RED KITE STAGES REPORT 2016 by Mark Weller
All the Brecon Motor Club members entered on the 2016 Red Kite Historic Stages finished the tough event organised by Amman & District Motor Club. Sunday was a perfect start to the 2016 Mintex MSA British Historic Rally Championship for Jason Pritchard in his Escort RS1800 (with co-driver Phil Clarke). Jason Pritchard started his BHRC defence with outright victory, on this the opening championship round. The ice and snow of the 2015 Red Kite was replaced by strong winds, persistent rain and, at times thick fog to deliver another tough start to the season. Jason never put a wheel wrong in the Viking Motorsport prepared Ford Escort Mk2 and took maximum points to open their title defence in style.
Many Brecon members were out marshalling, helping with the running of SS1 & SS4- Crychan South Stages by attending to the stage finish plus some club marshals attended to the spectator area on the Route 60 stages SS2 & SS5. Poor visibility was a major challenge for competitors over the fast sweeps on the top of Epynt and conditions outside for the marshals was very tough. For the whole of the day they were ‘In the clouds’ with the moisture forming into rain drops in front of your face! Brecon MC Marshals on the event included Phil Cleaton, Mark Weller (and Sam), Douglas Griffiths,Steve Jennings and Cathy Haynes. Nigel, Peter,James and Lisa Chappelle, Martin Leonard, Dave Mac, Chris Philips and Austin Brill.
Jason Pritchard’s finish was no easy win in BHRC Category K as Nick Elliott ran neck-and-neck for the lead despite his Escort Mk2 RS1800 stalling on the opening stage. It was still very close for the lead until it happened again on the second run through Crychan. After spraying the champagne in Llandovery, Jason reported: “We had no dramas at all; we tried to avoid punctures and kept it nice and tidy.”
BHRC Category 1 was settled on the final stage in favour of Brecon M.C. father and son pairing of Bob and Dale Gibbons (Ford Cortina GT Mk2), who emerged as victors when the chasing Bob Bean had an electrical failure in his Lotus Cortina. The Gibbons boys took Category 1 but it was set for a tight finish as heading for the second run through final stage, the gap to Bean was only 11s. Bob arrived at the finish of Caio concerned that he might have eased back too much, however Bean never made it to the finish after a complete electrical failure stopped his car mid-stage.
Malcolm Rich, got back into competitive motorsport with vengeance last year by winning BHRC Category 1 in the 2015 championship in a little red 1500 pre-crossflow Ford Anglia. He was out for the first event mixing it with the big boys in his recently acquired Mk2 Escort RS1800, seeded as Car 33. Malcolm reported that “Steady was the word! I took a measured approach to the new car in the conditions, we were 9th fastest on route 60 which is encouraging and managed to pick up valuable championship points at the end of the day”. Malcolm brought the new Escort home to finish 2nd in Class F2 and 18th Overall. The next event for the BHRC competitors will be Rally North Wales.
In the Red Kite National B event, Car 48 was the seasoned pairing of David Jones (Dai Block) & Glyn Price in the newly rebuilt BMW E30. They had carried out a lot of work on the shell of the faithful 3 series E30 BMW after getting intimate with a bank over in the Isle of Man towards the end of last year. The usual reliable and consistent pairing finished 5th in class five and 20th overall, again making a good start to the year.
Craig Jones & Jon Hawkins were entered in Craig’s newly built Kermit Green BMW 328 Compact. They were seeded as car 71 and entered in the same class as Dai and Glyn. Craig said “After a very cautious first couple of stages I figured out what the car does on gravel as I haven't been in the woods before. I soon became at one with my new car and we got quicker throughout the day and I am pleased with the result at the end.” Craig finished 8th in class 5 and 31st overall with experienced Brecon & Epynt Motor Club Co-driver Jon Hawkins in the co-driver seat for this event. Craig is now looking forward to doing the Mid Wales stages in 2 weeks time with Dr Mike Bartlett as co-driver. It seems all the hard work and time to build the six cylinder 2.8 BMW over the winter combined with a recent mountain bike accident and his previous big rally accident on Epynt has given Craig a mature more controlled attitude to speed on this his introduction to gravel rallying.
Another Brecon Motor Club crew that of Car 124, the Peugeot 306 Gti of Cwmdu driver Jeff Jones & Co-driver Graham Isaac finished the event second in their class 3 and a respectable 43rd overall after some challenging engine and gearbox rebuild issues over the winter season sabbatical.