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Severn Valley Stages (gravel) - 31 May 08

Posted: June 17, 2008 1:33 PM - 9334 Hits

Round 4 - 2008 ANCRO MSA National Rally Championship
Round 3 - 2008 MSA British Historic Rally Championship
Round 3 - 2008 Fiesta SportingTrophy UK
Round 4 - 2008 Mitsubishi Evolution Challenge (UK)

Eleventh-hour dramas deny Barry another podium finish

Posted: June 17, 2008 1:33 PM

After three podium finishes in this year’s Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge, the highly competitive one-make rally championship for Mitsubishi Lancers, Daniel Barry from Enniskerry, together with his co-driver Mark Bowens from Castlemartr, were denied a fourth, when they retired on the final stage in this weekend’s round four, the Severn Valley National Rally. However, they continue to lead the championship with three rounds left to go.

Starting and finishing from the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells, mid-Wales, the event featured seven timed special stages on and around the Brecon Beacons, the route of 65 competitive miles visiting many of the forests that have been previously used by the Rally GB.

With the car fully repaired following its adventures on the recent Manx Rally, where the team finished third in the Mitsubishi series, Daniel was relishing a return to gravel surface roads and was detimined to defend his championship lead.

Stage one set the scene for what was to be a fierce battle between the Mitsubishis for the rest of the day, when he and four other drivers all completed the 5.57 mile run through Esgair Dafydd in six minutes and nine seconds.

Looking to move ahead on stage two Daniel upped his pace, but his car started to lose power when the exhaust system came loose and, whilst trying to compensate, he momentarily slid into a ditch – the consequent time loss dropping him to fourth.

Fortunately, the first service halt of the day followed and his car was fixed in readiness for the third and longest stage of the day, a nineteen-mile run through Radnor Forest. Following a concentrated effort Daniel moved up to third place, but reported that perhaps he was trying too hard and, for the final four stages, focussed on tidying-up his driving style and challenge for the lead.

Stages four and five went well and he moved within nine seconds of the leader, but he became concerned as the car’s temperature gauge started to rise. Switching off the anti-lag system and adopting a more cautious approach through stage six, Daniel crossed his figures for the final 15-miles of stage seven. But, halfway through, he saw the temperature go into the red and, not able to drive the car as he would do normally, he slid into a ditch.

As well as being stuck fast, the impact with the scenery had split the car’s oil-cooler and therefore, the 24-year old’s rally was well and truly over.
“I was really hoping to continue my run of podium finishes so I could increase my advantage in the Mitsubishi Championship”, said Daniel. “However, I am still in the lead, albeit now tying on points. However, the final result is based on the best six scores from the season’s seven events, so it’s now going to be a great fight to the finish.”

There is now a seven-week break before the fifth round of the Evolution Challenge, the Swansea Bay Rally, which takes place on 19th July.

Daniel’s 2007 campaign is supported by: Tech-Plus, Irish Shipping and Transport, BPI Telecom, Henco under-floor heating and SC Signs.

BURTON TAKES VICTORY IN SEVERN VALLEY RALLY

Posted: June 5, 2008 1:07 PM

Making it four different winners in the opening four rounds, Herefordshire driver Andy Burton claimed maximum points in the 2008 Pirelli MSA Gravel Rally Championship as he won today's Severn Valley National Rally.

Driving the Peugeot Cosworth, Burton, and co-driver Shelley Rogerson, finished nearly 25 seconds ahead of series leaders Jon Ingram and Ian Allsop after taking charge at the top of the leaderboard from the outset and never looking back despite concerns about their new engine making the distance. Ingram and Allsop (Subaru Impreza WRC) came home ahead of defending champions Marcus Dodd and Andrew Bargery (Hyundai Accent WRC) after Dodd had earlier been hampered by a problem with the boost control pipe, which the HPM Motorsport team managed to fix at second service.

"It's good and it keeps the championship all open," said Burton, who was back in action in the championship after missing the previous round on the Isle of Man earlier this month. "I'm delighted with the result. I honestly didn't think we'd make it to the finish with the way the engine's been so I'm really pleased. It's been a great event with good stages."

Julian Reynolds and Patrick Walsh were fourth in their Subaru Impreza WRC. They had a relatively trouble-free run with the exception of a slight off in stage six and were followed by round three winners, Roger Duckworth and Mark Broomfield. Duckworth was not feeling well throughout the event and a problem with the diff controllers on stage five on his Subaru Impreza WRC did not help their push.

Scottish crew David Bogie and Kevin Rae were sixth in their Mitsubishi Evo 9 and took the honours in both Group N and the Mitsubishi Evo Challenge as they finished ahead of the same machine of Irish pairing Richard Cathcart and Martin Brady. Cathcart had an intercooler problem earlier in the day before their intercom went faulty on the final three stages.

Stephen Moore and Tony McHugh were eighth in their Ford Focus WRC as they struggled through the event with tyre problems. Keith Cronin and Greg Shinnors made it to the finish in their Mitsubishi Evo 9 despite losing all power on the final stage to take ninth with Nik Elsmore and Craig Drew rounding up the top ten in their Evo 9.

Significant retirements included Neil McCance and Graham Hopewell, who went out on stage three in Radnor, following an off in their Mitsubishi Evo 9, and Daniel Barry and Mark Bowens who retired on stage seven in their Evo after also going off.

In the Two-Wheel Drive class, Nathan Crewe and John Connor were first home in their 1400cc MG ZR as they finished 21st overall despite an overheating problem on the final four stages whilst Michael Curtis and David Curtis took the Revolution Wheels award in their Mitsubishi Evo 5.

