Monday, 29 November 2010

Images from the Roger Albert Clark rally


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Wright set to debut new car in Grizedale

Bentham rally driver David Wright will debut his new Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 car on next weekend’s Grizedale Stages rally.

The car, prepared by Giles Philips Motorsport, is similar to the Evo 9 he has used for the last two years but it is lighter and slightly more powerful which Wright hopes will give him the pace to battle with the expensive World Rally cars at the top of the leaderboard.

Wright has not driven the Kumho Tyres, Drenth, Proflex and Grove Hill Garage supported car on gravel yet so the Coniston based event will be used as a test in preparation for next year.

"The car has only just been completed so we’ve had no opportunity to do any testing yet," said Wright. "I’m confident that it will prove to be quicker than the old car once we get everything set up properly."

"The Grizedale Stages is one of my favourite events and I’ve had some good results on it, hopefully we can have a decent run, get used to the new car and finish somewhere near the front."

In a change from previous years the rally will start on Friday evening with a stage in the dark of Grizedale forest before a full day’s competition on Saturday.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Cristofaro follows in world champion's tracks

Teenage rally driver Nick Cristofaro debuted his new Ford Fiesta ST car last weekend, taking a brilliant third in class on the Wales Rally GB National B event.

The event took place at the same time as Britain’s round of the World Rally Championship with the cars following in the wheeltracks of the best drivers in the world.

Radnor forest was the venue for the opening stage and Cristofaro, from Milford Haven, made a cautious start as he got used to his TEG Sport, Pirelli and Talbot Timber-backed car but as the event progressed he increased his pace to end day one in 20th place from his start position of 57.

“I went into the first stage determined to get a finish in my first event with the new car but at the end of the test I was disappointed as I knew the car was capable of a lot more,” said Cristofaro.

“The opening stage gave me a lot more confidence so I pushed harder and increased my commitment over the remaining three stages of the day, I was very surprised to be up to 20th though.”

“The first day was very interesting, the stages were extremely challenging with wet road surfaces which were rutted after all the World Championship cars had driven over them. I enjoyed the mix of tarmac and gravel roads, I put my years of karting experience to good use on the tarmac parts.”

The second day saw a further two stages and, with temperatures not much above freezing, the threat of patchy ice on the tracks added to the testing conditions. Cristofaro and co-driver Emma Morrison continued their day one form to set competitive times on both the stages to finish the event in an excellent 18th overall and third in class.

“The frost warning light on the car dashboard was on throughout both stages so I was wary of the chance of hitting ice. Grip levels varied dramatically from good to none so it was a very tough test of my driving skills and I’m delighted that we got to the finish unscathed.”

“I am extremely happy with my performance and all of the team. We had no dramas over the weekend and to get third in class on only my third gravel event, and first in the new car, is a great achievement. Thanks to TEG Sport, Pirelli and Talbot Timber for their support.”

“I’m looking for sponsorship for my 2011 British Rally Championship campaign, please get in touch via www.nickcristofaro.co.uk to see what marketing packages we can offer.”

Nick’s next event will be the Grizedale Stages in Cumbria which takes place in early December.

Image courtesy Chris Huish

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Becky enjoys successful test of new car

Rally driver Becky Kirvan, from Burton Pidsea, travelled to Wales this week for the first test of her new car for next season. Using tracks at the Sweet Lamb rally complex near Llangurig 2010 BTRDA ladies champion Kirvan concentrated on getting used to the Ford Fiesta ST's power and handling at first before working on the set up of the suspension.

Fellow rally driver and 2010 BTRDA 1400 Champion Matt Edwards, who used to run a similar car, was on hand to provide advice on the various suspension settings and also to give Becky some tips for getting the best out of the new machine.

With the suspension to her liking Kirvan tackled several runs of a rally stage at the venue and was delighted with the performance of the car.

"The Fiesta is so much more powerful than my Micra and the brakes and handling are far superior too," said Kirvan.

"I really enjoyed testing the car and soon adapted my driving style to suit it and we made some excellent progress The testing session has definitely made me look forward to next season even more, if that’s possible!"

"I'd like to thank Matt for his advice on the settings and driving style, he was a great help."

A further test of the Fiesta is planned for early in 2011. In the meantime Kirvan is focussing on attracting backing to enable her to contest the popular British Rally Championship next year, anyone interested in supporting her can make contact via www.beckykirvan.co.uk.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Cristofaro takes podium finish on second-ever gravel rally

Milford Haven rally driver Nick Cristofaro took a brilliant podium finish on just his second event in the forests last weekend when he piloted his Rallyschool.co.uk VW Lupo to second place in the Rally First class of the Cambrian rally.

Cristofaro, 17, and co-driver Emma Morrison had previously contested the Woodpecker rally in August where they took sixth in class on Cristofaro’s forest rally debut. Cristofaro’s aims for the Cambrian were to get some more experience under his belt and push a little harder to get further up the leaderboard.

The North Wales-based event started with a pair of stages in Clocaenog forest and Cristofaro’s decision to increase his pace immediately paid off as he stormed into the lead of his class.

“I was driving for a finish on the Woodpecker with it being my first event but I wanted to improve my position on the Cambrian,” said Cristofaro.

“The first two stages went really well but I was shocked when I saw the results when I got back to the service area, it was brilliant to be at the top of the leaderboard so soon into my forest rallying career.”

The rally moved to the forests of Penmachno for stages three and four. Stage three was very narrow and slippery with some sections feeling like driving on ice. Part way through the stage Cristofaro was flat out over a crest and overshot the next junction, getting the car stuck in the trees causing a time loss of two minutes.

“It was my first ever accident in rallying and I was really gutted as it cost me the lead. Fortunately there were plenty of spectators where we went off and they got the car back on the road which I’m very grateful for.”

The accident dropped Cristofaro to second place after the two Penmachno stages but his pace continued unabated in the final pair of stages in Clocaenog where he took fastest time in his class on both tests. It was not enough to regain the class lead though and he reached the rally finish in Llandudno in second place.

“Second is an excellent result but I’m disappointed as without the accident we would’ve won. At least I know that I have the pace to do well next year and we’ll be aiming for the top of the leaderboard in a Super 1400 Mazda 2 prepared by Rallyschool.co.uk.”

“I’m also planning to contest the Fiesta Sporting Trophy in a Ford Fiesta ST run by TEG Sport. My aim is to be winning in both championships so if there are any businesses who want to be involved with a winning team please contact me via www.nickcristofaro.co.nr. I will be at the British Rally Championship open day at Sweet Lamb on 22nd October if any companies would like to discuss marketing opportunities.”

Becky takes Ladies Championship in Wales

Burton Pidsea rally driver Becky Kirvan ended her rally season on a high last weekend when she successfully finished the Cambrian rally and in doing so took the BTRDA Ladies Championship title.

After a car-destroying accident on her previous event and the championship win requiring a finish Kirvan and co-driver Rob Walters had no plans to set the stages alight and they made a cautious start on the opening pair of tests in Clocaenog forest in North Wales, taking 7th in class as the crews headed to the first service halt.

"The forest tracks were very slippery and it would have been easy to push too hard and go off," said Kirvan.

"It was my first time competing since the accident so I gradually built up my confidence and took no risks in the opening stages. The guys at Rally4Real had worked flat out getting the car rebuilt and I didn’t want to let them down."

The rally then moved to Penmachno for a pair of stages, which included a run around the very popular spectator point in Penmachno quarry. As her confidence grew Kirvan increased her pace whilst being mindful of the slippery conditions and the championship being at stake.

The event returned to Clocaenog for the final pair of stages. The fifth stage went well with Kirvan having a clear run and she entered the final stage just needing to get to the end to win the Ladies title.

The final stage did not go smoothly though with the car suffering a puncture part way through the course. The crew decided to stop and change the wheel so as to prevent any mechanical damage to the car from the disintegrating tyre. Although several minutes time were lost a delighted Kirvan made it to the finish.

"I was absolutely thrilled to get to the finish, I had been very nervous before the event with the Ladies title relying on me getting to the end of the rally."

"The year has been brilliant and has exceeded all my expectations having had some time out from the sport before this championship. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it and it has been great to compete against all the other crews. Thanks to Rally4Real and Peart Auto Services for all their support."

Kirvan is now planning next season’s rallying and she will test her new Fiesta ST for the first time in a couple of weeks. If sufficient funding can be secured she hopes to compete in the popular BRC Challenge next year. Any business wishing to become involved in the Becky Kirvan Rallying team can contact her via www.beckykirvan.co.uk.

