolm Wilson Rally, in March.

Behind, the Group N battle had been lead for most of the day by current Welsh Champions Alex Allingham and Chris Williams.  Their lead averaging at around 10 seconds over the morning loop.  A ball joint failure on Stage 7 however caused their retirement leaving the Mitsubishi crew of Jamie Anderson and Chris Brooks to take the victory for the second time in as many BTRDA events.  Roland Llewellin and Jamie Edwards would take second in class with Wug and Max Utting rounding out the podium in their Subaru.

JA&CB_NG2014

The new bridge on Route 60 had taken it’s toll on a couple of the Group N Mitsubishi runners with Thomas Naughton and pre event championship leader, Russ Thompson, suffering event ending damage after hitting the bridge hard; the lip of the new structure being at the point of compression after a steep downhill part of the stage.  Luke Francis and John H Roberts in a similar B13 spec car were among a number of other crews also caught out.  Thankfully this section was heavily cautioned for the second run but this was no consolation for the drivers who had suffered thousands of pounds worth of damage on the first pass through.

Silver Star honours went they way of Matthew Robinson and Sam Collis and with it the Championship title after hardly conceding a point to their opposition over the first 6 rounds.

MR&SC_NG2014

The Escort crew also taking top Historic honours with 14th overall.  Terry Brown and Den Golding put in a strong performance to come home second in class, with H2 winners, Paul Barrett and Dermot Coltan just one place further back in 19th.  Robinson showed massive bravery over the famous slight right over crest in route 60, rivalled only in commitment by Alex Allingham and Chris Williams in the group N Subaru.

It was a battle of attrition in the 1400 category with early leaders Mat Smith and Giles Dykes retiring with Clutch problems, David Bennett and Alistair McNeil going OTL before Stage 1 and Tom Walster and Chris Ridge being excluded.  All this allowed the very rapid Nova crew of Justin Lawson and Paul Hargreaves to take the win, with the Peugeot 106 of Dan Gray and Matt Rogers taking second, just over a minute in arrears.

JL&PH_NG2014_LR

Mick Smith and Tom Jordan in the 1400c class Nissan Micra put in a great performance to take third, beating several more powerful cars in the process.

MS&TJ_NG2014

In the main field, B12 went the way of Seamus O’Connell and Elgan Davies in the MK2 Escort, with B11 going to fellow Ford crew Edvall Martin and Siw Helen Stenberg.  The Stenberg’s performance particularly impressive given second and third in class were the vastly experienced John Perrott and Jon Ballinger!

SO&DC_NG2014

EMS&SHS_NG2014

Neil Matthews and Jez Rogers claimed B10 honours in their Vauxhall Nova with 29th overall whilst also taking the Nicky Grist Challenge Victory.   Meanwhile Sacha Kakad and Andrew Price recorded their 5th maximum N3 points haul of the year with 41st.  And Barry Jordan and James Gratton-Smith brought the glorious Hilman Avenger home in 52nd to take the class H1 victory.

NM&JR_NG2014

BJ&JGS_NG2014

All this leaves Matthew Robinson sitting on top of the Gold Star championship table with 3 rounds remaining.  However with 6 scores already counting, he and co-driver Sam Collis are unlikely to be there at the end of the year.  Instead Steve Perez and Stephen Petch are in a good position as things stand while Dave Weston Jnr and Paul Bird also have strong points scores but cannot afford another non finish.  Dave Bennett is now out of the running in the 1400 championship after registering another non finish, while Mat Smith must score well on all three remaining rounds to stand a chance of the title.  A couple more good scores from Justin Lawson or Dan Gray on the other hand could see either one of them take the crown.

The rain had just about held off throughout the day with the umbrella only really needed for the walk back to the car.  The novelty of leaving Epynt on a Saturday rewarded with top drawer fish and chips in Crickhowell.  Something which won’t be repeated in 2 weeks time when we are back on Epynt for the Harry Flatters rally.  How dare the owners have Sunday off!

RESULTS

1. Paul Bird / Aled Davies – Ford Focus 07 WRC – 45:23
2. David Weston Jnr / Kirsty Riddick – Subaru Impreza WRC – +00:03
3. Steve Perez / Paul Spooner – Ford Focus WRC – +00.19
4. Stephen Petch / Ian Windress – Ford Fiesta R5+ – +00.44
5. Desi Henry / Damien Duffin – Mitsubishi Evo 9 – +01.15
6. Jamie Anderson / Chris Brooks – Mitsubishi Evo 9 – +01.31
7. Tristan Bailey / James How – Mitsubishi WRC 04 – +02.06
8. Wayne Sisson / Neil Shanks – Mitsubishi Evo 9 – +02.12
9. Roland Llewellin / Jamie Edwards – Mitsubishi Evo 9 – +02.20
10. Karl Simmons / Guy Simmons – Subaru Impreza WRC – +02.33

Full Results

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

All images © Paul Commons (Paul Commons Motorsport Photography)