CLOSE, OR WHAT?!…
The first five rounds of this year’s REIS – Get Connected MSA Asphalt Rally Championship have now taken place and a look at the results shows it to be one of the closest-fought series in its 30-year history! The Tour of Epynt was a dead-heat, the winners being decided on a tie-break, the margin between 1st & 2nd on the Manx National was 3.4 seconds, the ALMC Stages six seconds and, now, on the Wilkinson Maintenance Tyneside Stages Rally, a mere two seconds separated winner Damian Cole and runner-up John Indri!…
The ‘Tyneside’ was the first of two Championship visits to the Otterburn Military Ranges this season, an event Damian Cole had won both in 2011 & 2012. Would it be a hat-trick for the defending MSA Asphalt Champion? Well, to start with, it didn’t look like it – Steve Simpson/Patrick Walsh were quickest on the opener in their Impreza WRC, putting them into a lead they maintained until a front wheel made a successful bid for freedom on the penultimate stage, at a stroke demoting the erstwhile Championship leaders to the rank of spectators!
The event was subject to the curse of ‘cleaned’ stages and, throughout the third loop of the day, Cole and Simon Mauger (Ford Escort MkII) were on identical penalties and, no matter what they did, could not separate themselves. Two 13-mile stages provided the ‘sting in the tail’ – Simpson disappeared on the first and both Cole and John Indri (Darrian T90 GTR) got the better of Mauger and Brian Cammack.
Starting the final stage, Cole was seven seconds ahead of Indri who, in turn, was also seven in front of Mauger. Indri was victorious on his last visit to Otterburn for the Cheviot last November and, obviously, had designs on a similar result this time. He set FTD on the stage, but could not quite stop Cole from achieving his third consecutive win. However, the Darrian driver took runner-up spot overall and maximum points in the Millington RWD Challenge and is now only three points behind Mauger. Washington James’ 7th overall – and his fifth finish from five starts – keeps him in 3rd place, while Ashley Field/Josh Davison’s second retirement of the year knocks them back a bit, although there is yet time to put matters right. Further details of the Millington RWD Challenge are available on Millington Racing Engines’ website – http://www.millingtonengines.com
Now, where were we? Oh yes, Peter Taylor brought his Focus WRC home in 4th place while, fresh from a points-scoring finish in WRC-2 on the previous weekend’s Rally Finland, Irishmen Robert Barrable/Stuart Loudon were 5th as they continued the test programme with their Fiesta R5 prior to an outing on Rallye Deutschland at the end of the month. A powerful car – certainly, but such a result on unfamiliar territory brought forth the John Horton Motorsport Management ‘Star Performer’ award for 25-year old Barrable.
Indeed, preparation company CA1 Sport headed back to their Carlisle base to reflect on a very successful weekend. The two cars in their charge were 5th (Barrable) & 10th (Alex Laffey/Jack Morton – Fiesta S2000) overall and both took class wins into the bargain!
A Top Ten finish from Adge Spencer/Mark Hewitt moves their Impreza to the top of the very competitive Class B13 points, while the Fuchs Titan Race award for ‘Best Improvement on Seeding’ – a £50 product voucher – went once again to Tim Daltry who, with Emma Morrison, went on to claim a maximum in the AB Motorsport Peugeot 205 Challenge. Tim was seeded at 50 and had climbed to 13th place by the finish… Having been absent for the past few events, fellow 205 Challenge aspirants Craig Jose/Nigel Hewett were back and they were joined for the first time by the 1300cc 205 of Andrew & Reg Irving. All three cars completed the event.
Almost exactly 50% of the starters on the Tyneside were Championship-registered and other finishers included :
* Chris Marshall/Simon Hunter Mitsubishi Lancer EVO5 14th
* Chris Rice/Giles Dykes Subaru Impreza (GpN) 19th
* Ross Miller/Steven Butler Subaru Impreza 22nd
* Julian Barnett/Andrew Smith Subaru Impreza (GpN) 24th
* Chris Daykin/Andrew Smith Subaru Impreza 25th
* Howard Moore/Sasha Heriot Lotus Elise 29th
* Simon Stewart/Doug Levee Vauxhall Corsa 34th
Then, of course, on the other side of the coin are those who, for whatever reason, were not classified as finishers. In addition to those already mentioned, the following crews were unfortunate to feature on the ‘List of Retirements’ :
* Chris Anderson/Chris Thirling Ford Fiesta
* Darren Atkinson/Phil Sandham Ford Escort MkII
* Simon Chapman/Michael Calvert MG Metro 6R4
* Rob Tout/Dan Holley Mitsubishi Lancer EVO9
* Mark Borthwick/Phil Boyle Mitsubishi Lancer EVO6
* Sean Robson/Iain Robson Ford Fiesta
* Alistair Hutchinson/Joe Hutchinson Renault Clio LPG
* Richard Felgate/Mark Mason BMW M3
* Graham Watkins/Terry Martin Ford Escort MkII
* Gary Le Coadou/Paul Hollingham Toyota Corolla WRC
* Matt Beebe/Paula Swinscoe MG ZR 190
The programme on the Wilkinson Maintenance Tyneside Stages Rally, compiled by the team from ‘Special Stage’, is due to be broadcast on Motors TV on Friday 30th August at 21.00.
SCORING – just to clear up any possible misunderstanding, the scoring system for this year’s MSA Asphalt Rally Championship is ‘Best 5 from 8 of 9 Events’. It was introduced to give everyone an extra element of choice in putting together their programmes, but what it does mean is that anyone contesting all nine rounds must nominate an event on which they will NOT score points – beforehand, and not afterwards! It also goes without saying that zero scores due to retirement don’t count…
CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS following the Tyneside Stages have already been circulated – they will become FINAL at midday on 20th August and, therefore, if you have any queries on them, please contact the Championship Coordinator before then.
ALMC Stages – Clerk of the Course Raymond Scullion advises that he has embedded the ‘Special Stage’ programme and a number of on-board videos onto http://www.almcstagesrally.com for your enjoyment!
Round 6 : The Eventsigns Mewla Rally (25th August) is now less than a fortnight away. Regulations/entry forms may still be downloaded from http://www.epyntmc.co.uk but, if you are intending to enter, please contact the Entries Secretaries, Keith & Trina Edwards (Tel : 01982 551246/E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org), as a matter of some urgency.
Round 7 : The organisers of the Wexford Stages Rally (7-8th September) have been in contact to say that they have already received more than 80 entries and that any Championship contenders who are planning to make the trip, but have yet to place an entry, are advised to do so NOW! The Entries Secretary is : Karen O’Dowd – Tel : +353 (0)86 0247121 / E-mail : email@example.com http://www.wexfordrally.com
Round 8 : Regulations/entry forms for the EDP Photonews/Bob Dowen Rally Services Patriot Stages Rally (29th September), which takes place at the MoD training area at Caerwent, are available to download from http://www.forresterscarclub.co.uk The Entries Secretary is : Fiona Evans – Tel : 01873 881043 / E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org This one also has a habit of filling up – you have been warned!
For further details on all the above, please contact the Championship Coordinator :
Andrew Haill – Tel : 0121 313 1416/E-mail : email@example.com OR Visit the Championship Website : http://www.asphaltrallying.co.uk