Paul and Julian Doroszczuk are on the verge of clinching the Protyre MSA Asphalt Rally Championship Class B11 title, after another fantastic performance on the Old Forge Garage Mewla Rally in their normally-aspirated Cosworth-engined Drockspeed Motorsport Escort Mk2.
The Welsh crew finished 20th on a wet and slippery Epynt – their best overall result in the car, which puts Paul and Julian 10th and 8th overall in the drivers’ and co-drivers’ standings. More importantly, it was their second B11 class win on the bounce, giving them a valuable seven point advantage – and making them favourites to be crowned class champions on the final round of the series, the Ford Parts Cheviot Stages Rally on Otterburn (Sunday 28 October).
The B11 class has been hotly contested all season, with Geoff Glover/Keith Barker (RWD Astra), Phil Turner/Ian Meakin (Toovey Race Engines/ST Motorsport-backed Escort Mk2) and Richard and Pat Egger (Highland Cottage-backed Vauxhall Nova) all scoring well.
“The hundred percent commitment after stage three was very noticeable in terms of tumbling stage times, the number of cars caught and passed (two on SS7 alone) and the time the car spent either in the air or on the rev-limiter in sixth gear,” said Doroszczuk after the Mewla Rally. “However, it did lead to the odd interesting moment. For example on stage three, having caught and passed the car in front, we managed a full blooded ‘tank slapper’ of a spin, but still managed to get going as said car arrived on the scene.
“The car ran faultlessly all day with service literally being a matter of topping up the fuel and bailing out the water! Amazingly on the road section back to the final control in Builth Wells we broke a half-shaft, which, anywhere else, would have meant retirement. I am not a religious man, but thank you God!”
Here Julian gives a fantastic stage-by-stage account of their Mewla Rally adventure:
The lovely warm, summer weather of the recce had given way to rain that only Noah could appreciate. Our planned ‘go for it from the beginning’ approach turned into a very cautious start over the 8.8 miles. No issues, but as we crossed the finish line we knew we had been too slow, the question was how much time had we lost?
Over the much shorter stage 2, whilst there were parts where we were more committed we still felt there was more to come. No issues other than those everyone was experiencing due to the weather, but more time lost.
Another short stage, but this time the confidence was building and surprise, surprise we caught the car in front, only to have the mother of all tank-slappers and narrowly avoid ending up in a ditch as we came off the quarry road. We just managed to get the car pointing the right way and underway again as the car we had previously passed arrived. Much better, but at least another 10 seconds lost, this time due to the spin. End of loop 1 and off to service, disappointed with our performance, however we were still in the rally with a long way to go yet. We had dropped at least 25 seconds to our main rivals over the loop.
A repeat of stage 1, same tyres, same conditions, what could we do differently? As it turned out, with Paul being pushed like never before on the notes. He really rose to the challenge and drove with 100% commitment. The harder the car was driven, even in the appalling conditions, the better it went with assured turn in at the front end and the Michelin wets sticking to the road like the proverbial “excrement to some bedding”. The outcome, a staggering 35 seconds quicker over the 8.8 miles or nearly 4 seconds a mile quicker.
A repeat of the short 3.25 miles stage 2 and an identical approach to SS4 resulting in some serious air over the three jumps on the way to the finish at Dixies Corner, including the infamous Devil’s and Deer’s Leap. The time, a full 5 seconds quicker or nearly 2 seconds a mile faster.
Final stage of the second loop and a repeat of the 4 mile SS3. The new pace and commitment continued. Seeing our good friends Neil Jones and Alan Thomas rolled off the road, but thankfully OK provided a temporary distraction. Back on the pace we entertained the spectators over the jumps at the bottom of the Staircase before avoiding a repeat of the earlier spin to post a time 5 seconds quicker. End of loop two and some of the earlier lost time made back.
The longest stage of the rally at 11.1 miles. With confidence brimming after loop 2 we were in full attack mode and determined to pull back any remaining lost time. The shift light was working overtime with the engine spending more and more time on the rev-limiter in 4th, 5th and 6th gears as the pace really built. This was very evident as we caught and passed two cars making up 30 and 60 seconds respectively over the stage. More importantly one of these was one of our main challengers for the class – unfortunately our good friend Phil Turner went off in the German Village leaving us a clear run to the class win. The car was badly damaged as it aquaplaned off the road into a lamppost, but both crew were OK. The 6 remaining stages making up the last two loops were reverse direction repeats of stages 1-3.
Stage 8 saw the weather close in with low cloud and if possible even heavier rain making the aged wiper design of the Escort leaving a lot of water on the screen and visibility quite poor. Perhaps not seeing where you are going is an advantage as our time took us further ahead of our class rivals. The spectators certainly got excited as we flew over the jumps at the bottom of the Staircase on the rev-limiter in second gear.
With the weather still continuing to provide a real challenge to vision a clean run over the four miles of stage 9 was an achievement in itself, avoiding mishaps over the infamous jumps of Deer’s and Devil’s, but this time in the opposite direction.
Last stage of the loop the 8.8 miles of SS10 took crews through the German Village, 4-Ways and then on up the New Road. Pushing hard, as we descended the hairpins down towards Davrian Bridge we were catching the car in front, by now car 47 a Subaru Impreza. Pushing hard we crossed the finish line right behind, but unable to overtake in the short distance remaining. Off to a very short service before a repeat of the three stages. We were now in a quandary. Leading the class do we back off and play safe, but run the risk that if we slow down too much we could be overtaken, especially as we had lost time over the three opening stages to our class B11 rivals.
The answer to the question was unequivocally answered, maximum attack and 9 seconds quicker than SS8, more than 2 seconds per mile.
The same approach and 6 seconds quicker than SS9.
The last stage of the rally, play safe? Not on your life. Paul’s challenge – catch and overtake the Impreza we caught on SS10. Sure enough we caught car 47 again, but a little earlier than before and pushed him hard through the hairpins going down to Davrian Bridge. As we entered the chicane on the bridge the door was left ajar and on the 9R