Joe Cunningham and Marc Fowler’s Vauxhall Corsa had built up a 12-second lead in Class A after two stages, but a gear selection problem on stage three left them with a 40-second deficit to ANWCC Championship leaders Gethin Jones/ Tomos Williams’ Vauxhall Nova.
Jones held onto the lead until stage seven. “Then we went the wrong way,” he explained, which left them 35 seconds down and handed Cunningham – the 2015/16 Class A champ – the spoils.
Mark Annison/ian Humphrey’s Puma was third all day, with Aaron Rix/ Rob Cook’s Ford Ka ousting Sam/liam Johnson’s SEAT Arosa when they spun on stage two. Johnson was fifth with Craig Aston/nick Baker’s Peugeot 205 GTI sixth.
Diff failure put pay to Stevie Irwin/ Ian Middleton’s hopes in Class B in their Vauxhall Nova. By the end of stage three they were 42 seconds clear of Ryan Burns/steve Hallmark’s Corsa. “We just lost drive,” said Irwin. “It started on stage two and just worsened and was almost pulling us off the track. It’s the second successive year it’s happened too.”
Burns had moved into second from stage three, demoting the Peugeot 106s of Chris Phillips/rhys Hughes’ and Barry Grant/emyr Hall.
After leading the class for a couple of stages, Burns was out too with gearbox and clutch problems. Ben and Andrew Wilkinson’s Citroen Saxo became the third class leader but they held on to take the spoils.
A strong finish from EX-BTCC man Paul O’neill not only netted him second in a Paul Sheard-run Mazda MX-5, but brought them to within two seconds of snatching a class win.
Chris Platt/ Mick Robinson’s Vauxhall Tigra was robbed of a class podium when their engine seized on stage six, leaving Phillips/ Hughes a clear third, from Jack Leese/tom Bowen’s Peugeot 208, Grant/ Hall and Dave Johnstone/bruce Lindsay’s Peugeot 205 GTI Kit Car.
Starting on slicks when everyone else went for wets was brave, but in the end it paid off for Joshua and Tamsyn Davey’s Darrian T90.
They led Class C all day, despite having spins on each of the first two stages. “We ended up on the grass on stage four too,” he added.
Despite a 10-second penalty for a chicane indiscretion on the last stage, he still took the class by almost three minutes from Eric Roberts/merfyn Williams’ Escort. “We didn’t have any power steering for the first two stages,” said Roberts, but was still second in class from stage two.
Although Mike English/andy Robinson’s Escort started well, their unexplained loss of pace left them with fourth in class. Benjamin and Steven Smith managed to overcome gearbox problems in their Peugeot 205 GTI and retained third from stage three.
Eighth in Class C was another British Touring Car Championship ace Adam Morgan, while versatile circuit racer Nigel Greensall was 15th in class. Both had swapped their regular mounts for Paul Sheard-run Mazda MX-5S.
Event winner Procter took the D2 class, Chris West won D1.