Blackburn driver John Stone continued his bid for the 2014 REIS Get Connected MSA Asphalt Rally Championship with another strong performance on the Wilkinson Maintenance Tyneside Stages Rally at Otterburn in Northumberland this weekend.
Driving the Legend Fires Skoda Fabia WRC, Stone followed up his podium finish last time out in Ireland with a fighting fourth after a day of high speed action on the military roads of the Borders to maintain the lead in the series.
Along with Welsh co-driver Carl Williamson, the pair were defending the series lead as the season entered its second half and with the changeable weather once again in evidence, it was going to be a battle from the start.
Fifth fastest on the opening stage, the Lancastrian driver upped the pace on SS2 to move briefly up to fourth but the tricky conditions which have been the hallmark of the series so far continued with tyre choice proving to be difficult once more.
Maintaining station for the opening loop of stages, the Dom Buckley Motorsport IRS-prepared car and its experienced crew slotted into fifth place and as the rally progressed, they became embroiled in a battle for fourth place with the Subaru of John Indri.
After SS7, Indri held a 24 second advantage over Stone but gradually, the Legend Fires pairing reeled him in and with a huge effort on SS11, managed to grab fourth place which they increased to 21 seconds after SS12. With the final two stages cancelled, it meant that John and Carl couldn’t climb the leaderboard any further but the pair were happy with their efforts at the finish.
The latest result added to the third place finish last time out as well as two other fourths and one fifth place finish so far this season meaning John and Carl will now look towards the final round back on Otterburn to try to secure the title.
John Stone: “The weather was once again a factor as it has been at most rounds and it was difficult making the correct tyre choice. The stages on Otterburn are very fast and you have to be very precise otherwise it can spell disaster, especially as you have to cut some corners. We had a combination of sun, showers and then sun again so I’m pleased with fourth place. We had a good battle with John Indri and we pipped him in the end and it’s good to maintain the lead in the championship. We now have our five scores in the bag so are missing the next couple of rounds so hopefully we are still in contention at the final round. Thanks to Carl and the team for their efforts, the car was fantastic and we had no problems at all.”
1 Peter TAYLOR/Andrew ROUGHEAD – Ford Fiesta S2400 – 0:54:27
2 Damian COLE/Elliott EDMONDSON – Ford Focus WRC – 0:54:44
3 Simon MAUGER/Ashley TRIMBLE – Ford Escort – 0:55:26
4 John STONE/Carl WILLIAMSON – Skoda Fabia WRC – 0:56:00
5 John INDRI/Peter JAMES – Subaru S11 – 0:56:21
6 Stephen PETCH/Michael WILKINSON – Hyundai WRC – 0:57:32
7 David HARDIE/John McCULLOCH – Subaru Impreza – 0:57:51
8 Alex LAFFEY/Jack MORTON – Ford Fiesta R5+ – 0:57:58
9 Simon BOWEN/Richard ROBINSON – Subaru WRC – 0:58:35
10 David TINN/Giles DYKES – Proton Satria – 0:58:45
Pictures: John Stone and Carl Williamson in action on the Wilkinson Maintenance Tyneside Stages Rally (pictures courtesy of Kenny Anderson)