Tag Archives: Steve Bannister

Banner Bags Trackrod as Pritchard Takes Title

Steve Bannister and Callum Atkinson, put in a scintillating performance to secure a dominant Trackrod Historic Cup victory whilst Jason Pritchard and Phil Clarke claimed a second successive BHRC title with a steady run to 5th.

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The Malton based Trackrod Historic Cup would not only form round 9 of the 2016 BHRC but also round 8 of the Northern Historic Rally Championship; largely the reason why the likes of Steve Bannister, in the infamous red striped, white MK2 Escort, would feature at the head of a 40 strong entry list.

With several of the BHRC class and category titles already wrapped up many of the regulars had elected not to make the trip;  the respective category 1, 2 and 3 champions, Bob Gibbons, Simon Tysoe and Paul Barrett to name but a few.  The overall BHRC title was however still yet to be decided, with Jason Pritchard and Phil Clarke, realistically just requiring a finish to secure a second successive crown.

The 2016 rendition of the event would feature some 54 competitive stage miles including a Friday evening test in Dalby and followed by 5 further stages on Saturday.  And it was Steve Bannister and Callum Atkinson who would open up an impressive 20 second overnight lead; the legendary Ford Escort star still proving difficult to beat in the forests he knows so well.

Whilst, as expected, Pritchard and Clarke were taking extra care on the super fast North Yorkshire forest tracks It would be another Yorkshire-man in the form of Matthew Robinson who would emerge as ‘Banner’s’ closest pursuer.  In fact the Fiat 131 pilot, with Sam Collis alongside, would hold a clear second place throughout Saturday morning’s tests before a propshaft failure would ultimately end their event prematurely.

With Robinson out, Bannister and Atkinson would find themselves with more than a 2 minute cushion over rest of the field with just the Cropton and Gale Rigg stages remaining.  With this in mind you may have thought a casual drive to the finish was in order?  Not a chance; the Malton man going on to record a clean sweep of fastest stage times to claim overall Trackrod Historic Cup glory by a mammoth 2 minutes and 13 seconds!

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The podium positions would be completed by two more class D5 specification MK2 Escorts in the hands of Steve Bennett and Mark Bentley, both of whom had increased their pace throughout the Saturday stages.  Bennett, co-driven by Paul Spooner, was second quickest in Dalby, Cropton and Gale Rigg to cement second position overall whilst Mark and Ed Bentley would set 3rd fastest time on each of the aforementioned tests to impressively climb from 11th to third!

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Bentley would in fact just pip the very rapid Adam Milner and Roy Jarvis to the final podium position by a mere 0.3 seconds.  Despite a couple of overshoots, Milner, in a crossflow engined MK1 Mexico would lead category 2 overnight and was lying in the overall podium positions right up until the final stage of the event.

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After previous star performances had ended in the Welsh scenery, Milner and Jarvis on this occasion approached the final couple of stages with caution, ensuring they would end the event in a phenomenal 4th position overall.  With Bannister and Bentley not registered for points, there can’t have been too many occasions where a 1600 category 2 car has featured on the overall BHRC podium!

5th overall was exactly what Pritchard and Clarke would have been hoping for and more than enough to maintain their overall BHRC title.  Given the often rough nature of the Yorkshire stages there are easier places to drive for a finish!  Whilst rarely troubling the top of the time sheets, the formidable duo still ended the day as third BHRC registered crew home.  A perfectly judged drive by the now double champions.

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Shawn Rayner and Declan Dear were able to take advantage of the none appearance of Paul Barrett and Dai Roberts to claim class D3 honours with a strong run to 6th overall.  Ben Friend and Cliffy Simmons had held the class lead overnight but could not match the the pace of the Windsor man over Saturday’s stages; Rayner and Deer in the end taking the class win by 21 seconds.

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Warren Philliskirk made it 3 Yorkshire men in the top 7 as he and Nigel Hutchinson went on to claim class C5 victory and second in category 2; ending the event 31 seconds in front of the Datsun 240Z of Jeremy Easson and Mike Reynolds.

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15th in the end turned out to be a slightly disappointing result for Chris Skill and Tom Jordan.  The class D2 winners had been flying on the Yorkshire forest tracks and were lying in 6th position overall with just 1 stage remaining.  Final stage dramas (a Gale Rigg ditch) would however cost the East Midlands pairing over 2 minutes and 9 positions!

Yet another Yorkshire man in the form of Terry Cree would claim class C3 top spot in his BMW 2002ti.  Co-driven by Richard Shores, the Thirsk pairing would get the better of Simon Pickering and Colin Jenkins on all but two of the stages to take class victory by 26 seconds.

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Further back, 25th historic car home was the category 1 winning MK1 Cortina of Bob Bean and Captain Thompson.  Again mixing it with the category 2 and 3 machines, the vastly experienced Cleckheaton man would go on to record category victory by a mammoth 13 minutes over the class B2 winning Morris Mini Cooper of Phil Harris and Paul Kendrick.

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Elsewhere, Paul Street and Ian Jones fought off challenges from Robin Shuttleworth and Barry Jordan to claim top spot in the BTRDA Historic Cup on the Saturday only Trackrod Forest stages event.

