HARPER SURVIVES LATE SCARE
Organiser: Manx Auto Sport When: November 11/12 Where: Isle of Man Championships: Manx Rally Championship, ANWCC, ANCC, SD34 MSG Stage Rally Championship Stages: 14 Starters: 50
Lancashire crew Daniel Harper and Chris Campbell survived a late scare to secure victory on the final stage of the two-day Pokerstars Rally and with it claim the Manx Rally Championship title.
The BMW Mini pair were fastest on Friday night’s first two closed-road stages in the north of the island, establishing a 16s lead over Jamie Jukes/dave Williams (Suzuki Swift), who were fortunate to escape an off-road excursion at the second junction of the event as rain fell.
As conditions worsened further still with thick mist on SS3 The Mountain, Stu Bainborough and co-driver Charlotte Shimmin retired their Mitsubishi Lancer E6 from third after leaving the road and dropping seven minutes.
Jukes also struggled, dropping to fourth behind Will Heavey/barrie Ford (Mitsubishi Lancer E4) and father and daughter crew Timmy and Cliona Collins (Mitsubishi Lancer E10), as Harper stretched his lead to 31s.
TT star Michael Dunlop and Rob Fagg had gambled on a dry tyre in their Ford Escort Mk2 and had incorrectly set spotlights. With those issues resolved at first service they set the fastest time by nine seconds on SS4 The Lhen, only to crash out backwards quarter of a mile into SS5 Glascoe, prompting the stage to be cut in distance for the rest of the field.
With conditions worsening amidst driving rain, Dylan Davies (Subaru Impreza), who had impressed on his asphalt rally debut, retired from fifth at the end of SS4 with a broken driveshaft.
Kex Walker/danni Matthews (BMW 325) set the fastest time on the final stage of the night to move up to third behind Heavey, as class-rivals George Collister/ Adam Yates (BMW 325) dropped 40s with a trip into the Tholt-y-will scenery.
Despite the rain having cleared, wet roads remained on Saturday and Jukes, struggling with engine temperature issues, was caught out on SS7 – putting his Suzuki on its side in Glen Roy.
Harper extended his lead on each stage of the loop, to 1m14s by service after SS9 as Heavey continued his troublefree run in second. Walker hit a bank at a chicane on the Creg ny Baa test, he and Matthews one of several crews to be caught out by standing water – although they retained third, with fourth-place Collins unable to take advantage thanks to gearbox issues.
But disaster then struck for Harper on the next stage as his Mini broke a driveshaft, leaving him to limp through three stages before he could get to service, surrendering the lead to Heavey.
With the issue fixed he was determined to try for victory, and launched an assault as the event moved on to West Baldwin. With Heavey suffering suspension issues, Harper went 27s faster on SS13 to move back ahead, and sealed victory on the final stage despite a close encounter with a house, going fastest by 11s.
Heavey took the runner-up spot only on countback after incurring a penalty at the final control, leaving Walker to rue several overshoots. Collins held on to fourth ahead of Collister, who had swapped times with Walker throughout the second day.
Dan Colley/jim Callister finished sixth in another BMW, with newcomer Nathan Cafearo (Mitsubishi Lancer E9) next after going off in the same place as Walker. Sean Kelly returned after two years out to finish eighth in a Mitsubishi Lancer E9.
Kyle Collister/chris Sharpe-simkiss (Peugeot 106) impressed with 1600cc class victory despite hitting a wall on SS10, holding off Walter Bridson/stephen Christian (Honda Civic), who rounded out the top 10 despite fuel starvation issues delaying the pair on the opening night of the event. Results
Harper and Campbell claimed Manx title with win