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Pirelli International Rally / Tour of Cumbria - 17-18 Apr 09

Posted: April 24, 2009 11:15 PM - 15878 Hits

Round 2 - 2009 British Rally Championship
Round 3 - 2009 MSA ANCRO Gravel Rally Championship
Round 2 - 2009 MSA British Historic Rally Championship
Round 3 - 2009 Fiesta SportingTrophy UK

  • Cronin/Shinnors win again!

Posted: April 24, 2009 11:18 PM

Photo: Roy Dempster

In Car

Posted: April 24, 2009 11:15 PM

Top Six for Barry Greer in Fiesta Trophy

Posted: April 23, 2009 2:52 PM

Barry Greer (21) from Carryduff, Northern Ireland netted 6th place points In the Fiesta SportTrophy UK 3rd round the Pirelli International rally. The event based at carlise Racecourse and held on Friday & Saturday 18th/19th April and is the second event using the two tier system in the VK energy backed championship. The first six stages count towards the Fiesta Championship with competitors then given the option to continue on and score points for the British Rally Championship which the Pirelli is the second round of.

With usual navigator John Lemon unavailable due to imminent university coursework deadlines stand in navigator Susanne Wright started her first international event and first event outside Ireland. Two evening stages awaited the pair and a Rear puncture on stage 2 hampered progress. “ I was a bit slow by own admission on SS1, just took a few mile to get used to Susanne on the notes and was not 100% committed but I was really finding my pace again on SS2 only for the puncture to strike about half way through the stage”

With a bit of catching up to do on day two Greer set about the task first thing clawing back 6 seconds on the car in front on SS3 two top four times on the next three stages saw him leapfrog from 8th in the morning to 6th at the close of the Fiesta section of the event. Only an agonising 1 second shy of 5th place Ross Forde.

“We had what turned out to be a bent wheel on SS6 which made the car a bit nervous near the end of the stage so without that we may have made fifth but Its hard to know how much it affected our time if any”

With the same stage mileage still to be completed in the International rally there was still British championship points to be earned by the fiesta crews who chose to continue. With stages 8,9 and 10 cancelled due to a fire further up the field it was now 3 stages to decide the BRC points. A strong run on these stages saw Greer end the Longer event 4th in class R3 and 16th Overall.

“ I’m really pleased with my result, I have enjoyed the rally and am looking forward to getting out again”

With three rounds completed and four to go Barry is placed 6th in the Fiesta Championship, with it looking increasingly unlikely that he will be unable to enter the next two events in the series he aims to return on local rally the Ulster International in mid August.

Jonny Greer delighted with best ever BRC finish on Pirelli

Posted: April 23, 2009 2:51 PM

Jonathan Greer picked up his strongest finish in the British Rally Championship with 5th at last weekends Pirelli International Rally (18th/19th April), the compact event which packs a full recce and over 100 miles of stages into two days is a popular one amongst drivers although always treated with a pinch of caution as the famous Keilder forest that makes up the majority of the stages are known to bite.

Jonathan (20) from Carryduff, Northern Ireland started the event in the now familiar Mitsubishi Evolution 9 which he will compete in for a second season with Irishman Anthony O’Conaill (20) calling the notes.

With the event starting at 18:30 on the Friday from Carlisle Racecourse the 40 car field completed two stages in the fading light, without time to test prior to the event start Jonny’s aim was to get through the night stages without losing too much time and to settle into the car again. 8th Overall after the 17 miles was a good effort from the duo and with 7 crews separated by 30 seconds they were very much in the thick of things for Saturdays 10 stages.

“ The competition is fierce, so many cars covered by small margins, we are still well in the fight which is ideal”

Come Saturday morning the battle that played out for all of 2007 between Jonathan and fellow Northern Irishman Alistair Fisher when they both competed in the two wheel drive Ford Fiesta was ready to recommence. So even has their pace proved to be that the two actually tied as championship winners in the 2007 Irish Fiesta Trophy with Fisher eventually taking Honours after a tie break that went all the way back to the First round.

0.6 seconds was the margin between the two before the start of SS3 in the favour of Greer and after 5 of Saturdays stages the margin which never stretched much more than a couple of seconds stood at 1.3 seconds still in favour of Greer. SS8 proved a pivotal moment in the rally with Rally leader Guy Wilk’s Proton S2000 going on fire the stage plus the two following were cancelled. With Wilk’s retirement Jonny moved up to 4th Overall.

That left two stages remaining and as the cars left final service the light was again beginning to fade making for an interesting conclusion. The pair fought tough over the final 17 miles with Jonny eventually losing out by a small margin, a bitter blow after being in front for most of the event. However ending the day with 5th Overall was nothing to be disappointed marking Jonny’s best finish since making the step up to 4 wheel drive in 2008.

“I’m really pleased with my pace over the course of the event and delighted with 5th place and our strong position in the championship. I’m much more confident in the car and the pacenotes than i have been all year so I am in good spirits for the next one” stated Jonny at the event finish.

Jonny currently lies 6th in the BRC and will next be in action on the 3rd round the Jim Clark Rally on 23rd/24th May.

Taylor takes second Swift Sport Cup win on Pirelli

Posted: April 23, 2009 2:49 PM

Twenty year old Australian Molly Taylor with Cumbrian co-driver Jemma Bellingham made it a second successive victory on round two of the British Rally Championship’s Swift Sport Cup, the Pirelli International Rally this weekend.

The Friday night stages looked like being a battle between Luke Pinder/Peter Scott and Richard Sykes/Simon Taylor though, as the pair swapped fastest stage times over the two tricky Kershope tests. Sykes took first blood, but used his many years of experience on the second, backing off in the rough sections.

Pinder had what he described as a good pace on the opener, then stormed through stage two with a time sixteen seconds clear of Sykes to lead at the overnight halt. Manxman David Harrison and co-driver Glyn Thomas were third in the falling dusk of stage one, suffering on two with inconsistent pace-notes and a trailing rear suspension canister.

Taylor was initially fourth having bent a steering arm on a rock, but she pushed into the failing light and leap-frogged Harrison to lie third, just two seconds back, with 2008 Swift runner-up Gordon Nichol & Emma Morrison fifth having suffered excessive oversteer.

The time difference between the top five was just fifteen seconds, but Nick Everard & Chris Davies were not too disheartened despite being over a minute back. “We have a game plan to get to the finish after our retirement so early on round one,” explained the 21 year old.

The first stage of Saturday morning saw another stage winner in the form of Taylor, albeit only 1.5 seconds quicker than Pinder. Sykes and Harrison were both within four seconds of the all-female crew’s time, themselves split by 0.2 seconds.

Pinder now started to pull clear of the chasing pack, setting fastest times on stages four and five, but the fierce fight for third was still blazing. Harrison had a cracking stage four, beating all but Pinder, while Sykes and Taylor were split by just a tenth of a second in Sykes’ favour. Nichol’s new pace-notes system was proving inconsistent again but he remained ahead of Everard whose confidence was building on every stage.

By the first proper service of the day however, it was Taylor who led by just over a second from a closing Sykes. Pinder had disappeared from the results on SS6, crashing his yellow Swift on a high speed section of the infamous Kielder stage. “We were going well but got onto the loose stuff on the right hand side,” he explained, “Then I don't really know what happened, but we went off on the left. Looking at the in-car footage we think something may have broken, because the car just lurched to the left.”

“I'm not surprised Luke was off,” said the Taylor, “We were taking risks and he was quicker; the loose gravel tries to suck you into those ditches. It’s a shame for him but we’re concentrating on keeping Richard at bay now.”

A big push after service saw Sykes snatch the lead by three seconds, stating, “Both back wheels were in the ditch at some points, I've never been so terrified” Harrison and Nichol were close on times too, the Manxman having suffered rear shock absorber leakage.

As stages eight, nine and ten were cancelled due to event leader Guy Wilks’ car fire; the Swift Sport Cup crews had just a re-run of the rally’s opening pair of stages to decide a winner.

The titanic scrap that Taylor and Sykes had maintained throughout the event ended on the penultimate test though, after the Stourbridge man’s engine mount broke, forcing him to crawl through that and the final stage. He and co-driver Simon Taylor lost over twenty minutes as the engine thrashed back and forward on every gear change, leaving Taylor and Bellingham to cruise to their second win on as many events.

Harrison and Thomas survived a loose lamp pod on the final stage to take second, just keeping a charging Nichol at bay. His and Morrison’s pace-notes eventually came good and the pair was only 0.5 seconds slower than stage winner Taylor on the event’s final stage.

Nick Everard seemed happy enough with fourth, realising his goal to finish the event and gain valuable experience, but the most disconsolate crew was definitely that of Sykes and Taylor, whose lowly fifth place certainly didn't do their early pace justice.

Molly Taylor now leads the Swift Sport Cup by eight points from Gordon Nichol, the pair the only two to score on both rounds.

The next event in the calendar is the asphalt of the Jim Clark International Rally on May 22nd & 23rd; will a change in surface mean a change in winner?

McCormack wins Pirelli and leads C2R2 Cup

Posted: April 23, 2009 2:37 PM

In an almost all Irish clean sweep on the Pirelli International Rally, round two of the British Rally Championship’s C2R2 Cup, the Northern Irish had a look in as well in the form of Marty McCormack. He and co-driver Phil Clarke took victory in the one make series and with it top Citroën Racing Trophy UK prize money.

The picture looked like it may be different on the very first stage of the tough event though, as Welsh crew Jason Pritchard and Andrew Edwards set about the Glen Dhu stage with some vigour, taking a lead of nearly six seconds from McCormack.

Mark Gamble & Steve Link occupied the third and final spot, since Andrew Hockridge had withdrawn his entry at the last minute. Parts supply was the difficulty after an initial picking error was followed by a delay from the courier. The suspension components that were required to properly repair his car after a road traffic accident before round one, eventually arrived two days late. But the Welshman had understandably decided to save costs and the whole crew sat out the event at home.

