SHARROCK IS FIRST MN RALLY CHAM­PION

Es­cort man takes first MN Cir­cuit Rally crown. By Jack Benyon

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Ash­ley Field con­tin­ued to show the dom­i­nance of his Dar­rian T90+ to take MSVR Bolton Mid­night hon­ours, as James Sharrock and Stu­art Faulds be­came the first Mo­tor­sport News Cir­cuit Rally cham­pi­ons af­ter a strong fourth-placed fin­ish.

With the Bolton-le-moors Car Club run­ning the Snet­ter­ton event for the first time, the cars were greeted by a fast, flow­ing and dry cir­cuit to start the day. That played into the hands of Field – with Jan­ice Moore back on the notes – tak­ing 20s out of their near­est ri­val on the first stage.

That ri­val was Martin Hodg­son, who was in the top two for the first time this year af­ter ben­e­fit­ing from a new en­gine – a Smith and Jones-pre­pared 2.5-litre as op­posed to the Milling­ton Di­a­mond usu­ally fea­tured in Es­corts.

De­spite strug­gling to keep the car cool at times, he still man­aged to fin­ish sec­ond to Field on ev­ery stage of the rally. But there was no stop­ping the Dar­rian, which won by an even­tual mar­gin of 1m35s af­ter a strong per­for­mance on the Manx ear­lier this month. It was a cal­cu­lated and well-mea­sured drive to get the car to the end af­ter two suc­ces­sive re­tire­ments with a drive­shaft (Cad­well Park) and oil sen­sor (Manx). If it wasn’t for the Cad­well re­sult, the ti­tle would have been his.

While the top two were un­touch­able, third and fourth were closer to­gether come the end. Af­ter win­ning two rounds of this year’s cham­pi­onship, David Tinn was back with daugh­ter Alice in their Mel­lors El­liot Mo­tor­sport-built Pro­ton Sa­tria Neo S2500. The duo were out at Cad­well Park last time, but their dif­fer­en­tial trou­ble meant they only had two-wheel drive. At Snet­ter­ton and around 70 miles from home, they had four-wheel propul­sion and it was plain to see.

Bat­tling with Tinn was ti­tle con­tender Sharrock, who had the most un­nerv­ing start to the day with brake is­sues. Sharrock doesn’t start well in the morn­ings (which he ad­mits him­self) but af­ter the brake is­sue was sorted and a brief shutdown in­side the car was cred­ited to a trip switch, the duo could re­lax for at least the mid­dle sec­tion of the day.

Apart from stage four, the duo weren’t sep­a­rated by more than five sec­onds on any test. Sharrock’s Ford Es­cort Mk2 set about the short ninth stage know­ing sim­ply reach­ing the end of it would be enough. They forced a smile at the stage start but the ten­sion was clear. But they made it.

Round­ing out the top five was the ever- im­pres­sive Steve Quigley, who man­aged sec­ond in the cham­pi­onship with that re­sult. The front-wheel-drive Re­nault Clio has been ably steered all year by Quigley, and reined in ex­cel­lently by Tom Hutch­ings on the notes.

Quigley was also the Class C event win­ner and cham­pi­onship win­ner with that re­sult, while the other classes fea­tured plenty of drama.

Class A went the way of An­thony and Christo­pher New­ton on only their sec­ond event af­ter Brands Hatch. But be­hind, the ti­tle went down to the last stage. Af­ter head­ing into stage eight on the same time, Joe Cun­ning­ham/ Marc Fowler (Vaux­hall Corsa) and the Vaux­hall Nova of Justin Law­son then tied on SS8 to set up a fi­nal stage de­cider af­ter seven events. Cun­ning­ham came out on top to take the ti­tle ( see news).

Class B went to Ben and An­drew Wilkin­son while David Mairs/martin Young took the ti­tle. Mairs had been out of the rally scene for around 40 years but his re­turn this year has been well and truly re­warded.

Con­sis­tency has been key in the Mo­tor­sport News Cir­cuit Rally Cham­pi­onship, and no one shows that bet­ter than Sharrock, who also wins the Miche­lin Cup.

The Wi­gan driver is hop­ing to be back for se­lect events next year, but the series has been an as­tound­ing suc­cess.

Field was lightyears ahead of the Snett com­pe­ti­tion Faulds, Field Left to right: Quigley, Sharrock,

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