COLE TOPPLES CAERWENT RIVALS
Organiser: South Wales Automobile Club When: June 11 Where: Caerwent, Monmouthshire Championships: J D Tyres Welsh National Tarmacadam Championship; FMP Rally Challenge: HRCR Old Stager Historic Rally Championship Starters: 63 Stages: six
Despite making a slow start on the wet opening stages, Damian Cole soon made amends and repeated his win of 2015 by taking victory on the Mid Summer Caerwent Rally.
As was the case last year, Phil Turner/ Simon Anthony finished in the runners up spot in their Mitsubishi Lancer E9, with Carl O’grady taking third in his Nissan Sunny F2, partnered by young Ellie Willaims, who took a day off from her Formula 1000 driving duties.
On the first of the six runs, Turner found the stage just to his liking as he went fastest in the wet conditions by 14 seconds from Gareth Bettinson/ Sarah Edwards (Ford Escort Mk2) with O’grady going well to take third.
An off on the last corner of SS2 resulted in Turner’s Mitsubishi losing a front wheel, but he still held the lead as Cole – partnered by Paul Morris – took the first of five consecutive fastest times ahead of Robert Tout/ian Davis in their Lancer E10. While Cole was fastest again on SS3, Turner – who was third fastest behind Tout – still maintained the lead, only to lose it on the following test, when Cole/ Morris took 10 seconds out of their rivals to move into a lead. Fastest times on the final two stages ensured they were able to seal the win after a problem free run.
With Bettinson out following engine problems, Turner/anthony were safe in the runner up spot, so the battle for third was between O’grady and Tout. With the stages now bone dry, O’grady/ Williams set two second fastest and one third fastest time over the last three stages in their Nissan to seal the final podium position, as Tout/davis finished in a comfortable fourth place.
Another problem free run enabled Wynne Watkins/sherryn Roberts to finish fifth and win class six in their Subaru Impreza, whilst young Thomas Cooper, partnered by Paul Williams, followed up his second place finish on the Dale Stages with a fine sixth in his Lancer E8.
Chris Butcher/andy Hollingham were clear winners of class one in their Suzuki Swift, as were Bryan Whale/ Gary Whittington in class 2, the latter crew’s Vauxhall Nova proving reliable at last following a visit to Ian Evans Motorsport for a new gearbox.
In the historic category, Jon Ford/ Peter Thomas preferred the earlier wet conditions as opposed to the afternoon’s drying tests, but went on to win the class by over a minute in their Ford Escort Mk1. They were followed home by the Minis of Jim Brindle/ Sam Bould and Adrian Kermode/ Maurice Beckett.