Organiser: Club Rally Sport West When: January 23/24 Where: Brean Leisure Park, Burnham-on-sea, Somerset Championships: ASWMC Sealed Surface, AWMMC Heart of England; CMSG; Stages: 12 Starters: 96
Fast but consistent driving on a greasy stage surface paid dividends for Steve and Yvonne Furzeland, who got their 2016 season off to a good start by taking a well-crafted win on the Brean Stages in their Subaru Impreza WRC.
They beat Ian Godney/christopher Gifford, also Subaru Imprezamounted, by 1m08s, with Philip Hopkins/david Jenkins (Mitsubishi Lancer E6) in third position.
A winter engine rebuild gave Furzeland the ability to set the pace in the early miles. He was chased by the Mitsubishi Lancer E9s of Phil Turner/ Simon Anthony and Oliver Hopkins/ Ashley Trimble. Godney held fourth place after the opening test but was challenged by Rick and Siobhan Bliss, the husband-and-wife team using their Honda Civic’s handling to the full.
Unfortunately, the rally did not go well for third seeds, Gary Le Coadou/ Bill Paynter. Plagued by mechanical problems, they languished in 83rd place after stage one. They tried to fight back but their Toyota Corolla WRC succumbed to a broken gearbox on stage four.
Despite a scare when his rear diff started leaking oil, Furzeland steadily extended his lead during Saturday afternoon. Godney changed onto full wet tyres and moved up to second place on stage three, overhauling Turner, who was feeling unwell. Immediately behind, Philip Hopkins survived sliding onto the grass on stage four to hold Oliver Hopkins at bay. But Oliver, driving his new Group N Lancer E9 for the first time, fought back to finish Saturday 11 seconds ahead of his brother.
Sunday’s grey overcast weather made the stages even more slippery, but the conditions failed to faze Furzeland, who stayed trouble-free on his way to setting fastest time on five of the day’s six stages.
Godney’s full-on spirited driving style started to catch him out and he had several collisions with stage-side obstacles. These included a tyre barrier that dented his driver’s door, and a wheelie bin, which damaged the front end. On the final stage he still had hopes of pressuring Furzeland into a mistake. But they evaporated at the stage split; the Welshman spun his Impreza and the consequent time loss settled the issue in Furzeland’s favour.
Third-placed Philip Hopkins set a storming pace throughout the Sunday stages. Admitting to being over-cautious late on Saturday, he made amends with fastest time on stage seven and took third place on stage nine. “We’ve beaten a couple of WRC cars as well!” he happily announced at the finish.
Turner drove bravely to take fourth, despite continuing to feel unwell. He finished eight seconds ahead of Jim Munden/andy Frost, the former Ford Escort Mk2 crew continuing their learning curve with their new Subaru Impreza. Oliver Hopkins rounded out the top six, ahead of Tim Self/colin Mitchell. Their Impreza arrived at scrutineering straight from a pre-season engine rebuild.
Further down the field, Jack Gubb and new co-driver Matthew Davis (Vauxhall Nova) won Class A, holding off the persistent challenge of Ed Lambert/ Gareth Drayton (Peugeot 106). Class B went to Rick/siobhan Bliss (Honda Civic) on their first ever rally together, while the ever-consistent Josh Payton/ Marcus Mizen won Class C in their Escort Mk2. “We rolled it in Ireland last year, so it’s been reshelled,” said Payton. Geoff Bennett / Mike Stewart slithered their powerful Escort Mk2 to Class D victory.
Results 1 Steve Furzeland/yvonne Furzeland (Subaru Impreza S12 WRC) 1h06m48s; 2 Ian Godney/ Christopher Gifford (Subaru Impreza WRC); 1m08s; 3 Philip Hopkins/ David Jenkins (Mitsubishi Lancer E6); 4 Phil Turner/ Simon Anthony (Mitsubishi Lancer E9); 5 Jim Munden/andy Frost (Subaru Impreza); 6 Oliver Hopkins/ashley Trimble (Mitsubishi Lancer E9); 7 Tim Self/ Colin Mitchell (Subaru Impreza S14); 8 Josh Payton/ Marcus Mizen (Ford Escort Mk2); 9 Tony Munden/ David Perrot (Subaru Impreza); 10 Rick Bliss/ Siobhan Bliss (Honda Civic). Class winners A: Jack Gubb/ Matthew Davis (Vauxhall Nova); B: Bliss/ Bliss; C: Payton/ Mizen; D: Geoff Bennett/ Mike Stewart (Ford Escort Mk2); E: Furzeland/ Furzeland.