Blackburn driver John Stone continued his great start to the 2014 REIS MSA Asphalt Rally Championship with a hard earned fourth place overall on this weekend’s demanding Manx National Rally, netting important third place points in the title race.
Following a brilliant fourth place finish on March’s championship opener on the Tour of Epynt which was followed by victory on the non-championship Alan Healy Memorial Stages Rally at Cadwell Park last month, the Legend Fires Rally Team were in confident mood arriving on the Isle of Man.
However, along with Welsh co-driver Carl Williamson, the Lancastrian driver didn’t make the best of starts when a problem on SS2 was followed by a timing query later on Friday evening which had the Legend Fires Skoda Fabia WRC down in 10th overall at the Douglas overnight halt.
The tricky conditions continued into Saturday with tyre choice proving to be a lottery and meaning the Dom Buckley Motorsport IRS-prepared car was occasionally out on full slicks on soaking roads meaning Stone had to be on top of his game throughout.
The pair combined caution with speed as well as a niggling clutch problem to gradually climb the leaderboard throughout the remainder of the event to cross the finish ramp in fourth place once the timing anomaly had been sorted out by officials.
The nett result is John and Carl have climbed up to second place overall in the 2014 REIS MSA Asphalt Rally Championship going into the Jim Clark Rally later this month.
John Stone: “I’m very pleased with the result given the treacherous conditions and to get fourth overall and third place out of the championship contenders is fantastic. We had some problems on Friday night and had to not let this affect us so the plan was to keep a good pace without taking too many risks as it would have been easy to go off. The pace was incredible and we had a minor clutch problem which didn’t help meaning we couldn’t use some of the electronics but I’m happy with my performance. This is a brilliant start to the season and it’s great to be second in the championship going into the next event so hopefully we can get a good result on the Jim Clark.”
Official Results (after SS14)
1 Jason Pritchard/Phil Clarke Ford Focus WRC 1:54:29.9
2 Oliver Mellors/Ian Windress Proton Millington Satria 1:55:12.6
3 Stephen Simpson/Patrick Walsh Subaru Impreza WRC 1:55:35.7
4 John Stone/Carl Williamson Skoda Fabia WRC 1:57:41.6
5 Arron Newby/Rob Fagg Subaru Impreza 1:57:48.7
6 Daniel McKenna/Arthur Kierans Ford Escort Mk 2 1:57:50.5
7 Steve Colley/Andrew Cowley Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 1:57:55.6
8 Connor Corkill/Dale Furniss Subaru Impreza 1:59:27.2
9 Quintin Milne/Martin Forrest Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 2:01:54.7
10 Nigel Cannell/Graham Fargher Mitsubishi Evo 9 2:01:56.0
Provisional Championship Positions (after 2 rounds)
1 S Simpson 56
2 J Stone 53
3 D Atkinson 47
Pictures: John Stone and Carl Williamson in action on the Manx National Rally (pictures courtesy of Dave Kneen/ManxPhotosOnline.com and Mark Corlett)