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.
Manx Rally - congratulations to club member Jason Pritchard, first overall historic and putting his championship back on track, a faultless weekend by the looks of it. Trackrod next.
Dai Block Jones and Glyn Price were going well but lost drive after a ford in the banana beemer - unlucky.