COOPER TAKES TOP JAFFA PRIZE AT PEMBREY
Westwales Rally Spares Jaffa Stages
initial eighth place to take the lead, sharing second fastest time with his grandfather Phil Turner, who himself was on a charge, his Lancer E9 having been as low as 25th overall after going off on stage one. Geoff Kitney/ken Gibbard were getting used to their hired Lancer E9, moving up to second place, just three seconds behind the leading crew.
Cooper showed no signs of feeling the pressure of former Motoring News Tarmac champion Kitney closing in on him, as he set a blistering time on SS4 taking 19 seconds out of his rival to open up a comfortable margin, as Kitney lost time in traffic.
With Jukes forced to retire following driveshaft failure, Steffan DR Davies/ Rhys Jones were leading two-wheeldrive crew in their Ford Escort Mk2, though Ian Kenvin/phil Williams would overtake them before the end in his Escort Mk2, but they would hold on to win the road rally class.
On his first visit to Pembrey for a number of years, Jim Munden was in the top five in his Impreza before sliding off on the Beach Road, two punctures costing more time, whilst Julian Reynolds retired his Escort Mk2 with gearbox issues.
Fastest time on the final stage rounded off the win in style for Cooper/ Williams as they secured an assured victory. Behind second placed Kitney, Shaun Price/marc Clatworthy breathed a sigh of relief as they held on to third despite a last-stage puncture on their Subaru Impreza, as Turner/simon Anthony closed to within 11 seconds.
Normally seen on road rallies, Steve Knibbs/gerwyn Barry hired a Subaru Impreza for the day, and finished in an impressive fifth overall, just ahead of Darren James/dafydd Sion Lloyd who had a good run, despite some tyre issues, to round off the top six. In the battle for the two-litre class, Godney finished on equal times with Richard Merriman, but beat the Darrian T90 driver on a tie break.
Neil Weaver/jessica Hockley had a great run on their first visit to Pembrey finishing in 13th position in their Suzuki Swift and winning the 1400cc class, four places ahead of 1600cc winners John and Gordon Leigh, whose Vauxhall Nova sported some battle scars after a tough day of action.
Lydden Hill owner Pat Doran says the circuit will make the 2017 round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship an event to remember.
Doran says he will continue to pursue plans to develop the track’s infrastructure, despite confirmation that the British round of World RX will move to Silverstone from 2018.
“Initial contract discussions with [World Rallycross promoter] IMG included the delivery of a development plan at Lydden Hill,” said Doran. “In 2015 the circuit applied to Dover District Council to build a new entrance, grandstands and hospitality centre, which fell in line with the rising demands of the growing event and customer expectations.
“However, the application has dragged on and, although I have never based the new development on keeping the World RX Championship contract, I feel sure our inability to deliver the new facilities in a timely manner may have slightly influenced the decision.”
The former European Championship event winner and multiple British Rallycross champion confirmed that Lydden will continue to work on its developments, and rallycross events are a key part of the circuit’s future.
“Our eyes are on this year’s World RX event. We anticipate that it will be the most memorable [at Lydden], particularly as it is the 50th anniversary celebration of rallycross. However, after this year’s event, I do wish Silverstone every success with their first World RX round in 2018.
“Although Lydden is sad to lose the event, we are looking forward with excitement and optimism that the planning application for the new facilities will come to fruition. Rallycross is still a big focus [for Lydden], we enjoy a fantastic working relationship with British Automobile Racing Club, which has worked very hard to bring the sport forward in Britain, and we will continue to work with them helping to grow the British Championship.
“I feel confident that Lydden will continue to thrive and we look forward to being able to offer fabulous new facilities and an exciting events calendar in the near future. Who knows, we may yet see World Rallycross come back at Lydden one day.”
The first ever rallycross event was held on February 4 1967 at Lydden Hill. The circuit hosts the fifth round of the World Championship this year on May 27 /28.