The fourth round of the HRCR Mini Sport Cup kicked off in Dundrennan.
The Championship is now at the halfway point and, as always, the Military Ranges took their first victims early on, with Round 3 champs Ian Clare/Antony Elkes struck down with a broken drive shaft in Stage 3, resulting in a tow back to the service area. Ian and Ant’s team worked frantically to fix the issue in such a tight time slot to get the lads back out ready for Stage 4, but ultimately fate was against them, as the duo suffered a failed differential, ending their event.
Lying in second from the off, Team Mini Sport’s John and Martin Cressey were forced into early retirement from the rally at the end of Stage 3, with a broken bottom pulley. Despite the team’s best efforts, time between Stages was not on their side and the issue couldn’t be solved. To prevent the risk of any unnecessary (and expensive!) damage to the crank, John and Martin sadly called it a day.
A run in with a wall in Stage 5 ended the Rally – and perhaps the rest of the 2018 Championship – for Andy Walkingshaw and Lewis Griffiths, who after picking up the pace and getting caught up on some loose gravel, hit said wall which resulted in extensive damage to the left side of the Mini – even dislodging the engine! Andy commented “it’ll be up to my wife if I’ll be rallying again”!
Shane Gamble and Bob Ward suffered an unfortunate incident in Stage 3, costing them valuable seconds, Shane expressed he felt that “it just hasn’t gelled for us today”. Still, this wasn’t enough to stop them finishing seventh in MC2 and seventh overall.
It was a successful event for Peter Ellerby and Ben Anderson, who up to Solway had yet to finish a Rally this year, until Peter’s Mini started having electric issues! However, with the sheer determination of Peter and Ben they persevered and finished fifth in MC2 and fifth overall.
It was another challenging event for Craig King and Clare Bird, who had some trouble in Stages 2 and 3, where their exhaust was hanging off! Craig said: “It was so noisy that I couldn’t hear Clare’s calls! Luckily, we got it fixed back on but it was still noisy as it was blowing.” The excessive noise didn’t stop them though, finishing eighth in MC2 and eighth overall.
The early exits of Ian Clare and Antony Elkes and John Cressey and Martin Cressey blew the Open Class wide open. All for fellow Mini Sport sponsored crew Louise Thomas and Heidi Woodcock, AKA the Mini Girls Rally Team, to take advantage and battle for the top spot against Martin Melling and Alex Holliday.
Fuelled on by sweets and songs, Louise and Heidi were having a great run despite a slight ‘moment’ on Stage 4 with some loose gravel and overshooting a hairpin, the girls managed to hold on, their growing confidence resulting in first in MC4 and 10th overall. Louise and Heidi also chose Solway to play their ‘Joker,’ meaning that the girls will get double points for this event and shake up the points table!
CHANGE OF PACE
After early success in the 2018 Junior Mini Sport Cup with a 998cc engine — often setting times that were quicker than many of the crews in the main Championship, Team Mini Sport’s Jack Hartley/Gary Dawes had a change of pace — swapping to 1275cc and moving to MC2 to put Jack and Gary into the Mini Sport Cup and see what Jack could do with that extra power! Setting tongues wagging in the service area, and despite a few very slight issues with the Mini, there was no stopping Jack and Gary who landed a podium finish — third in MC2 and third overall.
Jim Brindle and Sam Bould had a strong finish once again, having set quick times throughout the day, even finding themselves in a tie with Jack Hartley and Gary Dawes at the end of Stage 8! The final two Stages were the decider, with Jim and Sam finishing fourth in MC2 and fourth overall.
David Evans and Tom Aleksanddrowicz also had a great result, David explained: “It’s a bit rough out there really, but it’s going all right. We did hit a bank in Stage 2, but luckily we rolled right back off and got going again!” Good news for David and Tom that they carried on, finishing first in MC3 and ninth overall — their highest result in the Championship so far!
Roy Jarvis and Luke Greaves were having a good run, getting quicker and quicker throughout the course of the day, but were unfortunately struck down with gear issues which resulted in them loosing around 15 seconds, however Roy and Luke accelerated onwards to finish sixth MC2 and sixth overall. Barry Stenhouse and Catrin Jones also had a good run with no issues, with Barry joking that “my lightweight navigator is speeding us up”! Eventually finishing ninth in MC2 and 11th overall.
Team Mini Sport’s Clive King and Anton Bird were back fighting fit with their new engine, with Clive going on to add: “With the slippy conditions we’re just being a little cautious, but the engine’s doing great – I’m just having to drive a little differently and get used to the quicker gear changes. It’s pulling stronger!” Clive and Anton were even having to flag down and re-route Martin Melling and Alex Holliday who managed to take a wrong turn heading to Stage! It wasn’t the only good-deed Clive and Anton did that weekend, they also had to save Shane and Bob from sleeping on sofas at their hotel after a booking mishap meant their room was given away! Clive and Anton to the rescue indeed… all that and the superhero duo still had time to finish second in MC2 and second overall!
Congratulations go to Ray Cunningham and Jared Gill who have grabbed themselves another round win! Ray and Jared were setting the fastest times throughout the Stages and the car ran faultlessly. Ray went on to say “we’re having a blast! It’s just pretty slippy under the trees and the hairpins do creep up rather quickly”! They were placed first in MC2 and first overall.
The generous Yokohama prize of two regulation tyres, used throughout the Championship, was won by Jack Hartley.
Ray Cunningham and Jared Gill, plus Jim Brindle and Sam Bould’s Minis were pulled up for post-event scrutineering by the MSA. However, as with Clive King and Anton Bird at Abingdon, there was nothing to report — all cars complied to Championship regulations.
Taking the podium. Jared Gill, John Hunt and Ray Cunningham.
It was another victorious weekend for Ray Cunningham and Jared Gill. Leading the line up: Shane Gamble and Bob Ward.