PRITCHARD MAKES IT TWO FROM TWO IN WALES
Two out of two for British Historic duo. By Paul Lawrence
Jason Pritchard and Phil Clarke made it two wins from two rounds in the Mintex MSA British Historic Rally Championship as crews tackled the saturated forests of Dyfi and Gartheiniog on Rally North Wales.
There were a lot of similarities to the season-opening Red Kite. Pritchard again drove a canny rally to win as Nick Elliott and Dave Price fought to regain time lost when their engine stalled; Paul Barrett and Dai Roberts defeated some more giants and Categories 1, and 2 again fell to Bob and Dale Gibbons and Stanley Orr and Guy Weaver.
“That’s another big result on gravel,” said Pritchard of a typically classy performance that left him 21s clear at the finish. However, Elliott’s spectacular fight back from his stage one delay had closed the gap to just eight seconds heading into the second Gartheiniog. A starter motor that was starting to fry on that final stage then cost Elliott any remaining chance of hunting Pritchard down. “I pulled back what I could,” said Elliott after a tangle with the bales at a chicane in Dyfi Main stalled the engine.
Brooding low cloud and mist hung over the top of Dyfi on Saturday morning and rain hit. Big puddles and standing water lay in wait in the classic stages and Elliott’s drama on the opener in Dyfi Main cost him dear. However, Pritchard arrived a minute later and had to stop, before picking his way through the remains of the bales.
Pritchard ended the stage 16s up and over the next four stages Elliott managed to claw back half of the deficit as the two Ford Escort Mk2 crews set a ferocious pace. From the modern entries, only Luke Francis could better the historic times in his Mitsubishi Lancer E9.
Joe Price and Chris Brooks should have been third and were within half a minute of the leaders heading into the final stage. “We ran wide on a hairpin a mile from the finish and lost two minutes,” said Price after dropping to 10th. Instead, third went to Matt Edwards and Will Rogers in a guest outing in Peter Smith’s Opel Kadett.
Paul Barrett and Dai Roberts lost a minute and a half driving out of the first stage with a puncture, but then set the stages alight in their Pinto-escort to fight back from 38th to fourth. “Big attack,” said Barrett of one of the drives of the rally. “Absolutely brilliant stages,” he added.
Barrett’s fourth place was at the expense of Matthew Robinson and Sam Collis who spent the day chasing the right tyres for the front of the Fiat 131.
A drive that should have been the sensation of the rally came to an end on stage three when Adam Milner and Roy Jarvis had a gentle roll in their 1600cc crossflow Escort Mk1. The growing phenomenon that is young Milner set joint second fastest time in Dyfi Main, his first visit to that particular forest. They ran wide on a 90-right in Gartheiniog and ended up stuck down a bank with little damage but out of the rally.
Rounding out the top six were Rudi Lancaster and George Gwynn, while a fabulous battle raged over seventh place and Category 2 victory. Orr/ Weaver clobbered a rock in the first Gartheiniog and bent a damper, while an inspired Simon Tysoe/paul Morris pulled back 11s on the final stage to leave the gap at just six seconds. “That last stage was awesome,” said Tysoe of the concluding nine-miler in Gartheiniog. Ben Friend and Cliffy Simmons chased Orr and Tysoe to make it a three-way contest.
Among the classes, father and son Bob and Dale Gibbons went clear in Category 1. “Dale was at his best on the notes,” said the proud dad, while Bob Bean/malcolm Smithson (Ford Lotus Cortina) took their class. Phil Harris/graham Wild (Mini Cooper) got helped out of a final stage ditch to maintain their Class B2-winning record. In Class C3, Elliot Retalick/ Tim Tugwell (Hillman Avenger) took over once Milner’s Escort went out and David Hopkins/tony Vart (Talbot Sunbeam) won D2.
Notable retirements included Steve Bennett/iain Tullie with a failed coil, Tim Freeman/paul Williams who upended their Escort and Neil Williams/peter James with a failed diff on the opening stage.
Ford Fiesta WRC Ford Fiesta WRC Subaru Impreza WRC S10 Skoda Fabia R5 Subaru Impreza WRC S12 Skoda Fabia S2000 Ford Escort Mk2 Ford Escort Mk2 Subaru Impreza WRC S14 Ford Escort Mk2
Jason Pritchard and Phil Clarke were unstoppable
an Opel to third position Matt Edwards and Will Rogers took