Motor Sport News - - Rally Reports - Pho­tos: Steve Jones

Rod Birley claimed what could be the 600th vic­tory of his im­pres­sive 44-year racing ca­reer dur­ing the an­nual Plum Pud­ding event at Mal­lory Park.

The West Kings­down ace – who took his first win at Cad­well Park in 1973 at the wheel of a Hill­man Imp – placed his en­try promptly to se­cure pole po­si­tion for the first part of the Sa­loon Car dou­ble-header. How­ever, his Ford Es­cort WRC de­vel­oped a vi­bra­tion dur­ing prac­tice, and Rich Hock­ley (Honda Civic) surged past the tem­po­rar­ily dis­com­bob­u­lated Birley to lead at Shaw’s Cor­ner on lap one.

Birley re­trieved the lead at Lake Esses on the next lap, and David Matthias made it an Es­cort one-two shortly af­ter­wards – only for his dif­fer­en­tial to fail. Hock­ley was also ruled out on lap five when the fuel tank strap snapped, a legacy of a grassy mo­ment at the Esses on lap four, when Steven Barnard (who had crashed in prac­tice) charged through to third in his Audi TT sil­hou­ette.

Barnard seemed to have the mea­sure of Birley and be­gan to reel him in, but then lost im­pe­tus and was even­tu­ally de­feated by more than eight sec­onds. Birley reck­oned that this com­pleted his sixth cen­tury of wins across cir­cuit and oval races, but oth­ers were less sure. “We put it on Face­book,” he said, “but some­one com­mented that there was a re­sult in 2014 that might have been changed, so we need to look at that.”

Peter Felix (VW Golf) com­pleted the podium af­ter a su­perb fight with Brett Lid­sey, which was re­solved when the lat­ter ne­go­ti­ated Stebbe Straight on the grass with three laps re­main­ing. Graham


Crowhurst climbed from row 11 to fifth in his BMW M3, while Mike Webb (Ford Fo­cus) com­pleted the top six.

The re­sult of the sec­ond en­counter was de­clared af­ter just a cou­ple of laps fol­low­ing two race-stop­ping in­ci­dents. The first came when Alan Forster (MG ZR), on pole for the re­versed-grid con­test, spun in front of most of the pack at Ger­ard’s Bend. Sev­eral cars were dam­aged, and Joe Thomp­son’s Mini Se7en was stranded. The restart was three laps old when Nik Bar­ton lost con­trol of his VW Golf – which he had col­lected only weeks ear­lier – at Devil’s El­bow, rolling af­ter the car dug into the gravel. Hock­ley was clas­si­fied as the win­ner from Geoff Con­ner (Re­nault Clio 172) and Mike Ritchie (Honda In­te­gra).

Ray Rowan was us­ing the Sports Car races as a run-out for the ex-hill­climb Pil­beam Mp43-hart he has been re­build­ing for the past three years, but he nev­er­the­less stormed into the lead at Ger­ard’s Bend from row three of the grid. Dave Porter (Rad­i­cal SR3) re­cov­ered from a slow start to claim sec­ond on lap three, then passed Rowan on Kirkby Straight on lap nine. There was con­tact be­tween the pair at the hair­pin shortly af­ter­wards, how­ever, which led to Porter re­tir­ing with CV joint fail­ure and Rowan call­ing into the pits. Philip Hart there­fore took the win in his Mal­lock Mk16 from the Cater­hams of Ja­son Gale and Chris Aubrey.

Rowan missed race two but Porter re­turned, and pushed hard from the rear of the grid to claim the lead on lap four. Gale had led the early stages, but Hart fol­lowed Porter to take sec­ond.

Birley led the way in his Ford Es­cort Porter took the sec­ond Sports Car race win

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