Images from the Cambrian Rally


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Monday, 11 October 2010

Images from the Tunnocks Mull Rally


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Edwards takes best ever result on island rally

Bolton le Sands rally driver Dave Edwards enjoyed a very successful Mull Rally last weekend when he claimed 32nd place overall from a 130 car entry, his best ever result on the island.

With Edwards' regular co-driver acting as team manager this year Brampton's Caroline Lodge was drafted in to navigate his New Breed UK-backed Vauxhall Astra. The event is one of the toughest in the UK with the competition taking place over very tight and twisty tarmac roads, mostly during the night, so it was vital that the new pairing worked well together.

Leg 1 of the rally kicked off on Friday evening with the 14 mile Glen Aros stage. The intention was to start cautiously but as soon as the flag dropped Edwards was pushing hard and within a few miles he had caught the car that started a minute ahead, executing an overtaking manoeuvre in front a large crowd of spectators in Dervaig village. Starting from car 85 Edwards was already up to 61st place. With the second stage cancelled due to an accident Edwards headed to the Loch Scridain test, a short but very demanding stretch of road. Another good performance saw him move up the leaderboard to 52nd.

"My plans to take it easy at first went out of the window and we were pleased with the pace, especially catching the crew in front," said Edwards. "Loch Scridain went well too, the stage had claimed a few victims so we kept it tidy and didn't take any risks."

Three further stages completed Leg 1, Edwards and Lodge had no problems other than a slight moment on the notorious "Steps" section of the Calgary stage. They ended the leg in 47th place.

Leg 2 saw the only stages to be held in daylight and the Astra crew continued their climb up the leaderboard over the 35 competitive miles, gaining a further seven places to move up to 40th.

"The daytime stages were good and I was pleased with our performance. Our main problem was with the tyres, we were using a soft compound and they were getting too hot and losing grip. This cost us a bit of time on the Mishnish Lochs stage."

The third and final leg was the longest and, with it being held entirely in the dark, it would provide a very tough end to the event. Edwards and Lodge again sufferered tyre problems on the opening stage of the leg, a 22 mile run past Loch Tuath and around Calgary. There was drama in the following Mishnish Lochs stage as a washer fluid bottle almost ended their event.

"The washer bottle is inside the car and it came loose part way through the stage, leaking fluid which caused the windows to steam up. I tried using the heated windscreen but this failed and we were left with very poor visability which contributed to us going off the road at a tight bend near the end of the stage."

"Fortunately I kept my foot on the accelerator and we bounced out of the hole we landed in, it would've been very easy to have rolled the car there which may have spelt the end of our rally. We did suffer some damage though, a wheel and stud was broken and we had a flat tyre till the end of the stage. The service crew did a brilliant job in service to get the car fixed ready for the remaining stages."

With his confidence dented slightly with the off Edwards did not push so hard in the following stage but he was back on the pace for the final two stages, especially in the final 14 mile stage where he gained seven places on the leaderboard to finish a brilliant 32nd as the crews crossed the finishing line in Tobermory.

"I'm very happy with the result, my aim was to improve on last year's finishing position and I achieved that. The car performed really well and Caroline did a great job navigating, especially as it was the first time we had competed together. Thanks to everyone who made the event happen and all my team."

Becky returns after Radnor roll

Burton Pidsea driver Becky Kirvan will make her return to competition on next weekend’s Cambrian rally after a car-destroying accident on her last event.

Kirvan and co-driver Rob Walters are both fully recovered from the dramatic crash on the Woodpecker rally in September and the Rally4Real.com team have been flat out rebuilding the Peart Auto Services-backed Nissan Micra.

The Cambrian is the final round of the BTRDA championship and, with Kirvan in with a chance of taking the ladies title, it was vital that the car be ready for the North Wales event.

"There was not a lot that could be salvaged from the car after the Woodpecker accident," said Kirvan. "Fortunately for me, the Rally4Real guys already had a spare body shell and they’ve worked really hard to get it ready for the Cambrian which I’m very grateful for."

"I’ve not driven competitively since the crash so I will be gradually building up my pace and confidence on the event as I do not want to end up down a hillside again, it was not a pleasant experience."

"I need to get a good finish to try and take the ladies championship title so that will be my aim for the event."

As well as the Cambrian rally Kirvan is hoping to test her new Fiesta ST rally car in October in preparation for a planned assault on the BRC Challenge championship in 2011. The car is available for marketing purposes and interested companies are invited to get in touch via www.beckykirvan.co.uk for a portfolio.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Championship hopes end in Yorkshire for Peart

Burton Pidsea’s Chris Peart ended his BRC Challenge rally season last weekend with a disappointing retirement on the final round of the championship, the Trackrod Challenge rally. The retirement ended his hopes of taking the championship title.

Going into the event Peart had been just three points behind the championship leader and, with the event using some of his favourite Yorkshire forests, he had a good chance of claiming the crown.

The opening Housedale stage saw Peart and co-driver Jamie Forrest take third fastest time and second in class but it all went wrong on the second stage when his Peart Auto Services-backed Vauxhall Corsa S1600 ran wide on a bend and clipped a tree which caused damage to the wheel, brake disc and steering. The damage was severe enough to put Peart out of the event and end his championship hopes.

"The first stage went ok, we were still getting used to the car with it being our first time competing in it on gravel," said Peart.

"We were pushing hard on the second stage but took a long sweeping bend a little too quickly. There was a tree right next to the track and we hit it as we ran wide. Sadly the resulting damage meant we couldn’t continue."

"It’s a disappointing way to end the championship but overall I’m very pleased with my year, we’ve been competitive and the events have been very enjoyable."

Peart is currently deciding on his plans for 2011 and may contest some local events in the remainder of 2010.

For more information please visit http://www.pasmotorsport.co.uk.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Sykes aims to end season on a high

Stourbridge rally driver Richard Sykes is hoping for a troublefree run on next weekend’s International Rally Yorkshire after a disappointing rally season which has been the worst he has ever encountered with several potential good results spoiled by problems.

The rally is the final round of the Citroën Racing Trophy which Sykes has been contesting in his Dulux Trade Paints, G I Sykes and Boroughbridge Marina backed Citroën C2 R2 Max.

Sykes’ last event in the C2 was the Rally Isle of Man which was held on closed public roads over two days in July. Sykes and co-driver Simon Taylor showed good pace on the notoriously tricky tarmac stages and they were lying in third place in the Citroën Racing Trophy part way through day two when their event came to a premature end.

On the 19th out of 21 stages it was absolutely pouring with rain and it was very difficult to maintain traction. Sykes and Australian driver Molly Taylor were only two seconds apart battling for third place and pushing as hard as they dare in the atrocious conditions. A fast section of open road where speeds of over 100mph were gained tightened quickly into an unseen corner and Sykes aquaplaned off the road and went through a large hedge at 90 mph and ended up 50 metres into a field. The crew did get the car out of the field but it took 23 minutes and they were out of time at the next time control.

"It was disheartening to have to retire again, we had been going well and I was pleased to be third in the Trophy," said Sykes.

"Day one of the event was fine, the stages were very enjoyable and we pushed hard to stay on the pace. It was great to see all the spectators out, especially in Castletown where the stage went right through the town centre."

"Day two started well also although the fog and rain in some stages made the conditions very hazardous. We maintained our position though and it looked as though we were on for a podium finish until the Ballanank stage when we went off the road and into retirement.”

After missing the championship round in Ulster Sykes has decided to return for the last round which sees the crews tackle some of the classic rally stages in the forests of North Yorkshire, starting with a tough 16 miles in Langdale forest on Friday night.

"I’m hoping that the International Rally Yorkshire will be a good event for us after all the disappointments we’ve had this year. The Friday night stage will be a big challenge, especially if we get the wind and rain that often appears in Yorkshire when there’s a rally on."

"We’ve got a packed day of stages on Saturday too including the famous Dalby stage. I’m going to be flat out from the start and giving it my all to try and get a good result."

For further information please visit www.gisykes.co.uk.

Peart set for championship battle in Yorkshire

Burton Pidsea’s Chris Peart goes into the final round of the BRC Challenge rally championship next weekend, the Trackrod Challenge Rally, with a chance of taking the title as he lies just three points behind the leader.

Peart and co-driver Jamie Forrest have enjoyed a very successful season so far and with the last championship round being held in Peart’s favourite Yorkshire forests hopes are high that they could take the title.

"The Yorkshire forests are pretty local to me and I’ve competed in them many times," said Peart. "After a season competing in places such as Wales and the Isle of Man it’s good to end the championship in Yorkshire and I’ll be pushing very hard to try and get the championship lead."