In the ANCRO Rally Challenge, running in the Severn Valley Clubman's Rally alongside the National event, Welsh crew Elfyn Evans and Gareth Roberts won as they finished an impressive third overall in their Ford Fiesta ST. Tom Walster claimed second in his Fiesta with Welshman Meilyr Evans in a similar car placed third.

However, maintaining his points lead was Cumbrian Kris Hall with Chris Ridge taking the lead in the co-drivers standings also.

The Pirelli MSA Gravel Rally Championship returns for round five, the Swansea Bay National Rally on Saturday 19 July.

Scare on Severn for young Greer

Posted: June 5, 2008 1:04 PM

Jonathan Greer (19) suffered a mechanical failure on the final stage of the Severn Valley Rally that could have been so much worse had it not been for the quick thinking of the young driver. With five miles to go in the 15 mile Crychan Main test his Mitsubishi Evolution 9’s throttle jammed open, Jonny accompanied by regular co driver Jonny Hart avoided incident by switching off the ignition and bringing the car to a halt.

Jonny a skilled mechanic by day set about some roadside repairs by limiting the boost from the turbo of the car to eventually get it to sit at a more manageable 3000rpm and make it to the end of the stage but all was in vein as the crew had used up all of their specified lateness.

“I’m not sure whether I was lucky or unlucky, with the throttle sticking open our retirement could have easily turned into an accident, a similar problem on rally GB last year although caused by a completely different component meant I noticed the symptoms right away and knew what to do”

“I am Disappointed that we have failed to finish another evo challenge event especially considering our strong position and how close we were to the finish”

The rally held on Saturday 31st May was the first of many rounds to be held in the Welsh forests the best in British Rallying with Crychan and Halfway making up part of the Rally GB Special Stages. The host town of Builth Wells offered the Royal Welsh Showground’s as Rally HQ giving the rally a centralised and compact event.

The event also incorporated the 4th round Mitsubishi Evolution challenge that Jonny has been contesting in 2008. A Championship were good fortune has been hard to come by for the British Rally Elite member with two retirements in the opening three rounds and with last week’s retirement the tally now increases to three from four

However some positives can be taken from the event, the rally was the most hotly contested of all the rounds this season with 5 cars finishing the first stage on the same second, and after 35 competitive miles the top six were all within 30 seconds of each other. On entering the final stage Jonny lay in Sixth Position only 5 seconds adrift of fifth place and 40 from the event leader.

This point in the season marks a crossroads for the young driver who up until now had been competing in both the Evolution Challenge and the British Rally Championship with the next round of both championships, Isle of Man for the BRC and Swansea Bay for the Evo Challenge, clashing on the 19th July the decision will have to be made between which to focus the rest of the season’s attention on.

When asked tentatively about the plan for the rest of the season Jonny was giving nothing away “It is such a difficult decision, I prefer the Gravel events to the Tarmac ones and the isle of man takes up so much time with the two day recce and three day event but in the BRC we have the results and the championship position to consider so it does not make the decision an easy one”

FST UK - Evans wins on home territory

Posted: June 3, 2008 11:26 AM

Seventeen registered Ford Fiesta ST crews took to the start of round four of the VK Fiesta SportingTrophy UK this weekend, the Severn Valley Clubmans’ Rally. The event was based at the Builth Wells Showground and took in some of the most famous and best stages in the country.

After 44 miles of competitive action it would be the local crew and FST Ireland series leaders Elfyn Evans (19) from Machynelleth and Gareth Roberts that would walk away with the event win to make it three different winners on the first three rounds of the competitive one-make series.

In contrast to the cold and wet conditions seen at the Pirelli Rally, crews were greeted with bright sunshine for the event. With five stages to do battle over the first test for the crews was the 5.57 miles of Esgair Dafydd. Elfyn would end the test with the quickest stage time 10.6 seconds quicker than Max Utting (22) with stand in co-driver Hugh Mathias. Third on the first test only 0.1 seconds slower than Utting was Tom Walster (21) from Nottingham, returning to the series after eight months away from competition, Walster was reportedly feeling very nervous before the first stage. With the majority of drivers reporting differing grip conditions as the sun-dried roads gave way to mud under the trees, away from the top three there was plenty of drama. Championship leader James Everard (20) from Hull slid wide on a corner and beached his car off the road, he got going again with the help of spectators minus some body panels but dropped nearly two minutes to Elfyn. Evans’ team-mate Meilyr Evans (18) from Machynelleth was also to slide wide and pick up a puncture dropping him 40 seconds. Round 1 winner Stevie Brown (20) from Peterhead went off and damaged the steering to his Fiesta ST. Kris Hall (18) from Appleby would also have a small off resulting in a rather mud strewn car. Series newcomers Dez Rowland and Martin Abbott would have an accident forcing them into retirement.

SS2 was the 9.5 mile Crychan West. Elfyn would again take the fastest stage time, and with his team-mate Meilyr’s car now back fit he took second on the stage, 3.7 seconds quicker than Utting. Northern Irishman Liam Regan (20) from Belfast was fourth on the stage, partnered by his Round 1 navigator Francis Regan. After the high levels of drama on SS1, many of the crews took the stage steady in order to nurse their cars back to the first service, however for one crew disaster was to strike again. After retirement on the Jim Clark International Rally only a week before, Alastair Fisher (19) from Trillick, Co. Tyrone and navigator Paul Morris slid wide on a tricky left-hander and, although the car was undamaged, it was too far into the Welsh scenery to get back onto the stage and they were forced to retire.