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RESULTS
  1. Steve Bannister/Callum Atkinson | Ford Escort MK2 | 0:58:05.1
  2. Steve Bennett/Paul Spooner | Ford Escort MK2 | +02:13.3
  3. Mark Bentley/Ed Bentley | Ford Escort MK2 | +03:00.3
  4. Adam Milner/Roy Jarvis | Ford Escort Mexico | +03:00.6
  5. Jason Pritchard/Phil Clarke | Ford Escort MK2 | +03:03.5
  6. Shawn Reynar/Declan Dear | Ford Escort MK2 | +03:28.5
  7. Warren Philliskirk/Nigel Hutchinson | Ford Escort | +03:39.7
  8. Tom Hewick/Mick Johnson | Ford Escort MK2 | +03:40.5
  9. Barry Stevenson-Wheeler/John Pickavance | Escort | +03:42.8
  10. Ben Friend/Cliffy Simmons| Ford Escort MK2 | +03:49.3

FULL RESULTS

Whilst far from the thrilling end to the championship battle we had at one stage hoped for, the journey through the Yorkshire forests for Pritchard and Clarke must have been more than a little nail biting.  The Welshman may have been driving well within himself but the pace at the front was electric.  Few would have been able to compete with Banner in this sort of form but as closest rivals through the early stages it is a real shame that Robinson and Collis were not able to fulfil their early promise and grab a first ever BHRC maximum score for the glorious 131.

Despite Category 1 forest rallying almost being killed off completely by the ludicrous MSA running order rules we can still look back on an excellent year of historic rallying.  On gravel there was little to choose between Elliott, Price, Pritchard and Barrett but again Pritchard proved the man to beat on tarmac; he and Clarke more than worthy championship winners having evenly split their 4 maximum scores across both surfaces.  And it is their ability to win just about anywhere which will make them tough to beat again in 2017 …

All images © Paul Commons (Paul Commons Motorsport Photography)

Payne-Stakingly Quick in the North Yorkshire Forests

Charlie Payne and Carl Williamson held off a late charge from 2014 winners Stephen Petch and Michael Wilkinson to claim the Malton Forest Rally honours by a mere 2 seconds; thereby taking victory on all three North Yorkshire based forest events in the 2015 calendar year!

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My arrival at the Hole of Horcum was met with glorious sunshine and abnormally warm temperatures, a far cry from the thick fog which plagued my long journey up from the Midlands.  And pleasingly, after a 7km hike to the top of Jerry Noddle in Staindale, the air remained perfectly clear providing the opportunity to take in the stunning views of Langdale before the competing crews arrived.

The 5.8 miles of Staindale represented stage 2 of the Malton Forest Rally’s scheduled 6 and whilst the majority of the field showed impressive commitment over the fast section of track between junctions 1 and 2 it was Charlie Payne and Carl Williamson who had stolen a march on their rivals by opening up an 8 second lead over the heavily Ford biased chasing pack.

2014 winners Stephen Petch and Michael Wilkinson gave away 9 seconds to their fast starting Amigos sponsored rivals on the opening stage of the event.  Whilst this did not appear a significant gap, the unseasonal weather meant the Langdale bogie time was well within reach of the leading crews; thus effectively deeming only 3 of the 5 remaining stages competitive.  Petch had a mountain to climb.

Sitting third at lunch, the WD40 sponsored Fiesta man did however manage to claw 7 seconds back during the reverse running of Staindale, but was left relying heavily on Payne making a mistake over the Langdale finale in order to maintain his Malton Forest crown.

Payne however was in a rich vein of form having already claimed 2015 rally victories on both the Yorkshire based Riponian and Trackrod events; the Ripon man maintaining his nerve to again beat the 7:22 bogie time and seal the overall Malton Forest Rally victory.  To the best of my google searching capabilities, claiming all three major forest rally victories in the North Yorkshire area, within a single calendar year is unprecedented.  Impressive to say the least!

Peter Stephenson and Ian Windress had been in touching distance of the front two all day but could not quite match the pace of Payne in Cropton 1 or either leading Fiesta on the reverse running of the stage later in the day; thus leaving the Focus WRC pairing to settle for the final step of the podium, just 12 seconds behind the eventual winners.  Meanwhile Rhys Yates and Tom Woodburn had a good run in their new Fiesta R5, snatching 4th from the S2000 Fiesta of Stephen Simpson and Andrew Roughead on the final stage of the day.

HISTORICS

After many a duel in the Yorkshire forests in recent years, MK2 Escort heavyweights, Steve Bannister and Matthew Robinson would again lock horns at the head of the Historic and class H4 entry lists; a mouth watering prospect with ‘Banner’ knowing the North Yorkshire stages like the back of his hand and Robinson proving generally quick and flamboyant everywhere!

But while Bannister and Robinson sat an impressive 6th and 7th respectively at the halfway point, the evergreen Bannister with Dave Robson on the notes, had opened up a phenomenal 39 second historic class lead with 6th, 4th and 5th fastest stage times overall.   It is not as though Robinson, with Sam Collis alongside, was taking it easy; the pairing mighty impressive over Jerry Noddle and holding a 35 second margin over father and son crew Pete and Ash Slights in third!  This was Bannister at his very best.

