Round 5: Woodpecker Stages
Julian Wilkes and Will Rutherford (Vauxhall Nova) became the first crew to retain the MSA English Rally Championship titles following another excellent result on the Woodpecker Stages, the fifth round of the MSA English Rally Championship, that took place in the forests of Shropshire and the Welsh Borders on Saturday. The event included 49 MSA English Rally Championship crews.
However it was certainly not easy for the champions who were involved in a tense 3 way battle in class E2 with Mat Smith / Giles Dykes (Ford Ka) and Dave Bennett / Alistair McNeil (Corsa). It was Bennett who set the pace on the first stage but put the car on its side on the second stage losing more than 3 minutes and bending a stub axel in the process. This allowed Smith to grab the lead but Wilkes fought back on stage three to be only a few seconds in arrears. At the Service halt Bennetts rather battered car was in desperate need of a replacement stub axel which was happily supplied by his rival Wilkes. Smith set another very quick time in the long Radnor stage with Bennett fastest on the final stage in Haye Park. So the maximum class E2 points went to Smith / Dykes but second place was just good enough for Wilkes and Rutherford to retain their championship tiles.
Class E1 for the standard BTRDA Rally First cars was won by James West / Steve Eggington (VW Lupo) after an all-day battle with Joe Evett / Calvin Houldsworth (MG ZR) which was only decided when the latter crew had problems on the long Radnor stage.
18 year old Cameron Davies accompanied by Michael Gilby (Fiesta ST) again scored maximum points in Class E4 and moved to the top of the Junior Drivers table whilst Thomas Lloyd / Craig Maggs (Peugeot 205 GTi) took the maximum points in Class E3. Meanwhile, Matthew Robinson / Nigel Hutchinson (Escort Mk2) won the up to 2000cc class on the event and with it maximum points in Class E5 ahead of the 2009 English Drivers Champion Jon Ballinger in the trusty Opel Manta.
Class winners on the Woodpecker StagesClass E1 James West / Steve Eggington VW Lupo 52m 08sClass E2 Mat Smith / Giles Dykes Ford Ka 48m 17s Class E3 Thomas Lloyd / Craig Maggs Peugeot 205GTi 51m 35sClass E4 Cameron Davies / Michael Gilby Fiesta ST 49m 26sClass E5 Matthew Robinson / Nigel Hutchinson Escort Mk2 46m 45s
Championship standings after Round 5
1. Julian Wilkes Taunton 123 2. Roger Priestnall Doncaster 1073. Peter Smith Driffield 1034. James West London 94 5. Robert Smith Aldermarston 886. Cameron Davies Llandovery 83= Robert Dennis Leigh 83
The next round of the MSA English Rally Championship will be the Trackrod Forest Rally on Sat 28th September based at Pickering, North Yorkshire.