PAYNE DE­FENDS HOME VIC­TORY

New Gold Star champ takes sec­ond Track­rod in a row. By Ian Harden

Motor Sport News - - Btrda: Trackrod Rally - Pho­tos: Writ­tle Photographic

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

Payne re­peated 2015 tri­umph

Petch keeps up strong form with sec­ond

Cham­pion: quick on For­est re­turn

Hill took an­other NR4 and Pro­duc­tion class vic­tory

Bow­cott top B11

Swann re­turned

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