With the engine in his forest rallying car not ready Peart will use the Peart Auto Services-backed Vauxhall Corsa which he took to two second placed results on his last championship event, the Isle of Man Challenge Rally.

"It’s unfortunate that the car we used for the earlier forest events cannot be used, it’s quite a disadvantage to use the Corsa as I’ve never used it on gravel before. Hopefully I will get an opportunity to test the car before the rally."

The rally takes place next Saturday (25th September) and it includes stages in the classic North Yorkshire forests of Langdale and Dalby.

For further information on Chris Peart’s rallying please visit www.pasmotorsport.co.uk.

Edwards to take on Isle of Mull rally challenge

Bolton-le-Sands rally driver Dave Edwards is completing preparations for his annual battle with the tight and tricky roads of the Isle of Mull where he will contest the Mull Rally for the third time in early October.

The event, which has been held on the island for 40 years, is one of the toughest in the UK with a lot of the competition taking place through the night. All the rally stages are on closed public roads which are very testing in the dry and treacherous in the wet.

Edwards has finished the event on the two occasions he has competed, gaining valuable experience and confidence with every mile. In 2009 he finished a brilliant 47th from a start number of 145 and his aim this year is to finish even higher up the leaderboard.

Although he will use the same Vauxhall Astra GSi as previously Edwards will have a new co-driver for the event. Regular co-driver Rachel Medich is acting as Team Manager this year with Brampton’s Caroline Lodge taking up the navigator role. Lodge is a very experienced co-driver but, although she has attended the rally many times, she has never competed on Mull.

"It’s going to take a while to get used to a new co-driver," said Edwards. "You cannot take any risks on the Mull roads so we’ll take our time and get into the swing of things. We’re both a bit apprehensive but I’m sure once we get started it’ll be fine."

Edwards and his team have made several changes to the car from last year. A dog box has been fitted and a new exhaust system together with some rewiring after a nasty experience on the 2009 event when all the lights went out after a heavy landing. The car has been lightened too which should give it some extra speed.

"I’m hoping for a dry event so that I can make use of the car’s extra speed but the weather on Mull never goes to plan, you can start of a stage in dry conditions and it can be torrential rain within a few miles. Choosing the correct tyres is very difficult. Hopefully the rewiring will avoid a repeat of last year's incident with the lights, I definitely don't want to experience that again!"

With just over two weeks to go to the event Edwards is busy making arrangements for his chase car and service crew.

"We have service breaks in the middle of the night so we have to sort out proper lighting for the service crew. The crew are a vital part of the team and I’m very fortunate to have a top notch experienced bunch of guys to help us fix anything that goes wrong."

"At the moment I'm feeling a mix of worry and excitement, doing the rally is a huge challenge but I'm confident that all the team are very much up for it."

Edwards is looking for company sponsorship for his Mull challenge and interested companies are invited to get in touch via songasport@gmail.com.

The team are planning to provide live reports of their progress on the event with updates hopefully being available on www.mudmagnetrallying.co.uk and www.twitter.com/mulldaves throughout the rally.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Cristofaro flies to Brawdy victory

Rally driver Nick Cristofaro ended his Junior rallying career last weekend with a dominant victory in the Brawdy Stages rally which was held at Brawdy airfield in West Wales.

Cristofaro, 17, was co-driven on the event by Motorsport News journalist Sean Moriarty who is writing a feature on junior rallying. The new pairing got off to a brilliant start in their Nissan Micra, setting fastest time on the opening stage of the event.

"I quickly got used to Sean in the co-driver's seat and also to driving on tarmac again after my forest rally outing the weekend before," said Cristofaro. "We had a slight problem on the opening stage with our tyres getting too hot which resulted in a lot of understeer but other than that we had no incidents."

From the second stage onwards Cristofaro, from Milford Haven, concentrated on keeping his lines as smooth as possible to prevent the tyres from overheating and it was a tactic which paid off as he built up his lead on all the remaining stages, ending up a minute up on his nearest rival at the finish.

"It was a very successful day, it was great to finish my Junior rallying championship on a high. I would like to say thanks to Tristan Dodd for organising the championship, it has given me invaluable experience of competing on tarmac rallies and I'm aiming to put that to good use in the rest of my rallying career. Thanks also to the championship sponsors, especially Kick Energy who funded some test days in the forests which were also very useful in helping me prepare for a future in the sport."

Moriarty enjoyed his day co-driving, “I was really surprised at the standard of driving from all the juniors and it was a great day out. I was a lot busier in the co-driver’s seat than I expected as I tried to deliver the route instructions to Nick. The Juniors are getting a very valuable grounding in the sport and will be more than prepared when they move up to senior rallying. The Junior rally feature will appear in Motorsport News in late September or early October so please keep an eye out for it.”

Cristofaro is hoping to compete in some national level forestry level events in the next few months, starting with the Cambrian rally in October. His plans depend on finding sufficient funding, potential sponsors are invited to get in touch via http://www.nickcristofaro.co.nr for a portfolio.

The Brawdy Stages will be televised on the Ralio programme on S4C on 23rd September at 9.30pm.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Cristofaro passes Woodpecker rally test

Milford Haven rally driver Nick Cristofaro successfully completed a very testing week when he reached the finish of the Woodpecker Stages rally in Ludlow last weekend and in doing so became one of the youngest ever competitors to complete a national level rally in the UK.

Cristofaro has been competing in the Junior 1000 championship, a series of events for 14-17 year olds which does not require a driving licence. However, national level rallies need a full driving licence and with his 17th birthday on 28th August and the offer of a drive on the national Woodpecker rally on 4th September the race was on for Cristofaro to pass both his theory and driving test.

His theory test was successfully passed on his birthday and, with the assistance of Simon Mottram at Fast Track Driving School, Cristofaro passed his driving test on 2nd September with flying colours.

“With the Woodpecker just a week after my birthday the pressure was on to get both the theory and practical tests done,” said Cristofaro. “Simon from Fast Track was brilliant though and taught me all I needed to know to pass, I highly recommend him if you want to get your test done and dusted in a small amount of time!”

With his new licence in hand Cristofaro headed to Ludlow for the Woodpecker event where he had been given a free drive in a VW Lupo courtesy of Rallyschool.co.uk. The rally was Cristofaro’s first using pacenotes and also his first on a gravel surface. With a new more powerful car to get used to as well Cristofaro faced a very challenging day if he was to reach the rally finish.

The opening stage of the event in Bringewood forest went well and Cristofaro and co-driver Emma Morrison had no problems. After a cautious start Cristofaro increased his pace throughout the day to be well positioned in his class at the rally finish.

"It was a very steep learning curve, the Lupo has around twice the power of my own rally car as well as different brakes and handling," commented Cristofaro. "I did not want to retire from my first national event so I gradually got quicker as I got more comfortable with the car."

"We had one slight incident where the intercom stopped working, we were coming down a hill at around 90mph and suddenly there was a chicane. I tried to slow the car down as fast as I could but we arrived at the chicane too quickly and hit a log but fortunately there was little damage and we carried on to the finish."

"I was delighted to reach the end of the event and was very pleased with my performance, thanks to Rallyschool.co.uk for the drive."

Cristofaro will be competing in his final Junior event next weekend at Brawdy airfield and after that he hopes to sell his Micra and try and get sponsorship to compete in the British Rally Championship next year. Potential sponsors are invited to get in touch via www.nickcristofaro.co.nr for a portfolio. As well as Brawdy he is also planning to compete in the Cambrian rally in October, Wales Rally GB in November and the Grizedale Stages in December. Cristofaro has also been chosen by Robert Reid of the MSA to take part in the Elite Driver Academy where he will undertake an intense course involving driver fitness, psychology and nutrition.

Image courtesy Simon Clarke

Fuel pressure problems end victory hopes for Wright

Bentham rally driver David Wright suffered an early retirement on last weekend's Merrick rally in South West Scotland when fuel pressure problems forced his Drenth, Proflex, Kumho Tyres and Grove Hill Garage-backed GPM Mitsubishi Evo 9 out of the event after the first stage.

2009 BTRDA champion Wright and co-driver Michael Wilkinson were competing on the Wigtown-based event to gain experience ahead of a possible switch to the Scottish Rally Championship in 2011.

Sadly for Wright the Evo's fuel pump popped a seal half way through the opening stage and the resulting loss of fuel pressure ended the event.

"I was gutted to retire so early," said Wright. "The first half of the stage had gone really well and then we had the problem and that was that."

"It's especially disappointing as I heard we were three seconds up on the eventual rally winner half way through the stage so it could've been a good battle."