Despite Gamble’s pace at the tail end of the trio, he announced himself happy with the progress, himself running with revised suspension after struggling in Wales. “We’re trying to get used to car now the suspension is sorted and setting times closer to Max kits of Pritchard and McCormack so I'm quite pleased.”

His position was improved on the second stage of the rally when Pritchard spun and fell into one of Kielder’s infamous ditches. Despite the efforts of a handful of enthusiastic spectators, the car stayed stubbornly in the ditch, eventually regaining the track over half an hour later. Shortly after re-starting, another drama befell the youngster when the gear lever snapped, leaving him stuck in gear.

Saturday morning dawned brightly, but with the wind dropping overnight, dust was a problem on the remaining ten stages of the event. With Pritchard well behind, Gamble set about making the most of his improved position with a pair of second fastest times.

Pritchard punctured on stage four, dropping him another minute back and Gamble struggled with rocks bending his sump guard and a blowing exhaust. McCormack was now in cruise mode, easily pulling away from both his rivals as the day progressed. By stage seven McCormack’s lead was up to a minute and a half, but Gamble’s chances of a fight-back were hampered when stages eight, nine and ten were cancelled. Overall rally leader Guy Wilks’ car had been on fire, several of the following drivers emptying their extinguishers in an attempt to stop the blaze.

With just the final pair of tests remaining, Gamble had to nurse his car to the finish, the centre exhaust eventually falling off completely. Pritchard suffered in the dust of another car ahead, but it was the inside of the winner’s car that was completely covered in a fine coating of Kielder dust, McCormack and Clarke grinning from dirty faces at the Carlisle racecourse finish. [AUDIO]

The win puts them two points ahead in the C2R2 Cup and they take €2000 for winning the Citroën Racing Trophy UK plus a further €1000 for placing second two wheel drive car on the Pirelli International Rally.

Round three of the BRC’s C2R2 Cup, the Jim Clark International Rally, will take place towards the end of May over the Bank Holiday weekend and sees a change to asphalt for the little pocket rocket Citroëns.

The C2R2 Cup and Citroën Racing Trophy UK are supported by Citroën UK.

Video Clips

Posted: April 20, 2009 8:57 PM

Cronin/Shinnors prove their pace with second win!

Posted: April 20, 2009 8:50 PM

When heading to Cumbria this weekend, Cronin Motorsport were taking another giant leap into the unknown. Such giant steps are becoming the norm for this team who, last month, became only the third Irish team ever to lead the BRC.

The main objective this weekend was to return home still in contention in the championship.
Having triumphed over triple champion Mark Higgins on the opening round in North Wales in March, the second round seemed to be even more daunting, as Champion for the last two years, Guy Wilks, was also on the entry as was former Evo Challenge champion Philip Morrow. Richard Cathcart, who was so rapid on last years Evo Challenge, was also listed to start albeit in a Subaru.

Before the event Keith openly admitted that he would not be trying to win the rally, as it was more important at this juncture to consolidate his position with a good points haul.

As things transpired on the first stage on Friday evening, Keith felt that for some reason he did not settle into his rhythm properly and consequently on the first stage he dropped over 16 seconds to rally leader Wilks and was only 5th fastest on that opening test. He was happier on the second stage and was only beaten by Wilks and Higgins. In overall terms, the Cork / Limerick pairing were 4th overnight, some 35 seconds off the early leader, Wilks.

On Saturday’s first stage they settled in well and despite the car suffering a slight power loss due to turbo problems, they were beaten only by Wilks. Philip Morrow was second to Wilks on the following stage with the Cronin Motorsport crew third, again trimming a couple of seconds from Higgins.

Stage 5 saw a different name at the top of the timesheet, when for the first time on this rally somebody beat Wilks. It was Higgins who was fastest, but the Munster crew were only 3.9 seconds slower and they too, beat Wilks on the stage. This stage also saw the demise of Philip Morrow, who crashed out of the rally.

Stage 6 saw the Irish crew topping the time sheets and having already moved into third position because of Morrow’s departure, they were steadily nibbling away at Mark Higgins advantage. On stage 7 they were again fastest followed by Wilks and Higgins and had the time differential to Higgins down to 10.2 seconds.

At this point Keith was very upbeat about his chances as all the remaining stages were repeats of the earlier ones. Never having competed on them before he was confident that on his second run he could improve on his first times over them.

On stage 8 Wilks, who was running first on the road, had a problem with the car and when he pulled over, a fire took hold and although all the following cars stopped and used their extinguishers on the fire, his car was completely gutted. As none of the lead cars now had fire extinguishers, it was decided that the following two stages be cancelled to allow the competitors get replacements.

So with two stages remaining Mark Higgins led the rally from Keith Cronin. Certainly a sense of déjà vu as that was also the scenario entering the final pair of stages in North Wales on the opening round. That time the pair were separated by 9.5 seconds, this time it was 10.2.

History was about to repeat itself as Cronin’s second run over the second last stage saw his stage time improve by 22sec and he trimmed Higgins’ lead to just 2.4 seconds. On the last stage Higgins improved on his previous time by 11 seconds, however Keith trimmed his own time by 18seconds to beat Higgins by 4.4seconds on the stage and by 2 seconds on the rally.

A narrow victory maybe, but a decisive one!

BRC & Pirelli Rally praise fire-fighting crews

Posted: April 20, 2009 8:42 PM

British Rally Championship manager Mark Taylor and Pirelli International Rally manager Brian Kinghorn praised crews for their quick thinking and professionalism at the scene of Guy Wilks’ car fire on this weekend’s Rally.  

Stage eight of the event saw Guy Wilks and Phil Pugh’s new Proton S2000 catch fire whilst leading the rally, the source, although unconfirmed, thought to be a hot exhaust after losing a section of it in the stage.  

As the first cars arrived on the scene, the Satria was already well ablaze, but several of the drivers tried to stem the flames with their own hand held extinguishers.  

“We initially used our extinguisher to try and put the car out,” said the first on the scene Mark Higgins, “But it was obviously going to be no use. So I left Bryan (Thomas) at the scene to wave down the next crews and drove past the burning car to let the radio point know and try and get help. By the time Keith (Cronin) arrived, they concentrated their efforts in trying to stop the fire spreading.”  

Cronin added, “It wasn't a nice scene to see the car burning there when we arrived; you wouldn't wish that on anyone. We did what we could but the car was too well alight.”  

Mark Taylor said , “The crews had the presence of mind to stop the fire from spreading to the forest. We’re obviously all very sad for Guy, Phil and the MEM team, but the main thing is that they are OK and that nobody was injured.”  

He was joined by Brian Kinghorn in adding, “The crews that stopped and helped are to be praised for their professionalism and level headedness. We believe it was the right decision to bring the event back to service, so they could all re-start the final pair of stages safely with replacement extinguishers.”

Daniel satisfied with second

Posted: April 20, 2009 8:40 PM

Daniel Barry from Eniskerry and co-driver Martin Brady from Navan, were pleased to make it back to the finish of the Pirelli Tour of Cumbria to take second place in the third round of the Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge. And, after winning the first two rounds, they continue to lead the highly competitive series for production class Mitsubishi Lancers.

The start, finish and service area were located at Carlisle Racecourse, with the event’s 70 competitive miles all held on the demanding gravel roads in the infamous Kielder Forest, the route featuring the four stages followed by a service halt and then a repeat of the same four stages.

Having contracted a cold the day before the event, Daniel predicted that his performance was likely to be below par, but that didn’t stop him setting the fastest Evolution Challenge time on the opening stage. However, the margin between him and his closest rival Simon Hughes was just a slender four-tenths of a second and, on the second stage, the positions were reversed.

With Daniel realising that he had opted for tyres with a compound that was too soft, he had no choice but to consolidate his second place until he had the chance to change them at the service area in Carlisle. At the mid-point halt, the time sheets showed Daniel now 26 seconds adrift of the leader, but there was a long way to go and a third win was still not out of the question.

Admitting that he was not running at 100% Daniel only pushed when he felt he could do so, but with stage six cancelled when a car caught fire, there was less opportunity to make up any time. He also knew that one small error would see third-placed Nik Elsmore get too close for comfort and, with that in mind, he and co-driver Martin opted for a steady approach to the final two stages and ensure that they secured the runner-up spot.

With the car running faultlessly throughout the event, Daniel and Martin returned to Carlise to scoop second place in the Evolution Challenge and, in doing so, they not only continue to lead the Mitsubishi series, but also the MSA Gravel Rally Championship as well.

“Considering I wasn’t feeling 100% I’m pleased to finish second’, said Daniel. “Winning a championship is all about good results and not just about trying to win every round. I’m therefore more than satisfied with the performance this weekend and we come away still leading two championships and with a car that’s running perfectly.”

The next event for the 24-year old Irish Driver is the Manx National Rally on 8th & 9th May, when the surface changes to asphalt for the first time this season.

Daniel’s 2009 campaign is supported by: Tech-Plus, Irish Shipping and Transport, BPI Telecom and SC Signs.

Bogie scores first podium finish for JR Motorsports Team

Posted: April 20, 2009 8:39 PM

The second round of the MSA British Rally Championship, the Pirelli International Rally, saw David Bogie and co-driver Kevin Rae bring their Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X home in third place and score the first podium finish for JR Motorsports.

Team-mates Daniel Sigurdarson and Andy Bull finished sixth – a great achievement considering their similar Lico-sponsored car was only completed hours before the start - the combined results of both Mitsubishis seeing Team JRM Lico shoot into the lead of the British Team’s Championship.

Starting and finishing at Carlisle Racecourse, all of the event’s 12 timed special stages took place over the infamous gravel roads in Kielder Forest, the two stages on Friday night and the remaining 10 on Saturday providing a total of 102 competitive miles.

Following their fifth-place finish on the opening round, the JR Motorsports team had worked hard on the development of the new Mitsubishi – and their efforts paid off - as David reported the engine was far more responsive right from the start.

