SIMPSON SURVIVES FIRE AND 250-MILE TRIP FOR EPYNT WIN
They finished 29 seconds ahead of last year’s winners Simon Mauger/ Jonathan Hawkins in their MG Metro 4M4, while Damian Cole/paul Morris had to be content with third place in their Ford Fiesta WRC.
Despite being beaten by Cole on the short stage one, Simpson made amends on the longer second test to move into a three-second lead. When the stages were repeated as SS3 and four, the Impreza driver increased his advantage over the Fiesta pilot to eight seconds. “We were steady on the first loop as we used it to check our notes,” stated co-driver Walsh, the pair having missed the recce as they were competing on the Malcolm Wilson Stages. The fifth test amalgamated sections of the first two stages, and Simpson set the pace once again, extending his advantage to 15 seconds.
By now, it was Mauger who was in the runner-up spot. After setting equal second fastest time on SS1, the Metro driver found the second test slippery, but over the next three tests, he set a string of third-fastest times, before changing to harder tyres for the long fifth stage, where he took 16 seconds out of Cole to move up to second place.
It had been a mixed morning for Cole – fastest on stage one, only for high tyre pressures to slow him on SS2. A change of tyre and stiffening of dampers helped with two second-fastest times, but he was surprised to have dropped so much time on the fifth test.
Just one place behind at this point were Adrian Spencer/mark Hewitt. The duo were quickly getting to grips with their new Impreza WRC, consistently setting top four times. They would have been closer to Cole if they hadn’t lost time when they stalled at a stage four hairpin.
Andy Fraser/michael Calvert were up to fifth before clutch failure halted their Darrian, as a change to more suitable tyres allowed Richard Clews/ Carl Williamson to inherit the position. A change of tyres also worked well for sixth-placed Bob Fowden/paul Wakely in their similar car, though a bad vibration worried them.
There was a nasty surprise for Simpson/walsh on the penultimate test when their car caught fire at the finish after setting fastest time. With the fire extinguished, their service crew rectified the fault and they rounded off a great win with fastest time on the final stage.
After being slowed with fuel surge on SS6, Mauger was just three seconds down on Simpson on the final stage, cementing second position.
Cole had a lucky escape when he briefly left the road, allowing Spencer to move to equal third. Thankfully for Cole, a clean run on the final stage allowed him to retain third position, as Spencer put in probably the drive of the day to finish fourth.
Behind Spencer, Eian Pritchard/ Steve Mcphee went on a late charge to move up to fifth in their Ford Focus WRC, overhauling Fowden/wakely and Clews/williamson, who ran out of suitable tyres in the process.
Brothers Kevin and Charles Tappin had a great run to finish leading twowheel-drive runners in their Ford Escort Mk2, just ahead of Epynt debutant Ollie Mellors, who enjoyed the visit, as he and Ian Windress used the day to make pacenotes for the Nicky Grist Stages later this year.
Rounding off the top 10 were Rob Tout/dylan James, who spent the day trying different settings on their new Mitsubishi Lancer E 10.
Roger Moran/den Goulding finished 11th in their class-winning Escort, while among the class winners, Wynne Watkins/sherryn Roberts won Group N in their Subaru Impreza and Jamie Jukes/david Williams won the road rally category in their Vauxhall Astra.
Based on standard engine using a Gwynnespeed engine kit to include Omex throttle bodies, Omex ECU, steel conrods and forged pistons, uprated cams and competition exhaust manifold 170bhp approx AST single-way adjustable suspension Citroen C2 (VTR, VTS or GT) donor car Limited slip differential Choice of brakes