Es­cort Mk2 man rules the Red Kite His­toric Stages. By Paul Lawrence

Motor Sport News - - Bhrc Report -

Nick El­liott and Dave Price were the toast of his­toric ral­ly­ing on Sun­day af­ter scor­ing a stylish vic­tory on the Red Kite His­toric Stages, the open­ing round of the Min­tex MSA Bri­tish His­toric Rally Cham­pi­onship.

In a head-to-head with de­fend­ing champions Jason Pritchard and Phil Clarke, El­liott and Price took a 35s lead to the fin­ish af­ter six wet and slip­pery stages, five on the gravel of the Epynt ranges and one in the su­per-fast Caeo. “That was a mea­sured win and a good start to the season,” said El­liott.

Pritchard, El­liott and Joe Price/ Chris Brooks were not only the first three his­torics, they were also the first three cars on the road over­all. Their fear­some com­mit­ment and pace was ev­i­dent from the first junc­tion of the season in Half­way as they all bat­tled to put down an early marker. How­ever, run­ning first on the road was a dis­ad­van­tage for Pritchard, who ad­mit­ted that a lack of lines to fol­low was mak­ing life tricky on the slip­pery stages.

“We had an over­shoot on the first cor­ner of SS1 and a spin and a stall on Route 60,” re­ported Pritchard, who dropped 43s to El­liott over the first four stages. The dam­age was done and, though Pritchard pulled back eight sec­onds on the sec­ond runs through Crychan and Half­way, El­liott was not about to be caught. Price split them on the open­ing stage but a bro­ken ’diff in Crychan brought his rally to an early fin­ish.

De­spite a handy mar­gin af­ter his big morn­ing at­tack, El­liott was edgy as he left ser­vice for the fi­nal two stages. “I’ve thrown it away on this event be­fore,” he said, but it all held to­gether this time.

“It felt aw­ful driv­ing slowly through those last two,” he said on only his sec­ond com­pet­i­tive out­ing in the car that was badly dam­aged on the Pirelli Rally last April.

Pritchard took a big points haul and was philo­soph­i­cal about the chal­lenge of run­ning first on the road. “There was much more grip on the sec­ond run through Crychan, but the fog was worse this af­ter­noon over Route 60,” he said of some very poor vis­i­bil­ity on the high ground.

At 1m18s down on El­liott, Rudi Lan­caster and Guy Weaver can be pleased with their work as the gap to Lan­caster’s fel­low for­mer Peu­geot Chal­lenge ri­val con­tin­ues to nar­row. “We had a half-spin on Route 60 and a prob­lem with the wipers, but it’s been a great rally,” said the Devo­nian.

Lit­tle more than a minute cov­ered the next six Es­cort Mk2 crews as qual­ity in depth packed out the top 10. Fourth was an­other lead­ing re­sult for Si­mon Web­ster and Jez Rogers as Web­ster set­tled back in af­ter hav­ing some changes made to the car over the win­ter. “The car is so much bet­ter now,” said the East Anglian driver, who had to keep push­ing to fend off team-mates Ben Friend and Cliffy Sim­mons. On his first rally with a fresh car, still with Pinto power, Friend was as mighty as ever and won Class D3 at a can­ter as he pushed the car right up among the BDG pack. Only a stick­ing throt­tle on the way out of ser­vice caused any con­cern.

One of the drives of the rally came from Jonathan Brace/tim Sa­muel in sixth although it nearly came to a spec­tac­u­lar end on the fi­nal Route 60 stage. “We had the big­gest mo­ment we’ve ever had,” said Brace af­ter a very high-speed spin. The only dam­age was re­ported as be­ing to the co-driver’s laun­dry bill.

El­der states­men Terry Brown and Den Gold­ing found the Route 60 fog a chal­lenge for a crew with a com­bined age of over 140 years, but they fought off Tim Free­man/paul Wil­liams by just two sec­onds for sev­enth. Los­ing the bet­ter part of a minute with a slow open­ing stage cost Free­man dear, but he made amends by match­ing Lan­caster with a push on the last stage. James Pot­ter/bob Duck were only 11s fur­ther back as Paul Street/ian Jones made a strong BHRC debut to wrap up the top 10.

Photos: Writ­tle Pho­to­graphic, Gary Jones

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