Monday, 20 April 2015

Sykes enjoys Somerset success


Stourbridge rally driver Richard Sykes got his BTRDA Mixed Surface Championship campaign off to a flying start when he finished second in class on the Somerset Stages in his Bathams Brewery, Boroughbridge Marina, G I Sykes and Body Clinic-supported Citro├źn DS3.

The rally started with two runs on the tarmac of the Porlock Hill toll road near Minehead. Sykes and co-driver Emma Morrison were immediately on the pace, finishing the stages just three seconds behind Callum Black in another DS3.

After the tarmac opening the rally moved onto gravel forest tracks for the remainder of the competition. Sykes was consistently quick and maintained his second in class position throughout the day. He also finished 18th overall out of 166 starters and third two-wheel drive car.

“It’s great to get a good result in the DS3. It’s a new car for this season and it has been a massive learning curve trying to get to grips with it,” said Sykes. “Porlock was the first time I have driven the car on tarmac so I was delighted with our times there. The forest stages went well too, we weren’t far behind Callum even though he has a lot more experience of the DS3 and he’s also got an extra performance kit fitted to his.”

“We used DMack tyres for the first time and they performed very well. We had no issues at all with the car and all in all it was a fantastic event. The BTRDA events don’t have as much mileage as the British Rally Championship ones I’m used to but they are still great fun.”

“There’s plenty more to come from the new car as I learn more about how to set it up and how best to drive it. It’s a completely different car to my previous one so it will take time to reach its full potential.” 

The championship switches to a full tarmac event for the next round as crews head to the high-speed roads of the Isle of Man for the Manx National rally. 

“The DS3s come into their own on tarmac so the pace is going to be frenetic. It will be very daunting, challenging and frightening but I can’t wait!”

Image courtesy Dave Johnson

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Images from BCCC Myherin


Please click here to see the photographs.

Duckworth wins on BCCC debut


Ben Duckworth won the opening round of the Britpart MSA British Cross Country Championship after a weekend-long battle with Mike Moran to kick off what looks like it will be a close season of competition in the offroad series, which has attracted additional support this year from new technical partner Ravenol. 

Moran set the pace on early on day one, opening up a lead of 21 seconds after three runs in his AT 4x4 Challenger. Duckworth was in second place on both his first BCCC event and his first event in his Milner LRM-1.  The pair were evenly matched over the remainder of day one with Moran leading by 24 seconds going in to day two. 

Third overnight was Ryan Cooke in another Milner LRM-1. Crews suffering problems on day one included Steve Smith who had an engine failure on his Clio and Paul Myers who had propshaft and trackrod end issues as well as an offroad excursion.

The lead was to change after the first run of day two, Duckworth completing the course 30 seconds faster than Moran. The pairing exchanged fastest times over the day and with one run to go Duckworth was 10 seconds up. In a tense finish Moran made up 8 seconds on the final run but victory went to Duckworth.

“I’m really pleased with the result,” said Duckworth. “We had a few teething problems with the car before the event so, although we knew it was quick, we weren’t sure how reliable it would be.”

“It was a brilliant course, we kept it consistent in the quick bits and tried not to lose much time in the offroad sections.”

2014 champion Moran was happy with second place on the first event for his newly lightened car.

“It was a perfect weekend really, we had no problems at all with the car, the course was great and there was tough competition. It’s good to see some new competitors joining the BCCC.”

Neil Davey finished third in his GSR 206 on his first BCCC event for several years with Cooke in fourth. 

“I’m happy to get a good finish,” commented Cooke. “We had a huge accident last time we were here so I was dreading coming back but we enjoyed the weekend. Fair play to the guys at the front, we gave it our all but they were quicker.”

Rounding off the top five was Jason Sharpe in the Isuzu DMax, Sharpe also winning the production class.

Mark Jacques was sixth in his 3M Challenger with Richard Green in seventh. After electrical problems resulted in two maximums on the first two runs Andy Powell battled back to finish eighth in his Simmbugghini. Championship newcomer Dean Gibbs was classified ninth although he had to take maximums for his final runs after his Milner left the road near the start. John Thorne, another championship debutant, completed the top ten in his Arctic Cat Wildcat. 

In the Freelander Challenge Ian Linford continued his 2014 form with another win. He faced tough competition from Andy Price who had been leading until a puncture and broken exhaust brought him to a halt on a steep uphill offroad section. Price was able to continue and finished second ahead of Craig Bounds. All female crew Louisa Felice and Jessica Reynolds finished fourth on their debut.

Gordon Monaghan won the Clubman category in his Monaghan RS.

BCCC Results

1. Ben Duckworth/Matthew Cook (Milner LRM-1)  01:46:54
2. Mike Moran/Tony Coid (AT 4x4 Challenger)  01:46:56
3. Neil Davey/Tony Barley (GSR 206 Evo 8)  01:49:04
4. Ryan Cooke/Lee Channing (Milner LRM-1)  01:50:26
5. Jason Sharpe/Richard Lester (Isuzu DMax)  01:56:32
6. Mark Jacques/Simon Last (3M Challenger)  01:58:18
7. Richard Green/Richard Griffiths (Tomcat 100)   01:59:47
8. Andy Powell/Phil Ibbotson (Simmbugghini)  02:08:57
9. Dean Gibbs/  (Milner R5)  02:11:23
10. John Thorne/  (Arctic Cat Wildcat)  02:12:31

Sunday, 5 April 2015

BCCC crews set for season opener


Competitors in the Britpart MSA British Cross Country Championship will head to Myherin next weekend for the opening event in this year’s series.

