BOWEN RECOVERS FROM EARLY TROUBLE TO HEAD NW STAGES
Organiser: Motorsport (North West) Ltd. When: February 5/6 Where: Blackpool Championship: ANCC; NETRC; ANWCC; SD34 Starters: 90 Stages: 24
Simon Bowen and Richard Robinson recovered from an inauspicious start to finally win in their ex-petter Solberg Subaru Impreza WRC S11.
The victory looked unlikely with the pair mired in 12th place after Friday’s opening leg, but trouble for others helped them claw the deficit back.
With top seeds Tony Bardy and Neil Colman arriving late for scrutineering and having to run their Ford Focus WRC01 last on the road, it was Bowen who was first through the opening Lytham stage. That left him sweeping a path through the leaf-strewn woods in torrential rain leaving him to bemoan his tyre choice: “I put intermediates on and I should have had wets,” Bowen said.
At least he was still in the rally: John Stone and Carl Williamson’s run finished at the end of that 1.7-mile opener when the alternator on their Ford Fiesta S2500 failed.
Heading the standings following the opening pair of Lytham tests were Mark and Andrew Constantine in their Vauxhall Corsa, three seconds up on Tristan Pye and Andrew Falconer’s Impreza. Bardy was a further three seconds in arrears and tied for third with Ian and Kathryn Forgan in their two-litre Ford Ka.
Friday night’s short schedule was completed with a pair of three-mile tests on Blackpool Promenade, by the end of which Bardy was established as overnight leader. He had a six-second lead over Arron Newby and Rob Fagg, who had set fastest times at both venues on their debut with their new B13-spec Impreza. Pye was next, his time being matched by Charles and Lindsay Shaw, who had a set of remoulds on their Impreza. The Constantine brothers were running in fifth place.
More rain came on Saturday when Fleetwood Waterfront, Docks, Weeton and Blackpool Promenade made the bulk of the mileage. A break in the weather came with a further visit to Lytham, but timing issues forced the cancellation of one of the two stages.
Bowen started the day as he meant to go on with fastest time on each of the opening six stages and left SS10, Weeton 2, with a 21s advantage ahead of Bardy. Newby, Pye, Shaw and Constantine filled the next four places ahead of Damian Cole and Paul Morris, who headed Class D in their Escort Mk2. Chris Ford/ Michael Gilbey were eighth but were soon to retire their Impreza WRC with transmission issues. Andrew Varley/ Paul Wild (Escort Cosworth) and Andrew Fenwick/andrew Roughead (Proton S2000) completed the top 10.
Bardy then started to slowly chip away at Bowen’s lead until a moment of madness at the Docks led him to break two wheels, collect three punctures and pick up a stage maximum for good measure. Newby, enjoying a troublefree run, slotted into second place leaving Bardy to fend off Pye, who survived a few minor offs, for third.
With Shaw already out with clutch problems, Cole claimed fifth on the final stage after Lee Hastings and Julie Mcguire slipped to eighth as they struggled to restart their Impreza after the fuel pump cut out. Fenwick enjoyed a trouble-free run to finish sixth on his North West Stages debut. The Constantines ran out of fuel in sight of the final control and had to push their car the final few yards to claim seventh.
Mark and Ed Bentley had nothing more than a puncture on Weeton to contend with as they finished ninth ahead of fellow Impreza incumbents Steve Harvey and Andy Falconer, who survived moments at Fleetwood and Lytham. Breaking a ball joint on the final stage robbed Varley of a certain top 10 finish.
Class A winners Stephen Bethwaite and Ann Forster brought their Vauxhall Nova home 17th overall with concerns about imminent suspension failure. Finishing just behind them were Alistair Hutchinson and St John Dykes, who claimed Class C awards in their Renault Clio LPG. Suzuki Swift pairing Graham and Toby Marshall took the Class F prizes whilst Class L honours went to Clive Allford and Tom Thompson in their Land Rover Wolf XD.
1 Simon Bowen/ Richard Robinson (Subaru Impreza WRC S11) 1hr30m54s; 2 Arron Newby/ Rob Fagg (Impreza) +0m32s; 3 Tony Bardy/ Neil Colman (Ford Focus WRC01) +1m27s; 4 Tristan Pye/andrew Falconer (Impreza); 5 Damian Cole/ Paul Morris (Ford Escort Mk2); 6 Andrew Fenwick/andrew Roughead (Proton S2000); 7 Mark Constantine/andrew Constantine (Vauxhall Corsa); 8 Lee Hastings/julie Mcguire (Impreza); 9 Mark Bentley/ Ed Bentley (Subaru Impreza); 10 Steve Harvey/andy Falconer (Impreza). Class winners: Stephen Bethwaite/ann Forster (Vauxhall Nova); Constantine/ Constantine; Alistair Hutchinson/ St John Dykes (Renault Clio LPG); Cole/ Morris; Pye/ Falconer; Graham Marshall/toby Marshall (Suzuki Swift); Clive Allford/tom Thompson (Land Rover Wolf XD).
The general secretary of the MSA has written to all kart club chairmen and series co-ordinators warning of the problem of cyber bullying.
Simon Blunt’s comments follow a recent incident where a karter was vilified on social media for apparently causing a collision with another racer.
He said that kart clubs need to play an important role in avoiding such abuse and that the MSA is prepared to intervene in extreme cases.
In the letter, Blunt said: “I am deeply concerned about the potential consequences of inappropriate and unacceptable use of social media within our sport. We all know the fantastic power of social media as a tool to promote our sport, our clubs, our volunteers and, of course, our competitors.
“I am determined that the MSA must lead by setting a benchmark of acceptable behaviour online for everyone directly and indirectly involved in our sport across the UK.
“Abuse, aggression, intimidation, or bullying must not be tolerated at