"The competition at the top of the leaderboard is extrememly close in the Scottish championship and I'm seriously considering competing in the events next year."

Wright will now concentrate on completing his new car which he hopes to debut before the end of the year.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Radnor roll ends rally for Becky

Burton Pidsea rally driver Becky Kirvan made a dramatic exit from last weekend's Woodpecker Stages rally when her Nissan Micra rolled after leaving the track at high speed. The accident destroyed the car and left Kirvan badly bruised and co-driver Rob Walters with a dislocated shoulder.

Kirvan made a good start to the event, taking the Rally4Real.com hire car to seventh in class on the opening Bringewood stage but a spin on stage two was followed by a time consuming off in stage three which dropped her to the back of the field.

"The Bringewood stage went well although the steep uphill sections were a struggle in our car," said Kirvan. "The stage two spin cost a few seconds and then we lost a lot more time in stage three. Fortunately some spectators were able to get us out of the hole that the car landed in, I'm grateful to them for their help."

Kirvan continued to push hard in the fourth stage in Radnor forest but disaster struck on a very quick section of the course when a compression in the track unsettled the car and threw it off the road. The Peart Auto Services-backed machine collided with several tree stumps as it rolled down a hillside and by the time it came to rest the bodyshell was wrecked.

"We were flat out going down a hill and then as the track bottomed out there was a compression which made the back of the car step out of line. There was no time to correct it and we were immediately off the track and rolling down the hillside. The car took a very big impact on the tree stumps and it rolled three or four times."

"I'm very grateful to the rescue and recovery crews for helping Rob and myself and also extracting what was left of the car. Although we've both got injuries it could've been a lot worse, I am lucky that the Rally4Real car was very well built."

"I am hoping to be out again on the Cambrian rally in October although I am not sure what car I will use. We're going to strip the Micra and see if anything can be salvaged."

Despite the accident Kirvan still leads the BTRDA ladies championship with one round to go.

For more information please visit www.beckykirvan.co.uk.

Image courtesy Simon Clarke

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Woodpecker next for rally girl Bex


Burton Pidsea rally driver Becky Kirvan resumes her BTRDA Rally First championship campaign next weekend (4th September) when she contests the Woodpecker Stages rally in her Rally4Real.com Nissan Micra.

Kirvan presently lies in third place in the Rally First 1.4 championship and she is also leading the ladies championship. With two rounds to go she is keen to get a good result to build on her successful year so far.

"This year has exceeded all my expectations up to now, I am very pleased with my results," said Kirvan.

"My aim for the Woodpecker is to be as close as I can to the leading Rally First crews and get a good haul of championship points."


Rob Walters will co-drive on the event, the pairing having previously contested the Dukeries rally in June.

"Unfortunately my regular co-driver, Sherryn, has had to withdraw so I am grateful to Rob for stepping in. I've never competed on the stages used by the Woodpecker before but I'm confident Rob and I will make a good team."

"Hopefully our little Peart Auto Service-backed Micra will perform as well as it has all year and we'll be able to get a decent result."

The rally takes place on 4th September when the crews will start from Ludlow racecourse before facing 44 miles of competitive action in the nearby forests.

For more information please visit www.beckykirvan.co.uk.

Wright returns for Merrick Stages

Bentham based driver David Wright will return to rally action next weekend when he contests the Merrick Stages rally in South West Scotland.

Wright, who has not competed since the Dukeries rally in June, has been busy building a new car which is almost ready but he will use his familiar Giles Philips Motorsport Mitsuibishi Evo 9 on the event. As usual he will be partnered by co-driver Michael Wilkinson in the Kumho Tyres, Proflex, Drenth and Grove Hill Garage-supported machine.

"After nearly two years of competing on the BTRDA championship I've decided to have a change and try one of the Scottish Rally Championship rounds," said Wright.

"Doing the Scottish series is one of the options I am seriously considering for next year so it will be good to see what the Merrick is like and also to compare our times against the championship crews."

"I last competed in forests of South West Scotland in 2004, the stages are amongst my favourites, I really enjoy the fast and flowing nature of them."

"The new car should be ready in a couple of weeks so hopefully we'll be able to get it out an event before the end of the year."

The rally is based in Wigtown and will be fought over 44 miles of stages in the local forests.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Cristofaro faces testing build-up to national rally debut

Milford Haven teenager Nick Cristofaro is ready to make his debut on the national rally scene in early September – but he’ll have to pass his driving test first!

Cristofaro has been taking part in the Junior 1000 rally championship for two years, a series of events which allows drivers between the age of 14 and 17 to compete against each other. After taking numerous wins and with his 17th birthday approaching Cristofaro has had the offer of a free drive from Rallyschool.co.uk on the Ludlow-based Woodpecker Stages rally. The Woodpecker is part of the national BTRDA rally championship and it takes place on forest gravel tracks which will be a new experience for Cristofaro.

"The events I have done in the Juniors have mainly been on tarmac so it will be a big learning curve for me," said Cristofaro. "I also have to get used to having pacenotes for the route which will be another new experience as we do not have them in the Junior events, although I will have an experienced co-driver with me so I am sure it will be no problem."

"It will be good to finally get onto a gravel surface as I have waited a long time for the opportunity. Hopefully the experience I have picked up in the Junior championship will help me. I’ll be happy if I can bring the car home to the finish."


Before he can make debut Cristofaro faces the prospect of completing both his driving theory and practical tests.

"I am not 17 until 28th August so I have a week to pass both the theory and practical tests as I need a driving licence in order to do the event. This puts a lot of extra pressure on me doing the tests but there is nothing better than a challenge!"

Cristofaro has been selected for the drive by the Rallyschool.co.uk business and he will use one of their VW Lupo cars with a 1400cc engine which produces double the power of his usual Nissan Micra car. John Goff, owner of the business, said "Rallyschool have watched Nick’s progress at Junior level and the way in which he has conducted himself, not only in his highs, of which there have been many, but also the lows he has had to endure. As a school we always look to support young talent and we feel Nick has a promising future in the sport hence we are proud to lend a hand in his development. Our briefing to Nick will be to go out there and enjoy the day, the result is not an issue."

For more information please visit www.nickcristofaro.co.nr.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Kirvan up to third after successful Quinton rally

Burton Pidsea rally driver Becky Kirvan enjoyed another successful event last weekend when she contested the latest round of the Rally First championship, the Llandovery-based Quinton Stages.

The event had a tough start for the crews with the 11 miles of the Dixies stage which used some of the same roads as Britain’s World Rally Championship round. Kirvan and co-driver Sherryn Roberts were quick out of the blocks to take 7th in class in their Rally4Real.com Nissan Micra.

"The first stage was amazing, it was a lot longer than most of the ones I have competed on so far this year," said Kirvan.

"There were some lovely flowing and sweeping bends and I got into a good rhythm. We managed to carry decent speed through the corners which is so important in these little cars to keep up the momentum and we set a good time that I was very happy with."

Kirvan maintained her position over the remaining stages with the Peart Auto Services supported Micra running faultlessly.

"We had a few big moments in the stages as I was pushing as hard as I could but fortunately we got away with them and got to the finish in seventh."

"The Rally4Real team made a few suspension adjustments to the Micra after the last event and they worked well, I was pleased with the car's handling and my own performance too."

"The result has moved me up to third in the Rally First 1.4 championship with two rounds to go and, with the tough competition in the class, I’m very happy with my position. I am also still in the lead of the ladies championship so I have plenty of incentive to go as hard as possible on the remaining events."

Kirvan’s next event will be the Woodpecker rally in early September. For more information please visit www.beckykirvan.co.uk.

Image courtesy Simon Clarke

Double delight on Isle of Man for Peart

Burton Pidsea’s Chris Peart had a productive weekend on the Isle of Man when he took second place on each of the two Isle of Man Challenge rally rounds he contested in his Vauxhall Corsa S1600.

After a very disappointing last round when the car engine blew before the rally start Peart and co-driver Jamie Forrest were keen to get their championship challenge back on track on the island.

The first event consisted of nine stages on the tricky stages which were held on closed public roads. The opening stage saw the crews start from a foggy TT Grandstand in Douglas for a short blast along part of the TT course. Peart’s event got off to a great start when he set fastest time on the stage.

Three longer stages followed and Peart showed consistent pace in very changeable conditions to hold second placed behind local driver Kevin Vondy after the Corlea stage.

“I was delighted to be lying in second after the early stages,” said Peart. “The weather conditions made driving difficult but we had a troublefree run through all the stages.”

