Nine Mini crews made the jour­ney to Bel­gium to race in Flan­ders.

Mini Magazine - - Mini Scene -

The week­end of the 31 Au­gust/1 Septem­ber saw nine Mini crews make the jour­ney over­seas to Bel­gium to com­pete in the Conx­ion Om­loop van vlaan­deren Tour of Flan­ders for the fifth and sixth rounds of the HRCR Mini Sport Cup.

Com­pet­ing over the course of two days and 17 ex­hil­a­rat­ing stages, the Mini crews were truly tested, and Bel­gium cer­tainly did not go easy on them! Cho­sen this year as an al­ter­na­tive to the Manx Rally, the Tour of Flan­ders was well re­ceived by all of the crews that en­tered.

Mini Sport-spon­sored Clive King/An­ton Bird en­joyed a rather re­veal­ing recce, where some un­for­tu­nate road book mis­takes were brought to light — thank­fully hav­ing cor­rected these is­sues in their notes, the team set off with a con­fi­dent start for the be­gin­ning of the rally Fri­day evening. It was a tight start for crews who had to com­pete with rush hour traf­fic on the road sec­tions - Clive and An­ton noted that Ray Cun­ning­ham/Jared Gill had set off one minute be­fore them, yet were miss­ing back at con­trol! Ar­riv­ing two min­utes late, Ray and Jared ul­ti­mately dropped 20-sec­onds and then had to run be­hind Clive and An­ton - not the start the Irish crew wanted when de­fend­ing their cur­rent lead on the Cham­pi­onship!

The drama didn’t stop there, as at the start of the stage, Clive and An­ton’s in­ter­com sys­tem stopped work­ing! With no way to hear each other, the crew re­sorted to act­ing out the pace notes with hand sig­nals right up to Stage 3! A change of bat­tery in ser­vice solved the is­sue and they fin­ished fourth at the end of the day.

Day 2 saw Clive and An­ton push­ing hard and set­ting more great times — tak­ing two min­utes out of their main ri­vals Ray and Jared. This wasn’t the end of their woes how­ever, as af­ter some heavy brak­ing, they were met with a rau­cous clat­ter They thought the wheel had fallen off, but it turned out to be a punc­ture and the cal­liper bro­ken away from the hub to­tally smash­ing up the wheel. They ended up hav­ing to drive out of the Stage and the 30-miles back to ser­vice on the hand­brake. They fixed it, but Flan­ders was sadly over for the team.

This left Ray Cun­ning­ham and Jared Gill, who had an ex­cep­tional rally once again, in­clud­ing a great cut in the dark dur­ing Fri­day’s evening Stages. Un­for­tu­nately, Satur­day didn’t get off to a great start, where a small mis­take cost the pair valu­able sec­onds — but even that couldn’t stop them as they fin­ished first in MC2 and first over­all for both rounds.

Next up is the sev­enth round of the HRCR Mini Sport Cup, the Che­viot Stages Rally, on 28 Oc­to­ber.

Words and Pho­tog­ra­phy Cara Jack­son

Win­ners on the day...Ray Cun­ning­ham and Jared Gill.

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