Monday, 30 April 2018

Pirelli International Rally April 2018 by Paul Willetts

This weekend saw 80 crews line up in Carlisle, for round 2 of the FUCHS Lubricants  British Historic Rally championship with a further 46 crews doing the opening round of the Prestone MSA British Rally Championship.
The historic event were offered first usage of the narrow fast tracks of the notorious Kielder Forest, just 4 daunting tests offering 42 miles with the British   championship runners doing a second loop to give them 84 competitive miles.
Ross garage owner Steve Bennett in the Bennett Tyres RS1800 was hoping to put the disappointment of a last stage puncture on the opening round behind him, together with Osian Owen on the notes.
The duo got off to a rather slow start with only 11th fastest on the opening 8 mile test in Pundershaw, next up was 7 miles in Roughside a much better run in here, saw them 5th fastest and they were 8th overall going into the days only service.
Next up was the demanding 16 miles of the Forks stage, it was here that it all went wrong for Bennett when he slide off the road, thankfully a log pile prevented the car dropping down a bank, but 10 minutes were lost extracting the Escort and any hope of a result was gone.
The final stage was 10 miles in Whitesike and Bennett ended the day with 5th quickest time.
But sadly he arrived back at the Finish 36th overall & 16th overall. There was better news for Ben Friend and Cliffy Simmons in the Allglass backed Escort RS1800,the duo who had a ding dong battle with Stuart Egglestone/Brian Hodgson in a similar car on round one.
But after the former lost 20 seconds on the opening test with an altercation with a chicane, and more time with gearbox issues on stage 2 they trailed Egglestone by 14 seconds at service.
However the local crew upped the anti in the afternoon to finish 54 seconds ahead, and score a second class win on the bounce, for Friend and Simmons 7th overall & 2nd in class was still a good result given the persistent gearbox problems.
Andrew Stokes with Adrian McNally on the notes had a trouble free run to finish 20th overall & 4th in class in their Escort RS1600, putting behind them the disappointment of their first stage retirement on the championships opening round.
In the British Rally Championship event, Chepstow based Sacha Kakad moved up from two successful years in the BTRDA series in his Lancer Evo 10,to a new Westbase backed Ford Fiesta R5 Together with co-driver James Aldridge he set consistent top 10 times and held 8th overall going into the last stage where he lost time to rival Laurence Whyte in another Fiesta R5 dropping back to 9th, but a promising start to his campaign.
The Historic rally was won by Paul Barrett/Dai Roberts in an Escort RS1800 with International honours to Matt Edwards/Darron Garrod in the Swift Group/M- Sport backed Fiesta R5 after a three way battle that went to the wire with just 11 seconds covering the top 3 after 84 miles.

Paul Willetts Motorsport Media