After the action on the first two stages the crews headed back to the showground for service. Elfyn Evans led by 24.4 seconds from Utting and Walster in third. With all the cars successfully repaired, they headed out to SS3, the 18 mile Radnor and the longest stage of the event. It was Meilyr Evans that would set the quickest time of 18:25.4, over 27 seconds quicker than Utting. Walster was third on the stage, with Kyle Orr (18) from Dromore in fourth. Overall leader, Elfyn Evans picked up a puncture in the stage and dropped 30 seconds to team-mate Meilyr Evans.

The crews then headed back for the second and final service of the event. Elfyn’s puncture meant that he would drop time and come into service with a reduced lead of 15.8 seconds from Utting, followed by Meilyr, Walster and Orr.

The competitors then set off for the final two stages of the event, SS4, 5.69 miles of Gwibedog and SS5 Halfway. After commenting in service that the only thing Walster was going to change was the way he was going to drive, he was rewarded with the fastest stage time on SS4. Elfyn was second quickest and Kris Hall third, picking up confidence after his earlier accident.

Away from the battle at the front of the field, many of the other Fiesta crews were still going strong. Barry Greer (20) from Carryduff was having a good run in ninth and building his confidence with stand-in co-driver Anthony O’Connaill. Clive Hilton was happy to still be in the event after two retirements on Rounds 1 and 2 and would eventually come away from the event in a respectable eleventh place. Luke Francis (18) from Denbighshire would finish his second ever event and gain some more valuable experience in his ex-Elfyn Evans Fiesta ST.

Back to SS5 and the final stage of the event, 5.49 miles of Halfway, Elfyn would again return to the top of the stage times beating Hall by 3.9 seconds. Walster would be third quickest with Alick Kerr (19) and co-driver Drew Sturrock fourth. Kerr had also retired from the Jim Clark Rally one week earlier and was using this rally to work on his driving style, experimenting with different techniques and picking up speed as the event progresses. Meilyr Evans dropped down the order with a technical problem on the last stage and was devastated after another case of bad luck stopped him from reaching the podium.

As the crews headed back to the finish ramp at Builth Wells Showground, Elfyn Evans took round 3 victory, 30.9 seconds ahead of Utting who was delighted with his second position after two difficult initial rounds in the series. Utting’s attitude was not to worry about his stage times throughout the event, and this approach paid dividends for him. Third went to Walster who was pleased with his result after a long time away from competition.

Not only did Elfyn win this round, he finished an amazing third overall in the Clubman event beating a number of more powerful two and four wheel drive machinery, Elfyn really showing what the Fiesta ST is capable of. Elfyn also took the Castrol Hard Charger award with three fastest stage times during the day, impressing Donald Smith, the Sponsorship Director of Castrol who was spectating at the event. The MIS Insurance most Improved Driver of the Day Award went to Alick Kerr climbing an impressive seven places on his starting postion.

Winner Elfyn Evans said:
“I am absolutely delighted with the win, we are now leading both the UK and Irish championships at the mid point of the season, which is something the team is really pleased with. The rally today was great and to finish third overall as well as taking the Fiesta win was amazing. It was a shame that Alistair [Fisher] retired, but I was still pushed by some of the other crews and, as ever, it was a close fought battle, but, all in all, it was a great end to my local event.”

Final Results

Pos Driver / Co-Driver Overall Time Points 1 Elfyn Evans / Gareth Roberts 48.49.5 30
2 Max Utting / Hugh Mathias 49.20.4 25
3 Tom Walster / George Gwyn 49.27.2 22
4 Kyle Orr / Tony McDaid 49.48.0 20
5 Meilyr Evans / Andrew Edwards 50.06.5 18
6 Alcik Kerr / Drew Sturrock 50.19.1 16
7 Liam Regan / Francis Regan 50.24.7 14
8 Barry Greer / Anthony O Connaill 50.25.7 13

BHRC report, round three: Severn Valley Historic Stages

Posted: June 3, 2008 11:23 AM

Starting with an 18-mile opening stage through Radnor forest, round three of the 2008 Dunlop/Gambia MSA British Historic Rally Championship, the Severn Valley Historic Stages (Saturday 31 May), was a great event with classic stages proving popular with the crews.

Richard Hill/Pat Cooper pulled out a massive 24 second lead by the end of the first stage on their way to category three victory over Darren Moon/John McNichol, while the Porsche 911RS of Steve Smith/John Nichols took a commanding category two win.

With Patrick Watts/Elgan Davies sliding their Sunbeam Tiger off the stage and out of the rally on the penultimate corner of Radnor, Dessie Nutt/Geraldine McBride took a dominant category one victory in their Porsche 911.

Only eight of the 62 starters failed to make it back to the Builth Wells finish.

Category 1
“It was just so slippery, we were first on the road and cleaning the surface. The entrance to the penultimate bend was deceptive, I was too quick and it was either roll or head for the bushes,” said Watts, after his rally came to an early conclusion. Nutt/McBride were left with a 14-second lead over Bob Bean/James Whittaker (Lotus Cortina). “We stalled at a hairpin too and seemed to take an age to restart,” said Bean.

Paul Mankin/Desmond Bell (Lotus Cortina) initially held third over the similar car of Neil Calvert/Arlene Cookson. “We had a misfire but fixed in it service,” said Calvert. While Nutt continued to pull clear, Calvert closed in on his rivals, taking both Bean and Mankin on stage three to secure second in the category and class B4 spoils.

