Blackburn driver John Stone did what was required of him to clinch a deserved runner-up place in the 2014 REIS MSA Asphalt Rally Championship following the final round which comprised the Cheviot Keith Knox Stages Rally at Otterburn in Northumberland today.
Driving the Legend Fires Skoda Fabia WRC, Stone had just to finish in the top four to claim second in the championship, and despite the damp and tricky conditions on the military ranges near the Scottish border, he brought the Dom Buckley Motorsport IRS-prepared car home in third position following nine stages.
Third fastest on the opening stage, the plan for Stone and co-driver Matt Whattam was to maintain station which they did as ahead of them Damian Cole and Simon Mauger battled it out. However, despite third place being in the bag, Stone, who led the series earlier in the season, pressed on and set second fastest time on two of the final three stages to arrive back at the finish just over two minutes down on the winner.
The latest result added to a consistent string of top five finishes this season and bettered the fourth place finish on John’s previous visit to Otterburn earlier in the year. As a result, it saw the Lancastrian driver achieve his aim of finishing in the top three in this year’s championship.
John Stone: “Knowing we couldn’t win the title, it was important to finish second and we just did what we needed to do. The roads were wet and slippery so I didn’t want to take too many chances so took it steady as it was a case of managing the situation. That said, we speeded up when required although tyre choice was always difficult as it didn’t dry up all day and there was quite a bit of mud about. But we got to the end with no problems at all and not a mark on the car. Thanks to Matt for doing a great job in Carl’s absence and that’s a 100% finishing record in this series with Buckley’s running the car so a brilliant job by them too. I said at the start of the season that I wanted to finish inside the top three of the series and we bettered that so it’s been a success.”
1 Damian Cole/James Morgan Ford Focus WRC 1:06:44
2 Simon Mauger/Ashley Trimble Ford Escort Mk2 1:07:43
3 John Stone/Matthew Whattam Skoda Fabia WRC 1:08:47
4 Andrew Fenwick/Andrew Roughead Ford Focus WRC 1:09:40
5 David Hardie/John McCulloch Subaru Impreza 1:09:46
6 Jock Armstrong/Paula Swinscoe Subaru N12 1:09:56
7 Darren Doherty/Andrew Falconer Subaru Impreza 1:10:54
8 Simon Chapman/Stewart Merry Proton Satria 1:11:31
9 David White/Mathew White Subaru Impreza 1:12:36
10 Richard Felgate/Mark Mason BMW M3 1:13:06
Picture: John Stone and Matt Whattam in action on the Cheviot Keith Knox Stages Rally (action picture courtesy of http://www.pro-rally.co.uk)