Motor Sport News - - Erc: Rally Rzeszow - Carfax Stages Rally By Ian Harden Re­sults Pho­tos: M & H Pho­tog­ra­phy, Martin Walsh

Or­gan­is­ers: Ox­ford Mo­tor Club When: Au­gust 6 Where: Throck­mor­ton Air­field, Worces­ter­shire Cham­pi­onships: Hamil­ton Clas­sic ACSMC, Subaru WRC Spares ASWMC, CMSG, HRCR ‘Old Stager’, Ox­ford MC Club­mans. Stages: 10 Starters: 75

A last-stage do or die ef­fort gave Nis­san Sunny F2 pair­ing Carl O’grady and El­lie Wil­liams vic­tory over Tom Bar­ber/an­thony Jones in their BMW Com­pact.

Their five-sec­ond win­ning mar­gin came af­ter a tremen­dous day-long scrap where the lead went back and forth sev­eral times and the re­sult was in doubt un­til the fi­nal test fin­ished.

Ox­ford Mo­tor Club’s third visit to the for­mer RAF base proved ex­tremely pop­u­lar with com­peti­tors, with the HRCR ‘Old Stager’ se­ries boost­ing the en­try fur­ther.

Run­ning first on the road, O’grady re­ported hit­ting patches of gravel and he was strug­gling to find a rac­ing line. But with a cleaner sur­face for stage two, he over­hauled early lead­ers, Peter Self/ Mike Gray (Subaru Im­preza). Bar­ber chal­lenged for the lead im­me­di­ately: the BMW driver gained a last-minute en­try from the re­serve list and, de­spite fin­ish­ing pre­par­ing his car late on Fri­day night, he took full ad­van­tage by tak­ing top spot on stage three. Mark Gam­ble/steve Link were also straight on the pace. In their fifth out­ing in their Suzuki Swift, the for­mer BTRDA 1400 fron­trun­ners used the car’s nim­ble han­dling to full ef­fect. They stormed into third, hold­ing off chal­lenges from Trevor Kee­ble/ian Jones, John Oldrieve/nigel Hewett and Barry/ Maria War­man (all Ford Es­corts).

Bar­ber held the lead un­til stage seven when he sur­ren­dered it to O’grady af­ter drop­ping time on a pot­hole which bent two wish­bones. He was not the only one in trou­ble; Kee­ble had a time-con­sum­ing spin and stall which dropped him out of the top 10, while Oldrieve clung deter­minedly to fourth de­spite brake prob­lems.

Dar­rian T9 driver Ian Sut­ton fared bet­ter; in­creas­ing con­fi­dence in new co-driver Karen Phelps and a new, re­li­able gear­box al­lowed him to push hard and move up to fifth place, which he held to the end.

Tyre wear be­came a prob­lem in the later stages, as the sunny con­di­tions kept track tem­per­a­tures high. Among the lead­ing crews, both O’grady and Oldrieve fit­ted fresh rub­ber to help main­tain grip lev­els.

But four-wheel-drive ma­chines suf­fered badly: in par­tic­u­lar, Self re­ported chang­ing his Im­preza’s tyres every two stages.

With over­all vic­tory at stake, O’grady and Bar­ber started the fi­nal stage tied on times. The Nis­san driver threw cau­tion to the wind, stop­ping the clocks five sec­onds faster than his op­po­nent. At the fi­nal con­trol, O’grady said: “I couldn’t have driven any faster.”

Be­hind Bar­ber, Gam­ble main­tained his strong pace to stay ahead of Oldrieve. Sut­ton held fifth, while six­th­placed Glynn Cartwright/adam Wilks (Es­cort) sur­vived a scare when their oil and wa­ter tem­per­a­ture warn­ing lights came on. They headed a gag­gle of Es­corts; fa­ther-and-daugh­ter Barry and Maria War­man took sev­enth, while Nigel Killerby/colin Wat­son used “every old tyre in the van” for eighth.

Kee­ble fin­ished ninth de­spite a mi­nor mid-stage col­li­sion with Dou­glas Ut­ting/adrian Palmer (VW Polo GTI).

O’grady and Wil­liams scored first win of 2016

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