“Lovely conditions and an enjoyable trouble free event,” Nutt concluded after taking the category win by over a minute. Philip and Barbara Smith were second in B5 behind Nutt in their 911. "We took a post and the tapes out on the last stage on a fast downhill section,” said Smith. Stephen Troman/Kevin Devine (Porsche 911) were third, having punctured on the opener. “We did our best to catch up and had a wild and exciting ride on stage three,” said Troman.

Bean, Mankin and Graham Waite/Mike Reynolds (Volvo Amazon) followed Calvert home overall in B4, while James Stait/Gill Cotton kept their Midget’s nose ahead of Terry Cree/Richard Shores (Mini Cooper S) all day to win B2. “We were more aggressive in the drier conditions, and it was my first finish on this event in eight attempts,” said Stait. “We had three spins on the last three stages and got stuck behind a car with a puncture,” Cree replied. B1 became more of a battle for survival, with Mike Barratt’s Singer Chamois having broken its transmission the night before the rally. Gary and Jane Edgington managed to break their Chamois’ rear suspension on the second stage, but still limped through the rest of the day to take the win over Geoff Taylor/Steve Greenhill (Imp). ”The fan belt came off at the end, and we didn’t want to risk restarting it,” said Taylor after arriving at the finish by tow rope. They had already lost time at the start with an early puncture.

Category 2
Smith/Nichols proved unbeatable in their Porsche 911RS, only dominating the category all day. “With no one else in our class we wanted a good overall finish, but it wasn’t worth risking too much. I got my head down at the end though, just making sure that I kept Ernie Graham behind me,” said Smith.
Ernie Graham/Robin Kellard started cautiously too. “We decided to back off for some of the hairpins in Radnor. We didn’t have any spins or get any damage,” he said. The Escort Mk1 of Drew Wylie/Neil Ewing Escort had third initially, but lost out to James and David Young and Ken Forster/John Stanger-Leathes by the end of stage two. “We were a bit cautious when we went past the place we had rolled last year,” said Forster. But Young consolidated his place in third, taking C3 honours from Forster and Wylie. “We had a bit of a moment on the last stage, no other problems really and an excellent rally,” said Young. Neal James/Kevin Jones had a good into sixth with their Escort, comfortably ahead of C2 winners Vince Bristow/Tim Sayer (Escort). “We had a slow start as I was getting used to a new navigator,” said Bristow. Adam Morgan/Steve Kenyon had led the class on the opener, before slipping back prior to their Escort’s engine blowing. Robert and Jonathan Hoult (Escort) sealed second, but finished with a blown exhaust. Neil Rudd/Brian Hodgson claimed third. “It’s still a cross-flow scrap engine, so that’s not bad,” said Rudd.

In only his third ever rally Sebastian Hack managed second in C5, with Martin Kenny/David Stocking’s Escort third, despite breaking their gearstick. Unfortunately, a troubled year for David Stokes and Guy Weaver continued with a very time consuming puncture and subsequent dramas with the jack when they stopped to change the wheel.

Category 3
It was a straight fight between the two crews that shared wins the opening two BHRC rounds. Although Hill/Cooper had little experience of the Welsh forests, Moon/McNichol had none. With 24 seconds in hand on the first stage, Hill was already on his way to victory. He was quickest on all but one stage and by the finish was well over a minute clear. “I couldn’t get into stage three at all, it wasn’t anything drastic as I recovered and the car never missed a beat,” said Hill.

Moon tried everything to close the gap but had to accept second best on this occasion. “I had a spin but was really trying on that first stage. I reckon I would be a lot better if I could have had a re-run. But on the last stage I have never had so many near misses, with two wheels over fresh air a few times,” said Moon.

Jason Lepley/Howard Pridmore (Escort) held third for the first couple of stages, but started to slip back and finished with an off on the last stage. Arwel Evans/Arwel Jenkins (Escort RS2000) moved up to clinch the place and class D3, which they had taken over when Paul Griffiths/John Madoc-Jones (Escort Mk2) retired with a broken exhaust on their Escort on stage two.

“We had been playing catch up after losing the brakes on the first stage when a stone broke one of the pipes. A brilliant result for us in road rally car though,” said Evans.

Phil and Mick Squires Escort just held off Charlie Taylor/Steve Bielby for fifth. “We had a misfire through the last few stages, it felt like a plug lead was off or something,” said Squires. “I had a lucky escape in Radnor when I got away with going airborne and clipping a bank,” Taylor added. With Dick Slaughter/Geoff Dearing (Escort Mk2) picking up a last stage puncture, Polly Patti/David Gamblin (Escort Mk2) completed the top six.

In class D3 Will Onions/Tim Hobbs followed Evans home second, well clear of David Roberts/Dei Jones. Pat Anderson/Tom Mansfield (Talbot Sunbeam Ti) ran solo in D2 as did debutants Steve Holtom/Adrian Jay with their class D4 Rover SD1. “My first rally for 24 years and my navigator's first Seven Valley since 1987 and in a car that had been in barn for six years. Apart from losing the brakes on the first stage it was great and we finished,” said Holtom.

Cathcart moves into lead of Mitsubishi Evo challenge

Posted: June 3, 2008 9:04 AM

Fermanagh's Richard Cathcart and his Meath co driver Martin Brady have moved into the joint lead of the Mitsubishi Evo Challenge as the championship moved past the half way point on the recent Severn Valley Stages in Wales.

Cathcart has arguably been the pacesetter of the year with 20 fastest stage times in the category out of a possible 41 stages. Bad luck and misfortune have on occasion hampered Richard, brake failure on the opening round reduced him to 3 working brakes yet despite the obvious disadvantage he still kept the car on the straight and narrow to set fastest times and score valuable points. Round 2 in Scotland saw Richard and Martin score their maiden victory in the Evo challenge when on an incident free Border Counties rally they controlled the pace and took the win and an excellent 3rd overall amongst the WRC cars.

