June 28th, 2012
Another rally and another different winner, this time The Screamer is back. Peter Taylor and Andrew Roughead’s return to the championship would be victorious as they took their Renault Clio to a well-deserved win on the Turnbull Trophy Rally.
And although the timesheets show they were over 2 minutes ahead of their nearest rivals at the finish, they had to fight hard on 7 of the day’s 8 stages for their success. That battle commenced at 9:30 on a wet and slippy Sunday morning at Albemarle airfield. Steady overnight rain meant the venue was very slippy as cars ventured out onto this rarely used venue. The Clio of Taylor / Roughead had no answer to the Subaru Impreza of Michael Glendinning / Don Whyatt and dropped 15 seconds on the opening 13 mile test. The Clio clawed back 5 seconds over the next 2 stages but then lost 6 seconds to find themselves 16 down at the lunch halt. The youngsters were trying hard enough but their struggle wasn’t helped as their front tyres were wrecked after each stage. The afternoon stages would be run in an anticlockwise direction and on the first test came some hope as the Subaru dropped 11 seconds and then 2 on stage 6. With the gap down to just 3 seconds going into the penultimate stage the heavens opened and the runways became treacherous watercourses. However this would have no impact on the overall outcome as the red Subaru stopped out on the test with a gearbox problem. With a bit of persuasion, Glendinning managed to get the car going again but realising he had no 4th or 5th gear he called it a day and drove the car back onto the trailer. A sad end for our 2010 champion.
So Peter and Andrew steadily drove the final 3-lap stage and took a well-deserved rally win which they were keen to dedicate to Gareth Roberts, a young friend tragically killed in an accident the week before on the Targa Florio. Their car now looks forward to an engine and gearbox rebuild before it’s next outing.
Our second points scorers were Pete Gibson and Josh Davison. Their Mitsubishi Evo6 got off to a flying start and on the opening test passing 2 cars to push them into a fine 4th place overall. Unfortunately, they slipped back 4 places over the next 3 tests as they’d misjudged tyres to find themselves in 8th at the halfway point. As the first 2 afternoon tests were dry they managed to reduce the gap to 1 second on the car in front. This gave the Whickham crew some hope but with it came the worry of a clutch that was starting to slip. 6 tests completed but with 26 miles still to cover over the final 2 stages, it seemed a tall order to gain more places. An inspired late tyre change onto intermediates just before the start of the seventh test was helped when heavy rain came. This decision plus their change in driving style to start short shifting to reduce wheelspin plus less grippy tarmac all helped to ease the strain and they immediately moved up 4 places again. The change in weather might have been a bit fortuitous for the lads, but they grabbed their chance despite the clutch slip getting worse by the mile. For the final run, they switched the anti lag off now and were delighted to make it to the final control. Their reward was an excellent 4th place overall and loads of championship points.
Next up was another version of Mitsubishi’s Evolutions, this time it was an Evo9 driven by Stuart Walker. The man from Falkirk was disappointed with his start and was only 25th after being overtaken by 2 cars on the first stage. Although his move up the leaderboard was happening at a slow rate, he was at a loss to fathom out was he was going so poorly. His service crew eventually found the answer in a melted catalytic converter that was breaking down. Once this was rectified, Stuart and Jack Morton were back on the pace setting 4 top ten times to finish in 7th place overall.
The co driver taking 4th place points was Ann Forster. She was sitting alongside the non-registered Michael Pickles in his Subaru and their only problem being a leaking hose that sprayed it’s liquid onto the turbo. They ended up in 8th overall, just 14 seconds shy of Walker/Morton.
Coming home in a fine 9th overall was Geoff Simpson and Mick Johnson. The lads from Ripon had a great day and although they started at number 44 enjoyed a trouble free run in their yellow Mitsubishi Evo6 to take an excellent top ten finish.
Jon Olds was next in his unusual Nissan Pulsar. The Tynemouth man doesn’t get out on many events apart from Croft but as ever had a good run to finish his local rally in 12th place.
Barry Renwick and Ken Bills got their day off to the worst possible start when the throttle stuck open on their Ford Escort within a mile of the first stage start. They managed to get the car back into Service but the remaining 84 miles were always going to be an uphill struggle. With the car back to full fitness, they would still be content with 15th and a decent set of championship points.
Giles Dykes was another co driver sitting alongside a non-registered driver, this time it was with David Tinn in the rapid Ford Escort Mk2. They were going well after the opening 26 miles of competition and in 9th place but disaster struck on the 3rd test when the car stopped out on the stage. It took over 5 minutes to realise an air filter had been sucked into a trumpet and then remove the offending item. A stirring drive back from 36th up to their 17th place finish didn’t justify the early potential of a top ten finish.
The rare Ford Escort G4 of Dave Seed and Colin Tombs were our next finishers. Their usual reliable rally wasn’t booked for this weekend. They lost over a minute on stage 4 with the car stuck in 4th gear. They had to stop a couple of times to select a different gear to make it to the end of the test. The boys couldn’t rectify the problem in service but as all the other gears continued to be available they had to drive the afternoon stages by shifting straight from 3rd to 5th gear. They managed this okay but they were living on their nerves coming back down the gears from 5th and hoping they always found 3rd and not 1st !