With a tough rally ahead of them and the reputation of Kielder Forest on their minds, David and Kevin opted for a cautious approach to the opening stage. Determined to push harder through the second, their plan was foiled shortly after the start when they caught the car ahead of them - which was slowed by a puncture - and they lost over 15 seconds in the prevailing dust before they were able to get past.

At the overnight halt the time sheets showed David and Kevin in sixth place and only 11 seconds away from a top three position. In the sister car, their team-mates were delighted that their brand new Evo X had run faultlessly and were pleased to be in tenth place.

Saturday started with a loop of four stages and David and Kevin were eager to carry on from where they left off the night before. Although it was close, they were able to fend off the competition and, with the demise of two cars ahead of them, they moved up to fourth before returning to Carlisle for the service stop.

Besides a set of new tyres and repairs to the exhaust system – which had been crushed on the rougher sections of the stages – the JRM car had run perfectly and hopes were high for a good result as David and Kevin embarked on the next loop, which was a repeat of the four stages tackled earlier.

After setting the fourth-fastest time on SS7, stage eight was stopped when rally leader Guy Wilks’ car caught fire. This forced organisers to abandon the next three stages as many of the following crews had used their fire extinguishers in an attempt to put out the blaze and could not continue without them. Cars were then sent back to Carlisle for a regroup before the event’s final two stages.

Now in third, the team were determined not to lose the chance of a podium place and a third fastest time in SS11 consolidated the position. But then, on the final stage, a large rock fractured the car’s rear differential casing and pulled out a driveshaft. Now, with only two-wheel drive, David and Kevin drove the final few miles holding their breath. But they made it, and crossed the line just 1.8 seconds ahead of a rapidly catching fourth-placed crew.

“I am so pleased to have got the car back to the finish and to secure third place”, said David. “It’s great to have scored the first podium finish in the British Championship, not just for me, but for the JR Motorsports team as well. I know they have worked hard on the car and its performance and reliability this weekend proves that the Evo X  has great potential.”

Besides a brief visit into a Northumberland ditch in the morning and also damaging the exhaust system, Sigurdarson and Bull’s car also proved reliable and they crossed the line in sixth place. The combination of the team’s two results launches Team JRM Lico into an 11-point lead in the Team’s Championship, with David and Kevin now third in the driver’s and co-driver’s standings.

The third round of the MSA British Rally Championship sees the surface change to asphalt, when teams head to Kelso for the Jim Clark Rally on 22nd & 23rd May.

JR Motorsports’ 2009 British Rally Championship campaign is supported by: Oakbank Services, Exe-tc competition suspension, Lico, Opie Oils, PPG Transmissions and SJS Designs.


Posted: April 20, 2009 8:37 PM

Following his top six placing on the previous round in Wales, Galway driver Ross Forde saw an improvement when he took a fine fifth place on the Pirelli Challenge at the weekend which saw round three of the Kick Energy Fiesta Sport Trophy UK take place in Kielder Forest.

Driving the Motorsport Ireland and Irish Sports Council-backed Ford Fiesta, Forde and co driver Gary McElhinney were contesting the two-day event which got underway with a pair of Friday night stages in Kershope Forest before a loop through around Kielder Water the following day.

With a calculated drive, Forde reached the end of the Fiesta Trophy element of the Carlisle-based event in fifth to record his best finish of the series so far although such is the closeness of the competition; he dropped to seventh in the title standings.

The Irishmen then continued in the Pirelli International Rally whereby they overcame a late puncture to claim fifth in class after the gruelling event.

"The event started well with the two night stages on Friday, but from the recce we noticed the first two stages were very rough so we decided to stay on the cautious side and not get any punctures which was the case but we lost too much time.

"Day two started better and we were getting consistently quicker and we were having a good battle with Barry Greer for fourth place. I was very happy with Gary calling the notes and we have gelled very well and looking forward to the next round.

"In service we changed the suspension settings to help the handling of the car in the very high speed stages which helped for the second loop, but unfortunately with the three out of the last four stages being cancelled we ran out of time meaning we ended up fifth in the Fiesta Trophy.

"We were then up to third in the International with two stages to go, we put a big push on but unfortunately we suffered a rear puncture and dropped a lot of time on stage 11 which dropped us back to fifth in the R3 class. Overall, I'm happy with the result but hoping to improve in the next round."

Forde is contesting a full season in the series this year in his M-Sport-run Ford Fiesta as his prize for winning the 2008 Billy Coleman Award.

Simon Hughes takes first Evo Challenge victory.

Posted: April 20, 2009 8:35 PM

A storming drive in this weekend’s Pirelli Tour of Cumbria by Simon Hughes, together with co-driver Craig Parry, netted him his first win in the Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge, crossing the line 37 seconds ahead of Daniel Barry/Martin Brady, who’s second place sees them continue as championship leaders.

Starting and finishing at Carlisle Racecourse and utilising the demanding gravel roads of Kielder Forest, the event featured four stages followed by a service halt and then a repeat of the same four stages. The route then returned to the host venue after covering a scheduled competitive distance of just under 70 miles.

Barry/Brady assumed their usual position at the front of the Evo Challenge field following the first stage, albeit by a slim four-tenths of a second from Hughes/Parry. However, with Barry suffering from a cold, he predicted that his performance was likely to be under par and, on stage two, Hughes/Parry went into the Evo Challenge lead by six seconds.

The margin between first and second continued to increase in the remaining two stages of the first loop, but for a moment Hughes/Parry thought their day was over when a large rock in the middle of the stage smashed into the gearbox, bending part of the casing and causing oil to leak out.  Unable to anything about it they continued, but before the end of the stage Hughes found the car was jumping out of fifth gear.

Although there was a long road section between the stages and Carlisle, fortunately for Hughes/Parry a service halt followed and the problem was rectified. Barry/Brady were now 26 seconds behind and reported that they were not running at 100% and only pushing when Barry felt he could do so.

For Nik Elsmore/Craig Drew in third place it was a difficult weekend, as this was the first event since their team’s chief engineer Rex Paddock was tragically killed in a Microlite crash two weeks beforehand. Although the car was not set up as well as it would have usually been, they made some adjustments at the service halt and were able to pick up their pace in the afternoon.

Most frustrated Mitsubishi crew of the day were Owen Murphy/Dai Roberts, who were having to cope with the return of a recurring electrical fault causing an intermittent loss of power to their car’s ECU.  Murphy recalled that the car must have cut out 20 – 30 times during the morning’s four stages and he had no faith that the problem would be fixed for the second loop.

Debuting their new Evo IX in the forests were fifth-placed Alan Carmichael/Ivor Lamont and, with no time to test on a gravel surface, they were another crew to adjust their car’s set-up at the service halt.

Due to the leader in the British Championship field (Guy Wilks) car catching fire, stage six was cancelled.

Although listening out for the slightest noise or vibration, much to his relief the gearbox in Hughes’s car performed faultlessly for the rest of the day and he recorded the fastest Mitsubishi times on two the three remaining stages. Even though Kielder Forest was living up to its reputation of being hard on cars and crews, all Evo Challenge crews made it back to Carlisle in the positions they held at the halfway halt.

At the finish, the time sheets showed Hughes/Parry had won by a margin of 37 seconds ahead of Barry/Brady, who had opted for a safe final leg in order to ensure they got a good points score. Elsmore/Drew found their car handling more to their liking and held on to third, whilst Murphy/Roberts continued their stop-start progress and finished fourth. Although relieved to make it to the finish, without the problems there was no doubt that the young Irishman’s speed would have seen him and Roberts battling for the Evo Challenge lead.

Carmichal/Lamont were also pleased to get back to Carlisle and philosophically put the day down to good experience and an excellent test for their car on gravel.

“We pushed as hard as we could for the final loop of stages without taking any risks’, said Hughes. “It’s great to get our first Evo Challenge win as it keeps our title hopes on track and I’m now looking forward to getting onto tarmac for the first time this year at the next round.”

Although running a different sequence of stages, the Pirelli Rally also hosted a number of other events, including the MSA British Rally Championship.
Interestingly, after comparing times between the Evolution Challenge runners and those contesting the British Championship driving similar specification machinery, the results on shared stages showed the leading Mitsubishi crews setting times commensurate with those of the leading BRC teams.

The fourth round of the Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge takes place on 8th & 9th May, when crews head to the Isle of Man for the Manx Rally and the first asphalt surface event of the season.

The 2009 Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge is supported by Mitsubishi Motors UK, Ralliart, Pirelli tyres, Sunoco fuels, JR Motorsports, Speedline Corse wheels, Carbone Lorraine brakes, Walkinshaw Performance, Sparco racewear and PIAA lights - who sponsor the junior award for under 25-year old drivers

 Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge UK
Round three results
1 Simon Hughes (Abergle)/Craig Parry (Llanymynech) 51:07.8
2 Daniel Barry (Enniskerry)/Martin Brady (Navan) 51:44.7
3 Nik Elsmore (Coleford)/Craig Drew (Bream) 52:06.4
4 Owen Murphy (Cork)/Dai Roberts (Carmarthen) 53:32.7
5 Alan Carmichael(Ballymena)/Ivor Lamont (Ballymena) 56:53.9

BHRC report, round two: Pirelli Historic Rally

Posted: April 20, 2009 8:33 PM

Darren Moon and Chris Parsons were the big winners on round two of the 2009 Dunlop/Gambia MSA British Historic Rally Championship, the Pirelli Historic Rally (17/18 April). In a repeat of Moon's 2008 victory, they took their Ford Escort Mk2 to victory in category three after a tremendous performance. Other category victories went to the Porsches of Dessie Nutt/Geraldine McBride and Tim Mason/Graham Wild after six challenging stages in the Kershope and Kielder forest complexes.

