Damian Cole/Paul Morris emerged victorious from the fourth round of the MSA Asphalt Rally Championship, the Tyneside Stages, in their Fiesta WRC which, after twelve stages on the Otterburn Military Ranges, came home 22s to the good over the Impreza WRC of Steve Simpson/Patrick Walsh. The win consolidates Cole & Morris’ lead of their respective Championship categories but, at the same time, they’ve been unable to shake off the attentions of Simpson/Walsh – after four rounds, both crews have two maximums to their credit!
Unfortunately, although the overall result would not have changed, the event was blighted by several stages being ‘cleaned’ by a number of crews – a great shame after all the hard work put in by the organisers, Alnwick & District and Berwick & District Motor Clubs, who had already been faced with restrictions to their preferred route.
Outgoing MSA Asphalt Champion Co-driver Jack Morton was 4th, sitting alongside Thomas Preston in his Skoda Fabia R5, while David Tinn had an excellent run in his Proton Satria Neo to take third-place points in the Drivers’ table. Having missed the trip to Ireland for the ALMC Stages, Richard Clews returned to the series and brought his Impreza home in 8th place which, in turn, moved him up to 3rd in the table, while the Slingers, Richard & Ben, also claimed a Top Ten finish in their Lancer EVO9.
Mark Borthwick took his ex-Simon Mauger Escort MkII (a past Tyneside Stages winner!) to maximum points in the Millington Rear-Wheel Drive Challenge, ahead of Geoff Glover/Keith Barker whose Astra RWD still leads the category.
Manxman Stu Bainborough was experiencing Otterburn for the first time, bringing his Lancer EVO6 home just ahead of the EVO9 of Oliver Hopkins who, following the demise of David & Mathew White’s Impreza, took maximum Group N points to lead the category with three events remaining.
Following the expensive noises emanating from under their Fiesta’s bonnet which put them out of the ALMC Stages, William Hill/Richard Crozier returned to take a class win on the Tyneside Stages, and maximum points in the AB Motorsport Front-Wheel Drive Challenge which they now lead. Richard & Pat Egger (Nova) are next, with Paul Clackett/David Millard’s Suzuki Swift S1600 also in close attendance.
Making their first appearance of the season in their ex-Kev Monaghan Corsa S1600, Tom Middlemiss/Richard Stewart were Hill/Crozier’s nearest rivals on the day. Clackett/Millard were 3rd and Richard Milbank/Lee Bezuidenhout (Corsa) next. Milbank also returned home to Essex with top marks in the 1400cc category, although Bezuidenhout’s attempts to join him were thwarted by Val Thompson who was guiding Andrew Egger’s Nova round the Ranges to a class win on the event.
Ian & Mags Kelly (Nissan Micra) and David & Mathew Smalley (Vauxhall Corsa) are neck-and-neck in the race for Class B9 honours and, although they already have three maximums on the board, Milbank/Bezuidenhout are far from safe!……
Apart from David & Mathew White’s non-finish, Tim Seipel was the only other Asphalt Championship driver to return home pointless. He has been experiencing clutch mechanism problems with his MG ZR and what he thought would be a cure proved to be the exact opposite. Consequently, the head-scratching continues as Tim contemplates his next move….
David Hardie/John McCulloch had placed an entry on the Tyneside Stages but their participation was conditional on their Impreza’s safe passage through the previous day’s Solway Coast Rally. Unfortunately, manifold problems and a broken differential saw to it that they didn’t finish one and didn’t start the other!….
The Tyneside Stages was also the second asphalt round of the ‘mixed-surface’ BTRDA Rally Challenge. Steve Simpson/Patrick Walsh were the main beneficiaries, followed by Thomas Preston/Jack Morton but, with two rounds still to go (the all-asphalt Mewla and the North York Moors-based Trackrod) it’s Stephen Petch (Fiesta R5+) who holds a narrow lead in the Drivers’ table from Preston. Meanwhile Richard Crozier, who has scored on all five events so far, is top Co-driver with Morton as his nearest rival. Currently, any one of the top five drivers and four co-drivers could, theoretically, end the season as Champion!
CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS tables following the Tyneside Stages have already been circulated – if you have any queries, please contact the Championship Coordinator before 12 noon on Tuesday 16th August when they will go FINAL.
Round 5 : The Old Forge Garage Mewla Rally (28th August). Based at the Royal Welsh Showground, in Builth Wells, the meat of the event is on the Epynt Ranges where 80 miles of stages await competitors. Regulations & entry forms are available from http://www.epyntmc.co.uk and the Entries Secretaries are : Keith & Trina Edwards – Tel : 01982 551246 / E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Round 6 : The Raintite Coated Metals/Curzon Wealth Management Patriot Stages (25th September). After a gap of a couple of years, the Championship returns to the Caerwent Training Area for the penultimate event in the calendar. 65 miles of stages at this challenging venue are on offer and regulations/entry forms are available from http://www.caerwentrallies.co.uk
NB – The entry list is filling up quickly – you know the rest!….
AWARDS PRESENTATION & DINNER DANCE
This year’s MSA Asphalt Rally Championship Awards Presentation & Dinner Dance will take place at Moor Hall Hotel, Sutton Coldfield, on Saturday 12th November.
Please put the date in your diary and further details will be issued in due course.
2017 MSA ASPHALT RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP CALENDAR
N.B. THE FOLLOWING IS PROVISIONAL & SUBJECT TO MSA APPROVAL
Tour of Epynt 12th March
Manx National Rally 5th/6th May
Jim Clark National Rally 27th May
ALMC Stages 2nd July
Tyneside Stages August TBA
Mewla Rally 27th August
Patriot Stages 24th September TBC
Cheviot Keith Knox Stages October TBA
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