2016 Archive

A round - up of the 2016 season

24th October 2016: BHRC and RAC winners celebrated

The award winners for the 2016 Mintex MSA British Historic Rally Championship and the Fuchs Lubricants R.A.C. Historic Asphalt Rally Championship were celebrated at the Casa Hotel in Chesterfield on Saturday (22 October).

Around 140 competitors and their guests were on hand to cheer the major winners at the end of a fine season of historic rallying. It was the second year that the Roger Albert Clark Rally Motor Club has promoted the MSA BHRC under a five-year contract.

The overall champions for the BHRC were Jason Pritchard and Phil Clarke and they received their awards from Simon Blunt, General Secretary of the MSA. Meanwhile, Roger Matthews picked up the major R.A.C. Championship award.

Clarke also collected the BHRC ‘over 55 co-driver’ award, while Bob Gibbons took the ‘over 55 driver’ award. Ben Friend won the ‘under 25 driver award’ and Siobhan Pugh won the ‘under 25 co-driver’ award. Nick Elliott won the Welsh Challenge, Shawn Rayner clinched the Northern Challenge and Warren Philliskirk won the Holton Homes Clubmans Challenge.

The award for the most entertaining driver went to Paul Barrett who, along with co-driver Dai Roberts, also won the RSR Historic Engineering Category 3. Simon Tysoe and Paul Morris won the Capital Construction Category 2 and Bob and Dale Gibbons won the Vintage Car Radiator Company Category 1 title.

Round 1: - Red Kite February 2016 - Pritchard wins in Wales.

Jason Pritchard and Phil Clarke got their season off to a perfect start with victory on the Red Kite Historic Stages (Sunday 21 February), the opening round of the 2016 Mintex MSA British Historic Rally Championship.

The ice and snow of the 2015 Red Kite was replaced by strong winds, persistent rain and, at times, thick fog to deliver another tough start to the season but Pritchard and Clarke (Ford Escort Mk2) never put a wheel wrong and took maximum points to open their title defence in style.

However, this was no easy win as Nick Elliott and Dave Price ran neck-and-neck for the lead despite their Escort Mk2 stalling on the opening stage. It was still very close for the lead until it happened again on the second run through Crychan and the engine refused to restart for around 15 seconds. While Pritchard could afford a measured approach in the final Caio stage, Elliott attacked to grab second place back from the impressive Joe Price and Chris Brooks (Escort Mk2).

A final stage gearbox drama that cost two minutes for John Perrott and Keaton Williams (Ford Escort Mk1) left the way open for Stanley Orr and Guy Weaver to win a Category 2 battle that had raged all day. Category 1 was also settled on the final stage as Bob and Dale Gibbons (Ford Cortina Mk2) emerged for victory when the chasing Bob Bean and Malcolm Smithson had an electrical failure stop their Lotus Cortina.

Joe Price suspected that Elliott would push him back to third on the final stage but nevertheless turned in a cracking performance to show this he is now one of the BHRC pacesetters. Equally impressive was Irish ace Paul Barrett with Welsh co-driver Dai Roberts who drove their Pinto-powered Escort with big commitment to finish a tremendous fourth overall, well in touch with the top three.

Steve Bennett is getting ever closer to the head of the pack and, with M-Sport’s Ian Tullie on the notes, he took fifth overall on the final stage when a steering problem cost the Fiat 131 of Matthew Robinson and Sam Collis half a minute. Despite the late issue, the pace of the Fiat on its first BHRC event was impressive.

Only 20 seconds split the next four crews on a day when poor visibility was a major challenge for the second run over the fast sweeps on the top of Epynt on the Route 60 stage. Simon Webster and Jez Rogers just beat Rudi Lancaster and George Gwynn, while Orr/Weaver took the Capital Construction Category 2 with ninth overall. “We had a bit of a steady start but were going better in the afternoon, said Orr. Neil Williams and Peter James wrapped up the top 10 overall in their Escort Mk2.

The Gibbons father and son took the Vintage Car Radiator Company Category 1 but it was set for a tight finish as heading for the second run through Caio, the gap to Bean/Smithson was only 11s. Gibbons senior arrived at the finish concerned that he might have eased back too much.

