Event Preview – Cheviot Keith Knox Stages

Round 8 (Final) : CHEVIOT KEITH KNOX STAGES RALLY (9th November)

The entry list for the final round of the 2014 REIS MSA Asphalt Rally Championship, the Cheviot Keith Knox Stages Rally (9th November), has just been published and the top three seeded drivers were the top three finishers on last year’s event! Winner – and Championship leader – Damian Cole leads the field in his Ford Focus WRC and is reunited with his former co-driver James Morgan for the rally on which a good result
would guarantee him a fifth consecutive Asphalt Championship title.

Meanwhile, starting at No.2, John Stone will also have someone different to guide him round the Otterburn Ranges, as regular co-driver Carl Williamson is contesting an event in China the same weekend. York’s Matthew Whattam has stepped into the breach and will be assisting Stone in his attempt to improve on his current 3rd place in the Championship points table.

Not to be outdone, Simon Mauger, who had outgoing Champion Co-driver Brian Cammack with him in 2013, has enlisted the services of Ashley Trimble as he pushes his Escort MkII to the limit in pursuit of both overall Championship points and those for the Millington Rear-Wheel Drive Challenge – more of which anon….

With the 1.25 coefficient for all points scored on the final round, Alex Laffey/Jack Morton (Ford Fiesta R5+) could climb from their current 4th place overall into a podium spot by the end of the day. They were 8th overall on the Tyneside Stages, the last occasion the Championship descended on the Otterburn Military Ranges, and there are considerable grounds for optimism that an improvement is on the cards this time!

Andy Fenwick has joined forces with Andrew Roughead, winning co-driver on the Tyneside Stages, in a Ford Focus WRC, while David Hardie/John McCulloch (Subaru Impreza) currently lead the race for the popular Class B13. However, they must finish the Cheviot in order to qualify for the Kwiktrak awards donated by co-driver Simon Hunter. Their main opposition will come from Jim Sharp who returns with his Mitsubishi Lancer, while Mark Borthwick’s similar car could well take points off both of them!

Coming to the end of his first (very successful!) season at the wheel of a Millington Proton Satria is David Tinn who has BTRDA 1400 Champion Co-driver Giles Dykes with him for the Cheviot. Having forsaken his MG Metro 6R4, Simon Chapman is taking his first tentative steps in a similar Proton with a view to a full Championship campaign in 2015.

Now, returning to the Millington Rear-Wheel Drive Challenge, Keith Robathan (who tops the Drivers’ points table but could still be beaten by Simon Mauger) has teamed up with Phil Sandham (who is confirmed as the 2014 Champion Co-driver) in the former’s MkII Escort. Similarly equipped are both Mark Jasper/Don Whyatt and Promenade Stages winner Paul Evans and Susan Wright, while 2012 winners Richard
Felgate/Mark Mason return after a troubled season with their BMW M3.

Martin Hodgson/Tony Jones (Ford Escort) and the Team Lotusbits Sunbeams of Mike Taylor/Peter Grant and Cathy Sewart/Colin Stephens, which have both contested full seasons, will also be in the hunt for points on their final outing of the year.

The AB Motorsport Front-Wheel Drive Challenge has already been claimed for this year but, notwithstanding, Kev Monaghan/Chris Purvis will be out to take maximum points on the day in their recently-acquired Ford Escort F2 Maxi. From a distance they will be monitoring the progress of Andrew & Reg Irving (Peugeot 205), Simon Stewart’s Vauxhall Corsa and the VW Golf of Andy Hawkins which also currently leads Class B11.

In a season that has seen a number of different leaders of Class N4, purely by starting the Cheviot Stages in their Impreza, David & Mathew White will lay claim to the trophy this year.

The Cheviot Keith Knox Stages Rally is based entirely on the Airstrips, from where the first car will start at 8.30am on Sunday 9th November. Nine stages and 80 competitive miles later, the leaders are due to finish at approximately 3.30pm in the afternoon.

Andrew Haill

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