BRITISH HISTORIC RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
Classic forest stages at night — the final round had all this and more.
It’s Round 8 and the Trackrod Historic rally as the Escorts and Cortinas take to the forests.
Round 8: Trackrod Historic Cup, 30 September-1 October
Jason Pritchard and Phil Clarke won the 2016 Mintex MSA British Historic Rally Championship with a steady run through the Yorkshire forests on the Trackrod Historic Cup.
While Steve Bennett and Paul Spooner were top BHRC finishers after 55 fast stage miles in warm sunshine, Pritchard and Clarke did more than enough to become only the second crew to retain the BHRC crown.
The rally started with a 10-mile stage through Dalby in the dark of Friday evening and continued with five more classic Yorkshire stages on Saturday, including the 13-mile Langdale test. Knowing that they only had to finish the rally to retain their BHRC title, Pritchard and Clarke turned in a controlled performance to win the Holton Homes Category K after a trouble-free rally. “It was hard to concentrate, but we did what mattered,” said Pritchard, who had spent the rally listening to every noise from the car. However, the Ford Escort Mk2 ran faultlessly and their measured pace was still good enough for third among the BHRC contenders.
With Pritchard out of the reckoning for BHRC victory, it was Steve Bennett and Paul Spooner who took over as leading BHRC crew to give Bennett his first championship win. However, there was a scare over the final two stages in Cropton and Gale Rigg. “It didn’t want to go into first gear at the stage starts,” said Bennett. “But once it did go in, it was fine.” They also won the RSR Historic Engineering Category 3.
In class D3, for the Pinto-powered Mk2 Escorts, Shawn Rayner and Declan Dear clinched the BHRC class title after a major battle with rivals and friends Ben Friend and Cliffy Simmons. Friend chased hard but two spins in Dalby on Saturday took the edge off his challenge. Meanwhile, Chris Skill and Tom Jordan again topped class D2 in their 1600cc Escort, but two minutes in a ditch in Gale Rigg cost them what would have been a fabulous sixth overall in the historic field.
One of the drives of the rally came from Adam Milner and Roy Jarvis in their Crossflow-engined Mk1 Escort. Their pace in the under-powered car was nothing short of sensational and they were second among the BHRC contenders as they won the Capital Construction Category 2. That was probably the first time that a 1600cc car has won Category 2 on a BHRC round.
Warren Philliskirk and Nigel Hutchinson had a scare with fuel vapourisation early in Dalby on Saturday after a delay at the stage start, but otherwise had a very good day on home ground.
In the Vintage Car Radiator Company Category 1, Bob Bean and co-driver Captain Thompson brought the venerable Lotus Cortina home well clear of the puncture-delayed Mini Cooper of Phil Harris and Paul Kendrick.
The Trackrod Historic Cup was organised by the Trackrod Motor Club,
Ben Friend and Cliffy Simmons battled hard for class D3 in their Pintopowered Mk2 Escort.
Bob Bean and the impressively-named Captain Thompson took Category 1 victory in the Lotus Cortina.
Steve Bennett and Paul Spooner were highest-placed BHRC contenders on the Trackrod Historic.