At over 17 miles stage 6, Ballanank, was the longest of the first event and with a mix of fast wide roads and tight and bumpy lanes it was a big challenge for the crews. Peart maintained his quick pace to stay in second place. A third and second quickest time followed on the next stages with Peart ending the event on a high by taking quickest time on the famous Tholt-y-Will stage although the time was not enough to overhaul the event winner.

“Second was a brilliant result, I was very happy with that. We had a good steady run and the car was faultless.”

The second Challenge event saw the crews compete over eight stages. Conditions were again changeable although as the day progressed the mist and rain became worse, making driving at speed very hazardous. Peart was again on the pace and by the end of stage four he was leading the event.

“The rain got very heavy in some of the stages and the tarmac was extremely slippery, we also had to contend with thick mist. To be in the lead in those conditions was very pleasing.”

Second place on the fifth stage saw Peart drop to second on the leaderboard. His clean run continued until the eighth stage when a wheel was damaged on the Peart Auto Services supported Corsa but despite this he kept his second place. The wheel was changed prior to the ninth and final stage which would see the crews tackle the notoriously difficult Druidale road in the mountains before dropping down into Douglas to a finish back at the TT Grandstand.

Despite being over a minute behind the leader Peart pushed very hard on the last stage and, despite a faulty intercom, he stormed to quickest fastest time taking 56 seconds off the leader but it wasn’t quite enough to take the win.

“After our disastrous Jim Clark rally our aim for the two events was to collect a good haul of points for the championship and it’s great that we have achieved that.”

“The last stage was fantastic, the Druidale section was very tough and then the run down past Injebreck was extremely slippery, it was a fantastic way to end the event.”

Peart now lies in second place in the BRC Challenge and he will contest his final event of the championship, the Trackrod Challenge rally, in late September.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Kirvan ready for Quinton rally challenge

Rally driver Becky Kirvan, from Burton Pidsea, returns to competition next weekend on the Quinton Stages event, round five of the Rally First 1.4 national championship.

After missing the first round of the championship Kirvan has had a good run of results which see her presently lying in fourth place in the championship and she is keen to continue her success.

“I’ve had a good season so far and I’m pleased to have finished all the events I’ve entered,” said Kirvan.

“It’s brilliant to be fourth in the championship, I didn’t expect to be so high up having not competed regularly since 2007. As an added bonus I am also leading the Ladies championship.”

“The stages on the Quinton will all be new to me. Some of the tracks are also used for the World Rally Championship event so it’s exciting that we’ll be driving on the roads that the best crews in the world use.”

Kirvan will contest the event in her usual Rally4Real.com Nissan Micra with support from Peart Auto Services. After missing the last round Sherryn Roberts returns to the co-drivers seat.

The rally is based in Llandovery with the crews doing 44 competitive miles in the forests around Crychan and Halfway.

For all the latest news and pictures please visit www.beckykirvan.co.uk.

Image courtesy Simon Clarke

Peart hopes for better luck on Isle of Man Challenge Rally

Burton Pidsea rally driver Chris Peart is hoping for a change of fortune next week when he contests the Isle of Man Challenge Rally.

After a good start to the season with fourth and second place on the opening two rounds of the BRC Challenge Peart suffered a blown engine on his Vauxhall Astra before he had even started the last championship round in Scotland.

He will use a different car on the Isle of Man event, a tarmac-specification Vauxhall Corsa S1600 with support from Peart Auto Services.

“The blown engine on the last round meant we scored zero points so we’ve dropped down to fifth in the BRC Challenge,” said Peart.

“The Isle of Man Challenge event counts as two championship rounds with points to be scored on each of the two days that the rally runs. It’s vital that we get a good haul of points on both rounds.”

“The Corsa was bought from a Manx driver so hopefully it should go well on the island’s lanes. We did an event at Twyford to test the car and finished fourth overall so the car definitely has the performance.”

The event is based in Douglas and will be fought over 17 special stages totalling 134 miles. The first stage starts from the TT Grandstand on Friday morning.

Please visit www.pasmotorsport.co.uk for more information on Chris Peart’s rallying.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Group B history returns to Rally Isle of Man

Rally Isle of Man fans will have the chance to re-live one of the golden era’s of rallying on this years’ event, as some of the most famous cars in the sports history take to the islands unique stages one more time.

The organisers are delighted to announce that the awe-inspiring Group B cars of the 1980’s will bring their own jaw-dropping sights and sounds back to the event, with each of the 12 cars part of the folklore of rallying.

And it won’t simply be a static display; the cars will be driven on each of the 21 closed roads stages of the rally immediately before the present day stars of the Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship head into high speed action, a package that should be a huge draw for spectators.

Among them are an original works 1986 Peugeot 205 T16 Evo, the model that provided Finnish great Juha Kankkunen with the first of his four world crowns and swept the marque to the Manufacturers title too.

Also from 1986 comes a Rothmans Austin Rover Metro 6R4 as used at British Championship level by Jimmy McRae, and a Marlboro Nissan 240 RS from the world series.

Other vehicles include works specification Talbot Sunbeam Lotus and Ford Escort MkII’s from the famous Andrews Heat for Hire team synonymous with British rallying legend Russell Brookes, a Repsol Lancia Delta Intergrale Evo and a works Ford RS200.

It’s a stunning line-up assembled by the Rallying with Group B Club, and that list is only part of the visiting team!

Group B took rallying to a whole new level between 1982 and 1986, opening up the ease for manufacturers to join the sport. It had few restrictions on technology and design, leading to some of the quickest, most powerful and sophisticated rally cars ever built. Indeed the leading cars could out-perform Formula One cars of the time!

The genre’s biggest success on Rally Isle of Man came in 1986, when Tony Pond swept to his fourth victory with Rob Arthur in the Computervision Austin Rover Metro 6R4. Shortly afterwards the cars were banned following a series of accidents.

So make sure you find the time to catch the cars in action - as the group themselves say, once seen, never forgotten!

Rally Isle of Man comes to town

Brand new for 2010, Rally Isle of Man will bring the stars of British Rallying and a whole lot more to the public as never before next Thursday evening, 8th July.

The Rally Isle of Man Launch Event will take place on North Quay in Douglas, and will bring the stars and their cars to the public, offering you the chance to get up close before they start the famous event the following morning.

A parade of cars from the famous Group B era of rallying will be on display from 8pm, a rally photographers dream in itself.

Then from 8.30pm the crews and cars of the Isle of Man International Rally will arrive, with the stars of the Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship.

They’ll be on hand for interviews and an autograph session, so bring your programmes along (also on sale at the event).

There’ll also be the opportunity to sign up to marshal on the event, or simply find out what’s involved.

So this is your chance to meet drivers such as Mark Higgins, the most successful in the events history, reigning British champion Keith Cronin and the Welsh legend Gwyndaf Evans, and a whole lot more besides…

…it’s the essential start to Rally Isle of Man, so don’t miss out!

BHRC Isle of Man preview

The 2010 Dunlop/WONAGO.com MSA British Historic Rally Championship switches to asphalt for round five, the Isle of Man Historic Rally on 9/10 July.
The challenging closed public roads of the island always make up one of the most spectacular events of the season and with extra championship points available on this round, there is everything to play for as the leading crews head for Douglas.

Category 1: Heading the category one field will be the Sunbeam Tiger of Jonathan Gale/James Whitaker, winners of the opening round in Wales in March. Consistent top finishes have put them well in contention for the overall title, but now comes the biggest challenge of the season. The Tiger crashed out on the island a year ago, and Gale knows well enough that a strong finish this weekend will really set-up his title bid.

The biggest challenge to the Tiger will come defending champions Dessie Nutt and Geraldine McBride in their Porsche 911 and no crew has more experience of the Manx roads than the Irish pairing. If Nutt is to retain his title, he needs to beat the Tiger this time. Joining the category one field is the Porsche 911 of Rikki Proffitt/Barry Green and the wonderful Austin Healey 3000 of Graham Goodall/Peter Gilbert.

In class B4, Isle of Man veterans John and Stephen Moxon field their Volvo Amazon to continue a run on the island that goes back more than 30 years. Against them will be the rapid MGB of David Mylchreest/Allan Cathers, while fellow local crew Tom Shimmin/Darren Leadley head class B3 in their Ford Cortina. Notable among the smaller cars is the flying Singer Chamois of Gary and Jane Edgington, which will humble some of the more powerful cars with its pace.

