FIELD GIVES NEW DARRIAN FIRST MN CHAMPIONSHIP VICTORY
Lee Holland Memorial Rally
Organiser: Pendle DMC with Garstang & Preston MC When: March 20 Where: Anglesey Circuit Championships: Motorsport News Circuit Rally Championship, ANWCC, ANCC, SD34, Junior F1000 Stages: 8 Starters: 82
Despite having never competed at the Anglesey Circuit, Ashley Field took an emphatic victory with rookie co-driver Jack Benyon in the rapid Darrian GTR.
No less than 12 seconds quicker than everyone on the first stage, they won every stage to take overall victory by almost a minute ahead of John Stone, still acclimatising to his new Ford Fiesta S2000 car fitted with a Millington powerplant.
Eight stages were scheduled, with a number of splits and merges that made it a very testing day for both crew members. The organisers gained the most out of the roads of the race circuit and service road.
The circuit owners had also built a yump, which proved to be the undoing of some crews, notably the Darrian of Brandon Smith and Craig SharpeSimkiss, who destroyed the car’s gearbox bellhousing on the first launch.
Last year’s winner Wil Owen, this time with regular co-driver Rob Hopewell alongside in the 2.5-litre Ford Escort, held second after the first stage but then spun on the third and were actually caught by Field. They were clawing their way back up the leaderboard until the sixth stage when a diff pin fell out and caused their retirement mid-stage.
That left Stone as Field’s closest contender, but a problem with the trip screen in the car meant the Fiesta driver stalled at a hairpin, which was also incorrectly laid out. That put the final nail in the coffin of the lead battle, although he got quicker throughout the day and will no doubt be a challenger for victories on future events.
The event was the latest round of the MN Circuit Rally Championship and all the leading crews finished well up to gain many useful points. Field extended his lead with the win – which was 59s in total on the rally – while James Sharrock/stuart Faulds consolidated their second place in the standings, finishing fourth overall in the Ford Escort Mk2. Sharrock commented that this event was the “best so far in the series – hard work, testing stages that flowed well.”
Nigel Mummery – also a regular campaigner in the MN series – rounded out the top spots with Fiona Scarrett.
Making a very welcome appearance was Irishman Dessie Mccartney – best known for his phenomenal exploits in a Porsche 911 in the late ’70s/’80s – drove his Darrian rapidly to fifth overall with son Richard. Mccartney Senior would be celebrating his 72nd birthday the following day and didn’t ease off on the tricky yump.
Leading the two-litre class were Steve Quigley/tom Hutchings, who finished sixth despite removing some of the front bodywork on one of the chicanes, while seventh fell to the Metro 6R4 of Pete Smith/alan Walker.
Talbot Sunbeams took the next two places, the two-litre version of Stuart Gilks/michael Boyns finishing ahead of the Lotus version of Mike Taylor/ Martin Haggett, who fared better once the early gear selection issue was solved.
Rounding off the top 10 was ANWCC Championship leader Rob Hughes with Sion Cunniff in a Millington-engined Ford Focus, Hughes increasing his lead while Cunniff moved up to take the co-drivers championship lead due to pre-event leader Sharpe-simkiss’s failure to add to his score.
All-girl crew Jade Paveley/sarah Hughes finished just outside the top 20 – this time using Paveley’s dad’s Mitsubishi Lancer following their big accident in Jade’s Impreza at Brands Hatch on the previous round. They finished the event with no first gear but gained useful championship points in both the MSVR and ANWCC series.
In the 1400cc class, a close battle raged between the Vauxhalls of Joe Cunningham/andrew Fawcett (Corsa) and Justin Lawson/paul Hargreaves (Nova), with the Nova just keeping ahead until the seventh stage. Cunningham went into the final stage with a three-second advantage but a broken driveshaft put him out.
The 1600cc class leaderboard remained the same all day, Howard Potter/dylan Thomas, a first-time pairing, taking the class and just missing the top 10 in their Sunbeam.
and the team is what it is,” said Doran. “It’s going to be a strong, fast and reliable package which is something I need and is something,with the way the sport’s gone, that is required. This is the ideal package for that. I have no doubts at all that the car can do what it needs to do.”
The JRM squad ran a 1.6-litre engine in the car last year, but will upgrade to a two-litre unit for 2016. The team ran two cars on three occasions last season and has the capability to do so again, but is expected to focus on success with just Doran.