BTRDA: DMACK CARLISLE STAGES HENRY TAKES FIRST BTRDA WIN
Henry impresses as Edwards runs out of luck. By Jack Benyon
Despite not competing in the BTRDA for 11 months Desi Henry took a brilliant win on the DMACK Carlisle Stages in his Skoda Fabia R5 by 38 seconds.
Unfortunately though, a close battle was ruined when the excellent Matt Edwards suffered an off after an electrical failure followed an throttle stuck open on his Ford Fiesta R5, consigning him and former M-sport legend John Millington to retirement.
Edwards has spent years in a Mitsubishi Lancer E9, and his impressive performances in the BRC this year meant the Conway driver had the chance of a lifetime thanks to rally competitor and sponsor Peter Smith and his connection with Swift Caravans. DMACK and M-sport completed the deal and a dream came true for the hard working and likeable Welshman. But the fairytale would never be realised.
It was an interesting mood in service as it was clear tyre choice would be key to the morning’s loop. Predicting the conditions in the Kielder Forest is almost impossible, and likewise choosing a combination of tyre compounds to suit as overnight rain may or may not have dampened the roads in places.
Henry – with Liam Moynihan on the notes – drew first blood on the opening test with Edwards tied with two other cars for second. One of those drivers tied was another man introducing himself into the lead battle, Peter Taylor. After over seven months out of rallying, the former BRC and MSA Asphalt regular was bang on the pace from the off with impressive co-driver Andrew Roughead guiding the Ford Focus WRC01 through the west Kielder stages. The crews reported and incredibly unpredictable surface coating SS1.
The second test of the rally was the gargantuan Newcastleton stage, and Edwards saw to Henry by three seconds. But it was here the wheels came off Taylor’s charge for victory. A spin in the test cost him time and also meant Edwards was in his dust as the car behind him on the road. So although Edwards took three seconds out of Henry, the feeling was that there was more to be had in what many competitors described as one of the best stages in the country.
To round off the morning before service was a quick run through Ash Park, and there was little to separate crews through there. But Edwards was again quickest by one second over Taylor and another clear of Henry and Moynihan.
That meant Edwards led into service. Four seconds was the gap to Henry, but the Northern Irishman promised a push for the afternoon. Edwards was happy that to a certain extent his job was done. He’d turned up with only a short run in the car on Thursday before the event, and he was leading at the half-way point. “It’s already more than anyone expected of me,” said Edwards, although there had been murmurings from 0700hrs that he’d be one to watch.
With the event already delayed one hour for paramedics to be repositioned in the first stage, the second loop was pushed back further as organisers had to deal with Scott Sloan’s Vauxhall Corsa which erupted in flames at the end of the morning loop.
It was on this Kershope test – SS4 – that the rally would really take shape. Edwards succumbed to the open
RF1.0: Phil Spilsted/osian Owen (Nissan Micra) RF1.4: Dominic Hodge/stefan Arndt (Nissan Micra) RF1.6: Richard Wells/calvin Houldsworth (Volkswagen Polo) 1400C: Joe Evett/ Phil Hall (MG ZR) 1400S: Jordan Hone/ Paul Hone (Proton Satria) H1: Robin Shuttleworth/ Ronnie Roughead (Ford Escort Mk1mexico) H2: Mike Reed/alistair Wilk (Ford Escort RS 2000) H3: Matthew Robinson/graham Wilcock (Fiat 131S) N3: Cameron Davies/ Lee Taylor (Ford Fiesta ST) N4: Andy Davies/ Max Freeman (Subaru Impreza) B10: Kit Leigh/tim Leigh (Ford Fiesta R100) B11: Tony Williams/ Karen Phelps (Ford Escort RS) B12: Seamus O’connell/andy Richardson (Ford Escort) B13: Fred Milne/chris Williams (Mitsubishi Lancer E9) B14: Desi Henry/ Liam Moynihan (Skoda Fabia R5) Silver Star: Matthew Robinson (Fiat 131S) and Gavin Heseltine (Ford Escort RS1800) Production Cup: Davies/ Freeman Historic Cup: Matthew Robinson (Fiat 131S) and Gavin Heseltine (Ford Escort RS1800) Rally First: Hodge/arndt ST Trophy: Davies/taylor MG ZR Rally Challenge: Evett/ Hall Junior driver: Jordan Hone Junior co-driver: Max Freeman Senior driver: Tony Williams (Ford Escort RS)
Once Zak Hughes and Chris Evans took pole position in Junior F1000 after SS7, the Citroen C1 crew made sure of victory with a string of fastest stage times, ending the day over a minute clear of the chasing pack.
Peter Bennett and Arthur Keirans set the early pace heading the standings through the opening five stages in their Skoda Citigo. An overshoot in SS5 then allowed Josh and Tommy Mcerlean to edge their Peugeot 107 ahead but not for long. Having had outside assistance after hitting a kerb they were excluded.
With rain now replacing the early sunshine, Hughes, who had held third place from the outset, showed his class in mastering the differing conditions leaving only the question of who would finish second to be decided. With Bennett having windscreen demisting issues, Finlay Retson and David Falconer (Citroen C1) were second.