However, Bean never made it to the finish after a complete electrical failure stopped the car mid-stage. “

In class C2, a stand-out performance came from Adam Milner and Roy Jarvis who put their 1600cc Escort Mk1 into 13th overall on the driver’s first rally in Wales. Incredibly, they only had one stage free of a persistent misfire and duly set seventh fastest overall on the second run through Caio. Milner finished one place down on class C5 winners Simon Tysoe and Paul Morris who had a good day in their Escort Mk1.

In Category 3, Chris Skill and Tom Jordan (Ford Escort Mk2) topped the 1600cc division despite suffering punctures on each visit to Crychan. “I’ve never had two punctures in one day before,” said Skill after one front and one rear puncture. Class D4 fell to Guy Anderson and new co-driver Steven Davey (Talbot Sunbeam Lotus) who had a good day as they got used to the new partnership.

The new pairing of Phil Harris and Graham Wild (Mini Cooper) added to Harris’ remarkable run of class B2 wins with another victory despite some incredibly tough conditions for the Mini.

Category winners were:

Category 1: Bob Gibbons/Dale Gibbons (Ford Cortina Mk2)

Category 2: Stanley Orr/Guy Weaver (Ford Escort Mk1)

Category 3: Nick Elliott/Dave Price (Ford Escort Mk2)

Category K: Jason Pritchard/Phil Clarke (Ford Escort Mk2)

Round 2 Rally North Wales  - Pritchard makes it two from two in the BHRC

Jason Pritchard and Phil Clarke took their second win of the season on today’s Rally North Wales (Saturday 2 April), the second round of the 2016 Mintex MSA British Historic Rally Championship.

Once again, Pritchard and Clarke traded times with Nick Elliott and Dave Price and it was a chicane in the opening stage that proved central to the final result, Elliott hit the bales and his engine stalled, taking around 20 seconds to restart, while Pritchard was also delayed.

 After that, the two leading crews traded times and Pritchard went into the final Gartheiniog stage just eight seconds ahead but extended his margin to 21 seconds for a hard-won victory.

Joe Price and Chris Brooks were only half a minute down on the lead with one stage to go, but ran wide on a hairpin near the finish of the final stage and dropped two minutes. Instead, Matt Edwards and Will Rogers took third in the Opel Kadette of Peter Smith.

Other category winners were Bob and Dale Gibbons (Ford Cortina GT) and Stanley Orr/Guy Weaver (Ford Escort Mk1). Orr won Category 2 by just six seconds after a fabulous battle with Simon Tysoe/Paul Morris.

Competitor reaction to Rally North Wales was excellent, despite a very wet day in the Welsh forests. The classic stages in Dyfi and Gartheiniog once again delivered a superb challenge.

Category winners were:

Category 1: Bob Gibbons/Dale Gibbons (Ford Cortina Mk2)

Category 2: Stanley Orr/Guy Weaver (Ford Escort Mk1)

Category 3: Nick Elliott/Dave Price (Ford Escort Mk2)

Category K: Jason Pritchard/Phil Clarke (Ford Escort Mk2)

Round 3 Pirelli - Price takes first BHRC victory

Joe Price and Chris Brooks scored their first historic victory on the Pirelli Carlisle Rally (Saturday 30 April), the third round of the 2016 Mintex MSA British Historic Rally Championship .

The Ludlow driver moved ahead when the notorious challenge of Kielder claimed championship pacesetters Jason Pritchard/Phil Clarke and Nick Elliott/Dave Price. Pritchard slid off on an icy patch in a very slippery opening stage and Elliott moved ahead until he was caught out on stage 3.

Paul Barrett and Max Freeman took an outstanding second place on their first rally together while Matthew Robinson/Sam Collis took third overall and Category K in their Fiat 131. Other category winners were Stanley Orr/Guy Weaver (Ford Escort Mk1), who duly made it three wins from three events, and Bob Bean/Malcolm Smithson (Ford Lotus Cortina).