  Category 1
Running first on the road was a tough start for Jonathan and Graham Gale (Sunbeam Tiger) as the opening Glen Dhu stage was covered in loose gravel. They battled on, but were caught out towards the end of the stage and the Tiger slid off. It was undamaged, but could not be recovered before they went OTL. They restarted under super rally rules on Saturday to get some more time in the car. Instead, Nutt/McBride headed the category one cars by nearly a minute overnight despite finding conditions very tough in the Kershope stages. "There was no grip anywhere; I'm really glad to have survived those two stages," said Nutt.

The Porsche 911 crew took that advantage into Saturday's leg of four stages in the main Kielder complex and were able to control their pace to ensure a clear victory. Into a fine second place in the category, class B4 victory and the overall championship lead, went the Lotus Cortina of Paul Mankin/Desmond Bell. They had a clear run as Mankin arrived hot foot from a return holiday flight from Hong Kong, and finished a minute and a half down on Nutt.

Equally impressive was third overall in category one and B1 victory for the Sunbeam Imp Sport of Geoff Taylor/Steve Greenhill. They lost class rivals Gary and Jen Edgington when the Singer Chamois fell victim to a particularly rough section of stage two, The Valley. A rock damaged the engine bay and wrecked the carburettors and, despite a mighty effort, they were out of the rally.

Class B2 went to Mike Barratt/Jody Watson, another crew to suffer on the rough section of SS2 in the Mini Cooper, while Nick Pinkett/Jonathan Lodge claimed B3 in their V4-powered Saab 96.  

Category 2
Rupert Lomax/David Alcock set the category two pace throughout much of the rally in their Escort Mk1, but were denied victory by a rotor arm failure on the Pundershaw stage that opened Saturday's competition. They dropped 90 seconds changing the arm, but still clawed their way back to third at the finish.

Instead, it was Mason/Wild who bagged the spoils after coming close before and suffering a run of minor problems on recent events.

"It was probably the tidiest I've ever driven," said Mason after a controlled performance.  Staying clear of punctures helped their progress and category two victory was a just reward.

However, just 14s down on the Porsche was the best of the class C3 pack, the Escort Mk1 of Drew Wylie/Howard Pridmore. Once again, C3 proved to be one of the most competitive of all the classes and Wylie drove a storming event to finish 50s up on Tim Jones/Don James. However, after three stages Wylie was dead level with the Escort of Russell Morgan/Martin Kenyon. But Morgan went out with engine trouble in SS4 and Wylie was left with a clear run to class victory. "I was pleased about the company we were keeping," said Wylie.

Lomax/Alcock still took class C5, with second place going to Bob Bean/Malcolm Smithson on their first BHRC event with the ex-Jeremy Easson Escort Mk1. Easson and co-driver Alun Cook, meanwhile, took second in C4 with their Ford Capri RS3100 despite dramas with fuel vapourisation.

A great performance from Vince Bristow/Bob Duck secured a commanding class C2 in their Escort Mk1 as Matt Fowle/Steve Chapman and Richard Williams/Richard Ekin battled for second.  

Category 3
The formbook for category three was really shaken up on the opening two stages of Friday evening. Nick Elliott/Dave Price set the pace on the first stage to take an immediate lead, but slid off on the second stage and ended their rally in a ditch.

But things were not much better for Julian Reynolds/Ian Oakey in the battle of the Mk2 Escorts. They hit major gearbox problems on the first stage and struggled through to service for a change of 'box. However, overheating woes and an off on Saturday morning brought their rally to a halt.

Instead, Moon and Parsons were turning in a great performance and upped their pace on Saturday morning to build a lead they would hold all the way back to the finish in Carlisle. "That's the first time I've got three Kielder in three attempts," said Parsons.

But it was never easy for Moon as Seamus O'Connell and Mark Glennerster mounted a major charge on Saturday after dropping time on Friday's stages. At the finish the gap was just 15s after O'Connell set fastest time on the final two stages.

Third overall in category three and clear class D3 victory came after a stunning performance by championship newcomers Ryan Barrett and Barry Ferris in their Pinto-engined Escort Mk2. Despite not knowing the region at all, they absolutely flew through Saturday's stages. Second in D3 went to Richard Lane/Frank Richer.

Third in D5 was another good Kielder result for Dick Slaughter/Geoff Dearing, who stayed clear of James Potter/Arwel Jenkins in one of the best BHRC results to date for Potter.  

The BHRC action resumes with round three, the Seven Valley Historic Rally, on 30 May

Breen gets a grip at the Pirelli

Posted: April 20, 2009 8:29 PM

The third round of the Kick Energy Fiesta SportTrophy took place over the weekend at the Pirelli International Rally. Based in the border town of Carlisle, the event took in some of the most famous stages in the North of the country including tests in the largest man made forest complex in Europe, Kielder. The FST event was fought out over the first six stages of the event, approx 51 miles, including two stages on Friday evening.

At the conclusion of the FST event it was Craig Breen (18) from Waterford and navigator Gareth Roberts who would hold off the competition to take victory from nearest rivals Kyle Orr and Rob Fagg by 11.7 seconds. Craig would continue to compete in the International event in a bid to score BRC points, where he would end the day in a magnificent 10th overall, as well as first 2wd car home in the International event. The combination of his excellent performances during the day also caught the eyes of the Pirelli Star Driver competition judges and the young Irishman was awarded the famous yellow jersey which sees him gain a place in the end of year 2009 Star Driver shootout with a top prize of a fully funded drive in the BRC, the prize Adam Gould, another ex-Fiesta competitoris currently enjoying. Breen showed during the weekend that although a newcomer to the series he is proving to be quick and starting to attract the attention of some of the sports most important decision makers.

However, the FST victory was not an easy straight forward win for Breen. The event began on Friday night with 17 miles of stages. The first test for the crews was the 8.53 miles of Glen Dhu. The FST crews were split between the BRC event and the BRC Challenge event, with the BRC crews running first on the road it was still light as the leading entry, nineteen-year-old Kris Hall from Appleby, and stand in navigator for this event Barry McNulty started the test. It would however be disaster for the Round one winner, whilst cutting only the second corner of the stage he would sustain a puncture; Hall would drop over two minutes in the stage dropping him a long way down the order. Mark Donnelly (18) from Omagh and co-driver Paddy Robinson would take the early lead stopping the clocks on 9.40.7. Tom Walster (23) from Nottingham and regular navigator Tim Sturla had decided to enter the event in their Fiesta and showed they were still on the pace by putting in a time of 9.43.6, to take second quickest, Breen would take third quickest after being slowed by Hall’s dust. Meanwhile, in the BRC challenge event, Round 2 winner Matt Edwards (24) from Cockermouth would be first on the road and although running later during the evening and with the light fading and the lack of a recce he still set a time of 9.49.1, an impressive achievement which allowed him to stay in contention with the leaders. Further down the field some other crews were having tough times. Martyn Jones (22) from the Isle of Man and navigator Kris Killip hit a concrete bridge bending their rear axle dropping them time. Harry Hunt (20) from London and new navigator Steve McPhee, was feeling the pain of driving after falling off his motorbike only days before the event, the sustained injuries meant he was struggling to change gear and would drop time, although he was thoroughly enjoying the evening tests. Stevie Brown (21) from Peterhead and navigator Andrew Roughead had only third gear from the stage start after the gear cables came loose, although the crew would complete the opening leg but drop time in the process.

Crews next headed to the second stage of the event and the last of Friday night, 8.70 miles of the Valley. Breen would find his form on this stage and take the fastest time. Kyle Orr (19) from Dromore and co-driver Rob Fagg would showed their speed by taking second quickest with Donnelly taking third quickest only 1.5 seconds slower than Orr. Heading into the overnight halt the top three would be Breen, Donnelly and Orr.

The second day of the event saw the crews take in four stages in quick succession with no service between any of the tests. With clear blue skies the stages all based in the Kielder complex would be fast and exciting and ensure the competition in the FST remained close. Stage 3 of the event, the 6.98 miles of Pundershaw would see Walster take fastest time, two seconds quicker than Hall who was now under no pressure after losing time on the opening leg. Orr would be third quickest and in doing so close the gap to rally leader Breen. It would be a bad start to the day however for Donnelly, after lying second overall at the end of leg one, he would slide wide in the first stage and hit a rock bending the rear beam, with no chance to repair it he would have to tackle the next three stages with the car damaged, this would cause him to lose time on every stage and slip down the field as the day progressed.

The 8.30 miles of Trinket was the next test for the crews, the second test of the morning would see the demise of Kris Hall, after getting into a rhythm he slid wide on a corner and off the road, the resulting damage to the underside of the car meant it forced his retirement and he would not score points for the rally. Orr would improve his pace further and score his first fastest time of the day and with this move into the lead of the event. Walster would take second fastest with Breen third. Barry Greer (21) from Carryduff and navigator Susanne Wright (sister of Irish FST runner Stephen Wright) set fourth quickest time, the Irish pairing having a good run on the fast stages. Edwards was comfortably leading the Challenge rally and the main competitor pushing the BRC runners, but he would pick up a puncture during the stage and lose 30s.

The penultimate stage of the rally was the longest in length, 11.57 miles of Roughside. The stage would see the lead once again change with Orr setting joint third quickest time with Walster. Edwards would be second quickest - back up to speed after his time loss on the previous stage but Breen would take the stage win and move back into the lead to enter the final stage with a 3.8 second cushion over Orr. It was looking like it could be a close finish to the event. Meanwhile, this stage would see the retirement of the second FST crew of the day, Neil Coalter (26) from Peterculter and co-driver Hannah Cessford, after setting good times in the challenge event and looking for their first points of the season the crew were caught out and slid off the road, they were unable to get back onto the stage and were forced to retire, an unfortunate end to their event.

All that now remained for the FST crews was the final 7.26 miles of Chirdonhead. Edwards knew he was not in contention for the win going into the final stage of the event but was desperate to try and get on the podium, however, whilst pushing hard he was caught out and sent him off the road and into a bog, a concerted effort by the crew and spectators got them going again but he lost around 22 minutes and all hopes of a good haul of championship points - a disappointing end for the youngster who was also comfortably leading the Challenge event overall at the time. Back with the International runners Breen knew that Orr was very close behind so he gave it his all and was rewarded, coming out of the stage with the fastest time and the event win, Walster would be second quickest on the stage and finish third FST crew overall and Orr would be third quickest on the stage but finish second overall in the final classification, his best finish so far this year.

