Re­tal­lick pair­ing ham­mer home ti­tle ad­van­tage in 205 RALLY FIRST

Motor Sport News - - Btrda: Woodpecker Stages - STAR OF THE RALLY

Vin­nalls, parked

do set a

he and, pres­sure

Hop­ton’s by Rad­nor.

took

sec­onds. sec­ond,

road in softer

11 Paul Benn/ Richard Cooke (Ford Fo­cus WRC02); 12 Andy Davies/ Max Free­man (Im­preza); 13 Mar­tyn Eng­land/ Dawn Eng­land (Fi­esta R5+); 14 Sacha Kakad/james Aldridge (Lancer E10); 15 Ian Joel/ Graeme Wood (Ford Es­cort RS Cos­worth); 16 Gavin Ed­wards/ Caron Tom­lin­son (Es­cort Mk2); 17 Mark Grif­fiths/ Matt Rogers (Ford Es­cort Mk2); 18 Boyd Ker­shaw/ Bryan Hull (Es­cort Mk2); 19 Gra­ham Cof­fey/an­drew Roug­head (Fi­esta RS WRC); 20 Phil Bur­ton/ Mal Cap­stick (Ford Es­cort Mk2).

Black was fourth, and hold­ing at bay a chal­lenge from for­mer Gold Star cham­pi­ons Shaun Gar­dener/ben Innes (Mit­subishi Lancer) at bay. Their car had a cen­tre ‘diff prob­lem and Gar­dener re­ported they were in two-wheel drive only. Mean­while, Payne sat in the queue for the ser­vice ‘in’ con­trol, his face etched with con­cen­tra­tion at the job in hand.

“We’ve had no prob­lems in Rad­nor or Hop­ton, but I’ve been at this game too long to know that any­thing can hap­pen be­fore the end,” he said, be­fore break­ing the ten­sion with a grin.

For­mer MSA Bri­tish His­toric cham­pion Richard Hill was also smil­ing. Hill and co-driver St­ef­fan Evans were in only their sec­ond BTRDA out­ing of the year. But, hav­ing re­turned to mod­ern ral­ly­ing at the Nicky Grist Stages in a Mit­subishi Lancer E9 they were show­ing prodi­gious pace and scrap­ping hard for Gp N Pro­duc­tion Cup hon­ours with Russ Thomp­son/andy Mur­phy, also E9 mounted. Thomp­son had set an as­ton­ish­ing sec­ond over­all fastest in Hop­ton, only one sec­ond be­hind Petch. But Hill im­me­di­ately hit back through Rad­nor’s open ex­panses and held the cat­e­gory lead by six sec­onds, along with eighth over­all.

The third and fi­nal loop re­turned com­peti­tors to Bringe­wood and High Vin­nalls, the stages now re­versed and re­named Hazel Cop­pice and Haye Park re­spec­tively. The rain re­lented, leav­ing a drier line through many cor­ners. An­der­son’s tyre choice was clearly cor­rect and he be­came the pace­set­ter. He and Petch matched one an­other to the sec­ond in Hazel Cop­pice but on the last stage, An­der­son put pedal to metal. In just over eight miles he re­duced Petch’s lead by more than half, leav­ing it at eight sec­onds as the lead­ers re­turned to Lud­low. At the fin­ish, An­der­son seemed dis­ap­pointed but philo­soph­i­cal about tak­ing sec­ond. “The steer­ing rack cost us about 15 sec­onds but we pulled time back on the soft tyres. We could have done with a cou­ple of ex­tra stages as we nearly had him (Petch).”

For some­one who had just won a ma­jor na­tional rally cham­pi­onship, third-placed Payne looked as though it was an every­day oc­cur­rence. “That was a nice steady run,” he said. “Once Luke was out, we knew what we had to do and we’ve sim­ply tried to not make any mis­takes.”

Gar­dener and Innes fin­ished fourth. As well as con­tend­ing with the el­e­ments and their cen­tre ‘diff woes, they in­curred a the spare but dis­cov­ered it was flat,” said Wells.

Be­hind them, the bat­tle raged be­tween Re­tal­lick, Hodge – look­ing to bounce back af­ter a DNF at July’s Nicky Grist stages – and Matthew and Tim Tord­off (MG ZR).

With grip at a pre­mium, Re­tal­lick took an early lead but lost time with a spin and stall at a hair­pin in Rad­nor. Hodge ad­mit­ted to “driv­ing like a wally” in the open­ing loop. But when he tried to push on he came close to throw­ing it away with a mas­sive mo­ment in Hop­ton.

“We got very side­ways and stayed there for a very long time,” he ad­mit­ted, rather shame-facedly. mys­te­ri­ous one-minute penalty that was later can­celled. “Out of ev­ery­thing that’s hap­pened to­day, the penalty re­ally threw us as we didn’t know what it was for, and we still don’t,” said Gar­dener.

Black’s first out­ing in the Fi­esta net­ted him fifth. The Northamp­ton­shire driver re­ported a strange prob­lem be­fore the start of Haye Park, when the car un­ac­count­ably turned it­self off and then straight back on again. Wayne Sis­son/neil Shanks brought their Lancer E10 home sixth in the driver’s first out­ing for four months. Their only prob­lem was a half spin in Haye Park. Dy­lan Davies/llion Wil­liams (Sub­aru Im­preza) set a con­sis­tent pace to fin­ish sev­enth in a re-fet­tled Im­preza from TEG Sport.

Hill took eighth and won Group N. He sur­vived a scare at the start of Rad­nor when the Lancer re­fused to fire up. Also a touch lucky were ninth-placed Karl Sim­mons /Mark Glen­ner­ster, as their Sub­aru Im­preza WRC’S gear­box failed on the stop line of the fi­nal stage and they had to crawl along on the fi­nal road sec­tion. Thomp­son rounded out the top 10, and was re­warded by in­creas­ing his lead in the Pro­duc­tion Cup over sea­son-long ri­val Andy Davies by one point. Tord­off de­ter­minedly set a steady pace, stay­ing out of trou­ble to take third, nine sec­onds in ar­rears.

Tom Wil­liams and Emma Mor­ri­son fin­ished a dis­tant sec­ond in RF1.6 be­hind Wells/ Houldsworth. The Ford Fi­esta R1 pair­ing ad­mit­ted to be­ing ten­ta­tive early on, but when the stages be­came drier they pushed on. Chris Hick­man and Glyn Thomas had an event­ful day on their way to fourth in RF 1.4. Their MG ZR’S heated wind­screen failed on both open­ing stages and, once cured, im­proved vis­i­bil­ity could not stop them col­lid­ing with the un­der­growth on stage six, Haye Park.

A steady run for Payne/wil­liamson gave the driver a ti­tle

Hodge/arndt took class vic­tory in RF1.4 cat­e­gory Wells/houldsworth sur­vived spin to take RF1.6 win

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