Morris unseats Fiesta debutant Smith as conditions improve
Tommy Morris and Colin Harkness took victory on the Jack Neal Memorial Rally, but were embroiled in a tough battle with Peter Smith/graham Wild’s Ford Fiesta R5 throughout.
As the weather worsened, Smith took charge and led from stage four, unseating Morris.
The lead had grown to 15 seconds by the end of stage six, when the rain finally stopped and Morris fought back. Despite a couple of small offs on the penultimate stage, he started the last only five seconds down and clinched victory by four.
Mark Roberts/stephen Landen’s Ford Escort Cosworth held onto third all day, despite a spin on the opening stage. They broke a front driveshaft on stage seven, picked up mud on the tyres as they headed for the stage eight start and spun at the first corner.
In fourth, Mike English/john Darlington were the first twowheel-drive entry and retained a day-long fourth to take the Class 3 spoils, but also had a big spin on stage three.
For the first eight stages, Daniel Simcock/ben Richardson’s Mitsubishi Lancer E6 had managed to consolidate fifth place on the driver’s second ever rally, but a wrong slot on the penultimate stage dropped them to 10th.
Mick Pickles/beverley Warren’s Peugeot 205 GTI started the day in eighth, but having ousted Stuart Popplewell/nigel Barber’s SEAT Ibiza on stage two, they were into sixth a stage later after Chris Marshall/simon Hunter’s Lancer E5 spun. Following Simcock’s demise, Pickles claimed fifth with Marshall completing the top six.