Lee Hol­land Me­mo­rial Rally

Motor Sport News - - Rally Reports - By Davev Thomas

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.

Stone was Field’s clos­est ri­val

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