Away from the podium, other crews had a successful day. Donnelly continued even with his damage and finished a respectable fourth overall. Ross Forde (25) from Galway and navigator Gary McElhinney completed the event with no dramas and set some promising times during the event to finish fifth overall. Patrick Malley (24) from New Zealand and co-driver Malcolm Read got to the end of their first UK event, happy that they had completed the mileage. John Boyd (22) from West Linton and co-driver Fred Bell are improving with every event and finished 10th in the FST as well as third overall in the BRC Challenge event, whilst Tom Watson (18) from Glanamman was very pleased to finish another event, and quoted he had got on far better with his new navigator Ken Bowman - hopefully it will be the start of a successful relationship. The final FST crew to finish were Jamie Brown (17) from Norwich and Craig Burgess, Brown is only competing on his second ever rally, after admitting he loved the night stages he saw off a couple of big moments during Saturday to bring home his car 14th overall FST.

As Breen celebrated his FST win, himself as well as Walster, Orr, Forde, Greer, Jones and Malley went out to continue with the remainder of the International event. With all these crews completing the event and scoring BRC points as well as Craig becoming top 2wd car and Pirelli star driver nominee, the FST had six crews in the top 20 of the International event, a superb achievement and a great end to the third round of the series.

The next round of the championship moves away from the BRC format for one event for the RSAC Scottish Rally on the 26th June.

Event Winner, Craig Breen, said:
“I am over the moon. To win in Portugal (the Fiesta SportTrophy International class, on the Rallye de Portugal), win (the Fiesta SportTrophy Ireland round) on the Circuit of Ireland and now come to here to England and win again, what more could I ask for? It was an incredible day. But as I was being presented with my Fiesta awards, I was suddenly called to the interview area and was then presented with the Pirelli Star Driver award for the Rally! To say that I’m absolutely shocked about this is an understatement. I never expected to win the International, Irish and British Fiesta rounds one after another - but to then win the Pirelli Star Driver as well, was the icing on the cake”

- Craig Breen was selected as the Pirelli Star Driver award for the event, giving him the chance to win a fully funded drive in the 2010 BRC.

Breen conquers Kielder...

Posted: April 20, 2009 8:21 PM

Craig Breen further underlined his credentials as Ireland’s brightest rallying hope with his third victory in as many events last weekend (17/18 April).

The 19 year-old sealed his latest victory in the dramatic setting of the Kielder Forest in Northumberland, England.

The Pirelli International Rally played host to the third round of the Kick Energy Fiesta Sport Trophy, and after a gearbox failure put him out of the first round and cost him vital points, Craig needed a strong result if he was to get his title bid back on track.

Things didn’t quite go to plan when on the opening day, Craig and his co-driver, Gareth Roberts were hampered by the clouds of dust kicked up by fellow title protagonist, Kris Hall, “We were running second on the road, and soon into the first stage we got caught behind Kris limping along with a puncture. That cost us 10 seconds trying to get past him,” Craig explained.

He was able to make up for the lost time on the second stage and give himself a 6 second lead in the Fiesta class and 13th overall.

Last week, the young pair had a spectacular roll which destroyed their car whilst pushing hard for overall points in the Circuit of Ireland rally and as the rally moved to the daunting Kielder stages, Craig admitted, “The forest there is not great for confidence building, I can tell you! I was still feeling the effects of last weekend’s off, and to be honest I was nowhere near committed enough on the fast stuff.”

This cost the duo time and their lead was cut to just two seconds. But - needing to dig deep - Craig responded by attacking the following two stages. His advantage was not only restored, but extended - “At this point of the rally, the Fiesta Sport Trophy finished, so we won by fifteen seconds. We were over the moon. To win in Portugal (the Fiesta Sport Trophy International class, on the Rallye de Portugal), win (the Fiesta Sport Ireland round) on the Circuit of Ireland and now come to here to England and win again, what more could I ask for?"

However, with little time to reflect on, or bask in the glory of their victory, Breen and Roberts jumped straight back in their fast Ford in a bid to score more British Rally Championship points.

Craig explains, “We were locked in a battle with fellow Irishman, Marty McCormack for the top two- wheel drive honours. Unfortunately, we lost 9 seconds to him on Special Stage 7 but it looked like it was ‘game on’, all the same. Sadly, proceedings were brought to a halt on the following stage when a car caught fire and burnt to the ground, causing the cancellation of stages eight, nine and ten. We headed back to the service area, with two hard stages to go. On stage eleven, we put ourselves one second ahead of Marty and I was really looking forward to going for a good go at it in the remaining stages!”

Two stunning stints behind the wheel in the remaining two stages saw Craig and Gareth classified 10th overall, the first two-wheel drive crew and finish first in the R3 class.

Craig said, “It was an incredible day. But as I was being presented with my Fiesta awards, I was suddenly called to the interview area and was then presented with the Pirelli Star Driver award for the Rally! This accolade puts me into a shootout with every other winner of the award over the season, and if I win I will receive a fully-funded drive in the British Rally Championship in a top of the range Group N car.”

He added, “To say that I’m absolutely shocked is an understatement. I never expected to win the International, Irish and British Fiesta rounds one after another - but to then win the Pirelli Star Driver as well, was the icing on the cake."

Craig’s next event is the Killarney Rally – the third round of the Irish Fiesta Sporting Trophy Championship, on the 1 - 3 May.


Posted: April 20, 2009 7:03 PM

Saltash rally driver Alan Cookson and London co driver Julian Wilkinson survived an encounter with a cavernous Kielder Forest ditch to reach the finish of the Pirelli Tour of Cumbria in a battling sixteenth place today.

Driving the Robert Wiseman Dairies, Kick Energy, GillettsSpar.com, Kumho Tyres, Riverside Property Services and Olverelectrical.com supported Subaru WRC, the pair went off on one of the day's early stages where they remained in the ditch for over twenty minutes.

Thinking their rally was over, they were surprised when one of the competitors on the Land Rover Rally, which followed the main event, kindly stopped and towed 'Daisy' out of the ditch allowing the pair to continue albeit well down the order and within a minute of going OTL.

Intent on scoring points in his bid for class honours in the 2009 Pirelli MSA Gravel Rally Championship, Cookson nursed his battle-scarred car to the finish and in doing so claimed valuable points for the eleventh placed registered competitor which sees him still lead his class.

"God save the Army and all who sail in her!" quipped the Cornwall driver. "We used up all our luck so it was just a case of bringing the car home and salvaging as many points as possible. We have to say a massive thank you to Steve Partridge and Adam Entwhistle for stopping and pulling us out. It's free beer for them tonight!"

Alan will next be in action on the Manx Telecom Rally which takes place on the Isle of Man on 8th/9th May.


Posted: April 20, 2009 7:01 PM

Kick Energy rally driver Steve Perez scored his second successive podium with a battling third place in today's Pirelli Tour of Cumbria which comprised the third round of the 2009 Pirelli MSA Gravel Rally Championship.

Driving the Ford Focus WRC along with Welsh co driver Paul Spooner, the pair were tackling the infamous Kielder stages once more and at the first service halt held second place overall behind defending ANCRO Champion Marcus Dodd.

Keen to secure important points to maintain his title bid the Chesterfield driver brought the new Kick Energy drink branded car home without any problems in a safe third place but such was the intensity of the competition that he finished just ten seconds behind eventual winner Dodd and five behind second placed driver Paul Bird.

"Once again it was so close at the top and I have to say well done to both Marcus and Paul today as they drove really well. I'm happy enough with a podium and we had no major problems with the car other than hitting a chicane late on so there's nothing to report really. It took me a while to get used to driving the car again as I've spent a lot of time in my Lancia Stratos recently so maybe that had an effect on me."

Perez will next be in Pirelli MSA Gravel Rally Championship action on the Manx Telecom Rally which takes place on the Isle of Man on 8th/9th May.


Posted: April 20, 2009 7:00 PM

Penrith rally driver Paul Bird saw his hopes of victory on the Pirelli Tour of Cumbria fall just short after a scintillating performance on round three of the 2009 Pirelli MSA Gravel Rally Championship in Kielder Forest today.

Driving the Vent Axia, Kick Energy, www.supercasino.com backed Ford Focus WRC on his local event, Bird and Northallerton co driver Ian Windress were leading having set fastest time on the opening three stages in the dry and dusty conditions.

However the pair overshot a chicane on the Chirdonhead stage which cost them over 50 seconds but despite an incredible fight back which included setting fastest times on all four stages of the second loop Bird fell an agonising 4.6 seconds short of victory.

His pain wasn't eased when a stage was cancelled meaning he had less opportunity to claw back the lost time so had to settle for runner-up spot and with it important points in the Championship.

"I'm disappointed to miss out on the win but I have to say that's the best I've ever driven," said Bird who was celebrating his 42nd birthday on the Carlisle-based event. "The stall coupled with having no launch control on the final three stages didn't help but now I feel at home in the car and I'm delighted to have set fastest time on all of the stages bar one. Roll on the Manx and we'll see what we can do on tarmac!"

The Manx Telecom Rally takes place on 8th/9th May on the Isle of Man but in the meantime Bird will venture to Assen where his Kawaski World Superbike team will be in action next weekend.


Posted: April 20, 2009 6:59 PM

Carlisle racecourse has witnessed many a grandstand finish in its time but little was the impressive base of the Pirelli Tour of Cumbria expecting one on round three of the 2009 Pirelli MSA Gravel Rally Championship, but that's exactly what happened as just ten seconds separated the leading three drivers.