The Manx proved to be a tale of woe for the rapid Cathcart, he and Brady had shown their tarmac capabilities on November's Rally Ireland where they won the Group N class and finished 3rd to the world championship registered Group N crews and they continued this pace on the Manx lanes. With 2 stages to go and a 41 second lead in the Evo Challenge while holding 4th overall, contact with a simple concrete water gully on the inside of a fast corner was to wipe out their advantage in a split second, the damage caused was to prove terminal and although reaching the finish of the rally and setting a 3rd overall time on the last stage with the ill handling car, the puncture had caused enough time loss to put them over maximum allowed lateness and the result was gone and it was a case of what may have been.

Still reeling from the last minute drama of the Manx the crew and their David Greer Motorsport team traveled to the Severn valley stages in Wales and set about regaining momentum to their championship challenge. Cautiously they tackled the opening stages and were 3rd placed Mitsubishi by the first service halt. Tyres were a difficult choice in the sweltering heat and the coarse gravel stages. Whichever choice was made there was still a niggling doubt that the other option may have been better and Richard felt that something was not right and he wasn't driving at his best for once, in service the Greer mechanics discovered damage to the cars intercooler and this gave some explanation as to why the times were not at the customary top of the sheets. An intercom problem in the last loop of stages caused further time loss but Richard and Martin reached the finish ramp happy to get that far and to finish second to David Bogie after Keith Cronin dropped back late in the day with exhaust damage.

At the finish ceremony Richard commented "It was a difficult day today and I just didn't feel I drove my best and the times were not what they would normally be, sure we had a few wee problems but at least we got to the finish and after the Manx we know how important that it is. I'm happy now that we drove for the finish today and the points have got us back up to the top of the standings"

Martin reflected on their result by saying "it was an odd sort of a day we just didn't find the groove early in the morning and were maybe too cautious which normally we wouldn't be, but the confidence was knocked a bit in the Manx, the DGM lads fixed the intercooler which did make a difference but by then the sensible thing to do was hold station and take points, I'm glad we are finished as my voice is almost gone from shouting thanks to a faulty intercom!!"

The pair are now joint leading the Evo Challenge and 3rd Grp N in the Ancro championship so there is still much left to play for and many miles to do it, expect it to be spectacular and sideways!

Richard Cathcart & Martin Brady are supported by www.frcathcartltd.com and Irelands Home Interiors and Living.

Bogie bounces back to record second Evo Challenge victory of the season

Posted: June 3, 2008 9:01 AM

David Bogie and co-driver Kevin Rae recorded their second Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge victory of the season on this weekend’s Severn Valley National Rally. They took the lead on stage three when former front-runners Keith Cronin/Greg Shinnors lost time, relegating them to third, whilst Richard Cathcart/Martin Brady finished second.

The rally started and finished at the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells and featured seven timed special stages in forests on and around the Brecon Beacons. Also a qualifying round of the Pirelli MSA Gravel Rally Championship, the event’s 40-car entry featured 10 Evolution Challenge crews and, once again, it was a nail-biting battle for honours in the one-make series for production specification Mitsubishi Lancers.

Stage one, a 5.57-mile blast through the notorious Esgair Dafydd forest, set the scene for the rest of the day and showed just how fierce the competition is in this year’s Evolution Challenge, when five cars stopped the clock on exactly the same second: Richard Cathcart, David Bogie, Daniel Barry, Neil McCance and Jonny Greer. However, it was Cronin that set the Mitsubishi pace by crossing the line five seconds quicker than anyone else, posting a time that was good enough to see him second overall!

It was McCance that went fastest on SS2 - the 9.5-miles of Crychan West - ahead of Cronin, which meant that at the first service halt the time sheets showed Cronin in front by three seconds from McCance, both saying they were finding it difficult to judge the right pace. Cathcart followed a further three seconds later and admitted that he was not feeling on top of things, with Bogie the same margin behind having decided to build up his pace gradually after his disappointing results in rounds two and three.

Shaken, but fortunately unscathed, Barry, Greer and Jonathan Sparks all reported heart-stopping visits to ditches in SS2, whilst Daniel Sigurdarson was just pleased to be competing, having spent the last three weeks in the UK, rather than his native Iceland, in order to rebuild his car after a big accident on the RBSI Manx Rally. The most frustrating start was reserved for Miles Johnston, a problem with his car’s rear differential, followed by a broken drive-shaft, causing him considerable time loss in the opening stages.

The third stage was to prove to be decisive: Not far from the start Cronin spun backwards into the scenery, squashing his car’s exhaust pipe, which resulted in a loss of power throughout the 18-mile run through Radnor Forest. However, things were worse for McCance, who dropped his car into a ditch half way through the stage, bringing his rally to an abrupt halt.

In contrast, SS3 could not have gone better for Bogie who posted a time 14 seconds faster than the rest of the Evo Challenge field and catapulted himself into the lead by 10 seconds, ahead of Cathcart, Barry and Cronin - who had now dropped to fourth.

Four stages and a further 33 miles remained following the second service halt of the day. Now on a charge, Cronin won the first, which moved him back up to second place ahead of Barry and Cathcart, the three of them separated by less than one second!

Cronin also went on to win the next two, so that when cars lined-up to start the seventh and final stage, there was just four seconds between him and Bogie. Cathcart followed eight seconds later, a slender 0.1 second ahead of Barry who was getting worried about his car’s engine temperature. It was shaping up to be a final stage show-down!

