Not a great weekend for two thirds of the BMC crews out on the stages at the weekend but a good day at the office for Malcolm Rich and Arwel Blainey who kept their championship hopes alive with a first in class and second in Category One on the Carlisle Stages. The Kielder straights don't suit the Anglia but the pair were in striking distance of the category leaders Porsche at all times ready to strike if he suffered a puncture or other problem. It was not to be but the result was a fair one in the circumstances and now they look forward to the Red Kite Stages in two weeks time where the more technical stages should suit them.

Mike Simpson had a weekend to forget, he doesn't seem to have any luck with Ryland James in the car and so it was again, sliding off into a ditch on the final Friday evening stage. The car was repaired overnight but gear selection problems on the run out to the first stage on Saturday morning finally cooked their goose. Hopefully everything can be rectified for the Red Kite.

Elsewhere Jason Pritchard was celebrating his birthday with a run in the S2000 Fiesta on the Rally van Wervik in Belgium.  The car looks and sounds great but it doesn't really have the grunt to challenge the R5 and WRC cars. Subsequently he and Phil Clarke struggled for pace but were still in a good points scoring position until they lost drive and headed for the bar. A great shame but with other retirements as well it will be interesting to see how the points table is looking.

An eventful day for many on Hereford Motor Club's Mini Epynt Stages and some interesting stories from our members. The first is not so good as Bob and Dale Gibbons continued their streak of bad luck when the gearbox in thier lovely Mk1 Escort decided it didn't want to play any longer. Better luck hopefully on the Red Kite for Bob in the Cortina.

Top BMC dog at the weekend was Craig Jones accompanied by Jon Hawkins who finished an accomplished 8th overall and 1st in class in the latest Mitsubishi Lancer EVO9. New brakes improved things this time out and they only missed out on a better place by 2 seconds. More time in the car and the times can only get quicker.

Eian Pritchard was out in a very special Escort originally built by MCD and now totally rebuilt at Phil Mills' Viking Motorsport.  The car looked immaculate and Eian, partnered with Phil Clarke, took a steady approach to the day eventually finishing in the top twenty. The car was christened by an Epynt sheep in the morning but a bit of T Cut should tidy it up again!

James Chappelle made a return to the driving seat when wife Lisa suffered a bad back. Under strict instructions to get the car back in one piece James promptly pulled the gearstick out! Words must have been had as he behaved for the rest of the day and Lisa still has a car for the Epynt hillclimbs.

Big thanks to Nigel, the two Dave's and the Brill clan (minus Austin who was on holiday AGAIN!) for marshalling the service 'in' control.

Jason Pritchard was back into his winning ways on the Manx National Rally at the weekend as he and Phil Clarke trounced the oppostion on the way to a fourth win on the island. The familiar Ford Focus never missed a beat as it reeled off a long string of fastest times although some caution had to be shown on Friday nights stages as the heavens opened making conditions atrocious. Saturday was a much drier day and Jason extended his lead to lead the field home to a champagne spraying celebration in Douglas,

Dai 'Block' Jones and Glyn Price recorded yet another finish in their venerable BMW on the Plains Rally, 55th overall was the result in a strong field. 

Well what a good weekend for BMC crews, Malcolm Rich, Arwel Blainey and Mike Simpson, Dale Gibbons towed the red Anglia and white Escort up to the Pirelli Rally in Kielder in search of points in the Fuchs Lubricants British Historic Rally Championship. They were not to be dissapointed as they both returned home with maximum class points. Mike was not looking forward to the infamous ditches on his first visit to these forests but he prevailed where others didn't and guided by Dale built even more confidence in the car. Malcolm and Arwel had a good run, they knew keeping up with a Porsche and Lotus Cortina would be unlikely in a pre crossflow Anglia but they weren't too far behind them at the end. In fact initially they had beaten them but a two minute flyer which gave them second fastest on the final stage was soon corrected! The only problem they encountered all day was catching a Mk2 Escort in stage which did not pull over quickly enough which in turn meant a Manta caught them. The up shot was a broken windscreen amongst other things as firstly the Escort showered them with stones and then the Manta did the same as they left the faster part of the stage for a more technical section. Arwel was only competing on his second ever event but is now getting well and truly into the swing of things.


The Dixies Challenge Rally organised by Forresters Car Club and Forest of Dean Motor Club was held on the southern side of the Epynt ranges using the shorter stages, Four club members, Craig Jones, Lisa Chappelle, Ken Owen and Abi Haycock were out and about in very different cars. Craig Jones was debuting his latest purchase, a Mitsubishi EVO9 and partnered by Dr Mike Bartlett they embarked on a learning curve. Things were tight at the top and Craig was running in fifth place overall at one time. A few problems ensued, a competitor with a broken drive shaft delayed them unintentionally and a self induced spin meant another loss of time leaving them in 8th place overall at the finish. Craig was pleased, he said 'I couldn't get used to the handbrake to start with and then we lost all the brakes completely. Add to that used hard compound tyres and I think the result was good, I'm pleased with how it went'.

Lisa Chappelle, with Mike Jode on the notes had a great confidence boosting day in the little Citroen Saxo. The car was really good all day and she had great fun trying to catch the Lancia Delta in front of her eventually making a pass on the final stage!  

Kenny Owen was drafted into the co-driver's seat with Paul Robins in his ex-Terry Brown Mk2 Escort and made a big improvement on seeding finishing 17th overall.

Abi Haycock had the pleasure of sitting in Tony Stiling's Lancia Delta and took a serene run around to finish 52nd overall.

Craig & MikeLisa & MikePaul & Kenny

Not to be ignored by any means was the efforts of other club members who stood out in the bone chilling wind. I saw Austin Brill, Darren Brill, Dave McIntyre, Dave Thomas, Geoff Lyons, Gwyneth Tyler-Lyons, Gethin Phillips and Mark Weller all working to keep the rally running. Martin Leonard was a club steward. Volunteer marshals are the backbone of the sport and it was a good showing.


It was a mixed weekend for BMC crews on Rally North Wales, with reigning BHRC champion Jason Pritchard going in a different direction this year it was left to rest to uphold honours. First problem fell to Dai Block Jones who made a school boy error when unloading the BMW from the trailer at scrutineering. Dai, you have to use the ramps! Where was Glyn, he knows you need to be looked after!! Thereafter their event went well and the intrepid pair took 16th overall in the modern 2WD event. 

The other three club entries were in the historic event and farmer Mike Simpson, with Dale Gibbons on the notes had a great run to finish 22nd overall and a strong second in class in their Mk1 Escort RS2000. Malcolm Rich and Arwel Blainey were a new pairing, Arwel making his debut as a co-driver as a few rotations of Dollgellau proved as they looked for the start! It was a steep learning curve but they persevered to finish 1st in class and 34th overall bagging excellent championship points, the red Anglia not missing a beat all day. In comparison Bob Gibbons suffered a nightmare in the new Mk2 Cortina with a poorly co-driver and more terminally a lost core plug from the new engine. The next event for the historic crews is the Pirelli Rally starting from Carlisle late in April where battle will recommence.

With thanks to Tudor Evans for the Anglia, Escort and BMW images and to Darren Bowen for the Cortina image.