FRAN­CIS BACK IN TI­TLE HUNT

Payne’s re­tire­ment saves Fran­cis. By Si­mon Gronow

Motor Sport News - - Rally Reports - RE­SULTS

After a morn­ing punc­tu­ated with mi­nor is­sues, ev­ery­thing clicked into place on the af­ter­noon stages for Luke Fran­cis/john Roberts as they won the Nicky Grist Stages in their Mit­subishi Lancer E9.

After re­tir­ing from the pre­vi­ous round, it puts them in a chal­leng­ing po­si­tion for BTRDA Gold Star hon­ours, and it also con­sol­i­dated their Pirelli MSA Welsh For­est Rally Cham­pi­onship lead.

Com­peti­tors fol­lowed the same route of eight stages that the BRC com­peti­tors had used on day one of their event, with four for­est stages in the Epynt vicin­ity all run twice.

On the first of these in Crychan, Ju­lian Reynolds/pa­trick Walsh were 15 sec­onds quicker than ev­ery­body else in their Ford Fo­cus WRC as 2013 win­ners Euan Thor­burn/paul Beaton set sec­ond fastest time in their Peu­geot 208 T16 R5. They were just ahead of Fran­cis/roberts with the Mit­subishi man ad­mit­ting to be­ing half asleep.

Things were better for Fran­cis/ Roberts through SS2 in Halfway, where they were seven sec­onds quicker than BTRDA ri­vals Char­lie Payne/carl Wil­liamson, who in turn, were two sec­onds faster in their Fi­esta than Thor­burn. As a re­sult, the Mit­subishi driver moved into the lead as Reynolds dropped time with steer­ing prob­lems.

Hav­ing moved into the lead, stage three through Route 60 proved to be a dis­as­ter for Fran­cis. “I didn’t get to grips with it,” he ad­mit­ted, a stall on a hair­pin not help­ing his cause.

Things would get worse on the fol­low­ing Mon­u­ment test, when the dip­stick came out, smear­ing the Mit­subishi’s wind­screen with oil and re­duc­ing Fran­cis’ vi­sion.

Nei­ther of the other early pace­set­ters ben­e­fit­ted from Fran­cis’ mis­for­tune. Thor­burn re­tired his Peu­geot with a cracked man­i­fold, and Reynold’s Fo­cus WRC suf­fered a bro­ken ra­di­a­tor after col­lect­ing a large clump of Tar­mac on a hair­pin. As a re­sult, it was Payne who moved into the lead, seven sec­onds ahead of Fran­cis, with Stephen Petch/ Michael Wilkin­son in third. The lat­ter crew were ru­ing their tyre choice on their Ford Fi­esta R5+, and planned to change them at ser­vice.

Fourth placed Paul Benn/richard Cooke found their Ford Fo­cus WR02 to be ideal in the slip­pery con­di­tions, and they were fol­lowed by the lead­ing two NR4 crews. Never more than three sec­onds apart, Andy Davies/max Free­man’s Im­preza was just 0.2s ahead of Russ Thomp­son/andy Mur­phy’s Mit­subishi at halfway. Davies had sur­vived a big mo­ment on the Mon­u­ment test, whilst Thomp­son planned a change of tyres, with both promis­ing a “big push” in the af­ter­noon.

With nei­ther Payne nor Fran­cis mak­ing any changes to their cars, Fran­cis got off to a better start, pulling back al­most three sec­onds in Crychan 2, only for it all to go wrong for event leader, Payne, when his Fi­esta re­tired with elec­tri­cal prob­lems on Halfway 2.

Fastest times on each of the fi­nal three stages meant Fran­cis/roberts took a com­fort­able win, de­spite a brief ex­cur­sion into a stage six ditch, and en­sured that their BTRDA se­ries cam­paign is well and truly alive.

The change of tyres worked well for Petch/wilkin­son. “We’ve not been go­ing fast enough for any in­ci­dents,” joked the Fi­esta driver as the pair con­sol­i­dated sec­ond place with a string of sec­ond fastest times.

A sen­si­ble ap­proach paid div­i­dends for Benn/cooke, who didn’t en­joy the af­ter­noon stages as much, as they fin­ished a fine third.

11 Wug Ut­ting/ Bob Stokoe (Subaru Im­preza N12b); 12 Brian Bell/jamie Ed­wards (Fo­cus 07 WRC); 13 Boyd Ker­shaw/ Bryan Hull (Es­cort Mk2); 14 Bob Mor­gan/adie Williams (Skoda Fabia Evo VRS); 15 Daniel Moss/ Sam Allen (Lancer E9); 16 Phil Bur­ton/ Mal Cap­stick (Es­cort Mk2); 17 Terry Brown/ Den Gold­ing (Es­cort Mk2 RS1800); 18 Peter Smith/alan Walker (Im­preza); 19 Theo Ben­gry/ Les Fors­brook (Es­cort Mk2); 20 Gareth Ed­wards/ Dy­lan An­drew (Vaux­hall Nova). Class win­ners David Ginn/ Ryan Jones (Nis­san Mi­cra); Emily Re­tal­lick/ Eliot Re­tal­lick (Peu­geot 205XS); Richard Wells/ Calvin Houldsworth (Volk­swa­gen Polo); Neil An­drew/ Don Adams (Nis­san Mi­cra); Cameron Davies/ Lee Tay­lor (Ford Fi­esta ST); Thomp­son/ Mur­phy; Chris Pow­ell/jim Lewis (Tal­bot Sun­beam); Bob Vardy/ Si­mon Rogers (Ford Fi­esta R2); Ed­wards/ Tomlinson (Ford Es­cort Mk 2); Mcgirr/ Mc­gar­rity (Toy­ota Star­let); Joel/ Wood; Eng­land/ Eng­land; David For­rest/jamie For­rest (Ford Es­cort Mk2); Ben­gry/ Fors­brook; Gor­don Alexan­der/an­thony Litch­field (MG ZR).