Defending ANCRO Champion Marcus Dodd and co driver Andrew Bargery (Hyundai Accent WRC) edged out local aces Paul Bird and Ian Windress (Ford Focus WRC) as well as another ex-champion Steve Perez with his co driver Paul Spooner but that didn't tell the dramatic story of the rally as Dodd suffered throughout the event with a gearbox problem and the erstwhile leader Bird lost nearly a minute when he overshot a chicane on the opening loop. Try as he might, despite setting fastest time on all stages bar one, Bird couldn't quite reel Dodd in and at the end fell just 4.6 seconds short of victory.

Perez for his part, toiled hard in the unseasonably warm and dusty conditions for his third place in his Ford Focus WRC and gained more important points, but had to concede defeat on this occasion to his title rivals in the dauntingly fast tracks of Kielder Forest.

"We had a problem with the gearbox from the very first stage and struggled with it all day as we had no actuator (paddle shift). We backed off on the long stages to try and save the tyres and then we noticed an oil leak on the final stage which luckily turned out to be the dipstick. I'm delighted with the victory and with a second successive ANCRO win especially with the likes of Paul and Steve behind me" said Dodd.

Behind the leading trio, the battle for Group N honours in the Mitsubishi Ralliart Evo Challenge intensified with Welshman Simon Hughes getting the better of flu-ridden Irishman Daniel Barry and England's Nik Elsmore meaning at the head of the series, Barry's lead was cut to just two points going into the next round on the Isle of Man, but with drivers still having to drop scores by the end of the Championship the battle is still wide open.

Owen Murphy came home in seventh place ahead of top Mintex Two-Wheel Drive competitor Steve Bannister (Ford Escort Mk II) with Alan Cookson claming eleventh place points overall after getting stuck in a ditch in his Subaru WRC. The Cornwall driver saw the Army come to his rescue when a competitor in the Land Rover Challenge stopped to tow him out.

The next round of the championship sees the Manx Telecom Rally take place on the Isle of Man on 8th/9th May and will see all the leading crews battle it out on the only tarmac event of the season.

Cronin snatches Pirelli victory on final stage

Posted: April 20, 2009 6:57 PM

With their car totally destroyed by fire, the retirement of Guy Wilks/Phil Pugh left another titanic fight between Keith Cronin/Gregg Shinnors and Mark Higgins/Bryan Thomas for victory on the Pirelli International Rally. The penultimate stage saw Cronin take 7.8 seconds off Higgins’ 10.2 second lead at the final service, leaving another nail biting final stage in prospect.

As the results finally came through, there was a cheer from the crowd gathered around the computer terminal at rally HQ, Cronin and Shinnors taking their second successive victory in their debut season in the MSA British Rally Championship. [AUDIO]

The winning margin was just two seconds, the 22 year-old Irish driver snatching 4.4 from Pirelli TEG Sport driver Higgins on the 8.7 mile Valley stage. [AUDIO] The winning margin is even closer than on round one back in March, where Cronin stopped the clocks nine seconds before Higgins.

After Phillip and Simon Morrow's excellent run ended stuck in a Kielder ditch, Team JRM Lico’s David Bogie/Kevin Rae took an excellent third place in their nearly new Mitsubishi Evo 10, [AUDIO] having only driven their 2008 Evo Challenge prize once before. Nearly a minute and a half back from the leading pair, the young Scot headed Northern Ireland’s Alastair Fisher by a mere 1.8 seconds.

The newcomer to four wheel drive had multiple BRC Champion Rory Kennedy alongside, the pair incredibly close to taking third overall, having taken eighteen seconds off Bogie in the final test.

Jonathan Greer and Anthony O’Conaill were happy enough with their progress on the rally, although slightly disappointed that they were pipped for fourth by Fisher. The pair might struggle to make the next round though, as the team has several cars hired out overseas and may be short of manpower.

Dave Weston Junior re-united with regular co-driver Dave Robson for the event, taking sixth place behind Greer. The young Scot declared it a good weekend overall with more miles under his belt in the new car, although still struggling on the faster sections.

Icelandic Rally Champion Daniel Siguardason managed seventh place in Stuart Jones’ brand new Evo 10, the amiable character also using Jones’ co-driver Andy Bull. The car looked slightly second hand at the finish though, after he put it on its side, not losing too much time on his preferred gravel surface.

One of several newcomers to the British Rally Championship, Chris Firth, set some good times and thoroughly enjoyed the event in his older spec Subaru. The only damage to the car caused when a marshal misunderstood a request to re-affix a flapping bumper, instead trying to remove it completely.

(Coverage from round 2 of the MSA British Rally Championship, the Pirelli International Rally, will be on Sky Sports 3 on Monday 20th April at 8pm. For full TV listings click HERE)

MSA British Teams’ Rally Championship
Bogie’s result coupled with his stand-in team-mate Siguardason seventh place means that Team JRM Lico overhaul Pirelli TEG Sport to lead the MSA British Teams’ Rally Championship by eleven points. TEG driver and reigning Pirelli Star Driver Adam Gould’s retirement meant only Higgins scored, but the team still remain ahead of Revolution Wheels.
Rob Swann opened their 2009 account after swapping to an older specification car, as his N14 is being shipped to Barbados shortly after the Pirelli. His team-mate Euan Thorburn failed to score after an oil pipe caused a small fire, ending his rally.

BRC Classes and Cups

Rally 3 & MSA British Junior Rally Championship
It was a successful rally for the Irish, Craig Breen and his Welsh co-driver joining Cronin on the top podium step for their excellent Rally 3 class win. Not only did the youngster fend off all other two wheel drive opposition, but he secured victory in the Fiesta Sport Trophy earlier in the day when the BRC Challenge finished at lunch time. [AUDIO]

Not content with these two feats, he took the final top ten position overall in the BRC and with it the top MSA Junior points too, moving him into the lead of the prestigious category. His fantastic result attracted the attention of the Pirelli Star Driver judges and he adds another Irish flag to the list of finalists in the BRC’s Pirelli Star Driver final; the winner of which will take a fully funded drive in the 2010 British Rally Championship.

After a stunning drive by Finnish ace Matti Rantanen was cut short with a crash earlier on, it was an all Fiesta Rally 3 podium; Kyle Orr and Rob Fagg taking runner up spot in the two litre BRC class. They struggled on the final stages, but the fuel pump maladies were not enough to drop them into the clutches of Manxmen Martyn Jones and Kris Killip, who ended the day pleased with their gains in confidence.

Rally 2 & Citroën Racing Trophy
In an almost all Irish clean Sweep, the Northern Irish had a look in as well in the form of Marty McCormack. He and co-driver Phil Clarke took victory in both Rally 2 and the Citroën Racing Trophy, enduring huge amounts of dust inside the car to cruise to a four minute lead at the finish in Carlisle. [AUDIO]

Mark Gamble/Steve Link’s car sounded decidedly unhealthy at the finish, the exhaust that had been threatening to fall off all day eventually letting go on the penultimate stage. The cheerful Wolverhampton driver was pleased with his performance despite the problems, stating that being reasonably close to the higher spec Max Kit cars was encouraging.

Jason Pritchard took third in both categories, his excellent pace on Saturday negated by spending over half an hour in a ditch on stage two of the rally. Thankfully for the Welshman, International timing meant he stayed in the rally, but he occupies the very last finisher’s place in the BRC taking 30th overall.

Rally 1 & Swift Sport Cup
The only non Suzuki in the Rally 1 class within the BRC is the Civic of another Irishmen Joseph McGonigle and Patrick Brides. It was looking like an Irish whitewash until the pair spent seven minutes in a Kielder ditch on the second of Saturday’s stages.

This left the battle for Swift Sport Cup and Rally 1 honours the same, Luke Pinder & Peter Scott having pulled clear of the chasing Suzukis on the four stages. Unfortunately he went off on stage six, leaving the way clear for another scrap between Australia and the UK West Midlands. Aussie Molly Taylor and Jemma Bellingham traded times with Richard Sykes/Simon Taylor right up to the penultimate Kershope test, where the Midlander had an engine mount break.

Taylor was certainly surprised to take the class win for the second time [AUDIO], 22 year-old Manxman David Harrison delighted to be elevated to second with his co-driver Glyn Thomas after rear suspension problems. Gordon Nichol & Emma Morrison overcame problems with their notes again to take third, McGonigle eventually finishing fourth.

Diesel Rally Cup
To further add to the Irish theme on the Pirelli International Rally, Lancashire domiciled Irishman Fin McCaul recovered after poor stages on Friday to overhaul diesel rivals Steve and Tony Graham. His win was all the more pleasing as he couldn't understand his lack of early pace and needed the points after a non-finish in Wales. [AUDIO]

To Listen to Audio Clips go to:


Posted: April 20, 2009 6:56 PM

Full Results

Posted: April 20, 2009 6:41 PM

1 Keith Cronin /Greg Shinnors (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) 1:10:17.7
2 Mark Higgins /Bryan Thomas (Subaru Impreza N11) 1:10:19.7
3 David Bogie /Kevin Rae (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 10) 1:11:46.7
4 Alastair Fisher /Rory Kennedy (Mitsubushi EVO 9) 1:11:48.5
5 Jonathan Greer /Antony O'Conaill (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) 1:12:00.7
6 David Weston Jnr /Dave Robson (Subaru Impreza N14) 1:12:20.5
7 Daniel Siguardason /Andy Bull (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10) 1:14:56.8
8 Chris Firth /Martyn Taylor (Subaru Impreza N10) 1:16:17.8
9 Max Utting /Katie Blake (Subaru Impreza N12B) 1:16:38.0
10 Craig Breen /Gareth Roberts (Ford Fiesta ST) 1:17:17.3

Leaders After:
SS1-7 Guy Wilks/Phil Pugh (Proton Satria Neo S2000)
SS8-11 Mark Higgins /Bryan Thomas (Subaru Impreza N11)

