MAGIC MAUGER WINS IN JERSEY
Organiser: Jersey Motorcycle and Light Car Club When: October 14/15 Where: Jersey, Channel Islands Stages: 30 Starters: 79
Simon Mauger and navigator Brian Cammack rewrote the history books on the Jersey Rally, notching up their sixth win on the Island event – to make them the most successful crew in the event’s 34-year history.
The English pair also took their first win in a four-wheel-drive car and the first outright win for the Spencer Sport R5-spec Mitsubishi Mirage.
A total of 79 crews were waved off into the two-day, closed-road event with Brabant and St Martin stages offering the first challenge of the weekend.
Quickest out of the blocks was Simon Chapman in the Millington-powered Proton Satria. Chapman used his Irish rallying exploits to good effect to eke out a 2.3-second gap ahead of Richard Fishleigh in his Ford Escort Mk2. Number one seed, Jeremy Baudains, stole the march on the first run through the St Martin stage to capture the lead into the first service with a 2.3-second cushion over an on-form Chapman.
Disaster was to strike the rally leader early on stage three though with ECU gremlins forcing the Jersey star to retire his Escort Mk2. Chapman stepped up once again, stamping his authority in his Millington/s2000 crossover –with a chasing pack of home-grown crews consisting of Rob De St Paer, Ross Le Noa and Darryl Morris all in hot-pursuit.
As the trio of local Escorts scrabbled over the remaining podium positions, Mauger began to get into his stride, working his way up the order after only managing the 10th quickest time on the first Brabant stage. The Vauxhall Junior Rally Team manager in the British championship struggled on the recent Patriot Stages in the Spencer Sport Mirage, but soon found himself at home on the Jersey asphalt. Gaining in confidence with every mile, Mauger pounced on stage eight to take the lead going into the daunting night stages with just a slender 1.6-second lead over Chapman.
With limited road closure times, the eight-stage afternoon loop was shortened to seven after two accidents on the Brabant stage. Neil Cotillard (Subaru Impreza) suffered a high-speed accident towards the end of the stage before Kevin Gell (Mitsubishi Lancer E9) followed suit two stages later.
Gell was in hospital with broken ribs as MN went to press while co-driver Helier Lucas was released from hospital with fractured vertebrae. Cotillard and co-driver Sue Fossey avoided serious injury.
Hetre and Rossignol were to play host to the seven night stages at the end of the opening day. Chapman continued his fine form, taking three fastest stage times to hold a respectable 10.4-second advantage before alternator failure plummeted the UK resident down into 18th place at the overnight halt.
Working his way up the standings throughout the afternoon was Chris West, who turned on the moonlight magic – threading the wide Peugeot 306 Maxi through the narrow lanes to inherit the rally lead when Chapman faltered. Mauger signalled his intent with the fastest stage time on the final run of the evening to be hot on West’s heels – with 14.6 seconds blanketing the two English drivers.
Local hopes rested on the young shoulders of Le Noa who held the final rostrum position in a Ford Escort Mk2. He chalked up a fastest time on Hetre 2 to keep them in touching distance of the top two.
Overnight rain coupled with autumnal falling leaves made the morning loop of stages incredibly greasy, making tyre choice difficult for the remaining 55 teams.
West and Mauger were locked into a morning-long battle with the pair trading times throughout the Platon and Sorel tests. Mauger was to hold the upper hand with his four-wheel-drive machine and slowly reeled in West’s lead to a mere one tenth of a second coming into the lunch time service. The fight for supremacy was now set-up nicely ahead of the final group of stages in the afternoon.
West in the 306 Maxi held his nerve and was undaunted by the pressure from the five-time Jersey Rally victor across the St Lawrence and Waterworks challenges.
An awe-inspiring time on stage 26 allowed West to scamper away with a lead of 22.8s before a heart-wrenching driveshaft failure on a road section. With West’s challenge extinguished, this allowed Mauger to cruise to his sixth Jersey title on the remaining five stages. Rounding out the top three was local star Le Noa and UK driver Fishleigh in his Ford Escort Mk2s.
“This has to be the hardest-fought battle I have ever had,” explained Mauger. “To take six wins and be the most successful driver is fantastic.
“It’s getting harder and harder to win this rally with great young talent coming through from both Jersey and the UK. One thing for sure is that we will be back for more as there is still life in the old dog yet!”
Paperclix Jersey Rally Unlucky West was a star in wide Peugeot 306 MaxiPhotos: Fiona Le Gros Photography, Ger Leahy
Mauger took his first four-wheel-drive win