With the unfortunate cancellation of the Cheviot Keith Knox Stages, the Old Forge Garage Mewla Rally took on the mantle of the fifth and final round of this year’s REIS MSA Asphalt Rally Championship. With the Drivers’ title already in the bag, Simon Mauger opted to give the August Bank Holiday event a miss, but the destination of the Co-drivers’ Championship was still in doubt and could have gone any one of four different ways….
An almost capacity entry lined up for the start at the Royal Agricultural Showground, in Builth Wells, to be led away by 2014 winner Damian Cole, with Jack Morton, in his Ford Fiesta WRC. However, it was Steve Simpson/Patrick Walsh whose Impreza WRC set FTD on the opening stage to put them into a lead which they maintained for the rest of the day. The pair have suffered some cruel luck over the past couple of seasons and, although consequently not in line for any Championship honours, this victory should bolster their confidence ahead of their 2016 campaign.
Cole/Morton took the runners-up spot which was more than enough to put the young Hexham co-driver’s name on the Champion’s trophy. However, at 20, Jack doesn’t quite warrant the distinction of being the youngest-ever winner – this time last year Elliott Edmondson was just 19!….
Same result, different car! John Indri/Peter James were 3rd overall on the 2014 Mewla in their Darrian T90 GTR. Having since parted company with the ‘yellow peril’ and, after what can only be described as a torrid season, an excellent run in their Impreza WRC secured a similar podium spot this time. The transition from two to four-wheel drive has not been easy but it’s quite obvious that it has now been mastered and one can only hope that their experiences will not deter this popular crew from further outings in the future.
Bob Fowden/Ashley Trimble (Impreza) were 4th, while Alex Laffey/Andrew Roughead (Fiesta R5+) and David Tinn/Giles Dykes (Proton Millington Satria) arrived back at the Showground a mere four seconds apart in 5th & 6th respectively.
Tim Wilson’s Impreza was next, while Simon Mauger’s aforementioned absence left co-driver Jon Hawkins needing a good score if he was to join him as 2015 Champion. He hitched a ride with Chris West in a Peugeot 306 Maxi but, even after a superb effort from the Epynt ‘first-timer’ which saw him finish 8th from a start number of 58, it wasn’t quite enough. In the circumstances, Hawkins should be well-pleased with runner-up spot in the Asphalt Championship!
Tony Rees, whose Darrian GTR was lying 4th overall after six of the eleven stages, took maximum points in the Millington Rear-Wheel Drive Challenge. Second place on the day went to Phil Turner’s Escort while, if they were to regain the title they last held three years ago, Richard Felgate/Mark Mason (BMW M3) not only needed a good score, but could also have done with erstwhile leaders Darren & Sue Underwood (Escort G3) not finishing. Ah well! The BMW finished in front of the husband-and-wife crew, but not by sufficient a margin to alter the eventual outcome. Nevertheless, another close call which wasn’t resolved until the bitter end.
Richard Clews just beat fellow B13 front-runners David Hardie/John McCulloch to 10th place, the two Imprezas finishing four seconds apart. Indeed, the Scots crew’s season has been very impressive such that, prior to the Mewla, McCulloch was the leading Championship Co-driver. Gearbox trouble on Epynt didn’t help their cause but it didn’t stop them maintaining their 100% finishing record….
In Group N, Rob Tout/Dylan James succesfully reacquainted themselves with the Epynt Ranges, bringing their Lancer EVO9 home in 12th place, ahead of Championship category winners David & Mathew White (Impreza).
Leaders of the AB Motorsport Front-Wheel Drive Challenge following the Tyneside Stages, Andrew Hockridge/Aled Edwards (Citroen DS3 R3) made no mistake by taking another maximum in Wales to conclude their season. Paul Clapham (Peugeot 106) was their closest rival, whilst early-season leaders Royston & Bridge Carey recorded their second consecutive DNF after their Clio’s engine cried ‘enough’! David Earthy took his Citroen C2 R2 Max to a class win and, with it, runner-up spot in the FWD Challenge.
The 1400 category has been hard-fought this year to the point that there were three drivers disputing the B9 class win. On the day, Steve Brown came out on top, finishing 31st overall in his Nissan Micra Kit Car after a superb run that earned him the John Horton Motorsport Management ‘Star Performer’ award. Ian Barnard (Nova) was less than a minute adrift – enough to give him the Championship class win, while Ian & Mags Kelly completed the trio in their Micra.
The Mewla Rally was the third and final asphalt round of the BTRDA Rally Challenge – Steve Simpson/Patrick Walsh took maximum points, followed by Damian Cole/Jack Morton who continue to lead the series. Sara Williams (Impreza) moves up to 3rd place, but Stephen Petch/Ian Windress’ attempt to move their campaign forward came to nought when their Fiesta R5+ retired from a Top Ten position with one stage to go when it ‘threw a belt’… The Challenge now returns to the gravel for the final two rounds – the Trackrod Forest Stages (26th September) and Cambrian Rally (17th October).
ON THE BOX
As we speak, Wayne Goldring is busy editing the footage taken by the team from ‘Special Stage’ and the programme of the Old Forge Garage Mewla Rally is due for initial broadcast on Motors TV on 11th September at 10.00pm. After its customary repeats, it will then be available on Youtube….
The final 2015 Championship Points Tables, following the Old Forge Garage Mewla Rally, have already been circulated. Any queries should be addressed to the Coordinator immediately as they will go final at midday on 8th September.
We now look forward to the Awards Presentation for the REIS MSA Asphalt Rally Championship will take place on Saturday 7th November at Moor Hall Hotel, Sutton Coldfield. A sumptuous four-course meal precedes the presentations themselves, followed by dancing into the early hours. If you’ve not been before, ask someone who has – always supposing they can remember! Further details and booking forms (tickets/ accommodation) will be available shortly.
In the meantime, attached is the ‘Roll of Honour’ – with some TBAs! – for this year and we hope to see all of you at the ‘do’ in November.
2016 MSA ASPHALT RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
Event calendars are a bit like computers inasmuch as, if you ask a dozen people for their views on the subject, you’ll get a dozen different answers!
However, a PROVISIONAL calendar for next season has already been issued and, while there are still some dates to confirm and a possible ‘reserve’ event to add, we can confirm that the new season will begin in Llandovery on Sunday 13th March for the Tour of Epynt.
In closing, it just remains for us to say ‘thank you’ for your support of the Asphalt Championship throughout the year – it goes without saying (but we’ll say it anyway!) that it’s much appreciated and, more importantly, we hope you’ve enjoyed yourselves! Normally, at this point, we wish everyone a ‘Happy Christmas’ but, due to previously outlined circumstances beyond our control, it’s a bit early for that! Perhaps we can do it at Moor Hall.
CHAMPIONSHIP CONTACT DETAILS
We value any communications from competitors and therefore if you have any news, comments, questions or simply require advice we would like to hear from you.
Coordinator – Andrew Haill: Tel 0121 313 1416, Mobile 07836 729 549, Email: email@example.com
Eligibility Scrutineer – Geoff Doe: Mobile 07808 129 663, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Website – http://asphaltrallying.com
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/asphaltrallying
Twitter – @AsphaltRallying