Stage Winners
SS1 Guy Wilks/Phil Pugh (Proton Satria Neo S2000)
SS2 Guy Wilks/Phil Pugh (Proton Satria Neo S2000)
SS3 Guy Wilks/Phil Pugh (Proton Satria Neo S2000)
SS4 Guy Wilks/Phil Pugh (Proton Satria Neo S2000)
SS5 Mark Higgins /Bryan Thomas (Subaru Impreza N11)
SS6 Keith Cronin /Greg Shinnors (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9)
SS7 Keith Cronin /Greg Shinnors (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9)
SS8 Cancelled
SS9 Cancelled
SS10 Cancelled
SS11 Keith Cronin /Greg Shinnors (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9)
SS12 Keith Cronin /Greg Shinnors (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9)

Tour of Cumbria
1 Marcus Dodd/Andrew Bargery - Hyundai Accent WRC - 0:49:45.2
2 Paul Bird/Ian Windress - Ford Focus WRC - 0:49:49.8
3 Steve Perez/Paul Spooner - Ford Focus WRC - 0:49:55.5
4 Simon Hughes/Craig Parry - Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 - 0:51:07.8
5 Daniel Barry/Martin Brady - Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9- 0:51:44.7
6 Nik Elsmore/Craig Drew - Mitsubishi Evo9 - 0:52:06.4
7 Owen Murphy/Dai Roberts - Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 0:53:32.7
8 Steve Bannister/Louise Sutherland - Ford Escort II - 0:56:00.7
9 Jeff McNeil/Fred Roberts - Subaru Impreza - 0:56:25.7
10 Harry Dodd/Richard Skinner - Hyundai Accent WRC - 0:56:41.5
Results Files:

Swift Sport Cup poised for Pirelli

Posted: April 16, 2009 2:04 PM

After the ding-dong battle at the front of the Swift Sport Cup on round one, Australian Molly Taylor and local co-driver Jemma Bellingham will head the field on round two this weekend, on the Pirelli International Rally.  

The event saw the debut of the Swift one-make series within the MSA British Rally Championship in 2008 and for the new season there is a ruck of new competitors to challenge for the overall title. Taylor contested one event last year, the only other crew with Swift experience being Gordon Nichol & Emma Morrison, who currently lie third in the series.  

That said it was Richard Sykes & Simon Taylor who made the fight with the Aussie at the front so spectacular in Wales, before transmission problems sidelined them on the very last stage of the rally. No doubt the Midlander will want to continue that battle in the Kielder forests.  

2008 Pirelli Star Driver finalist Luke Pinder and new co-driver Peter Scott inherited second after Sykes’ demise, gamely fighting a car with a broken rear shock absorber for the whole event. The Yorkshireman should have resolved the handling problem for the tough test ahead, particularly as the crews will all have to contend with darkness on Friday night on top of the fast challenging stages.  

Nichol’s new pacenote system was undoubtedly a contributing factor to the crew’s first round uncharacteristic performance. So he and Morrison will be making absolutely sure that the recce of the stages on Friday morning goes perfectly.  

The move from BRC Challenge to the main International events, means that 2008 BRCC Champion David Harrison has plenty to learn. Longer events plus recce on the gravel rallies now means he and Glyn Thomas need to put their 2008 Rally GB class winning experience to good use; stamina being required for this season.  

Another newcomer to the BRC is Nick Everard. He and co-driver Chris Davies effectively start from scratch on the Pirelli International, having retired on the first stage on the Bulldog. The non finish so early meant they couldn't gauge their stage times and will need good night vision to keep in touch with the pack on Friday.  

To assist all of the competitors they will be using PIAA lamps to help cut through the darkness of the opening stages, the lighting manufacturer supporting the series with an end of season prize fund for the highest placed Junior driver.  

The Pirelli International Rally gets underway from its base at Carlisle racecourse on Friday 17th April at 6pm. Over a hundred stage miles then stand between the competitors and the finish back at the racecourse at around 7.45 on Saturday evening.

Cronin Motorsport – The Battle Resumes…

Posted: April 16, 2009 1:20 PM

Cronin Motorsport venture across the Irish Sea again this week to compete in the 2nd round of The British Rally Championship, the Carlisle based Pirelli International Rally. This is another trip into un-chartered waters for the team as they have never competed on this event before. They do so, however, in the most enviable of positions as they currently lead the Championship after victory on the first round.

More Details:

JR Motorsports Team gets set for Kielder challenge

Posted: April 16, 2009 1:17 PM

The JR Motorsports team will be heading to Carlisle this weekend to contest the second round of the MSA British Rally Championship, the Pirelli International Rally, which takes place on the infamous gravel roads of Kielder Forest on Friday and Saturday 17th & 18th April.

Driven by David Bogie and co-driven by Kevin Rae, hopes are high that an improvement on the opening round’s fifth place can be achieved, as the team’s Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X has undergone a series of tests and technical changes since the Bulldog Rally in March.

Success on the Pirelli Rally is nothing unusual for the team, as cars built by the same engineers recorded outright victories in both 2007 and 2009. JRM are now targeting the same level of performance with the Evo X and are confident that with further development its full potential will soon be realised.

Already the team are delighted with the feedback received from Bogie and others who have driven the car, all reporting that the handling and brakes are excellent. Therefore, attention is now being focussed on extracting more power and torque from the engine.

“With the development that’s been carried out on the car since the Bulldog Rally, I’m confident we will be able to increase our pace”, said David. “Although I’ve not competed on the Pirelli Rally before, I like the long fast stages that are synonymous with Kielder and I think that the Evo X will be well suited. I’m therefore looking forward to getting back into the car and seeing if we can get on terms with the front-runners.”

Adding further interest to its BRC campaign, JR Motorsports has joined forces with the Lico sponsored Mitsubishi team, which on this event sees Daniel Sigurdarson behind the wheel of a brand-new Evo X. The Icelandic Rally Champion will be co-driven by Andy Bull, who partnered Stuart Jones on last month’s Bulldog Rally. Following round one, Team JRM Lico lies second in the Team’s Championship standings.

Starting a finishing at Carlisle Racecourse, the Pirelli International Rally gets underway at 6.00pm on Friday evening and sees two stages before the overnight halt. A further 10 stages take place on Saturday, the total of which provides the field of 44 cars with a total competitive distance of 102 miles.

JR Motorsports’ 2009 British Rally Championship campaign is supported by: Oakbank Services, Exe-tc competition suspension, Lico,

Fast and Famous Kielder Faces the Fiestas

Posted: April 14, 2009 9:17 PM

The second round of the Kick Energy Fiesta SportTrophy takes place next weekend at the Pirelli International Rally. Crews head to the border town of Carlisle for the event, which again will utilise the FST’s dual format for the second time this year. With the option of entering either the National event or the International event crews can score points in the BRC Challenge or the BRC as well as the FST.

18 registered Fiesta ST’s will take to the start of the event, with ten crews entering the International event and the remaining eight competing in the BRC challenge event. The Challenge event will see the competitors tackle 51 miles over 6 stages in some of the most iconic forests in the north of the UK including the infamous Kielder complex and Kershope Forest. The International event covers 12 demanding stages of the event giving the crews 102 miles of exciting stages. The FST results will be declared at the end of the Challenge event (stage 6) Both events give the added experience of night stages on Friday evening, an added spectacle not often seen in modern day rallying.

Championship leader Matt Edwards (24) from Cockermouth will lead the challenge crews away from Carlisle Racecourse with regular navigator Andy Murphy. Edwards won the second round of the FST with an impressive performance on his only second ever event in a Fiesta ST. Edwards will again be trying to take home a winning trophy and prove that the added bonus of a recce that the International competitors are eligible to complete is not always the advantage it can be perceived to be.

Stevie Brown (21) from Peterhead and navigator Andrew Roughead, have decided to enter the shorter event for this round, after a difficult start to the year Stevie will be looking to get back onto the podium after his round one overall win during the 2008 series.

John Boyd (22) from West Linton and navigator Fred Bell make a return for their first attempt at night stages and after a promising finish on the Bulldog, 11th overall in the FST and 3rd overall in the Challenge event he will look to improve further in his first season in the Fiesta ST.

Harry Hunt (20) from London, was recently involved in a quad bike accident and will come to the event after taking some time to recover. Hunt, who is also in his first year of the championship, and also first year of rallying altogether is making good progress. After a continued testing programme and competing in as many rallies as possible to gain valuable seat time, the youngster has his aims set on scoring a podium position as soon as possible.

Robert Barrable (21) from Dublin, was setting promising times on the previous round of the series, the first time out in his newly acquired car, however an off on put an end to an ideal start in the series, something he will be keen to rectify on this event.

Neil Coalter (26) from Peterculter and co-driver Hannah Cessford have had an unlucky start to the season with two retirements on the first two rounds. The pairing are desperate for their first finish and to get some points on the board to try and get their championship attack back on target.

The final two drivers in the Challenge section of the rally are Tom Watson (18) from Glanamman, and Jamie Brown (17) from Norwich. Watson and Brown are both newcomers to the series and with very little rally experience under their belts they are both using this season to work on their pace with both having the main aim of getting to the end of the event.

The remainder of the crews in the event are entered in the International Rally. With the added stage mileage crews will be looking to score not only FST event points but also BRC championship points. The first of the runners in the field is Kris Hall (19) from Appleby, Cumbria and stand in navigator for this event, Barry McNulty. Hall had an off par event on Round 2 of the series after suffering a puncture and hitting a gate post, after struggling to keep up with Edwards the best he could manage was fourth. He will hope to repeat his Round one performance at the event with his second podium top spot of the year.

Second in this event is Craig Breen (18) from Waterford and navigator Gareth Roberts. With Breen freshly returning from Portugal, the fourth round of the WRC, where he finished 25th Overall as well as first in class, and first FST competitor in the Fiesta SportTrophy International series as well as first overall on the second round of the Irish series, The Circuit of Ireland Breen will hope the Pirelli will bring him as much luck and present him with his first win on UK soil.