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And while the damage was done in the morning, there was no let up in the glorious afternoon sunshine either as Bannister and Robson went on to claim historic rally victory by a whopping 1 minute and 2 seconds with a fantastic 6th position overall.  Robinson and Collis meanwhile consolidated their strong morning performance with 7th, while Pete and Ash Slights claimed 3rd in class and 10th overall despite a strong final stage from Ben Mellors and Tom Spencer in the fabulous Toyota Celica.

Fifth historic crew home was the mighty impressive Adam Milner and Ralloy founder, Roy Jarvis, in their H2 specification MK1 Mexico.  The duo recorded class victory by over 5 minutes from the Hilman Avenger of Keith Davison and Henry Richardson and had been holding 4th in category prior to Ben Mellors’ final stage push.  12th position overall however was a fantastic result for a 1600 machine!  Also repsonsible for the build of Bannister’s Ford, this had been a good day in the woods for Jarvis.

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Peter Smith and Alan Walker finished the event in 15th position overall to claim class H3 honours in their Swift Caravans backed Opel Ascona.  Having been out in the Impreza, 6R4 and Kadett more often this year, Smith had clearly not forgotten how to drive the Ascona; going on to take class victory by more than 2 and a half minutes.

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There may have been only one car entered in class H1, but just getting to the end of an event whilst seeded at car 65 in a Morris Mini is a mighty achievement in itself.  However the stages looked in pristine condition where I was and Peter Ellerby and Ian Jackson were able bring the car home in a very credible 49th position overall.

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MODERN

As expected Mat Smith and Giles Dykes excelled in the dry conditions to bring their very rapid Proton Satria home in 9th position overall, claiming class 1 honours by almost 4 minutes.  The speed carried over the top of Jerry Noddle and the final section of Langdale defied belief; it is difficult to comprehend that the car is powered by a 1400 motor although the driver is obviously not lacking in the talent department!

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A last minute entry for Martyn Hawkeswell and Nick Welch was rewarded with top spot in class 3 and 16th position overall; the MK2 Escort crew beating Andy and David Gibson to the class victory by just 8 seconds.  In fact the Gibson brothers had been leading the class until losing 10 seconds in the reverse of Staindale.  Separated by just 1 second heading into the final stage, Hawkeswell then sealed the class victory by setting 14th fastest stage time overall.

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Class 4 victory went the way of Chris White and Chris Dewsnap in another MK2 Escort.  The Ford pair were quick out of the blocks and never looked back, claiming class honours by more than 2 minutes with 19 position overall.  Phil and Mick Gallagher would have been amongst the pre-event class favourites, however the Ti Rallyschool pairing had a mixed morning, losing 2 minutes in stage 1, before setting fastest class time in Staindale and then retiring one stage later!

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Class 2 meanwhile was an all Peugeot affair with the 206 of Barry Lindsay and Caroline Lodge getting the better of 205 crew Ben Cree and Chris Row to claim class top spot with 21st position overall.  There was little to choose between the two crews all day but Lindsay just appeared to have that little bit more pace up his sleeve, taking 5 of the 6 class stage victories and building a winning margin of 29 seconds by the end of the event.

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RESULTS
  1. Charles Payne / Carl WIlliamson | Fiesta (5) | 0:37:34
  2. Stephen Petch / Michael Wilkinson | Fiesta R5+ (5) | +00:02
  3. Peter Stephenson / Ian Windress | Focus WRC (5) | +00:12
  4. Rhys Yates / Tom Woodburn | Fiesta R5 (5) | +01:01
  5. Stephen Simpson / Andrew Roughead | Fiesta S2000 (5) | +01:05
  6. Steve Bannister / Dave Robson | Escort MK2 (H4) | +01:35
  7. Matthew Robinson / Sam Collis | Escort MK2 (H4) | +02:37
  8. Steve Petch / John Richardson | Fiesta S2000 (5) | +03:10
  9. Mat Smith / Giles Dykes | Proton Satria (1) | +03:35
  10. Peter Slights / Ashley Slights | Escort MK2 (H4) | +03:41
FULL RESULTS
FINALLY …

Much like 2014 this had been one of the best days rallying of the year.  From a spectators point of view Malton Motor Club and Clitheroe and District Motor Club had done a fantastic job of organising the event.  In my view, providing full stage maps on the website, in stark contrast to many other events, is a brilliant initiative; what better way of highlighting where the dangers are to the casual spectator?

In full knowledge of the rally route I was able to take in both Stages 2 and 6 by foot; a 19.5 km round trip from the Hole of Horcum made all the more worthwhile by the fantastic weather, beautiful North Yorkshire countryside and some top commitment from the leading crews.  The 3.5 hour return trip and stiff limbs little sacrifice for a great day of Motorsport.

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IMAGES

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All images © Paul Commons (Paul Commons Motorsport Photography)

 

Trackrod Trophies end up in Chesterfield

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

Winners

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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All images © Paul Commons (Paul Commons Motorsport Photography)