Paul and Julian Doroszczuk have clinched the Protyre MSA Asphalt Rally Championship Class B11 title, after a fantastic performance on the Ford Parts Cheviot Stages Rally.
Two maximum scores on the Carryduff Folklift Down Rally and Old Forge Garage Mewla Rally had put the Welsh brothers on the brink of the title, but they still needed a good result on the final round to secure the trophy. After all, it had been in a fantastic season-long battle with Geoff Glover/Keith Barker (RWD Astra), Phil Turner/Ian Meakin (Escort Mk2) and Richard and Pat Egger (Vauxhall Nova) – with all four crews winning their class over the course of the six round series.
And despite the atrociously wet and slippery conditions, Paul and Julian finished second in Class B11 (behind Glover) and 28th overall to clinch the title in their immaculately self-prepared, normally-aspirated, Cosworth-engined Drockspeed Motorsport Escort Mk2.
“The Otterburn army ranges are your typical ‘Marmite’ rally venue, I love it but Paul hates it,” said Julian. “One thing that we now both agree on however is that we have never, ever, rallied in such atrocious, dangerous and down right challenging conditions on any rally before. If you think of the rain on the Friday night stages of the Manx National this year and the biblical deluge that flooded the military roads on Epynt in August for the Mewla Rally, these do not come even a close second or third.
“Thank God we only had to finish. If we had to go into this rally as so many others, needing to push hard to achieve the class win, I am confident that even with Michelin tyres and Paul’s driving ability, we like so many others would have ended up off the road. Even with what was a very conservative approach for us we had huge moments on every stage, coupled with mechanical issues that at any point could have resulted in the non-finish and us losing the title.
“As always ‘the crew’ were outstanding and despite everything ‘Marmite’ could throw at us we finished second in class. More importantly, that finish meant we secured the class championship title for 2018, our first national title.”
Here Julian gives a typically entertaining and honest stage-by-stage account of their Cheviot Stages Rally adventure:
Longest stage of the rally at just over 7.5 miles, and very fast even with the numerous chicanes. Weather started fine and sunny if cold. Paul employed a new ‘gentle’ on the half-shaft starting procedure, 5,4,3,2,1-STALL, oops! Very slippy, but stage 1 completed safely.
Paul tried his new ‘gentle’ on the half-shaft starting procedure for the second time, 5,4,3,2,1-STALL, oops! Quickly became obvious there was no grip, we were all over the shop and there were cars off all over the place. Came down to the 9L and 9R over the wooden bridge, OMG! Still can’t work out how we defied the laws of physics and got a car that was longer than the width of the bridge totally sideways, coming off the bridge literally facing the wrong way without hitting anything. It must have been the £10 pound note I put in the collection plate at my grandson’s recent christening!
Paul’s new ‘gentle’ on the half-shaft starting procedure had now reverted to the old technique of rev the tits of it and drop the clutch, guess what? No, no we did not stall, we just sat there wheels spinning with no grip – damned if you do, damned if you don’t! A short but very technical stage, full again of incidents. The stages were starting to look like an advert for National Car Parks, there were so many cars going off and parking up you could have made a fortune with a fluorescent jacket and a roll of tickets!
SS4, 5 and 6
These were repeats of the opening three stages, however the weather had taken a huge turn for the worse with sleet and eventually blizzard conditions. We were given a warning by the marshals at the start of stage 4 that severe flooding at a ’T’ junction was leading to a dangerous lack of grip. In fact as we arrived, already finding it difficult to scrub off speed there was an entire procession of marshal’s flagging you down, most of the previous top 20 cars had gone sailing (literally!!) off the road, some not to return. We were caught towards the end of the stage by a Subaru, no shame there – four-wheel drive and all that. More importantly we were still on the road and leading the championship.
As if to prove how treacherous the conditions were, within half a mile of the start of stage 5, guess what, we not so much re-overtake the Subaru as drive past it as it was off the road about 40 yards and facing the wrong way stuck in all the undergrowth. Onwards and upwards for Drockspeed.
SS7 and 8
At 6.81 miles the second longest stage of the rally. A very fast start and with grip appearing to be OK we were just changing up from 5th to 6th when, 100 JMP into FLAT R OVER JMP-weeeeeee!, well not so much weee, more excrement really, the car came down and just broke away on to the grass. Lift off-go off, keep it on and hope! Paul’s incredibly fast reactions (even for a 65-year old) kept us on the road, but don’t ask me how.
With so many cars going off creating so many delays the organisers decided to cancel SS8, a re-run of SS7, I for one was not disappointed I had run out of clean underpants about two stages ago!
SS9, 10, 11 and 12
All that remained were two short stages run twice. With conditions actually improving slightly over the lunch halt we changed from the trusty Michelin wet tyres to the more intermediate pattern, but still super soft compound Hoosier wet tyres. SS9 and 10 gave the additional problem of low, glaring sunshine. These four stages represented our best of the rally. Whilst the pace was only about 7/10ths our usual at least we felt we were stretching our legs, but of course keeping it very safe to ensure that much needed finish.