In full-attack mode, Bogie blasted through the 15 miles of Crychan Main only to find his car’s temperature starting to rise as he reached the end of the stage. For Cronin it was his last hope to take the lead, but it was not to be, as his engine lost power, most likely a result of the restricted exhaust flow earlier in the day.

Now struggling to keep his temperature gauge out of the red, Barry slid off the road and damaged his Lancer too badly to continue, the outcome of which saw Cathcart come through to claim second place ahead of Cronin.

The final stage also saw the demise of Greer, good luck continuing to evade him when his car’s throttle stuck open. Stopping to see if he could fix the problem, he finally managed to get the engine to rev at constant and more manageable 3000rpm, but by the time he got to the end of SS7, he found he had exceeded his maximum lateness. But even after the last stage the drama continued, as reports came in that Bogie’s car was seen stopped at the side of the road with steam coming out of the engine. However, by topping up the radiator the young Scot was able to nurse his car back to Builth Wells to record his second Evolution Challenge victory of the season.

“What a rally!” said Bogie. “After winning the first round and then suffering disappointing results in rounds two and three, I’m chuffed to bits to finish in first place again. However, for a moment I didn’t think I was going to do it when the car overheated on the drive back to the finish. But we made it and today’s result has made all the difference to my championship hopes.”

Behind the leading trio, Elsmore was satisfied with fourth place, as was Sparks with fifth, whereas Johnston’s day got even more frustrating when he found he had to stop to change a puncture on the final stage.

Unfortunately, after all of his and his team’s hard work, Sigurdarson’s rally came to an end after stage five, when the cross-shaft in his car’s transmission fractured. Philosophically, the Icelandic Rally Champion said afterwards that he had achieved the result he was looking for by getting his car to the event and not putting any dents in it this time around!

The outcome of the Severn Valley National Rally sees the chase for the Evolution Challenge title hotting up, with the top four drivers separated by just one point, Barry and Cathcart on 28 and Bogie and Elsmore on 27. The battle resumes on 19th July, when competitors return to Wales for round five, the Swansea Bay Rally.

The 2008 Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge is backed by Mitsubishi Motors UK and Ralliart, with support from its associate sponsors: Pirelli tyres, Speedline Corse wheels, Sparco racewear, Performance Friction Brakes, Sunoco Race Fuels, ADR Motorsport, Walkinshaw Performance and PIAA lights, who sponsor the junior award for under 25 year old drivers.

Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge Round Four
Severn Valley National Rally – 31st May 2008
Results
1 David Bogie (Dumfries)/Kevin Rae (Hawick) 1:07:14.9
2 Richard Cathcart (Enniskillen)/Martin Brady (Navan) 1:07:30.9
3 Keith Cronin (Cork)/Greg Shinnors (Limerick) 1:07:45.3
4 Nik Elsmore (Coleford)/Craig Drew (Bream) 1:08:10.3
5 Jonathan Sparks (Glastonbury)/Chris Davies (Abergavenny) 1:16:08.5
6 Miles Johnston (York)/Ian Bevan (Holywell) 1:16:55.4

Retirements
SS3 Neil McCance (Comber)/Graham Hopewell (Worcester) Accident
SS5 Daniel Siguardarson (Iceland)/Asta Sigurdardottir (Iceland) Transmission
SS7 Daniel Barry (Enniskerry)/Mark Bowens (Cork) Accident
SS7 Jonathan Greer (Carryduff)/Jonny Hart (Moneyrea) Throttle/OTL

Results / Photos

Posted: June 2, 2008 9:23 PM

1 Andy Burton/Shelley Rogerson (Peugeot Cosworth) 1h:05m:17.8s
2 Jon Ingram/Ian Allsop (Subaru Impreza WRC) 1:05:42.6
3 Marcus Dodd/Andrew Bargery (Hyundai Accent WRC) 1:06:18.1
4 Julian Reynolds/Patrick Walsh (Subaru Impreza WRC) 1:06:34.7
5 Roger Duckworth/Mark Broomfield (Subaru Impreza WRC) 1:06:35.5
6 David Bogie/Kevin Rae (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) 1:07:14.9
7 Richard Cathcart/Martin Brady (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) 1:07:30.9
8 Stephen Moore/Tony McHugh (Ford Focus WRC 06) 1:07:38.8
9 Keith Cronin/Greg Shinnors (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) 1:07:45.3
10 Nik Elsmore/Craig Drew (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) 1:08:10

Evo Challenge heads to the valleys

Posted: May 26, 2008 3:56 PM

It’s back to gravel forests roads, just three weeks after the first of two asphalt rallies, for the fourth round of the 2008 Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge, when the championship for production specification Mitsubishi’s heads to mid-Wales for the Severn Valley National Rally. The event also hosts round four of the Pirelli MSA Gravel Rally Championship and sees a total entry of 44 cars, 11 of which are Evolution Challenge competitors, a figure which represents 25% of the National field.

Top Evolution Challenge seed is round-one winner David Bogie, who will certainly be looking for a return to his early season fortunes, having rolled his gravel spec Lancer on round two and his tarmac spec Lancer on round three. Even so, with others around him also suffering misfortune, his title hopes are far from over.

Next to take the green light is round-two winner Richard Cathcart and, if his pace so far this season is anything to go by, he will be a force to be reckoned with this weekend – especially as he is likely to be on a mission following his no-points finish on the Isle of Man, when a penultimate stage puncture saw him exceed his maximum lateness.

