Milner overtakes Blomqvist in another giant-killing display in Yorkshire
While Steve Bannister and Jason Pritchard scooped the big prizes on the Trackrod Historic Cup, young Adam Milner turned in the drive of the rally to push his 1600cc Ford Escort Mk1 into an amazing fourth overall.
It is only 12 months since Milner burst into the BHRC by getting the car built by co-driver Roy Jarvis well into the top 10 on his home event. He’s managed only a handful of rallies in 2016 but the 26-year-old from Malton has set a stunning pace every time out. However, last weekend’s charge through the Yorkshire forests was the best yet and came on stages that are hardly a happy hunting ground for the seriously under-powered 1600cc cars.
The weekend didn’t start so well as a major brake drama left them late for scrutineering and there was another panic as the intercom threatened to fail at the start of the 10-mile blast through Dalby on Friday evening. The stage was very slippery and Milner had two overshoots and a spin as he explored the limits. Despite those incidents be caught and passed Stig Blomqvist’s Opel Ascona just after the woodyard and that’s a tale that Milner will dine out on for a long time. “I couldn’t believe we were still in the rally after that first stage,” admitted Jarvis after an exciting ride that left them fourth overall.
Saturday could scarcely have gone better. Third fastest through 13 miles of Langdale and only beaten by Bannister and Matthew Robinson was an epic performance as the neck of the little crossflow was well and truly wrung. A string of top six times elsewhere sealed the result and both crew members cheered over the finish line of Gale Rigg as the ghost of a last stage off on the Severn Valley Stages was laid.
“Brilliant,” said Milner at the finish. “We had a big moment in Dalby today: we hit a big bump flat out and it was sideways in top gear,” he added. But this guy has natural car control on his side, probably a legacy of a lot of time spent on motorbikes. “I drove with my head instead of my balls and Roy did a great job on the notes so we got a strong finish. Spraying the champagne for the first time felt amazing!”
Milner is surely the most talented young driver to emerge in historics since Marty Mccormack burst onto the scene in his ever-sideways Escort Mk2. Of course, Jarvis deserves enormous credit for making it happen and having the confidence to sit alongside and call the notes. Never before has a 1600cc car finished so high up the overall BHRC order. Someone give this man a BDG!