Four stages in the main block of Kielder made up the historic section of the event and the format and quality of stages drew universal praise from competitors as the historics ran first on the road on single-used stages.

However, snow and rain in the run-up to the event left conditions very slippery for the opening pair of stages and Pritchard, running first on the road, slid off on the first stage, The Shanks. Elliott went 18s up on Price and added a further 11s on stage two, The Forks, to go half a minute clear as crews arrived at service adjacent to Kielder Water.

With an important maximum score in sight and title-rival Pritchard out of the rally, it all looked good for Elliott heading into the second pair of stages. Unfortunately, it went wrong very soon into SS3, Roughside, when his Ford Escort Mk2 went off the road pretty heavily into a stream and out of the rally.

Instead, Price and Brooks moved up to lead the finishers back to Carlisle for Price’s first win at this level. “I wasn’t on Nick’s pace this morning, but we wanted a podium and so a win is a massive bonus, said Price who also won the RSR Historic Engineering Category 3.

Barrett and Freeman had a tremendous run in their Pinto-powered Escort Mk2 to finish second overall, despite struggling to find a good pace over the slippery opening leg. Another fine result fell to Robinson/Collis who gave the Fiat one of its best results to date and won the Holton Homes Category K.

Next up were Orr and Weaver to maintain their perfect record in the Capital Construction Category 2 in their Escort Mk1. Leading the chase of Orr in Category 2 was the similar car of Simon Tysoe/Paul Morris, who picked up their pace in the second loop to finish sixth among the BHRC contenders. Only 14s down on Tysoe were Warren Philliskirk and Nigel Hutchinson.

After a fire extinguisher drama at scrutineering, Bean/Smithson had a fine rally to win the Vintage Car Radiator Company Category 1 from Paul Mankin/Desmond Bell (Lotus Cortina) and Phil Harris/Graham Wild (Mini Cooper). Brilliant; the stages were fabulous, said Bean, while Mankin had a good run on his first rally of 2016 and Harris bagged yet another class B2 win.

While Barrett again won class D3, his nearest challengers were Rex Ireland/Adrian Scadding (Escort Mk2) who had a tremendous run on only the driver’s second visit to Kielder. Out early with engine issues went Ben Friend and Cliffy Simmons. Guy Anderson/Steven Davey (Talbot Sunbeam Lotus) had a superb run to class D4 victory while one of the drives of the rally came from Chris Skill/Tom Jordan who took class D2 by forging their 1600cc Escort Mk2 into seventh overall among the BHRC runners.

Back in Category 2, Elliot Retallick and Tim Tugwell had a very good day in their Hillman Avenger to win class C2 from Stuart and Linda Cariss (Escort Mk1). Class pacesetters Adam Milner and Roy Jarvis (Escort Mk1) lost 15 minutes on stage one when the gear lever snapped offbut then proved a point by setting several top six overall times on Milner’s first visit to Kielder.

Round 4 Severn Valley: - Barrett takes dramatic BHRC victory.

On a day of ever-changing fortunes in dry and dusty stages in the Epynt region, Barrett and Roberts swept ahead on the final stage of the rally to win in their Pinto-powered Ford Escort Mk2. Rarely has a Pinto-powered car won overall in the BHRC and it was a fantastic performance from both crew members in the RSR Historic Engineering Category 3.

However, for much of the day it was round three winners Joe Price and Chris Brooks who led the field with a mighty charge in their Escort Mk2 as they underlined their arrival among the BHRC elite. They were 26s up after four stages but it all went wrong for them in the penultimate stage when a clutch problem left their Escort Mk2 stuck in gear and they lost over three and a half minutes.

Instead, Nick Elliott and Dave Price took the lead by just five seconds going into the final Cefn stage but as Elliott finished the stage with a puncture Barrett set a searing pace to go five seconds faster than any other historic crew and win by five seconds. Only 23s back in third were Rudi Lancaster and George Gwynn. Despite aggravating a hand injury when the steering wheel kicked back, Lancaster had one of his best BHRC performances to date.

Fourth overall showed that Steve Bennett and Iain Tullie are close to joining the very top historic crews even though they battled brake problems all day and struggled through Radnor with only front brakes on their Escort Mk2.