Championship leader Daniel Barry starts third and, after scoring three podium finishes in three events, will be out to defend his position. He will also be hoping for a less eventful rally than that of the Manx, when his car ended-up looking decidedly second-hand.

Fourth Mitsubishi seed is Nik Elsmore, who hopes to get some of his old pace back with the series returning to the forests of Wales. Behind him starts Northern Irish youngster Jonny Greer, who’s season finally got off the mark on the Isle of Man, when he finished a strong fourth and collected his first haul of points.

Greer is followed by fellow Ulsterman Neil McCance, who’s current form may well see him fronting the Evo Challenge charge at some point during the event.

Another who fell-foul of the Manx lanes is Daniel Sigurdarson, who almost destroyed his Lancer on what was his first ever tarmac surface rally. Such is the Icelandic Rally Champion’s commitment to the Evolution Challenge, he and his team have worked solidly for the past three weeks to get his car ready for this weekend’s event. Next in line is another driver who is yet to show his full potential this year, Simon Harraway, who’s first full season in a Mitsubishi is seeing him contest the British Rally Championship as well as the Evolution Challenge.

In contrast, Keith Cronin has shown his potential, the young Irishman scoring his first Mitsubishi series victory on the Isle of Man, so this weekend, eyes will be upon him to see if he can repeat his winning performance on gravel.

Rounding off the Evo Challenge field are Miles Johnston, who is gathering pace as the season progresses and Jon Sparks, who recorded a very uncharacteristic non-finish in round three and therefore intends to get back to his more usual consistent form this weekend.

The Severn Valley National Rally is based in Builth Wells, starting and finishing at the Royal Welsh Showground. The event features eight stages during Saturday, totalling 65 competitive miles, in forests acknowledged to provide some of the best rallying in the UK.

The 2008 Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge is backed by Mitsubishi Motors UK and Ralliart, with support from its associate sponsors: Pirelli tyres, Speedline Corse wheels, Sparco racewear, Performance Friction Brakes, Sunoco Race Fuels, ADR Motorsport, Walkinshaw Performance and PIAA lights, who sponsor the junior award for under 25 year old drivers.

Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge - Round Four
Entries in start number order
9 David Bogie (Dumfries)/Kevin Rae (Hawick) J
10 Richard Cathcart (Enniskillen)/Martin Brady (Navan)
12 Daniel Barry (Enniskerry)/Mark Bowens (Cork) J
16 Nik Elsmore (Coleford)/Paul Wakeley (Llanelli)
18 Jonathan Greer (Carryduff)/Jonny Hart (Moneyrea) J
19 Neil McCance (Comber)/Graham Hopewell (Worcester)
20 Daniel Siguardarson (Iceland)/Asta Sigurdardottir (Iceland)
23 Simon Harraway (Weston-super-Mare)/Craig Drew (Bream)
26 Keith Cronin (Cork)/Greg Shinnors (Limerick) J
29 Miles Johnston (York)/Ian Bevan (Holywell)
35 Jonathan Sparks (Glastonbury)/Chris Davies (Abergavenny)

ANCRO Preview - GOING FOR A BURTON...

Posted: May 22, 2008 7:44 PM

Round four of the hotly-contested 2008 Pirelli MSA Gravel Rally Championship heads for Wales for the first time this season when the Severn Valley National Rally takes place next Saturday (May 31st).

After a race against time to fix an engine problem in his radical Peugeot Cosworth, 2007 winner Andy Burton has put in a late entry and along with co driver Shelley Rogerson, will contest the event running as car 11 but they will be first on the road.

The pair will join the 150 other crews heading for the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells with Midland Manor Motor Club Ltd guaranteeing a superb day's motorsport in the classic mid Wales forests.

Also in action will be defending ANCRO Champions Marcus Dodd and Andrew Bargery in their Hyundai Accent WRC and current leaders of the series, Jon Ingram and Ian Allsop in their Subaru Impreza WRC. Dodd won the opening encounter on Rallye Sunseeker in Bournemouth but has struggled since whereas Ingram took victory on round two in Kielder Forest on the Brick & Steel Border Counties Rally to lead the series by 13 points.

However one crew, who only returned on the last round in the Isle of Man, will be also in the mix. Former champions Roger Duckworth and Mark Broomfield took victory on the RBSI Manx Rally earlier this month and will be looking for maximum points again in their Subaru WRC.

The Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge is responsible for a dozen entries in the National Rally with young Scottish sensation David Bogie looking to reel in Irishmen Richard Cathcart and Daniel Barry. Barry, who leads the series, is second overall in the ANCRO standings.

Other fancied runners include the Ford Focus WRCs of Scotsman Dave Weston, Irishmen Stephen Moore and Michael O'Brien as well as English driver John Lloyd, whereas Welsh wizardry could play a part in the result, especially with the likes of Julian Reynolds, Nigel Griffiths and Damien Cole on home ground. And don't rule out young Stephen Petch (Hyundai Accent WRC), Nik Elsmore (Mitsubishi) and Icelander Dani Sigurdsson (Mitsubishi) who hopes to be fit after injuring his hand on the Manx.

Veteran Harry Dodd leads the 'Old Stagers' class with locals Nathan Crewe and John Connor leading the Two Wheel Drive Challenge in their MG and who will be up against the usual protagonists including Rod Bennett/Henry Richardson in their S1600 Fiat Punto and Tim/Kit Leigh in their Ford Fiesta.