Category 2: Former champions David Stokes and Guy Weaver will head the category two field, for the post-historic cars, in their Ford Escort Mk1 and will be as spectacular as ever. After a troubled start to the season, they won on the Severn Valley and can win again the island, where they have traditionally been very strong. Prime rivals to Stokes will be Rupert Lomax and David Alcock, who will be just as entertaining to watch in their Escort Mk1. Having missed the first half of the season while sorting out a fresh engine, Lomax will be eager to get back into competition.

Chasing the Escorts will be the Porsche 911of Peter Smith/Russ Langthorne, which scored a famous victory in Kielder in April, while class C3 should be the domain of Andrew Siddall and Captain Thompson in their Pinto-powered Escort Mk1. Isle of Man debutants Jeremy Wells and Peter Phillips will chase Siddall in C3, but will be pleased to simply see the finish on Saturday afternoon after the toughest event of Wells' rallying career to date.

Category 3: The category three contest is very open with at least four crews firmly in contention for glory. In championship terms, Will Onions and Dave Williams have the most to gain as they enjoy their best season to date with Onions' Mk2 Escort. His friend and rival Darren Moon – partnered as usual by Chris Parsons – will be a major contender, as will local aces Connor Corkill and Rob Fagg, who are having a great season in their Escort Mk2. Local knowledge could just help them take a first major victory and there would be no more popular victor on Saturday afternoon than young Corkill.

But then there is the Porsche 911 of another local ace in the form of Adrian Kermode, partnered by Maurice Beckett. They could just be the crew to topple all the Escorts. But Kermode also has a strong D4 field to watch out for, including the Lotus Sunbeams of Adrian and Dan Seabridge and John Kirkpatrick/Martyn Quine, along with the Triumph TR7 V8 of Stephen Hall and Alan Jackson. Meanwhile, making a long overdue return to the island after more than a quarter of a century away is the Opel Ascona 400 of Theo Bengry/Les Forsbrook. More quick category three Escorts include those of Roger Kilty/Lynette Banks and David Pritchard/Emyr Hall.

In class D3, for the Pinto-powered Escort Mk2s, Mark Clifford and Graham Wild will start as favourites as Clifford tries to repeat his previous top 10 overall finish on the island. His rivals include son and father crew Matt and Dood Pearce in their Escort RS2000.

The Isle of Man Historic Rally is organised by Manx International Rally Ltd. For more details about the event, please visit the website at: www.mir.co.im. The historic rally starts from Douglas on Friday morning (9 July) and finishes on Saturday afternoon.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Higgins headlines strong entry for Rally Isle of Man

Local hero Mark Higgins will after all bid for an incredible sixth Rally Isle of Man crown in early July after submitting a last minute entry for the event as the deadline loomed.

It had been feared that the driver, who last year took a record-breaking fifth win, would end a 20-year run of consecutive appearances on his home event, as he is not contesting the 2010 Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship.

The three time BRC champion, down to drive a Subaru Impreza, is however sure to face strong opposition as every single one of the top 15 drivers in this years title hunt are also on the list!

They are headed by Welsh rally legend Gwyndaf Evans, who has taken victory for the JRM Mitsubishi squad on the last two rounds, the Pirelli and Jim Clark events, and will be desperate to finally put his name on the ‘Manx’ trophy after coming close so many times down the years.

Reigning champion Keith Cronin won much acclaim as he fought a tumultuous battle with Higgins last year, and going one better this time in his Pirelli TEG Sport Subaru would also put the Cork drivers’ title defence back on track.

Underlining the quality, all of last years top six return, with young Alistair Fisher aiming to better a brilliant third place. The Revolution Wheels Mitsubishi driver has declared a win on this event as one of his main career ambitions, with the obvious family history associated with it through his late uncle Bertie.

Add in current points leader and fellow Northern Ireland countryman Jonny Greer (Mitsubishi) and Craig Breen in the screaming state-of-the-art Ford Fiesta Super 2000, Scotland’s ‘young guns’ Dave Weston junior and Euan Thorburn along with England’s Adam Gould in Subaru’s, as well as the island’s own challenge headed by Steve Quine (a brilliant fourth last year), and Nigel Cannell (both in Mitsubishi’s), and there’s the makings of an absolute cracker…and that’s only the International event!

The top contenders for the hugely popular Historic Rally include many leading drivers from the Dunlop/Wonago.com British Championship. The spectator-friendly Ford Escort’s dominate, in the hands of Shrewsbury’s Will Onions, Omagh’s Ryan Barrett, rising local star Connor Corkill and former winner David Stokes to name but a few.

They’ll be joined by other former victors Adrian Kermode and Dessie Nutt in Porsche 911’s, and a returning Theo Bengry (Opel Ascona), who scored top six finishes on the International in the 1980’s.

The Challenge Rally category also features the main title contenders from the BRC Challenge. Entries are in from all the top three on the table; Callum Black (MG ZR), Brett Griffin (Peugeot 106) and Jonathan Cunningham (Ford Fiesta ST).

Jim Clark Challenge Rally winner Richard Archer (Vauxhall Corsa) however has a long record in the Manx lanes and will provide a stiff benchmark, as will rapid local driver Kevin Vondy (Corsa), who joins the fray for the first time. Many other local drivers are also entered for the non-Championship Challenge category.

In total just over 100 rally crews are set to tackle the islands famous closed roads stages on Friday 9th and Saturday 10th July, and the spread of quality looks set to make it an event not to be missed!

Monday, 21 June 2010

Cristofaro fights back to triumph at Caerwent

Junior rally driver Nick Cristofaro, from Milford Haven, took his second victory of the season on the Mid-Summer Caerwent event last Sunday after battling back from a time-consuming problem early on in the day.

Cristofaro, fresh from his brilliant performance at the Chatsworth rallyshow where he beat one of the stars of the World Rally Championship, was keen to build on his victory in the TSH Stages event in May.

The rally got off to a disappointing start, an electrical problem meaning the 1.0 litre Nissan Micra was only running on three cylinders for ten miles of the opening stage. Cristofaro and co-driver Emma Morrison lost 21 seconds to the leading crew.

“It was a shock to have a problem so early in the event and a big disappointment to lose so much time,” said Cristofaro.

“Fortunately we were able to fix the car in service and so we were back with a full complement of cylinders for stage two.”

Over the next three stages Cristofaro clawed back time on the leaders and at the completion of the fourth stage he was just one second behind first place. On the fifth stage, despite suffering a puncture, he gained the lead, albeit by just one second.

There was no let up in Cristofaro’s pace over the final two stages of the event and his commitment was rewarded by taking another two fastest stages times, ending up with a victory margin of 12 seconds.

“I’m very happy with the result, especially after the problem on the first stage. I pushed very hard to get back the time we lost and I’m delighted that we were able to catch up and pass the leaders.”

“The result puts me in a good position in the Kick Energy/Acceleration TV Formula 1000 Junior championship, with dropped scores taken account of I’m in joint second place. I’ll be aiming to go one better than that over the remaining rounds.”

Cristofaro’s next Junior championship round is at the Brawdy Stages in September but as he turns 17 in August he is hoping that he can pass his driving test and compete in a forest rally before then if funds permit.

Mid-Wales Stages BHRC report

Nick Elliott and Dave Price made it three wins out of four this season as the Dunlop/WONAGO.com MSA British Historic Rally Championship made its final visit of the season to Wales on Sunday (20 June) for the Mid Wales Historic Stages. Rob Smith/Shaun O’Gorman challenged, but their Vauxhall Chevette collected three punctures and handed second in category three to the Escort Mk2 of Gareth Lloyd/Ryland James. Jeremy Easson/Alun Cook (Ford Escort Mk1) finally took a win in category two, having led the duelling Tim Jones and Andrew Siddall all day, while rivals David Stokes/Guy Weaver ended their rally in a ditch. In category one the Porsche 911 of Dessie Nutt and Geraldine McBride was briefly led by the Sunbeam Tiger of Jonathan Gale, until the Tiger became permanently beached on a bank.

Category 1: For the third successive rally dust was a prime factor, but it didn’t seem to bother Nutt/McBride, as the Porsche 911 pulled out an immediate 12 seconds lead over Gale/James Whittaker on the opening stage in Hafren South. “It was a lovely stage, but the dust wasn’t clearing,” said Nutt. “We had a stall which didn’t help,” Gale replied.