The battle for the Capital Construction Category 2 was just as intense as the overall contest and finally resulted in a hard-earned victory for Simon Tysoe and Paul Morris (Ford Escort Mk1) after Stanley Orr and Guy Weaver had a torrid day in their Pinto-engined car and suffered three punctures and drove around 12 miles on flat tyres in total.

Ben Friend/Cliffy Simmons, James Potter/Bob Duck and Shawn Rayner/Declan Dear all had strong rallies to take top 10 overall finishes, while the late retirement of Milner left the way open for Chris Skill and Tom Jordan to finish best of the 1600 crews in their Escort Mk2.

Among the other category winners were Bob Bean and Captain Thompson (Lotus Cortina) in the Vintage Car Radiator Company Category 1 as father and son Bob and Dale Gibbons had a catalogue of dramas, notably over a very poorly gearbox. Terry Cree and Richard Shores made a late change of car to their Mini Cooper and won class B2 with second in the category.

Tom Coughtrie and Michael Gilbey won the Holton Homes Category K in their Ford Escort Mk2 to seal the co-driver’s birthday weekend celebrations. However, there was no time for celebration as he headed straight from the finish of the Severn Valley to contest a road rally that night.

Some fine performances went unrewarded on a day when the dust was a major factor. Adam Milner and Roy Jarvis set a stunning pace in their 1600cc cross-flow Escort Mk1 and set overall fastest time on the Gwibedog opener. Sadly, a probable top five finish went awry when the Escort slid off the road on the final stage when they were unsighted in dust.

Jason Pritchard and Phil Clarke, meanwhile, suffered their second character-building rally on the trot. The defending champion went out at the end of the Radnor stage where a notorious downhill right caught them out and the Escort was beached and out of the rally. Already out was the Fiat 131 of Matt Robinson/Sam Collis, which dropped off the road in the dust of Crychan.

Round 5: Harry Flatters: - Williams takes win.

Tyres seemed to be an issue on the opening stage over the Epynt ranges. Jason Pritchard/Phil Clarke may have taken a 14 seconds lead over Williams in a similar Appendix K Escort Mk2, but Pritchard felt it could have been better. “It was okay but the tyres were too soft,” he said. Williams agreed: “The rear end was getting loose,” he said, despite having 13 seconds in hand over championship leaders and Severn Valley winners Paul Barrett and Dai Roberts (Ford Escort Mk2 Pinto). It was Barrett’s first time at Epynt: “It was all a bit new, I have some asphalt experience but not a lot,” he explained. Pirelli Historic Rally winners Joe Price and Chris Brooks struggled however. “We had a gear selection problem and couldn’t solve it,” said Price.

Pritchard had started the second stage with added confidence in the Holton Homes Category K for cars running to FIA regulations. “The harder tyres made it much better, we were going really well and then the engine let go,” he explained. Pritchard’s third retirement on the run left Williams with over a minute’s lead from Category 2 leaders Simon Tysoe and Paul Morris (Ford Escort Mk1). “I needed to be braver, but became smoother and didn’t give the car such a hard time,” said Tysoe on what would prove to be another very impressive performance.

Williams continued to build on his lead during the rest of the day to win by well over two minutes. But it was Barrett who upped his pace and clinched second overall and another class D3 victory in the RSR Historic Engineering Category 3. “Pinto power wasn’t enough here, but it feels good that I have actually done it now. I would have been happy in the top five, so second is a bonus and I will be back here next year with more power,” said the BHRC points’ leader.

Third overall was Tysoe who had been disappointed not to have a duel with Stanley Orr/Guy Weaver (Escort Mk1 Pinto) for the Category 2 honours, after Orr’s Escort Mk1 went out with an electrical problem on the first stage. “I did push harder towards the end, but Epynt is such an awesome place,” said Tysoe.

