Neil Howard Stages

Motor Sport News - - Rally Reports - By Christo­pher Sharp Pho­tos: SMJ Pho­tog­ra­phy RE­SULTS Neil Howard Stages, MN Cir­cuit Rally Cham­pi­onship, round 1/7

Or­gan­iser: Bolton-le-moors Car Club When: Novem­ber 5 Where: Oul­ton Park, Cheshire Cham­pi­onship: Mo­tor­sport News Cir­cuit Rally Cham­pi­onship Stages: 9 Starters: 85

Kevin Proc­ter and Der­rick Fawcett took class D2 honours and over­all vic­tory in the first round of the Mo­tor­sport News Rally Cham­pi­onship.

Hav­ing nar­rowly missed out on vic­tory at last year’s event to Steve Simpson’s Subaru Im­preza S12B WRC, Proc­ter’s win­ning mar­gin was a com­fort­able 45 sec­onds, de­spite him de­stroy­ing a wheel at the end of stage three af­ter clip­ping the bar­ri­ers in the pit­lane af­ter the fly­ing fin­ish.

Af­ter driv­ing an Im­preza S9 last year, Proc­ter was in the third event in his Moun­tune-en­gined Ford Fi­esta S2000. Simpson – run­ning the same S12B as in 2015 – was Proc­ter’s clos­est ri­val un­til mid­way through stage six when the en­gine started los­ing power and he pulled in to re­tire the car.

De­spite tak­ing out the first chi­cane on SS5 as a re­sult of low grip from fresh Miche­lin tyres, James ‘JJ’ Yates, re­plac­ing his brother and Bri­tish Rally Cham­pi­onship com­peti­tor Rhys in the fam­ily Ford Fi­esta R5, took up the chase but the chi­cane in­ci­dent proved costly. De­spite three stage wins, he and co-driver Tom Wood­burn couldn’t over­turn the big­ger ca­pac­ity Fi­esta of Proc­ter.

Event spon­sor Graham Cof­fey rounded out the top three in his Subaru, hav­ing wished he brought his more nim­ble Ford Fi­esta RS WRC, which would have suited the tricky course bet­ter.

The man who led the early run­ning, John Stone, re­tired his Ford Fi­esta S2500 af­ter com­pli­ca­tions from the event’s wa­ter­splash. It drowned the car out on the third stage and the car choked to a halt on the fourth. He had been lead­ing be­fore the SS3 prob­lem.

Paul Swift took fourth over­all and vic­tory in the D1 class and was an­other driver, among oth­ers, that sus­tained sig­nif­i­cant dam­age early on in the day in the slip­pery con­di­tions. Such was the ro­bust na­ture of his Ford Es­cort Mk2, Swift con­tin­ued to push even­tu­ally ex­tend­ing his lead to over 80s sec­onds over Ian Wood­house by the end of the fi­nal stage.

Adrian ‘Adge’ Spencer rounded out the top five in his Subaru Im­preza.

Rain on Fri­day night and the usage of Oul­ton Park’s drift track for SS1 and SS2 meant that there was the pos­si­bil­ity of a shock re­sult as every­one adapted to the chang­ing con­di­tions. Joe Cun­ning­ham and Marc Fowler pro­vided that shock.

Af­ter SS2 they were run­ning as high as sixth over­all, mix­ing with more pow­er­ful and ad­vanced ma­chin­ery, mainly thanks to Cun­ning­ham’s driv­ing skill but also the ben­e­fits of the front-wheel-drive Vaux­hall Corsa over rear-wheel drive in the con­di­tions.

It was not to be a po­si­tion they would keep how­ever; with the sun shin­ing for the re­main­der of the day, along­side their power deficit to the D2 and D1 cars, they even­tu­ally fell back to 17th. Al­though, with a three and a half minute mar­gin to their near­est class ri­val, it was a still a suc­cess­ful day for the pair.

Chris Phillips and Sarah Hughes steered their beau­ti­fully turned out Peu­geot 106 to a strong class win, fin­ish­ing 44s up on a sim­i­lar 106 of Barry Grant/emyr Hall, de­spite driver Chris suf­fer­ing from the flu.

As well as tem­po­rar­ily drown­ing Stone’s Fi­esta, the Oul­ton wa­ter­splash also caused dam­age to oth­ers as the loss of wa­ter re­vealed rocks caus­ing havoc to those with lower ride heights. It most no­tably took out the front bumper from the Class C lead­ing Clio Cup 172 driven by Steven Quigley and rookie co-driver Peter Lit­tle­field, while the car fell to three cylin­ders on the same stage.

In spite of the dam­age the car was still com­pet­i­tive, push­ing a four-wheel-drive Subaru hard to the stage’s con­clu­sion. Buzzing through the chi­canes, and with the fourth cylin­der re­stored, they con­tin­ued press­ing on to claim class honours and 10th over­all by day’s end.

Com­ing be­hind them sec­ond in class, and 15th over­all, was Rob Hughes in his rear-wheel-drive Ford Fo­cus.

Third event lucky for Proc­ter and new Fi­esta

Swift bet­tered 2015 re­sult with fourth

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