Dunlop/Gambia MSA British Historic Rally Championship
Report, round six: Harry Flatters Historic RallyRight from the start of the Harry Flatters Historic Rally, Mark Solloway and Den Golding took control of the rally in their Ford Escort Mk2 and after nine stages on the classic Epynt ranges, they headed category three by almost a minute.
Round six of the 2008 Dunlop/Gambia MSA British Historic Rally was another excellent event as crews tackled the unique challenge of Epynt. Category wins for Steven Smith/Howard Pridmore and Patrick Watts/Elgan Davies were very important in championship terms, but it is Neil Calvert and Arlene Cookson who still head the points with two rallies to run.Category 1It was a busy weekend for Elgan Davies, as the Flatters clashed with a friend's wedding. He missed the recce while at the wedding, dashed up to Brecon for Saturday evening's leg and then rushed off to the evening party before returning to the rally on Sunday morning.But that didn't affect the pace of the Sunbeam Tiger and, though narrowly headed overnight by the Dessie Nutt/Geraldine McBride Porsche 911, Watts/Davies soon moved ahead on Sunday morning.
By the time they arrived at the finish back in Brecon, the Tiger was a minute clear of the Porsche, even though Watts declared Epynt not suited to the Tiger. "Like trying to park a double-decker bus in Tescos," was his analogy."We've been trying very hard," said Nutt after a very attacking performance.
A remarkable third in category one (and B2 victory) fell to James Stait/Gill Cotton in the MG Midget after a titanic battle over the final two stages with the Lotus Cortina of Neil Calvert and Arlene 'Miss Accrington Stanley' Cookson. Eventually, the gap was just 2.3s in favour of the Midget. "We really had to go for it on the last two stages," said Stait after a mighty performance.
Calvert/Cookson duly won B4 to retain their overall championship lead, despite breaking a tramp bar on Saturday evening. Second in B4 with a very strong run came Paul Mankin/Desmond Bell in their Lotus Cortina.
In B1, Gary and Jane Edgington had a tremendous run to victory as Gary made his Epynt debut in the Singer Chamois. A different engine had been fitted since the Isle of Man. "This one only revs to about 7200," said Gary.Category 2It all nearly went wrong for Smith/Pridmore over the big jump at the flying finish of the opening stage and a very heavy landing gave car and crew a major whack. But far worse was to come when Ken Forster/John Stanger-Leathes caught the jump marginally wrong, landed on the grass and rolled their Escort Mk1 four or five times. Thankfully the crew were okay and had the benefit of a check from Dessie Nutt when he arrived on the scene two minutes later.
Smith/Pridmore went into Sunday with a 4s lead over David Stokes/Guy Weaver (Escort Mk1) but were able to edge away as Stokes turned in another attacking drive to take second and win class C5. "We've broken the Pridmore jinx," said Smith at the finish, after two mechanical retirements on previous events with Howard co-driving. Second in C5 after a good event went to the Porsche of Peter Lythell/Chris Parsons.Other than a top-end misfire, Stokes had a clear run and went clear of Ernie Graham/Robin Kellard (Escort Mk1), while Frank Cunningham/Ryland James (Escort Mk1) took third in C5.
Though not registered for BHRC points, Toby Adam/Byron Jones had a fine run to C3 victory in their Escort Mk1, with maximum points going to Drew Wylie/Neil Ewing in their Escort. An excellent third in C3 came Robin Shuttleworth/Mark Midgley, on their first attempt at Epynt with a C3 car.
However, it would have been different had the Escort of Neal James/Kevin Jones not broken its diff on the penultimate stage, bringing a great performance to an end.Category 3The destiny of category three was never in much doubt with Solloway/Golding turning in another epic performance in the Escort Mk2. Into the lead overnight, they went further clear on Sunday and were able to measure their pace over the closing stages to win by just under a minute. "Just a good, safe run," said Solloway, despite showing the usual commitment that makes him so popular with the Epynt spectators.Another local legend headed the chase as Terry Brown and Kevin Evans ran second throughout in their Escort Mk2. A change of gearbox and propshaft kept them busy at main service.
One of the performances of the weekend came from Darren Moon and John McNichol (Escort Mk2), making their Epynt debut. They picked up their pace all the way through and were second fastest to Solloway on the final stage. "Very surprised," said Moon of the result. "I've enjoyed it," he added of the ranges.
Their increasing pace took Moon/McNichol clear of Simon Tysoe/Cliff Simmons as the rally progressed, but Tysoe was pleased just to finish after a run of dramas. Fourth in D5 was a good result, as Epynt newcomers Richard Hill/Patrick Cooper were next after a steady run following a cautious start on Saturday.
Class D3 was dominated by Arwel Evans and Arwel Jenkins with a typically spirited drive in their Escort Mk2, while young Conor Corkill, partnered by Howard Allison, turned in a very impressive debut run on Epynt to take second in class.