After a spin on the opening stage Daniel Jones/Gerwyn Barry (Ford Escort Mk2) gradually worked up fourth overall and won class D5 on their return to competition, while Terry Brown and Den Golding retired their Escort. “We lost the rear brakes on stage two and then fifth gear,” Brown said shortly before leaving the fray. Rudi Lancaster and Kenny Owen spent most of the day ‘red lining it’, after the wrong diff left them running out of revs on their way to fifth.

Malcom Rich/Ryland James completed the top six and took second in class behind Williams in Category K. “It was my first time with the Escort on asphalt and my first time with a car on racers for 24 years,” Rich explained.

Having started the day as a possible winner Price finally finished third in class. “First the gears and then we had to stop and replace a plug lead on stage two, so it was third stage before we had a clear run,” he said. Chris Skill and Tom Jordan were also class winners with their class D2 Escort Mk2 after another giant-killing performance pushed the 1600cc car up into the top 10 overall.

In the Capital Construction Category 2 Tysoe went clear and with Orr and Phil Jobson/Arwel Jenkins out early on, from Ian Drummond/Hu Kent (Class C3) headed Malcolm Bayliss/Siobhan Pugh ( Class C2). “It was nice to be back but we had a nasty two wheeled moment over a hump bridge, which may not have turned out well,” said Drummond.

Paul Mankin and Desmond Bell were the top seeds in the Vintage Car Radiator Company Category 1 but spent all day coping with fumes in their Porsche 911, which was back out on the stages after a lengthy sabbatical. “I don’t know if it was fuel or oil but we had to stop for a breather,” said Mankin.

Bob Bean and Malcolm Smithson (Lotus Cortina) went out on the first stage which left local experts Bob and Dale Gibbons (Cortina MK2 GT) with a day-long lead. “Apart from the front tyres on the first stage we never had a problem,” said Gibbons senior.

Philip Harris and Graham Wild (Mini Cooper) arrived at the finish of stage one in a cloud of oil smoke and went no further, which left Mankin second and Bob Seager/Simon Hannam (MG Midget) third in Category 1 on their first visit to Epynt.

Round 6 Red Dragon stages: Elliott takes last stage BHRC victory

Nick Elliott and Dave Price took a final stage victory on the Red Dragon Historic Rally (Saturday 20 August), the sixth round of the 2016 Mintex MSA British Historic Rally Championship.

On a day of heavy rain and incredibly slippery conditions in Walters Arena, Elliott fought back from a time-consuming puncture on stage three and dived ahead when leaders Joe Price and Chris Brooks slid out of the rally on the final stage. However, it was very close for Elliott as Jason Pritchard and Phil Clarke finished only three seconds behind.

The event ran over a shortened 35-stage mile route in the Walters Arena complex event due to the on-going issues over the cost of access to the forests managed by Natural Resource Wales. Heavy rain on Friday night and through Saturday ensured crews faced the toughest conditions many of them had ever competed in.

Elliott set a fierce pace over the opening stage, reading the road conditions superbly to take an instant nine-second lead over Price. That margin doubled on the shorter stage two. When the opening stage was repeated as SS3, Elliott hit trouble with a front puncture early on and they battled through the stage, losing over a minute. They clawed a little time back on SS4, but were still 28s down on Price heading into the last stage, which linked the two stages together to make a 12-mile decider.

However, it was far from over and a particularly tricky corner caught out Price and he slid off the road and out of the rally. Damage was limited to one corner of the Escort, but they were out of the rally and a surprised Elliott took an unexpected victory as well as maximum points in the RSR Historic Engineering Category 3.

However, it was very close for Elliott as Pritchard pulled back six seconds on the last stage to finish only three seconds behind. “The first two stages were absolutely awful,” said Pritchard. “We were just passengers and a finish was our main target.” Importantly, after three non-finishes, it was a result that keeps their title hopes alive.

Third overall was a very good result for Steve Bennett and Paul Spooner after a trouble-free run in the Dave Jenkins-prepared Escort. “I certainly found out how to drive an Escort sideways,” said Bennett. Meanwhile Ben Friend and Cliffy Simmons scooped a D3 class-winning fourth overall as the first Pinto-powered finisher in their Escort Mk2. “It’s rewarding to be at the finish with no damage,” said Friend.

