BTRDA ROUND TWO: MALCOLM WILSON PAYNE WINS Williams in Fiesta R1 Double Simpson
Cruel last-stage luck for David Wright hands redemption to Charlie Payne. By Jack Benyon (AND KEEPS IT)
Steve Simpson and Patrick Walsh executed double duty over the weekend, making the 250-mile trip from the Malcolm Wilson Rally to the Tour of Epynt. Simpson swapped the Ford Fiesta S2000 used on the Malcolm Wilson for a Subaru Impreza WRC and the journey was worthwhile as he took the victory ( see report page 33). Carl Williamson also made the same trip to sit with Richard Clews in a Subaru Impreza. They managed a top 10 finish.
fter more final-stage drama in an exciting start to the BTRDA season, David Wright lost a lead he’d held for most of the Malcolm Wilson Rally, with Charlie Payne and Carl Williamson pouncing to win.
Wright lost last year’s Grizedale Stages by just one second and he had been on course to right that wrong before a driveshaft failed on the final test of the rally. It cost him the 13s lead he headed into the final test with.
Payne and Williamson had opened the season by spraying the winners’ champagne at the Cambrian, only for Luke Francis and co-driver John H Roberts to query a time, which gave them a second and earned them the victory overall. So Payne knew the heartache Wright felt after his Grizedale loss.
The crews endured some strange conditions; on the face of it the weather appeared dry but some of the Cumbrian stages were muddy on the top, catching out lots of drivers. Fog also played a part.
Connor Mccloskey opened up with a stage win, despite sticking to his pre-season mantra of not targeting wins in the series early on in a new car. The Mini WRC is one of the more popular sights on national rallying stages, but the Derek Mcgeehan car went no further when Mccloskey caught a puddle and aquaplained, beaching him. Payne suffered a similar fate but escaped, leaving Mccloskey to credit “famous Ulster luck” – or lack of it – for the off.
Francis was also gone after service, which came after SS3. He ground to a halt when a conrod came out of the side of the engine and the erstwhile championship leader was out of the action.
All that left Wright in the lead after three stages, having set the quickest time through two of them – and he’d had no brakes for the first half of the stage that he wasn’t quickest on. The driver was making the most of his home knowledge. However, it was only six seconds back to Payne, and Wright knew he would have to push to keep the Yorkshireman, who has been a dominant force in the series since his win on the Trackrod Rally last year, behind.
Payne reported a few “moments” in the morning to sit second – bizarrely finishing second on every special stage of the morning, while Stephen Petch was through into third. The latter struggled through the morning with clutch issues. Without the clutch and subsequent launch control the Ford Fiesta R5+ was losing bucket loads of time to the World Cars, effectively bump starting the car on most of the morning’s stages.
Paul Benn was back out in the Ford Focus WRC02 he used on the Cambrian last year and which Euan Thorburn campaigned on various rounds in early 2015, and going well on his local BTRDA rally. Wayne Sisson rounded off the top five behind Benn in a very strong showing, still in a relatively new car – a Mitsubishi Lancer E10 B13 – along with the added learning of new MRF tyres. Co-driver Neil Shanks reported that the covers were working well.
The short Thornsgill stage took Wright just 1m06s to complete, putting another two seconds between he and Payne. Petch was second quickest though, before a radiator leak on the road section emptied eight litres of fluid onto the Cumbrian B-roads. He was his usual chirpy self at service
RF1.4: Dominic Hodge/stefan Arndt (Nissan Micra) RF 1.6: Richard Wells/calvin Houldsworth (VW Polo GTI) 1400C: Gordon Alexander/samantha Alexander (MG ZR) 1400S: Mat Smith/ Derek Carnforth (Proton Satria) H1: Robin Shuttleworth/ Ronnie Roughead (Ford Escort Mexico Mk1) H2: Dave Forrest/charlie Carter (Escort Mk2) H3: Steve Bannister/ Kim Gray (Escort Mk2) N3: Cameron Davies/ Lee Taylor (Ford Fiesta ST) NR4: Paul Davy/ Roger Allan (Subaru Impreza) B10: James Hutchings/james Hood (Vauxhall Nova) B11: Boyd Kershaw/ Bryan Hull (Escort Mk2) B12: Phil Burton/ Mal Capstick (Escort Mk2) B13: Wayne Sisson/ Neil Shanks (Mitsubishi Lancer E9) B14: Charles Payne/carl Williamson (Ford Fiesta) Silver Star: Kershaw/ Hull Production Cup: Sam Bilham/ Richard Crozier (Fiesta ST) Historic Cup: Forrest/carter Rally First: Hodge/arndt ST Trophy: Cameron Davies/ Lee Taylor MG ZR Rally Challenge: Gordon and Samantha Alexander Junior driver: Davies Junior co-driver: Max Freeman Senior driver: Phil Pickard (Subaru Impreza) Senior co-driver: Mal Capstick Lady driver: Emily Retallick Lady co-driver: Samantha Alexander
tracking and power steering problems with his Honda Civic. This allowed Donegal man Brian Brogan in his Ford Escort to surge to the front, with Adrian Hetherington (Escort) second and Alan Ring third in his newly acquired Ford Fiesta R5+.
Hetherington was troubled a little by bits of the fuel tank lining foam getting into the injection system, but seemed to lose little time. He did shed a couple of seconds though when he came upon Eugene Meegan’s stranded BMW 1M. The BMW had suffered a spin and then the bonnet flew open and smashed the windscreen. Meegan kept going, but lost a lot of time and then retired.
The Saturday afternoon stages consisted of two trips over the famous Ring stage and two runs at the difficult Dunworley test. On the first visit to Ring, both Kelly and Cronin beat the bogey time. Jennings spun his Subaru at a hairpin near the harbour location, and suddenly Kelly was leading by over 40s. Jennings slipped from second to third and Cronin was promoted.
On the second Dunworley stage Fisher set a fastest time, possibly spurred on by losing 6s to Cronin on Ring.
On the second visit to Ring, Kelly was again fastest, but Fisher was second fastest, by just a fraction from Jennings and Cronin. Then on the second visit to Dunworley, the last stage of the day, the Fisher Fiesta flew off the road at the end of a 600-yard straight and it was game over.
Fortunately neither Fisher nor his co-driver Gordon Noble suffered any injuries.
Kelly thus held a 50s lead over Cronin at the overnight halt as he was fastest through stage eight. Jennings was third, a further 20s back. He admitted that his Prodriveappointed Subaru engineer had set the mapping on his Impreza to suit the wet Galway Rally and wasn’t able to make it to West Cork, so the car remained on the wet weather settings. It could have been the reason for at least two stalls.
Wesley Patterson retired his Ford Escort, having lost 10 minutes with an ECU problem.
Through the final day’s six stages Kelly made no mistakes, although there was a small panic when his Focus WRC needed quite a quantity of coolant before the final stage.
Cronin’s Citroen survived a penultimate stage puncture, which cost about 20s, but otherwise had no problems. Jennings couldn’t really improve on his third place so treated it as a tyre test for Donegal.
The two Moffett brothers, Sam and Josh, had a red hot battle for fourth place, with Sam just edging ahead through the later stages. White made some small improvements to his Fiesta WRC through the day, and was a little happier on his way to sixth. O’riordan was very unhappy with his Fiesta WRC; remapping changes didn’t improve the power.
David Guest (Mitsubishi Lancer) won Group N comfortably. ■