Un­for­tu­nately for Davies/free­man a bro­ken ball joint on SS6 ended their day, and it was Thomp­son/mur­phy who took the NR4 hon­ours. They fin­ished in a com­mend­able fourth place, en­sur­ing an ex­cit­ing cham­pi­onship bat­tle on the fi­nal two rounds.

A change from their His­toric-spec Es­cort didn’t cause Richard Hill/iwan Jones too may prob­lems, as they reac­cli­ma­tised them­selves with four wheel drive as they fin­ished sec­ond NR4 in their new Mit­subishi Lancer.

A pleased Mar­tyn and Dawn Eng­land took a promis­ing sixth place in their new Fi­esta R5. “That’s the best we’ve been in the car so far,” said Mar­tyn Eng­land, “I wish I’d put some new tyres on this af­ter­noon now.” ■

ROUND-UP

Chris Hand/mark Rod­way took vic­tory on the 116 Targa Tracks at the very last mo­ment.

They and the Ford Anglia crew of Mark Len­nox/ian Bea­mond were locked in a day-long bat­tle, well ahead of the rest of the ca­pac­ity 90-car field.

En­ter­ing the 11th and fi­nal test Len­nox/bea­mond led by 29 sec­onds. Hand/rod­way took six sec­onds out of that lead on the test. How­ever, more sig­nif­i­cantly, Len­nox/ Bea­mond came to a stop at the test fin­ish just short of the line and there­fore picked up a 30s astride penalty.

This handed the vic­tory to Hand/rod­way by seven sec­onds.

The Anglia crew have now lost out on their first win on sev­eral events, most re­cently the Tour of An­gle­sey where they re­tired on the fi­nal sec­tion whilst in the lead.

Cadog Davies/reian Jones fin­ished in a lonely third place, a po­si­tion they’d held for most of the event.

July 10

To many on­look­ers, it will be of no sur­prise that Kevin Hansen is dom­i­nat­ing the Euro­pean Ral­ly­cross Cham­pi­onship this sea­son with three wins from three starts. After all, he is the youngest son of the most suc­cess­ful ral­ly­cross driver ever, 14-time Euro­pean cham­pion, Ken­neth Hansen.

It isn’t at all un­usual for the off­spring of suc­cess­ful driv­ers to com­pete and in­deed suc­ceed in motorsport but, while be­ing the youngest son of a mul­ti­ple cham­pion and the younger brother of an ac­com­plished and suc­cess­ful racer (World RX race-win­ner, Timmy) can open doors, it can add pres­sure too.

De­spite car­ry­ing the fam­ily name, Hansen’s body lan­guage both inside and out of his Peu­geot 208 Su­per­car never ap­pears stressed.

While he is al­most ex­pected to suc­ceed by virtue of his name, those who have fol­lowed his ca­reer as closely as I have since he moved from ju­nior kart­ing to ju­nior ral­ly­cross in the Bri­tish Cham­pi­onship in 2012, will be even less sur­prised by his form this sea­son.

Just three years ago, Hansen claimed the Bri­tish RX Ju­nior ti­tle and since has won the RX Lites Cup on his way to Su­per­car. Yes, backed by Peu­geot Sport he is driv­ing ar­guably the best car in the Euro RX field, but he makes full use of it. At his home round of the se­ries in Swe­den ear­lier this month, on more than one oc­ca­sion Hansen had to race in qual­i­fy­ing races where the track con­di­tions were much wet­ter than for his ri­vals, who had raced in ear­lier ses­sions. He coped ad­mirably, his neat and tidy style ap­pear­ing al­most slow from the out­side, but clearly ef­fec­tive inside.

A good pro­por­tion of Hansen’s suc­cess can be laid at the door of Bri­tish en­gi­neer Gra­ham Rode­mark, who has worked with the Swede since his Bri­tish Cham­pi­onship days. Rode­mark not only pushes his young charger when re­quired, but his no-non­sense at­ti­tude also plays a vi­tal role in keep­ing a ris­ing star’s feet at­tached to the ground.

This sea­son, Hansen is rac­ing in the five-round Euro RX cham­pi­onship and se­lect World RX rounds, where he has also shone. Hansen ju­nior reg­u­larly matches and even beats his more ex­pe­ri­enced Peu­geot-hansen sta­ble mates (a cer­tain nine-time World Rally cham­pion by the name of Se­bastien Loeb and older brother, Timmy) in a car that doesn’t have the very lat­est up­dates.

Yes, be­ing ‘son of’ does open doors in mo­tor rac­ing, but Hansen is al­ready his own man and on cur­rent form, will be chal­leng­ing for World ti­tles in the not too dis­tant fu­ture.

Fran­cis rein­tro­duced him­self to Gold Star ti­tle

The younger Hansen is mak­ing a big im­pres­sion

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.