The Melvyn Evans Motorsport Tour of Epynt
MAUGER’S MINOR VICTORY!
In recent times, the opening round of the REIS MSA Asphalt Rally Championship, the Melvyn Evans Motorsport Tour of Epynt, has had a history of close finishes. Two years ago, after 80 miles of flat-out motoring, Steve Simpson and Damian Cole arrived home on identical penalties, with the tie-break going in Simpson’s favour while, in 2014, Cole came back to beat Peter Lloyd by a solitary second. This time, with just the final stage to go, Simon Mauger’s Metro 4M4 was nine seconds adrift of the Ford Focus WRC of defending MSA Asphalt Champion Cole and co-driver Jack Morton. Then, pulling out all the stops over the ensuing 14 miles, Mauger took ten seconds back to take victory by the narrowest possible margin!
The 105 crews contesting the Port Talbot Motor Club-organised event were greeted by miserable conditions up on the Ranges – not only was the rain coming down but low cloud made visibility particularly difficult over the opening stages. Undaunted, Mauger & Cole shared FTD on the opener before the Metro driver opened up a three-second advantage on the second. Cole moved ahead on SS3 and remained there for the next three stages, before Mauger’s late charge sealed his first Asphalt Championship victory since the 2010 Tyneside Stages!
John Indri/Peter James’ Darrian T90 slid off the road on the opening stage, losing a minute-and-a-half to the leaders and dropping to 96th overall at that point. A dramatic fight-back saw the ‘yellow peril’ arrive back at the finish in Llandovery in 3rd place, albeit nearly four minutes behind the winners.
Nevertheless, their efforts were rewarded with a good haul of Championship points and a maximum in the Millington Rear-Wheel Drive Challenge which, even without Simon Mauger’s Escort, looks as though it’s going to be more competitive than usual!
On the subject of the Millington Challenge, although the weather on Epynt did improve as the day wore on (the sun was shining at the finish!), mention must be made of Roger Hicks/Ian Taylor. In the worst of the conditions and fighting off a plethora of four-wheel drive machinery, their Escort MkII was up to 3rd overall after five of the eight stages, only dropping to 6th at the end of the day after a time-consuming spin on SS7. Their ‘bravery’ was rewarded with the John Horton Motorsport Management ‘Star Performer’ trophy – and very well deserved!
Behind Hicks/Taylor, third-place Millington Challenge points went to Merriman/Curzon, with the next five places occupied by Escorts of various different shapes and sizes! Josh Payton/Marcus Mizen, Ian Kenvin/Phil Williams, Paul Evans, Martin Hodgson/Tony Jones and Darren & Sue Underwood, who have forsaken their class-winning Nova for an Escort G3, were next.
So, following Indri were the battling Imprezas of Adge Spencer and Bob Fowden, finishing the day a mere seven seconds apart after 80 miles of competition! Then, behind Hicks, another pair of Subarus were locked in combat for much of the event, with David Hardie/John McCulloch getting the better of Tim Wilson’s WRC version by eight seconds. Indeed, third to tenth places were separated by less than four minutes, with Richard Merriman/Kath Curzon (Darrian T90) and Philip Turner/Simon Anthony (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO9) rounding off a very competitive Top Ten.
The entry list for the Tour of Epynt was blessed with a healthy 59 Asphalt Championship-registered crews. Class winners included David & Mathew White whose Impreza opened its defence of the Group N trophy in the best possible way, and Gus Greensmith/Michael Gilbey whose Major Motorsport-run Fiesta finished just outside the Top Twenty to take maximum AB Motorsport Front-Wheel Drive Challenge points.
Meanwhile, not far behind Gus Greensmith in the race for FWD points, Paul Clapham’s Peugeot 106 was next, half a minute in front of David Earthy/Maria Rayner’s Citroen C2R2 Max which won its class for the second year running.
Two drivers making a welcome return to the Championship after breaks of several years were Royston Carey (Renault Clio) and Tim Seipel (MG ZR). They chased each other over the Ranges for much of the day, with Carey arriving home a mere ten seconds to the good.
David Morgan’s Darrian came out on top of the 1400s, beating the Nova of 2014 Champion Ian Barnard and Steve Brown/Paul Stringer’s Nissan Micra Kit Car. Another Micra, in the hands of Ian & Margaret Kelly, also opened its account on Epynt.
NOT NECESSARILY SHY – BUT CERTAINLY RETIRING!….
The list of retirements on the Tour of Epynt, especially in the atrocious conditions, was understandably quite long! Amongst the first to go were Steve Simpson/Patrick Walsh whose Impreza WRC came off second-best in an altercation with a chicane on the opening stage. Rob Tout’s challenge for Group N supremacy also ended when his Lancer retired on the opener, while ECU failure accounted for Roger Moran/Joy Hoyle’s Fiesta on SS2. Mark Jasper/Don Whyatt’s day came to a premature end on SS5 when their Escort’s throttle cable snapped, being joined shortly afterwards by Simon Chapman’s Proton Satria.
Both the Impreza WRCs of Rob Swann and Simon Bowen/Richard Robinson left the road, while Graham Coffey/Aled Davies were sidelined when their Ford Fiesta WRC suffered gear linkage problems. Former Millington RWD Champions Richard Felgate/Mark Mason saw the chance of some points disappear when their BMW M3 retired with suspension failure on the penultimate stage.
Steve Quigley also retired after leaving bits of his Renault Clio scattered over the Ranges!
The MSA Asphalt Rally Championship points tables following the Tour of Epynt have already been circulated and, in the absence of any queries, will go final at midday on Tuesday 17th March.
Championship points and Asphalt Asides are sent by email normally during the week after an event. If you don’t receive any of them or you know of someone who isn’t receiving them, please let us know.
FOR THE RECORD!…
The programme from the Tour of Epynt, prepared by Wayne Goldring and his colleagues from ‘Special Stage’, is due to be broadcast on Motors TV at 10.00pm on Friday 20th March. It will then become available on Youtube shortly afterwards.
Round 2 : IMGOLD MANX NATIONAL RALLY (8th/9th May) – Regulations/entry forms will be available shortly on http://www.manxautosport.org Both National ‘A’ & ‘B’ events cover identical routes and are eligible for Championship points – so, the choice is yours!…
No Jim Clark National Rally this year, but keep your fingers crossed for 2016! So….
Round 3 : ALMC STAGES (5th July). The ALMC Stages Rally is based at the Castle Arch Hotel in Trim, Co Meath. Noel Devlin was out canvassing support on the Tour of Epynt and further details will be available soon on http://www.almcstagesrally.com Watch this space!…