Joseph Redmond was out once more in his unusual Peugeot 306, the first time since January. He’s recently been away competing in Belgium and was looking forward to a good run. His day was reliable but like lots of other crews he was struggling with tyres. He simply didn’t have enough to cope with the abrasive surface and was forced to back off in the afternoon just to ensure he still had rubber on the tyres !
Geoffrey Harkness and Caroline Lodge were having yet another trouble free day in the green Vauxhall Corsa. As ever, they didn’t look dramatic but their consistency was to be rewarded with the class win on the day.
Richard Clark was one of several crews having a family day out as he had his son sitting alongside him for the day. Although Richard’s been out in a Peugeot 205 of late, he decided to try a change and use a Subaru that was sitting in his garage doing nothing. Before the event, he was nervous about the change and planned to take it easy and aim to be in the top 25 at the finish. His only problem all day was the engine temperature running too high, but he managed to hit his target and ended up in 22nd place.
Stuart Wilson and Steve Dargan were happy to get their Vauxhall Nova to the finish in 26th place – from a start number of 26. With a bog standard engine fitted, they were never going to set top times. Their only problems were with the fan belt on the penultimate stage and gear linkage occasionally making life difficult.
Just over a minute behind were the Knox brothers – James was holding the wheel on this rally with Kevin in the hot seat. The little Peugeot 106 had only recently been acquired and was still in a very basic state of preparation but they pushed hard all day. Their only worry being the rear suspension as the car was sitting very close to the ground all day.
Mike Scrimgour was another co driver in with a non-registered driver and a first stage maximum left them way down the order. Andy Plunkett and son Jacob suffered in their bright green Honda Civic when an engine mounting broke. They’d been going well in the morning and after the lunch break had moved up to 16th overall. However, on the penultimate test the problem surfaced and they only just managed to get to service and cobble a repair. They incurred road penalties doing so and took a stage maximum on the final run to end up in 31st place. And our final classified finisher was the husband and wife team of John and Liz Clayton. Their Subaru Impreza completed an extra lap on stage 2 when they came unsighted across a slow car at the stage split and they couldn’t get into the appropriate lane. Things improved until they arrived back in service after stage 6 with the rear wheels pointing in different directions and damaged suspension ! Some frantic repair work saw them complete the final 2 tests safely, but at a much reduced pace.
So what happened to some of our unlucky crews ? Paul Swift / David Cox were the first to go when 5 miles into stage 1, they were sliding out of a chicane in Paul’s trademark opposite lock style and they hit a large rock hidden in the grass. The result was a bent axle for their Ford Escort and although a repair of sorts was tried the car was undriveable. Barry and Michael Lindsay were doing their usual giant killing act and managed 3 top ten times out of the morning’s 4 stages. They started the afternoon runs in 10th overall and leading their class but disaster struck when they stopped with a broken driveshaft. Barry believes that Albemarle is his jinxed venue now as he’s only finished there once in 18 years of trying. Chris Anderson and Chris Thirling were quick from the off and settled into a good rhythm to go into the half way in 9th overall. A top result was spoiled when they called it a day after the gearbox bearings became noisy and then became stuck in second gear on the first afternoon test.
The GTM Coupe of Ed Todd and Andy Brown was another victim of broken drive shafts – this time on the start line of stage 2. Michael Davison / Chris Dodds made it a little bit further into stage 2 before the nearside front wheel studs sheared – thought to be the after effects of hitting a kerb in Weeton earlier in the year. Alan Cowan enlisted the co-driving services of Shona Hale for his first outing in the Vauxhall Astra since the Jack Frost. Unfortunately, the car only completed 1 stage before a drive shaft broke. Paul Firth was out co-driving in another Astra but retired after stage 6 with gear linkage problems. Our final retirement was St John Dykes driving a Renault Clio. This is the same car that he normally co-drives in but he decided to swap seats for the first time in 12 years. The little French car cut out several times on the first test and was pushed back into service. A battery recharge got them going again before he went off in stage 3 and hit a tree.
We’ve now completed 6 events this year and come away with 6 different winners. Added to the fact that our current championship leader retired on this rally, the 2012 series is still wide open.
Big thanks must go to Tynemouth Motor Club and a special mention for Ray Cummings for all his persistence in persuading the Army to let an ‘old’ venue back into use after a 5 year break from motorsport. And once that decision had been made, Ed Barber and his team swung into action. They are to be commended for all their efforts in running a slick event. They managed to produce another great event for our championship and with its airfield roads, yet more variety. It’s not often a single venue rally gives crews in excess of 80 competitive miles, and it was well received by everyone too. However, the main stars of the day would be the marshals who stood out in the rain as they were to endure quite a few heavy rain showers.
The next qualifying round of our championship is the Tyneside Stages, sponsored by Wilkinson Maintenance and Alba Water. This event takes place a little later than in recent years – this time it is on Sunday 12th August. The rally is another jointly organised venture by Alnwick and Berwick Motors Clubs and once again they are offering 9 special stages with approximately 90 stage miles on sealed roads linked by road mileage of approximately 60 miles. And the entry fee remains the same as last year too – £350. Scrutineering, Documentation and the Finish will be located at Otterburn Leisure while Rally HQ will be based on the Otterburn Ranges during the running of the event. A recce will take place on the Saturday afternoon after competitors pass through scrutineering and signing on. This year the rally is a qualifying round of 5 championships so if you’re thinking of contesting this cracking rally, get you entry is quick. For more details, go to the event website http://www.alnwickmotorclub.co.uk/tyneside-stages-rally