Pirelli Historic Rally Report

Dunlop/Gambia MSA British Historic Rally Championship - round two:

Darren Moon and Chris Parsons were the big winners on round two of the 2009 Dunlop/Gambia MSA British Historic Rally Championship, the Pirelli Historic Rally (17/18 April).In a repeat of Moon's 2008 victory, they took their Ford Escort Mk2 to victory in category three after a tremendous performance. Other category victories went to the Porsches of Dessie Nutt/Geraldine McBride and Tim Mason/Graham Wild after six challenging stages in the Kershope and Kielder forest complexes.Category 1Running first on the road was a tough start for Jonathan and Graham Gale (Sunbeam Tiger) as the opening Glen Dhu stage was covered in loose gravel. They battled on, but were caught out towards the end of the stage and the Tiger slid off. It was undamaged, but could not be recovered before they went OTL. They restarted under super rally rules on Saturday to get some more time in the car.Instead, Nutt/McBride headed the category one cars by nearly a minute overnight despite finding conditions very tough in the Kershope stages. "There was no grip anywhere; I'm really glad to have survived those two stages," said Nutt.

The Porsche 911 crew took that advantage into Saturday's leg of four stages in the main Kielder complex and were able to control their pace to ensure a clear victory.Into a fine second place in the category, class B4 victory and the overall championship lead, went the Lotus Cortina of Paul Mankin/Desmond Bell. They had a clear run as Mankin arrived hot foot from a return holiday flight from Hong Kong, and finished a minute and a half down on Nutt.

Equally impressive was third overall in category one and B1 victory for the Sunbeam Imp Sport of Geoff Taylor/Steve Greenhill. They lost class rivals Gary and Jen Edgington when the Singer Chamois fell victim to a particularly rough section of stage two, The Valley. A rock damaged the engine bay and wrecked the carburettors and, despite a mighty effort, they were out of the rally.

Class B2 went to Mike Barratt/Jody Watson, another crew to suffer on the rough section of SS2 in the Mini Cooper, while Nick Pinkett/Jonathan Lodge claimed B3 in their V4-powered Saab 96.Category 2Rupert Lomax/David Alcock set the category two pace throughout much of the rally in their Escort Mk1, but were denied victory by a rotor arm failure on the Pundershaw stage that opened Saturday's competition. They dropped 90 seconds changing the arm, but still clawed their way back to third at the finish.

Instead, it was Mason/Wild who bagged the spoils after coming close before and suffering a run of minor problems on recent events."It was probably the tidiest I've ever driven," said Mason after a controlled performance.  Staying clear of punctures helped their progress and category two victory was a just reward.

However, just 14s down on the Porsche was the best of the class C3 pack, the Escort Mk1 of Drew Wylie/Howard Pridmore. Once again, C3 proved to be one of the most competitive of all the classes and Wylie drove a storming event to finish 50s up on Tim Jones/Don James. However, after three stages Wylie was dead level with the Escort of Russell Morgan/Martin Kenyon. But Morgan went out with engine trouble in SS4 and Wylie was left with a clear run to class victory. "I was pleased about the company we were keeping," said Wylie.Lomax/Alcock still took class C5, with second place going to Bob Bean/Malcolm Smithson on their first BHRC event with the ex-Jeremy Easson Escort Mk1. Easson and co-driver Alun Cook, meanwhile, took second in C4 with their Ford Capri RS3100 despite dramas with fuel vapourisation.

A great performance from Vince Bristow/Bob Duck secured a commanding class C2 in their Escort Mk1 as Matt Fowle/Steve Chapman and Richard Williams/Richard Ekin battled for second.Category 3The formbook for category three was really shaken up on the opening two stages of Friday evening. Nick Elliott/Dave Price set the pace on the first stage to take an immediate lead, but slid off on the second stage and ended their rally in a ditch.

But things were not much better for Julian Reynolds/Ian Oakey in the battle of the Mk2 Escorts. They hit major gearbox problems on the first stage and struggled through to service for a change of 'box. However, overheating woes and an off on Saturday morning brought their rally to a halt.

Instead, Moon and Parsons were turning in a great performance and upped their pace on Saturday morning to build a lead they would hold all the way back to the finish in Carlisle. "That's the first time I've got three Kielder in three attempts," said Parsons.

But it was never easy for Moon as Seamus O'Connell and Mark Glennerster mounted a major charge on Saturday after dropping time on Friday's stages. At the finish the gap was just 15s after O'Connell set fastest time on the final two stages.

Third overall in category three and clear class D3 victory came after a stunning performance by championship newcomers Ryan Barrett and Barry Ferris in their Pinto-engined Escort Mk2. Despite not knowing the region at all, they absolutely flew through Saturday's stages. Second in D3 went to Richard Lane/Frank Richer.

Third in D5 was another good Kielder result for Dick Slaughter/Geoff Dearing, who stayed clear of James Potter/Arwel Jenkins in one of the best BHRC results to date for Potter.The BHRC action resumes with round three, the Seven Valley Historic Rally, on 30 May.

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