Graham Waite and Gill Cotton reported a quiet start in their Volvo Amazon, but were still third and well clear of fellow Amazon crew Dave Reynolds/Cliff Doe. “It was dying on me a bit out of hairpins so I had to keep dipping the clutch,” said Reynolds. Gwilym Roberts/Gwawr Hughes (Lotus Cortina) had a few brake problems, but Geoff Taylor/Steve Greenhill (Imp) had to stop in the stage after finding Steven Graham’s Lancia Fulvia on its roof in the middle of the stage. There was a stage in Hafren North and a repeat of the opener before returning to service. “I am almost fell off the road on stage two, it was very loose and I slid around a lot,” said Nutt. The result was Gale in the lead by one second, only to go out of the rally on stage three, with the Tiger beached on a bank. Nutt was left 39 seconds clear of new second man Waite, who really went for it over the remaining stages.

However, Nutt still had 28 seconds in hand at the finish. "That was very hard work all day,” said the defending champion. “I forgot to plug the intercom in on stage five so lost a bit, but the Pikes Peak stage four was awesome,” said Waite. Reynolds held on to third with Roberts fourth after a dramatic end to the day. “We had the brakes go and then a rear puncture on stage three, before breaking the gear lever at the first corner of stage four. So we used mole grips but forgot there was no gaiter when we went through the water splash,” said a soggy Roberts. Taylor’s Imp had been plagued with oil pressure problems and overheating in the dust all day. “The clutch seized and then the engine blew on stage four,” he reported of the car's demise.

Category 2: Easson and Cook had come close to winning on several occasions this year, but finally clinched victory this time around. Both Easson and Stokes were given a notional time in stage one after a stoppage, which left them tied with Andrew Siddall/Colin Thompson and seven seconds up on Tim Jones/Don James as Siddall and Jones contested class C3. “It was lucky for us, as when we returned to service we found a rear puncture,” said Easson. Jones had lost time after damaging the steering on his Escort Mk1. “I hit a bank and it took the steering wheel out of my hands, it’s hurt my wrist too,” said Jones.

With two stages before returning to service it was nip and tuck between Easson and Stokes, but on stage three Stokes was caught out in the dust. “I was too quick into a hairpin, I could see trees so went left through the tapes and hit reverse. I thought I had kept it straight but we tipped it on its side in a ditch,” he admitted.
Easson was left 27 seconds clear, but second placed Siddall only had four seconds in hand over Jones. “We had two good runs and got the time back,” said Jones. “We went off on stage three, I stayed on the brakes too long and went up a bank,” Siddall replied.

Peter Smith/Russ Langthorne (Porsche 911) worked its way past Chris Browne/Liz Jordan (Escort Mk1) for fourth. “We peeled the front back a bit on the bumps,” said Smith. “I hit something on stage three and it affected the handling,” Browne added. Jones' pressure gave him second place from stage four and he even took time out of Easson on the last stage to clinch second and C3 honours over Siddall. “That was a really hard rally,” said Easson at the finish. “It was no holds barred and we tried our hardest,” Siddall explained. “We just went for consistency and got Andrew, but my wrist was really beginning to hurt,” Jones concluded. C5 winner Smith retained fourth relatively unscathed, but as Browne slipped back to settle in 11th and second behind Easson in C5, Vince Bristow/Tim Sayer brought their Escort Mk1 into fifth from stage four. “We had an oil leak from the gearbox early on and it got onto the clutch. Towards the end it was slipping badly," said the giant-killing class C2 winners.

Rex Ireland/Adrian Scadding were sixth and second in C2, while Jeremy Wells/Pete Phillips broke away from Dave Kirby/Sean Kennedy (class C2 Escort) to secure seventh and third in C3. Fellow C3 crews Richard Morgan/Tim Madeley (Porsche 914) and Richard/Pat Egger (Escort Mk1) completed the top ten. Peter McDowell/Max Utting (Porsche 911) collected second in C4 and there was even a starter in C1 this time, but the BHRC debut of Steve and Tony Graham lasted only half a stage before their Lancia Fulvia rolled. The maiden outing for Terry Cree and Richard Shores in their eagerly awaited BMW 2002 netted them fourth in C3.

Category 3: There was a dramatic start to the day, which underlined the decision of Elliott and Price to proceed with caution. Will Onions and Dave Williams were off at the flying finish on the opening stage with their Escort Mk2 and the next four crews were give a notional time. “We were sideways for about 100 yards on the approach and then hit a bank head on. A bit too enthusiastic,” said Onions. It was a lucky break though for Smith/ O’Gorman. “When we got into service we realised we had a rear puncture,” said the Chevette driver. Onions had still set a time, albeit 10s slower than Elliott. Roger Kilty and Lynette Banks were the first to get a clean run after the restart, but had clutch problems.

Elliott was quickest through stage two in Hafren North and the re-run of the opener in Hafren South to reach service 56s clear of Smith. “We were right on the pace, but had a near over the edge moment on stage two so held back a bit after that,” said Elliott. Connor Corkill/Rob Fagg (Escort Mk2) had gone into second place on stage two, only to roll on the third. “The corner went on a bit longer than I expected, we caught a bank and was over. We then had to stop again as it had punctured a rear tyre,” said Corkill.

Although second, Smith hadn’t had an easy run either. “We caught Corkill’s dust and it was losing gears and oil on stage three,” said Smith. Tim Pearcey/Craig Drew had slotted into fourth and despite a spin on stage three they held their place, but had been usurped by Gareth Lloyd/Ryland James (Escort Mk2). “The brake pedal went hard at a hairpin on stage two, but then it cleared again,” explained Lloyd. Elliott was quickest on all but the last stage to take a comfortable victory, his third out of four this season. “I had time in hand so eased a little but stayed cautious,” he said. Lloyd made it into second on stage four, after Smith had another puncture. “It was another rear and then only half a mile into the last stage we had a third puncture but just kept going,” he said after retaining third in category three and class D4 victory.

“I’m exhausted, it seems like I was in the car for weeks,” said Pearcey after coming home in an encouraging fourth, while in fifth Kilty was delighted to record his best ever finish. Alan Walker/Jez Rogers (Escort Mk2) survived a last stage scare to hold onto sixth. “We fell off on a downhill righthander,” said Walker. Phil and Mick Squires edged away from Simon Tysoe/Cliff Simmons to consolidate seventh, while Dick Slaughter/Geoff Dearing took ninth in their first outing since rolling in Kielder. “The clutch was playing up a bit, but we weren’t looking for heroics,” said Slaughter.

Class D3 winners Richard Lane and Frank Richer completed the top ten in their Escort Mk2 after bending the steering on the second stage. Jakob Scannell and Andrew Smith (Escort Mk2) were the only starters in D2 and despite losing the brakes on stage three were there at the finish. In D3 David Lloyd-Roberts/Dei Jones (Escort Mk2) followed Lane, with Wayne Bonser/Richard Aston third after Stephen Richards and Ian Withecombe rolled their Escort on the opening stage.

Mid-Wales Stages moves to March for 2011

The Rally Marketing Mid Wales Stages will move earlier in the season for 2011 following news that the event organisers from Newtown and District Automobile Club will run the popular event on Sunday 6 March 2011.

The historic element of the rally will now form the opening round of the 2011 Dunlop/WONAGO.com MSA British Historic Rally Championship.

The Mid Wales Stages will retain a similar format for its new date, with scrutineering and documentation on Saturday 5 March followed by the rally on Sunday 6 March. Once again, the rally will be based at Theatr Hafren in Newtown and will take in classic stages of the Hafren and Myherin complexes.

"The current date for the rally in June comes at such a busy time for everyone, and this change moves us away from that crowded part of the calendar," said event clerk of the course Chris Tomley. "It is a better time of year for lots of people, including the marshals. It also gives us the opportunity to grow the modern entry. We will keep the event to a similar format, with a compact route and regular visits to the service area."

The organisers of the MSA British Historic Rally Championship are delighted with the date change. "We really do welcome this change," said championship co-ordinator Simon Marks. "This is just what our calendar needed. It takes the pressure out of the middle of the season and spreads the championship nicely over seven months."

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

BHRC Round 4 Preview

The 2010 Dunlop/WONAGO.com MSA British Historic Rally Championship continues on Sunday (20 June) with round four, the Rally Marketing Mid Wales Historic Stages.
Despite coming at the busiest time of the calendar, a strong field will tackle the classic stages of Hafren and Myherin as used on Wales Rally GB in November. The rally also marks the end of the first batch of gravel rallies in the BHRC, with three asphalt events coming next through the summer months.

Category 1: Running first on the road will be the older cars in category one (pre '68) and three cars from the category are currently at the top of the overall BHRC title race. With a seven-point lead going into round four of eight, the Sunbeam Tiger of Jonathan Gale and James Whitaker is enjoying a great season and another strong result on Sunday will really underline their status of title favourites. But there is a long way to go yet and the result of round three, the Severn Valley Stages, showed that Dessie Nutt and Geraldine McBride (Porsche 911) are really taking the fight to the rumbling Tiger. However, it is not just about the two sports cars as the remarkable Volvo Amazon of Graham Waite and Gill Cotton currently lies between Gale and Nutt in the points' table after some tremendous performances.

