PAYNE DEFENDS HOME VICTORY
New Gold Star champ takes second Trackrod in a row. By Ian Harden
Charlie Payne came to last Saturday’s Trackrod Forest Rally with a mission; score sufficient championship points to secure the BTRDA Gold Star Co-driver’s Championship for Carl Williamson.
This year’s event was the series’ final round and, as well as the Gold Star co-driver’s title finale, four championships came down to the wire including the Production Cup.
The rally’s new format included moving rally HQ to Scampston Hall, near Malton. There was also a more compact route of three loops of stages with two service halts. The official start moved to Adderstone Field, in the heart of Dalby Forest, alleviating the problem of long road sections; competitors now went straight into stage one only half a mile from the start control.
The opening loop consisted of Staindale (6.1 miles) and Langdale (13.2 miles). The forecast heavy rain failed to materialise leaving the tracks dry and very fast although, as many crews found out, still slippery under the trees.
With conditions ideal for flat-out motoring, Stephen Petch stormed straight into the lead, knowing he needed to stay ahead of Paul Benn/richard Cooke’s Ford Focus WRC02 if he wanted second place in the Gold Star series. Petch’s Ford Fiesta R5+ stopped the clocks 3.9s ahead of Payne.
The two leaders headed several crews returning to rallying after lay-offs.
Ryan Champion had not rallied in forests for five years. But, with Allan Harryman on the notes in their Mitsubishi Lancer WRC, the pairing blazed through Staindale to snatch third, ahead of former Gold Star champion driver Hugh Hunter, co-driven by Rob Fagg. Robert Swann/aled Edwards (Subaru Impreza S12B WRC) held fifth, Swann reporting he was being cautious in his first gravel outing for a year.
Sixth-placed Benn was pushing as hard as he dared as he looked to score Gold Star points. Andy Davies/max Freeman (Subaru Impreza) needed to make a strong bid for the Production Cup Championship and they were quick out of the blocks, leading Group N from Sacha Kakad/ James Aldridge (Impreza) and disputing seventh overall with Steve Petch/john Richardson (Fiesta R5).
Any hopes the younger Petch had of stretching his lead evaporated on stage two, Langdale. Payne read the potential threat, responding immediately and decisively. He charged through the 13-mile test to turn a 4s deficit into a 21s advantage while Petch lost 25s after a misfire developed. Swann drove with increasing confidence and moved up to third ahead of Champion, whose car was suffering a turbo boost problem. Hunter joked that he needed to get fitter after not driving competitively since February, and was pressured for fifth place by Kevin Procter/andrew Roughead (Fiesta).
At service at a sunshine-bathed Adderstone Field, Payne reported an overshoot on stage one: “We went in to a corner a bit too hot and we had a choice; throw it in and hope, or overshoot and reverse out. We picked the second one.”
Meanwhile, Petch looked puzzled as he described the misfire. “We can’t get any boost. Whenever the anti-lag cuts in the misfire starts,” he explained.
Several places behind the leaders, the Production Cup finale took a dramatic turn. Richard Hill/steffan Evans (Mitsubishi Lancer E9) led the category in seventh overall, ahead of Daniel Moss/sam Allen’s identical machine. Russ Thompson/andy Murphy languished in 16th overall and third in
RF1.0: Dominic Hodge/stefan Arndt (Nissan Micra) RF1.6: Richard Wells/calvin Houldsworth (Volkswagen Polo) 1400C: Gordon Alexander/anthony Litchfield (MG ZR) 1400S: Jordan/ Paul Hone (Proton Satria) H1: Barry Jordan/james Gratton-smith (Hillman Avenger) H2: Mark Boulton/ Mike Curry (Ford Escort Mk1) H3: Paul Street/ Ian Jones (Escort Mk2) N3: Sam Bilham/james Whittaker (Ford Fiesta ST) NR4: Richard Hill/steffan Evans (Mitsubishi Lancer E9) B10: Bob Vardy/simon John Rogers (Fiesta R200) B11: Jody Bowcott/ David Millard (Escort Mk2) B12: Phil Burton/ Mal Capstick (Escort Mk2) B13: Phil Pickard/simon Pickard (Subaru Impreza) B14: Charlie Payne (Fiesta) Silver Star: Burton/capstick Production Cup: Richard Hill (Lancer E9) Production Cup co-driver: Andy Murphy (Lancer E9) Historic Cup: Street/jones Rally First: Wells/ Houldsworth ST Trophy: Bilham/abi Hayckock (Fiesta ST) MG ZR Rally Challenge: Alexander/ Phill Hall (MG ZR) Junior driver: Bob Vardy Junior co-driver: Tom Murphy (Talbot Sunbeam VXR) Senior driver: Phil Pickard Senior co-driver: Graeme Wood (Escort Cosworth) Lady driver: Emily Retallick Lady co-driver: Emma Morrison (Fiesta R1)
58m05.1s +2m13.3s +3m0.3s +3m0.6s +3m3.5s +3m28.5s +3m39.7s +3m40.5s +3m42.8s +3m49.3s