Simon Tysoe and Paul Morris (Ford Escort Mk1) took another Capital Construction Category 2 victory after a tremendous performance, though Warren Philliskirk and Nigel Hutchinson were only 22s down at the finish. “That’s one of the most challenging events I’ve ever done,” said Tysoe. Philliskirk agreed about the conditions: “I had to work hard for that,” said the Yorkshireman. A commendable performance from Mike Tomkinson and Shaun Whitehurst pushed their Escort Mk2 up to seventh overall and one of their best BHRC results to date.

Bob and Dale Gibbons won the Vintage Car Radiator Company Category 1 after a strong run in their Ford Cortina Mk2 while Pritchard/Clarke took maximum points in the Holton Homes Category K. Notable class winners on a very challenging day included Peter Smith/Alun Cook (Opel Ascona) and Guy Anderson/Steven Davey (Sunbeam Lotus). However, it was a difficult day for Anderson as the top of a spark plug took out a piston and they reached the finish with the oil warning light on.

Husband and wife Stuart and Linda Cariss took class C2 in their 1600cc Escort Mk1 despite a last stage spin and stall. They were still ahead of the similar car of Mal Bayliss/Siobhan Pugh, which was struggling as the muddy condition sapped power from the engine.

Round 7 & 8 Rally isle of Man: Pritchard Win ensures Championship goes to the wire

Jason Pritchard and Phil Clarke scored a vital double win in the Isle of Man Historic Rally (15-17 September), the seventh and eighth rounds of the 2016 Mintex MSA British Historic Rally Championship.

During the fabulous event run in warm sunshine over the island’s sensational closed roads, Pritchard and Clarke scooped a perfect score to ensure that the overall title will only be decided at the final round, the Trackrod Historic Cup (30 September/1 October). After two and a half days of flat-out asphalt rallying, Simon Tysoe and Paul Morris were confirmed as champions in the Capital Construction Category 2 and Bob and Dale Gibbons secured the Vintage Car Radiator Company Category 1 title after a tremendous performance in their Ford Cortina Mk2

This was never an easy result for Pritchard’s Ford Escort Mk2 as a concerted attack from Ryan Barrett and Paul McCann left the margin at just 10 seconds with two stages to run as Barrett clawed back into contention after collecting 40s of road penalties with ignition dramas. Sadly, a loss of oil pressure ended their rally with only a handful of miles to run. “It’s been a perfect weekend,” said Pritchard who had to claim two good points’ scores to keep his hopes alive of retaining the BHRC crown.

Another star performance came from Paul Barrett, elder brother of Ryan, and co-driver Dai Roberts in their Pinto-powered Escort Mk2 to finish second BHRC contenders. “It’s a brilliant rally and the Pinto won’t go any harder,” said Barrett, who is now the main rival for Pritchard heading for the Yorkshire showdown. Barrett also headed the RSR Historic Engineering Category 3, while Pritchard/Clarke topped the Holton Homes Category K.

Third BHRC finisher with a fine performance was the Escort Mk2 of Shawn Rayner/Declan Dear and it was a rewarding first Manx finish at the third attempt. Despite losing more than 10 minutes with a late trip into a ditch, Tysoe and Morris sealed the Capital Construction BHRC Category 2 victory in their Ford Escort Mk1, but title contenders Stanley Orr/Guy Weaver were a Friday casualty with two broken rockers in their Pinto engine.

Deserving Category 2 winners on the rally were Barry Jordan and James Gratton-Smith (Hillman Avenger) after a very strong run for the BRM-engined car. “The car has been mint,” reported Jordan. However, out of luck were Phil Jobson and Arwel Jenkins who went out with an accident on the final day.

The Gibbons father and son team had a great rally to take Category 1 in both the rally and the BHRC standings. The father and son team overcame a strong Category 1 field and ended the Cortina’s stage rallying career in fine style. Mike Barrett and Fiona Scarrett did well to record a good finish with second in Category 1 for their Ford Cortina Mk1 GT.

