PETCH’S

BIRTH­DAY VIC­TORY

Motor Sport News - - Rally Reports - By Phil James Re­sults Pho­tos: Pro-rally Photography, Dun­can Lit­tler

Or­gan­iser: Fur­ness & District Mo­tor Club When: Novem­ber 26 Where: Am­ble­side, Cum­bria Cham­pi­onship ANCC; ANECCC; Five of Clubs. Stages: 6 Starters: 69

It was a birth­day to re­mem­ber for Stephen Petch as the 33-year-old, along with Michael Wilkin­son on the notes, sur­vived a late scare to bring their Ford Fi­esta R5+ home 16 sec­onds ahead of last year’s run­ners up David Wright and Steve Pugh.

With the overnight sub-zero tem­per­a­tures still pre­vail­ing at the rally start the open­ing two runs through the tricky Dun­nerdale test were al­ways go­ing to prove prob­lem­atic for some.

Not for Tar­mac aces Don­agh Kelly and Conor Fo­ley though, as the Ir­ish duo headed to Grizedale with a 5s ad­van­tage over the even­tual win­ners.

Wright and Pugh were next up, al­beit 14s in ar­rears, in their Ford Fo­cus WRC01 af­ter a spin dropped them 10s.

Match­ing Wright’s time in his Mit­subishi Lancer E5 was Steven Clark, who had Bri­tish Ju­nior Rally Cham­pi­onship pi­lot Blair Brown on the notes. Euan Thor­burn – driv­ing a Ford Fi­esta R5 for the first time hav­ing com­peted in a Peugeot 208 T16 this year – was be­ing ex­tra care­ful not to dam­age the car, and com­pleted the top five.

Grizedale For­est was bathed in bril­liant sun­shine but there were still plenty of ice patches on the sec­tions of track shaded by the trees wait­ing to catch out the un­wary. Kelly was an early vic­tim on stage three, Grizedale South, hand­ing the lead to Petch who shared fastest time with Wright, now in sec­ond over­all. Clark was third, one sec­ond up on Thor­burn. The lat­ter had dropped time af­ter pick­ing up a punc­ture while Adrian Hether­ing­ton and Ro­nan O’neill were up to fifth in their Toy­ota Corolla WRC.

Stage four, Grizedale North, was then can­celled to al­low ac­cess to the Air Am­bu­lance to at­tend to a spec­ta­tor who had suf­fered a sud­den ill­ness.

Crews were then di­rected to ser­vice at Am­ble­side be­fore re­vist­ing Grizedale for two af­ter­noon stages.

Petch was quick­est though the open­ing South test that fol­lowed a sim­i­lar, but shorter, route to that used for stage three. Clark dropped time with brake is­sues, al­low­ing Thor­burn to snatch third, but Clark still held on to fourth.

Stephen Simp­son and Pa­trick Walsh had started the test in seventh place be­fore park­ing their Fi­esta S2000 in a ditch. With the car beached on a log there was no es­cape and they were forced to wait for the re­cov­ery ve­hi­cle.

With only the 7.65-mile Grizedale North re­main­ing to com­plete the sched­ule, the pres­sure was on Petch. A punc­ture just past the half­way mark re­sulted in an in­evitable time loss but by then he’d done enough to en­sure vic­tory was his. Wright fin­ished a com­fort­able sec­ond whilst Thor­burn re­tained the fi­nal podium place, but only just, as de­spite his brake prob­lems, Clark set fastest time to fin­ish just a sec­ond be­hind.

Hether­ing­ton re­tained fifth de­spite a spin cost­ing around 20s with Hugh Hunter and Rob Fagg, who went bet­ter af­ter chang­ing their Fi­esta’s set-up at ser­vice, fin­ish­ing just two sec­onds be­hind.

David How­ells and Jamie Ed­wards en­joyed a trou­ble­free run to bring their new Subaru Im­preza home seventh ahead of the Lancer E9 of Scots duo John Wink and John For­rest.

A late charge saw Bren­dan Cu­miskey and Ro­nan O’kane grab ninth in their Im­preza, fin­ish­ing two sec­onds ahead of Steve Petch and John Richard­son.

Fred Milne and Chris Wil­liams had been in con­tention for a top 10 fin­ish be­fore they de­parted the fray in the fi­nal stage af­ter hit­ting a bank in their Lancer E9 and push­ing the fan through the ra­di­a­tor.

Event spon­sor Thomas Pre­ston had been hold­ing a top 10 place leav­ing Dun­nerdale be­fore get­ting it all wrong, right in front of his in­vited guests, in stage three. Hav­ing al­ready stuck his Skoda Fabia R5 in a ditch and los­ing re­verse gear and six min­utes in the process, he and co-driver Carl Wil­liamson then re­peated the feat on reach­ing the VIP area. At least it gave his fol­low­ers some hands-on rally ex­pe­ri­ence as they helped push the stricken Skoda back onto the track. Pre­ston even­tu­ally fin­ished 37th over­all.

Steve Green and Michael Gil­more took Class 1 awards in their Nis­san Micra af­ter fin­ish­ing 15th over­all, hav­ing spent much of the day catch­ing slower cars. Class 2 awards went to Wil­liam Creighton and Paddy Robin­son in their Peugeot 208R2 af­ter they over­hauled the Peugeot 206 of early lead­ers Barry Lind­say and Caro­line Lodge who slipped to third.

Class 3 hon­ours went to Mark Holmes and Craig Simkiss who came close to vis­it­ing a stage five ditch in their Ford Es­cort Mk1. Hav­ing sur­vived that close call they also col­lected the top two-wheel-drive awards af­ter fin­ish­ing 14th over­all. Mike Wolff, a re­cent rally re­turnee fol­low­ing a 20-year ab­sence, and co-driver Mark Twiname claimed the Class 4 prizes.

Hav­ing won the penul­ti­mate round of the Welsh Cham­pi­onship, Kevin Davies/ Dale Bowen fin­ished the year by se­cur­ing vic­tory on the fi­nal round, the Rali Cil­wen­deg on Satur­day night. The pair were never headed and fin­ished and came through to re­peat their 2013 suc­cess on the rally.

John Davies/ Eurig Davies were look­ing for their fifth win to­gether on the clas­sic event but had to set­tle for sec­ond place. Wyn Owens/jenny Evans put in an ex­cel­lent per­for­mance, fin­ish­ing in fourth and tak­ing the Ex­pert Class win.

Af­ter pick­ing up an un­nec­es­sary twominute penalty for early ar­rival at a con­trol on the open­ing sec­tion of the Au­tomark Far­ring­ton Tro­phy Rally, Guy Wood­cock/ Andy Pul­lan fought back to take a com­fort­able win on a highly de­mand­ing event. This was the fourth Far­ring­ton win for Wood­cock and the third time in a row that Pul­lan had taken the Far­ring­ton Tro­phy.

Their task was made eas­ier by the re­tire­ment be­fore Petrol of both Steven John Wil­liams/ Baz Green and John Paul Wil­liams/ Roger Evans, the lat­ter suf­fer­ing ECU prob­lems on their Im­preza. Ian Lloyd/ Cyril Jones led but went out with clutch fail­ure later on. This al­lowed young Carl Acott, who had Stu Thomas on the maps, to take the run­ner up spot.

R5 driver was on form on home ground Grizedale Stages

Steve Green was rapid in his Nis­san Micra on the way to 15th place

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