The event also incorporates round two of the 2008 Pirelli ANCRO Rally Challenge which sees Ford Fiesta Sporting Trophy runner Kris Hall lead the standings. Whilst local drivers Shaun Gardener (Mitsubishi) and Rob Brick (Subaru) will lead the Severn Valley Clubmans Rally away from the start at 9.30am on Saturday morning, the 'one-make' Fiestas will add spice to the competition including James Everard, Liam Regan and Elfyn Evans as the lure of an end-of-season first prize of a Fiesta ST road car will serve to concentrate a considerable number of minds during the day!

The action begins as the first car in the Severn Valley National Rally leaves the Showground at 8.00am, with the first Historic Rally competitor due to arrive back there at 2.00pm. The survivors from each of the three events will follow on throughout the afternoon.

BHRC preview

Posted: May 22, 2008 7:21 PM

The third round of the 2008 Dunlop/Gambia MSA British Historic Rally Championship will take crews to Wales for the first time this year for some classic mid-Wales stages during the Severn Valley Historic Rally (Saturday 31 May). With two very long stages making up the meat of the 45 stage miles, it's going to be a challenging event for another excellent BHRC field.

Category 1
As usual, the oldest cars in category one (pre '68) will run first on the road and a double victory on the Robin Hood and Pirelli rallies has been the perfect start to the year for Patrick Watts and Elgan Davies in their Sunbeam Tiger.
They'll be going all out for a hat-trick in Wales and will start as clear favourites.

Heading the Porsche challenge to the rumbling Tiger will be Dessie Nutt and Geraldine McBride in their familiar Porsche 911, but the long fast straights in Radnor should give the Tiger crew a flying start to the rally.

However, as well as chasing the Tiger, Nutt/McBride will be working hard to fend off the quickest of the Lotus Cortinas, notably those of Bob Bean/James Whitaker and Neil Calvert/Arlene Cookson. With regular co-driver Malcolm Smithson away on holiday, 21-year old Whitaker will co-drive for 70-year old Bean for the first time. Chasing the Cortinas in class B4 will be the mighty Volvo Amazon of Graham Waite/Mike Reynolds.

Class B2 is likely to be a straight fight between the Mini Cooper S of defending class champions Terry Cree/Richard Shores and the MG Midget of James Stait/Gill Cotton, and it is Stait/Cotton who have taken two wins so far as Cree/Shores hit a whole range of problems. If both crews have a clear run, it could be quite a contest.

Three Hillman Imp variants contest class B1, including round one winners Gary and Jane Edington (Singer Chamois) and round two winners Geoff Taylor/Steve Greenhill (Imp Sport), while Mike Barratt/Jody Watson will be hoping that their Sunbeam Stiletto is ready to rally again after a disastrous engine failure just before the Pirelli.

Category 2
Steven Smith and John Nichols turned in a mighty performance to win category 2 on the Robin Hood and their Porsche 911RS could well be the car to beat once more. Smith will be keen to get his campaign back on track after falling victim to a dreaded Kielder ditch on the Pirelli.

However, the quickest of the Escort Mk1s will be flying along and it is the cars of defending BHRC champions David Stokes/Guy Weaver and Ernie Graham/Robin Kellard that should be the best of the pack.

Stokes/Weaver have had a tough start to the season with two non-finishes after mechanical dramas, so they will be determined to score a strong result on the Severn Valley to get their season on song.

However, category 2 is not just about classes C4 and C5. The 2-litre C3 category is already delivering some mighty contests this season, and it was Ken Forster and John Stanger-Leathes who took their Escort Mk1 to a fine win on the Pirelli. But on the opening event, the Robin Hood, Welsh crew Tim Jones/Don James scored a fine win and will be eager to repeat that victory on home ground.

Other major challengers include the Escorts of Neal James/Kevin Jones, James Young/David Young and Robin Shuttleworth/Mark Midgley.

The Class C2 pace should be set by Vince Bristow/Tim Sayer (Escort Mk1), but youngsters Adam Morgan and Chris Kenyon are getting quicker and quicker as they build their experience.

Category 3
With the Porsche 911RS of Jimmy McRae absent after its accident on the Pirelli, category 3 is all about a gaggle of very quick Mk2 Escorts, all of them capable of challenging for victory. Robin Hood winners Richard Hill and Patrick Cooper and Pirelli winners Darren Moon and John McNichol will be right at the head of the battle, although Moon has never seen this part of Wales before.
Other established contenders include Dick Slaughter/Geoff Dearing, Simon Tysoe/Rob Dyson, Phil and Mick Squires, Charlie Taylor/Steve Bielby, Jason Lepley/Howard Pridmore, Frank Cunningham/Ryland James and Chris White/Chris Dewsnap, while Welsh legend – and pensioner – Terry Brown, partnered by the slightly younger Den Golding, will use his knowledge of these stages to good effect.
Class D3 for the 2-litre non-multi valve cars should also deliver a tremendous contest, with the fastest cars getting up amongst the BD-powered cars in D5. Richard Lane/Frank Richer pulled off a fine victory on the Robin Hood, but will face a big challenge from Pirelli winners Will Onions/Tim Hobbs in their RS2000. Also out to fight for D3 honours will be Arwel Evans/Arwel Jenkins and father and son crew Mark and Brett Clifford.
Elsewhere in category 3, welcome variety to the Escort pack will be provided by the Sunbeam Lotus of Adrian Seabridge/Daniel Seabridge, the Vauxhall Chevette HSR of Roger Kilty/Lynette Banks and the Rover SD1 of Steve Holtom/Adrian Jay.

Entry Lists

Posted: May 21, 2008 11:36 AM

On Line Entry Available

Posted: March 25, 2008 6:05 PM

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