VICTORY FOR CUNNINGHAM AND GILL
Nine Mini crews made the journey to Belgium to race in Flanders.
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.
Winners on the day...Ray Cunningham and Jared Gill.