2014 champion Mike Moran will return to defend his title and will be first car on the road at round 1. He will use the same Lofthouse Motorsport-prepared AT 4x4 Challenger as last season but the car has undergone an extensive rebuild over the winter and is now lighter and more powerful than before. 

“The car has had its frame blasted and painted after some weight reduction work and the Jaguar engine has been completely rebuilt with a few modifications,” said Moran. “After problems with misting in the rain of Walters last year we've had a new heated screen fitted too. Tony Coid is returning as my navigator and has had a full course of exercise at a local gym! We'll be pushing hard to try and retain our title.”

Paul Myers, from championship sponsor Britpart, will start at car 2 in his Land Rover Tornado after a successful 2014 season. Andy Powell will be next on the road in his Simmbugghini. Powell will have former BCCC driver Phil Ibbotson in the navigator’s seat again.

The Jewson D-Max Rally Team have again entered the championship after a class-winning debut season last year in their Isuzu D-Max. The car will be driven by Jason Sharpe.

After mixed fortunes last year Paul Harris is hoping for better luck this season in his GSR Maxilight. Harris won the BCC Trophy title in 2012 and 2013 before stepping up to the main championship last year in his GSR Maxilight.

“After our success in the Trophy last year was pretty disappointing for us,” said Harris. “We had a lot of niggles with the car and eventually a head gasket failure which meant we didn’t complete the season.”

“Hopefully we’ll have better luck this year and get some good results. I’m looking forward to the racing, especially Bovington, which was great last year, and the new site at Hafren.”

Returning to the BCCC after several years absence is Neil Davey. Davey was an event winner in the 2008 championship so should be one to watch this year. He will use a GSR 206 Evo 8.

In the Freelander Challenge an all-female crew will take part for the first time this year. 2014 Freelander champion Ian Linford has been busy building a second ‘Team Sheepie’ car which will be driven by Louisa Felice and navigated by Jess Reynolds. The crew are new to comp safaris but both have experience of 4x4 trials. Linford will also be returning to the Challenge himself.

Another driver who will join the Freelander fun this season is Andy Kimble. Kimble, who previously competed in rallying, will return to motorsport after a break of 14 years. After making his debut at Bovington Andy Price is planning on contesting a full Freelander season this year. Before Bovington Price had not done any competition driving and he had not even driven offroad but he took his Freelander to a class win.

“I spent two season servicing Freelanders in the BCCC and I really wanted to drive in an event,” said Price. “I was able to get my standard Freelander ready for Bovington in just two weeks and the event was amazing. To top it off I got a class win!”

“I’ve done a lot of work to the car over the winter including strengthening the front end and upgrading the suspension. My aim for the season is to finish every event and hopefully push for a few trophies once we’ve got the car set-up sorted. I know I’m a rookie and the competition will be tough, a lad has got to dream though! I can’t wait for the season to start.”

The event will take place in Myherin forest with access to the site gained via “The Arch” picnic area. The action will start at 10am on Saturday and will go on to around 5pm with Sunday’s runs starting at 9am. The event is expected to finish early on Sunday afternoon. Spectator information is available on www.marches4x4.com.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Podium finish for Morgan on rally return


Bangor on Dee rally driver Harry Morgan enjoyed a hugely successful return to competition last weekend when he finished third in class on Rally North Wales. Morgan had not contested a rally since 2011, having taken time out to extensively upgrade his Nissan Micra.

Conditions were not ideal as heavy rain made the forest rally stages treacherous but Morgan made a good start, finishing the opening Gartheiniog stage fourth in class. Morgan continued to show place in stages two and three, maintaining his fourth place.

“Stage one went very well considering the driver was rather rusty and the co-driver had not used pacenotes before,” said Morgan.  “We had a few slides but I was very pleased to be in fourth and within 10 seconds of the class leader.”

“The second stage, Big Ray, was another good stage. I started to get to grips with the power of the new engine – I replaced the previous 1.0 engine with a much more powerful 1.4 version. We had one mishap in the stage, or rather just after it! We crossed the finish line at speed and immediately put the car into a ditch. Fortunately the car had no major damage and, as we’d already crossed the line, it didn’t cost us any stage time although it meant we were very tight on time on the road section.”

“After the drama at the end of stage two we took stage three a bit easier and made it back to service.”

Stage four, a second run through Gartheiniog, almost saw Morgan’s event end as a timber-lined bend caught him out, sending the Micra into a ditch. Fortunately he escaped with the loss of a small amount of time and his rear bumper. Stages five and six went more smoothly and Morgan had moved up to third in class at the event finish.

“We were lucky to not lose more in the stage four incident. We managed to really get into the swing of things in stages five and six, the car ran really well and we put in some good times.”

“I’m delighted to have finished third in class, I’ve put a lot of work into upgrading the car and I’ve been itching to get out in it and seeing how the new engine performs. Thanks to my service crew of Dad and Steve and all our family and friends that supported us on the event. Thanks also to the organisers and marshals on the rally, it was a great event and I’ll make sure I’m back for next year!”

Image courtesy Dave Johnson