YATES DOMINATES ROCKINGHAM STAGES IN R5
Yates was already 33 seconds up after the first two runs, having made an immediate change to harder tyres for the second stage.
The Ford Escort Mk2 of Paul Swift and Patrick Walsh had its first stage advantage of four seconds halved by Edwards, even though the Darrian driver managed to skirt a tyre wall on stage two.
While Paul King/alicia Miles’ Escort was a further three seconds adrift in fourth, Alex Cannon/ray Keith’s Subaru Impreza began to fall down the order as the track dried out, promoting Steve Quigley/peter Littlefield’s Renault Clio.
With Yates continuing to ease away, the fight for second intensified, with only a second covering Edwards, King and Swift. But Edwards had gear change problems on stage three. “It was an ECU problem so I had to use a manual change,” he explained. Swift had also lost time after clipping a chicane on the same stage.
With Quigley delaying his change to harder tyres, he dropped down the order, promoting the Escorts of Alan Kirkaldy/cameron Fair and Cadwell Park winners Ian Woodhouse/paul Rowland.
One stage was run in the dark before the overnight halt, but it caused problems for the rally leader. “I had reset the dash display and went into a chicane side by side with Quigley,” Yates explained. “I thought I was through and then locked up and hit the chicane.” The error resulted in an overnight radiator change.
King had managed to build a threesecond cushion over Swift for second, after his rival had the co-driver’s door fly open at 100mph. Edwards lost out too and found himself only two seconds up on Kirkaldy, after his fellow Scot had set the fastest time on the stage.
Yates had an untroubled run through Sunday’s six stages to secure the win by 2m53 secs, while the morning began with Swift back into second, from King and Edwards.
But tyre choice played its part again, as King stayed on soft compounds and fell to fifth on stage eight, while Edwards opened a 10-second gap over Kirkaldy for second and Swift dropped to fourth.
Edwards continued to consolidate second place, as did Kirkaldy in third but, going into the final stage, Swift had only a second in hand over King, which was reversed on the final run.
Having played catch up after clouting a chicane on the opening stage, Woodhouse completed the top six, 30 seconds behind Swift.
In Class 1 David Coatsworth/ Thomas Bruce’s MG ZR took the spoils after trailing Adrian Mayall/ Rob Hayden’s Alfa Romeo 33 for the first two stages. But after being flagged down on stage three and having a notional time given for stage five, Mayall was left in third behind Alan Kitson/ron Aspinwall’s Sunbeam Imp.
William Hill/richard Crozier’s Fiesta R2 briefly lost the Class 2 lead to Bryan Whale/garry Whittington’s Vauxhall Nova, but was in charge again from stage five. Mark and John Burton’s XR2 was a distant second after Whale blew the headgasket.
Quigley’s Clio was ninth overall and led Darryl Morris/steve Gully’s Escort in Class 3 all weekend, while Edwards took Class 4 over Kirkaldy and King.