Steve Wood has become the fourth different winner in as many rounds of the 2022 Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship after scoring maximum points on the Carryduff Forklift Down Rally (Saturday 23 July).
Co-driven by Kenny Hull, the Welshman used all his experience of Irish closed road stage rallying to master the fantastic Bucks Head, Lough Erne, Drumaknocken and Hamilton’s Folly stages – particularly in the morning loop which was damp and incredibly slippery, causing an overshoot on SS2 – to finish 34.5 seconds clear of his nearest sealed-surface series rival. The result moves him up to third in the drivers’ standings.
“I’m very pleased to have scored maximum Protyre Asphalt points, although we were lucky to get through the opening loop of stages,” said Steve.
“It’s nice to take maximum points here, but as for the championship title fight we’re only thinking about each rally as it comes.
“I’m looking forward to the next round, Rali Ceredigion, as it’s my home event.”
John Stone maintains his lead at the top of the overall Protyre Asphalt drivers’ standings after scoring second-placed points in his Legend Fires Volkswagen Polo GTI R5. Partnered by Laura Connell, it was another excellent performance by John, who survived the opening loop despite a worrying noise coming from the rear of the car, which he thought might be a grumpy hub. He may have only increased his advantage from two to three points, but his fourth very strong points finish in a row strengthens his title challenge.
Neil Roskell has moved up to second in the drivers’ standings after a good run in his ND Civils/Burdens Ford Fiesta R5+. He was pleased to complete the opening loop of stages after the engine light came on mid-way through SS1 and he had to limp to the end of the stage. The car’s bonnet then flew open and smashed the windscreen after a big landing after the Hamilton’s Folly jump on SS4, which cost him over a minute by the time he crossed the finish line. Luckily service followed, and he enjoyed a great afternoon to collect third-placed Protyre Asphalt points. The result also gives his navigator Andrew Roughead the lead in the overall co-drivers’ standings.
Stephen Simpson finished fourth, missing out on a Protyre Asphalt podium by just 4.5 seconds after a great run in his Tudor Glass Ford Fiesta Rally2. Co-driven by Will Atkins, his best finish of the season so far moves the Manchester driver up to fifth in the drivers’ points table.
Richard Clews was on inspired form, picking up fifth-placed overall drivers’ and maximum class B14 points in his ITG Subaru Impreza STi. Co-driven by Carl Williamson, he has moved to within three points of the class B14 leader Adrian Spencer, who opted to miss the Down Rally.
Darren Atkinson/Phil Sandham were the top two-wheel drive Protyre Asphalt finishers in their Atkinsons Sandblasting/DP Trucks/S&W Fabrication-backed Escort Mk2, scoring maximum points in both class B13 and Ford Escort Challenge.
They have closed the gap on Brad Cole/Jamie Vaughan, who did well to get their Hydroline Solutions Escort Mk2 to midday service after hitting a bank and damaging the steering on the opening stage. A good run in the afternoon saw them salvage some good points and complete the Protyre Asphalt overall top 10.
Roger Moran/Den Golding used every ounce of their experience to survive the morning’s very tricky conditions. They were able to push their Škoda Fabia R5+ a lot harder in the afternoon when the surface had dried and came home with an excellent seventh-placed Protyre Asphalt finish. For his immaculately prepared Fabia, Roger picked up the Dynamic Fluids best-presented car award.
Steven Ormond-Smith/Dafydd Evans survived a catalogue of near-misses in their Manx Rally Sport Mitsubishi Evo 9, beginning with a very heavy landing on SS3. It started to rain as they started SS4, which made the surface even more slippery and even at a walking pace they couldn’t avoid clipping a wall as they passed through a farmyard, which had all the grip qualities of black ice. The result sees Steven maintain his class B14 title challenge in third, while Dafydd moves up to second in the co-driver’s standings (and continues to share the lead of the historic class).
Jonathan Stepney/Aled Davies scored a hat-trick of class B12 wins with another classy performance in their 1.9-litre engined Griffiths/Gavin Griffiths Group-backed Peugeot 205 GTi. A wrong tyre choice in the afternoon was annoying, but they managed the situation well and were also rewarded with ninth-placed overall Protyre Asphalt points.
Dai Roberts scored maximum points in the overall Protyre Asphalt co-drivers’ standings, having co-driven the unregistered Jonny Greer to the overall Down Rally win in a Citroën C3 Rally2. Dai is now third in the table on 82 points, while Dafydd Evans has 93 points and Andrew Roughead is on 105 points.
With his Michelin-shod Roccia/Tile Master-backed Ford Fiesta R5+ still out of action after his Jim Clark Rally crash, Mark Kelly had hired a Škoda Fabia R5+ for the Down Rally. Reunited with co-driver Neil Colman, it didn’t start well as the car lost turbo boost on SS2 and then they stopped for good on SS4. With two scores to drop, all is not lost in the race for the Protyre Asphalt championship title – although Mark now needs a clean high-scoring run on the remaining three rounds to have a chance of lifting the crown.
Olly Hunter, co-driven this time by Mark Mason, didn’t complete the morning loop of stages. He had a few early spins and felt there was something wrong with the differential, before parking his Vauxhall-engined HES Electrical Contractors-backed Ford Escort Mk2 on SS2.
Mark Holmes/Mark Perryman were another crew that didn’t survive the tricky opening loop after hitting a wall on a particularly slippery section of SS4 in their Ford Fiesta S2000.
Johnnie Mackay was co-driven by Martin Forrest, the pair rallying together for the first time since the driver’s first ever rally back in July 2015. Unfortunately, they retired their ISS/Kewtech Ford Fiesta ST, although Johnnie still leads class N3 and the Protyre Asphalt Junior category.
Action from the Down Rally is available to view on the Special Stage TV Facebook page, with commentary from Mark James and special guest presenter Alistair Fisher.
Regulations and details on how to enter the 2022 Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship are available at: asphaltrallying.com.
Membership of the BTRDA can be done online at: btrdamembership.com.
Round 5 of the 2022 Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship is the Get Connected Rali Ceredigion (3/4 September).
Down Rally – top 10 registered 2022 Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship finishers:
1. Steve Wood/Kenny Hull (Ford Fiesta RS WRC)….45mins 43.5secs
2. John Stone/Laura Connell (Volkswagen Polo GTI R5)….46mins 18.0secs
3. Neil Roskell/Andrew Roughead (Ford Fiesta R5+)….47mins 06.4secs
4. Stephen Simpson/Will Atkins (Ford Fiesta Rally2)….47mins 10.9secs
5. Richard Clews/Carl Williamson (Subaru Impreza STi)….47mins 38.7secs
6. Darren Atkinson/Phil Sandham (Ford Escort Mk2)….47mins 54.5secs
7. Roger Moran/Den Golding (Škoda Fabia R5+)….49mins 16.2secs
8. Steven Ormond-Smith/Dafydd Evans (Mitsubishi Evo 9)….49mins 50.3secs
9. Jonathan Stepney/Aled Davies (Peugeot 205 GTi)….54mins 06.6secs
10. Brad Cole/Jamie Vaughan (Ford Escort Mk2)….1hr 21mins 29.4secs
2022 Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship – top 6 drivers’ overall after Round 4:
1. John Stone….103pts
2. Neil Roskell….100pts
3. Steve Wood….83pts
4. Brad Cole….75pts
5. Stephen Simpson….74pts
6. Darren Atkinson….71pts