In Category 3, there were mixed fortunes among the Ford Escort Mk2 ranks and a cruel blow for the 1600cc car of Chris Skill/Tom Jordan when a broken rocker forced a late retirement after a dominant performance. Also destined not to reach the finish with engine dramas were Malcolm Rich/Ryland James and Daniel Jones/Gerwyn Barry.

Rudi Lancaster and George Gwynn got their rather battered Escort Mk2 to the finish, but lost a lot of time after hitting a chicane on Thursday evening. Similarly, Phil and Mick Squires drove an attacking rally in their freshly-built Escort Mk2 but dropped a lot of time on the final stage when the engine cut out.

Sixth BHRC crew home was a great result for Barry Stevenson-Wheeler and John Pickavance on their island debut despite some car problems including a cracked fuel tank. They finished just ahead of a three-way battle between the Vauxhall Chevette of Stuart and Jack Anderson and the Escort Mk2s of Mike Tomkinson/Shaun Whitehurst and Simon and Alister Crook. For the two Escort crews, a strong finish on their first attempt at the event was just reward in this most challenging rally on the calendar.

Round 9 Trackrod Rally Yorskhire: - Pritchard and Clarke crowned 2016 Champions. 

Jason Pritchard and Phil Clarke won the 2016 Mintex MSA British Historic Rally Championship with a steady run through the Yorkshire forests on the Trackrod Historic Cup (30 September/1 October).

While Steve Bennett and Paul Spooner were top BHRC finishers after 55 fast stage miles in warm sunshine, Pritchard and Clarke did more than enough to become only the second crew to retain the BHRC crown.

The rally started with a 10-mile stage through Dalby in the dark of Friday evening and continued with five more classic Yorkshire stages on Saturday, including the 13-mile Langdale test. Knowing that they only had to finish the rally to retain their BHRC title, Pritchard and Clarke turned in a controlled performance to win the Holton Homes Category K after a trouble-free rally. “It was hard to concentrate, but we did what mattered,” said Pritchard, who had spent the rally listening to every noise from the car. However, the Ford Escort Mk2 ran faultlessly and their measured pace was still good enough for third among the BHRC contenders.

On Saturday morning, Matthew Robinson and Sam Collis headed the BHRC field and a first championship maximum score for the Fiat 131 seemed within reach. Unfortunately, the Fiat was out after two more stages. A propshaft vibration set in through Langdale and the shaft failed completely as they left service.

With Pritchard and Robinson out of the reckoning for BHRC victory, it was Steve Bennett and Paul Spooner who took over as leading BHRC crew to give Bennett his first championship win. However, there was a scare over the final two stages in Cropton and Gale Rigg. “It didn’t want to go into first gear at the stage starts,” said Bennett. “But once it did go in, it was fine.” They also won the RSR Historic Engineering Category 3.

In class D3, for the Pinto-powered Escorts Mk2s, Shawn Rayner and Declan Dear clinched the BHRC class title after a major battle with rivals and friends Ben Friend and Cliffy Simmons. Friend chased hard but two spins in Dalby on Saturday took the edge off his challenge. Meanwhile, Chris Skill and Tom Jordan again topped class D2 in their 1600cc Escort, but two minutes in a ditch in Gale Rigg cost them what would have been a fabulous sixth overall in the historic field.

One of the drives of the rally came from Adam Milner and Roy Jarvis in their crossflow-engined Ford Escort Mk1. Their pace in the under-powered car was nothing short of sensational and they were second among the BHRC contenders as they won the Capital Construction Category 2. That was probably the first time that a 1600cc car has won Category 2 on a BHRC round.

Warren Philliskirk and Nigel Hutchinson had a scare with fuel vapourisation early in Dalby on Saturday after a delay at the stage start, but otherwise had a very good day on home ground for second in Category 2 from the Datsun 240Z of Jeremy Easson/Mike Reynolds. The other Category 2 class winners were Terry Cree and Richard Shores (BMW 2002) in class C3, despite being short on the usual power available from the BMW.

In the Vintage Car Radiator Company Category 1, Bob Bean and co-driver Captain Thompson brought the venerable Lotus Cortina home well clear of the puncture-delayed Mini Cooper of Phil Harris and Paul Kendrick.