Ranged against Waite in class B4 is the Lotus Cortina of Gwilym Roberts/Gwawr Hughes and the Volvo Amazon of Dave Reynolds/Cliff Doe. Among the smaller engined cars in category one, the Sunbeam Imp Sport of Geoff Taylor/Steve Greenhill is likely to set the pace and trouble some of the more powerful cars in the process.

Category 2: Category two, for the post-historic cars, is sure to be a re-match in the season-long contest between old rivals David Stokes and Jeremy Easson in their Escort Mk1s. Both are supremely experienced and it was Stokes, co-driven by Guy Weaver, who won the Severn Valley to make up for two non-finishes on the earlier events. Easson, meanwhile, is partnered by Alun Cook and will be pushing Stokes every inch of the way in what will surely be another excellent sporting contest. Other leading class C5 cars include the Escort Mk1 of Chris Browne/Liz Jordan.

A welcome return to UK historic rallying will be made by the Lancia Stratos of Steve Perez and Paul Spooner, which becomes quicker and more reliable with every event. Class C4 rivals to Perez include Peter Smith and Russ Langthorne in their Porsche 911RS, category two winners in Kielder.

Class C3, for the Pinto-powered Escort Mk1s, is one of the most competitive in the championship and is headed by Tim Jones/Don James, although they start the event one point behind Andrew Siddall/Captain Thompson in the championship battle.

In C2, the remarkable pace of the Escort Mk1 of Vince Bristow/Alan Sayer will set a formidable standard, with opposition from the similar cars of David Kirby/Sean Kennedy, Nigel Godden/Ian Orford and Gary Orton/Mike Morgan.

Category 3: The contest for category three will spearhead the event and it is the Mk2 Escort of Nick Elliott and Dave Price that heads the field away. They came back strongly from a big accident in Kielder to win the Severn Valley and they will surely set the pace again on Sunday.

Taking the battle to Elliott will be round two winners Will Onions and Dave Williams, while chasing hard will be Connor Corkill and Rob Fagg, who get quicker and quicker with every event. More very quick Escorts will be campaigned by Gareth Lloyd/Ryland James, Tim Pearcey/Craig Drew and Roger Kilty/Lynette Banks, while the class D4 Vauxhall Chevette of Rob Smith/Shaun O'Gorman will be right up with the best of the Escorts.

Richard Lane and Frank Richer currently dominate Class D3 during a superb season in their Pinto-powered Escort Mk2. Devon crew Stephen Richards/Ian Withecombe and Wayne Bonser/Richard Aston will be chasing, but the pace of Lane will make him very difficult to beat unless he has a problem. However, rallying returnee Shawn Rayner, partnered by Graham Dear, could be a darkhorse contender in D3 in the Escort Mk2 he last rallied more than a decade ago.

The Rally Marketing Mid Wales Historic Stages is organised by Newtown and District Automobile Club Ltd. For more details about the event, please visit the website at: www.MidWalesStages.co.uk

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Kirvan maintains championship position on Dukeries rally

Burton Pidsea’s Becky Kirvan successfully completed the Dukeries rally last weekend claiming seventh in class. In doing so she maintained both her fourth position in the BTRDA Rally First 1.4 championship and the lead of the lady driver championship.

The event, Kirvan’s third since making a comeback to rallying this year, was held on gravel tracks in Nottinghamshire including those in the well known Sherwood Pines forest.

With usual co-driver Sherryn Roberts not available for the event Kirvan had to get used to someone new in the passenger seat of the Rally4Real Nissan Micra, with Rob Walters reading the notes on this occasion. The pairing made a steady start on the opening two tests, Blidworth and Thieves Wood. Three longer stages followed in Sherwood Pines and Portland and Kirvan arrived at the midway service halt in eighth place in the RF1.4 class.

"I took the opening two stages fairly cautiously but tried to push a bit harder after that," said Kirvan.

"Unfortunately I think I pushed a bit too hard as we had several moments where I carried too much speed into corners and that, combined with the surface being looser than I expected, resulted in me taking a bad line which lost me time. The car also mounted a bank on a couple of occasions, apologies to any spectators I may have scared!"

New tyres were fitted to the Peart Auto Services-backed Micra at service and Kirvan moderated her enthusiasm on the corners to be much tidier on the afternoon stages which resulted in her moving up to seventh at the rally finish.

"At the start we were on the same tyres that we used on the previous event so they were pretty worn. The new tyres certainly made a difference and with me taking tidier lines around the corners our times improved."

"The Rally4Real Micra performed brilliantly once again, we had no problems at all. I enjoyed the stages and it’s good to have got another finish under my belt."

Kirvan will be competing again on the next RF1.4 championship round, the Quinton Stages rally in July. Please visit www.beckykirvan.co.uk to keep up to date with all the latest news and photos.

Image courtesy Simon Clarke Photography

Dukeries driveshaft disappointment for Wright

Bentham rally driver David Wright suffered a disappointing Dukeries rally last weekend when a broken driveshaft ended his hopes of a good result.

The event, held on gravel forestry tracks in Nottinghamshire, kicked off with the Blidworth stage. Wright and co-driver Michael Wilkinson made a good start in their GPM Mitsubishi Evo 9 claiming fifth overall and first in class. By the end of the second stage they had moved up to fourth place after another good time.

Disaster struck on the third stage though when part way through the Sherwood Pines forest test Wright slid up a bank at a corner with the rear of the car leaving the ground. Although they got off the bank the car was making ominous noises and it was decided to retire rather than risk further damage.

“We did well on the opening two stages and I was ready to push for third place in the Sherwood and Clipstone stages but it wasn’t to be,” said Wright.

“We had a look at the rear of the car as the noise sounded like a broken driveshaft. There was no visible damage so we reckoned the driveshaft had broken inside the diff. We could’ve struggled to the end of the stage but the time loss would mean there was no chance of a good result so we decided to retire.”

“It’s a very disappointing result, I think my hopes of retaining the BTRDA championship title are over now, we need overall wins to have a chance and our class of car does not have the pace of the World Rally cars that are winning the events.”

“I’m going to decide in the next couple of weeks whether to continue with the championship or to do some other events instead. We’re working on a new car at the moment so it would be good to get that out on some rallies before the end of the year. Thanks to Drenth, Proflex, Kumho Tyres and Grove Hill Garage for their support.”

Wright presently lies in seventh place in the BTRDA championship standings.

Image courtesy Simon Clarke Photography

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Junior rally driver Nick beats World Rally star!

Milford Haven rally driver Nick Cristofaro, 16, enjoyed a very successful weekend at the Chatsworth Rally Show which cumulated in him beating one of the stars of the World Rally Championship.

Cristofaro, who is competing in the Junior 1000 rally championship for drivers aged 14-17, was specially selected to take part in the popular Rally Show event which attracts many thousands of spectators.

After doing several demonstration runs in his Nissan Micra rally on the event’s rally stage Cristofaro took part in a competition which saw him do a timed run against World Rally Championship driver Henning Solberg, British National Champion Steve Perez and leading British Rally Championship contender Craig Breen, all of whom were in Micras. Amazingly Cristofaro set the joint fastest time with Breen and beat the times of Solberg and Perez.

Also taking part in the weekend’s activities were the M-Sport World Rally team. Their driver, Jari-Matti Latvala, set a time in the Ford Focus he usually uses in the World Rally Championship which was only nine seconds ahead of Cristofaro in his 1.0 litre Micra.

Cristofaro’s weekend was rounded of with rides in both the Breen’s Fiesta S2000 rally car and Perez’s Focus WRC.

“I was delighted to beat driver’s of the calibre of Henning Solberg and Steve Perez,” said Cristofaro. “I think they’re used to a lot more power than I am! Steve sat in with me when I did my run, he sponsors the Junior 1000 championship via his Kick Energy brand so it was good to be able to show him that his support is helping to produce competitive junior drivers.”

“Having the passenger rides in the Fiesta and Focus was brilliant too. My aim is to be driving those kind of cars in a few years so it was great to get some experience of their speed and handling.”

“I’d like to say thanks to Steve Perez for his support of both the weekend and the Junior championship and also for the rides in the Kick Energy-backed cars.”

Cristofaro returns to the Junior 1000 championship on June 20th with the Midsummer Caerwent Rally.