After quoting “I miss the championship too much” Tom Walster (23) from Nottingham has decided to enter the series as a one off whilst his new rally car is on the way to an event in Belgium. Walster has been a regular in the series since its inception and is vastly experienced in the car; he could well be a wild card during the event and one to watch in trying to upset the regular runners.

The Irish contingency remains strong on the event with Mark Donnelly (17) from Omagh and co-driver Paddy Robinson, Kyle Orr (19) from Dromore and navigator Rob Fagg, Billy Coleman Award Winner Ross Forde (25) from Galway with navigator Gary McElhinney and Barry Greer (21) from Carryduff. Donnelly finished second overall on the Circuit of Ireland rally last weekend and set overall fastest stage times on his way, with such a short space of time between events Donnelly will aim to be in the same frame of mind and repeat his recent performance. Orr meanwhile has had a good solid start to the UK FST series. With a third on round one and a fourth on round two he lies fourth overall in the series and will hope to creep higher up the standings this weekend. Forde is only starting to get to grips with the ST and will aim to gain more valuable miles in the car this weekend whilst improving on his sixth overall on round two. Greer has also had a steady start to the season and will want to continue this during the Pirelli.

Stefan Davis from Aylesford had a troubled run on the second round of the series but managed to battle through the field to finish 15th overall. After leading the first round of the series on the Malcolm Wilson rally before unfortunately retiring he will look to get back to the front of the field in the fast Kielder forest tracks.

Manx Motorsport Youth Trust Driver Martyn Jones (22) and navigator Kris Killip suffered an off on round two which dropped them down the running order but have the potential speed to be among the top runners.

The final entrants to the event are New Zealander’s Patrick Malley (24) from Auckland and co-driver Malcolm Read. The pairing make another mammoth trip over to the UK to compete and will hope to get further than their first stage retirement on round two.

The Kick Energy FST UK has a prize fund in excess of £18,000, with £750 for the winner of each round down to £75 for eighth place.

Championship Leader, Matt Edwards, said:
“We are obviously very happy with the start we have made to the season in a new car, and delighted to be leading the two championships we are contesting. Kielder is a daunting place at the best of times, so its going to be an immense experience to tackle it for the first time as my first ever night stage as well! Our main goal really is to still be leading both series by the end of the rally, so it maybe that we do not need to push for a win as the key to a good result here is going to be staying out of trouble.”

Citroëns ready for Pirelli's tough test

Posted: April 14, 2009 8:22 PM

As winner of the opening round of the Citroën Racing Trophy UK just over two weeks ago, 2008 Citroën C2R2 Cup Champion Jason Pritchard will head the four pocket rockets off the line for round two of the MSA British Rally Championship, the Pirelli International Rally this Friday.  

Having missed last year’s event with a broken foot and changed co-driver from his Championship winning year, the Welsh youngster and new team-mate Andrew Edwards will need to be on the ball to fend off the other three drivers, all of whom contested the rally last year.  

In common with Pritchard, the Pirelli winner in ’08 Andrew Hockridge has also changed co-driver, the second Welsh driver in the series gelling quickly mid-way through last year with Rich Mills. The duo languishes at the foot of the C2 points table though, after struggling on the series opener when the car was involved in a pre-rally accident.  

Irishman Marty McCormack is another with a new co-driver for this year, Phil Clarke guiding the pair to second place on round one. McCormack will want to forget the 2008 season opener though, when a broken gear-linkage on the first stage left him in third at the finish.  

The only driver and co-driver pairing still together is that of Mark Gamble and Steve Link, but the Midlanders have a rather different new challenge for this year’s Pirelli Rally. New to the BRC in ’08 they contested what was then the season’s first event in a Suzuki, taking that one-make series with a round in hand. But the Pirelli was not their best event, retiring with fuel problems while leading.  

Despite only three of the drivers using the new C2 Max Kit, all are eligible for the Citroën Racing Trophy UK’s fantastic prize fund, Gamble given dispensation to upgrade on the first asphalt round. It will still be a hard-fought battle in the infamous Kielder forest complex though, Friday’s stages running into darkness with a full day’s rallying on Saturday too.  

The event takes place on Friday & Saturday 17th & 18th April and is based entirely at Carlisle’s racecourse to the south of the City. TV coverage of the Citroën Racing Trophy UK from Bulldog International Rally North Wales will be shown on Sky Sports’ Max Power programme today at 19.00 and tomorrow (Wednesday) at 23.00.  

The C2R2 Cup and Citroën Racing Trophy UK are supported by Charles Hurst Motors’ Citroën Parts Direct and Citroën UK.

Evo Challenge heads to Kielder Forest for the second time this season.

Posted: April 14, 2009 8:19 PM

The third round of the 2009 UK Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge sees competitors head to Kielder Forest for the second time in as many events, the Pirelli Tour of Cumbria on 18th April utilising a different part of the massive man-made forest on the Scottish Borders from that of last month’s round two, the Border Counties Rally.

Top-seeds in the Evo Challenge line-up are twice-winners this season, Daniel Barry and co-driver Martin Brady. Although having recorded a 100% success rate so far, the Irish pair are not taking a third win for granted as the competition has been so close, added to which Kielder Forest can often throw a curved-ball into the equation.

Next to cross the start-line will be Simon Hughes/Craig Parry, who’s previous pace suggests that a win is on the cards before too long. They are eager to record their first Evo Challenge victory in order to keep their title hopes on track.

Following the tragic death of their Chief Engineer Rex Paddock in a Microlite crash last week, Nik Elsmore/Craig Drew will start the event in sombre mood, but are determined to continue rallying and do the best they can in honour of their much respected team member.

Getting quicker by the mile are number four seeds Owen Murphy/Dai Roberts. Currently third in the championship, they are another crew who are in contention for the top-spot and are destined to be challenging for the lead this weekend.

Fresh from finishing second in the Irish Evo Challenge last week, Alan Carmichael/Ivor Lamont are the next Mitsubishi crew to start. This event will see the UK debut for their new Lancer Evolution IX, which has already proved quicker than their old car on asphalt and will now be put to the test on gravel.

Starting and finishing from Carlisle Racecourse, the Pirelli Tour of Cumbria features eight timed special stages and a competitive distance of just under 70 miles. As well as the third round of the Evolution Challenge, the event also hosts round three of the MSA Gravel Rally Championship and sees an entry of 20 cars - the Mitsubishi series representing 25% of the National A category field. The event also includes an international section which features round two of the MSA British Rally Championship.

The 2009 Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge is supported by Mitsubishi Motors UK, Ralliart, Pirelli tyres, Sunoco fuels, JR Motorsports, Speedline Corse wheels, Carbone Lorraine brakes, Walkinshaw Performance, Sparco racewear and PIAA lights - who sponsor the junior award for under 25-year old drivers.

Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge entries (in start number order)
304 Daniel Barry (Enniskerry)/Martin Brady (Navan)
305 Simon Hughes (Abergle)/Craig Parry (Llanymynech)
307 Nik Elsmore (Coleford)/Craig Drew (Bream)
308 Owen Murphy (Cork)/Dai Roberts (Carmarthen)  
          309 Alan Carmichael(Ballymena)/Ivor Lamont (Ballymena)


Posted: April 14, 2009 7:13 PM

Saltash, Cornwall rally driver Alan Cookson, London co-driver Julian Wilkinson and their venerable Subaru WRC nicknamed 'Daisy', will make the long trip north for the second time in a month next weekend as they look to continue their great start in the 2009 Pirelli MSA Gravel Rally Championship.

Following on from a superb seventh place finish on Rallye Sunseeker which was backed up with sixth place on the Brick and Steel Border Counties Rally, the Robert Wiseman Dairies, Kick Energy, GillettsSpar.com, Kumho Tyres, Riverside Property Services and Olverelectrical.com supported Subaru Impreza WRC team hold third place overall in the standings going into round three and the Carlisle-based Pirelli Tour of Cumbria.

"We can't wait to get up to Kielder again next weekend after having such a great time on the Border Counties Rally. The car has been superb and we continue to learn more each time we go out in her, so are really hoping to record another top ten finish to secure a good points haul as we need to capitalise on the first two events of the year.

"It is certainly going to be a very tough event and one that I'm sure will have a high rate of attrition due to there only being one service during the day, and this coupled with us not having the ability to service remotely either, will mean we have to be extra careful and keep it neat and tidy all day to avoid the dreaded punctures that are so common on the Kielder stages.

"We have got some corporate guests from Wiseman Dairies coming along on this event to see just how our WRC Friesian cow looks in the flesh, so there is some added pressure on us to secure a fifth finish in a row for 'Daisy', and to continue with the 100% finishing record we now have since switching to using the services of the TEG Sport Rally Team".

The Pirelli Tour of Cumbria gets underway at 10.15 from Carlisle Racecourse whereafter crews tackle the Kielder classics of Pundershaw, Trinket, Roughside and Chirdonhead before returning to service followed by the second loop later in the day and the finish back at Carlisle Racecourse around 18.40.

Entry Lists

Posted: April 10, 2009 10:22 PM

Top 10 International
1 Guy Wilks / Phil Pugh (Proton Satria Neo S2000)
2 Keith Cronin / Greg Shinnors (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9)
3 Mark Higgins / Bryan Thomas (Subaru Impreza N11)
5 Adam Gould / Sebastian Marshall (Subaru Impreza N14)
6 Euan Thorburn / Claire Mole (Subaru Impreza N12B)
7 David Bogie / Kevin Rae (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10)
8 David Weston Jnr / Dave Robson (Subaru Impreza N14)
9 Phillip Morrow / Simon Morrow (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9)
10 Richard Cathcart / Stephen McCauley (Subaru Impreza N12B)
11 Andreas Sjölander / Håkan Jacobsson (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9)

Full Entry Lists on:

BRC Cronin ahead, but Wilks joins Higgins’ chase

Posted: April 10, 2009 10:12 PM

The second round of the 2009 MSA British Rally Championship is a mere three weeks after the first nail biting opener in Wales and Irishman Keith Cronin will be keen to keep the momentum after his first win, on the forthcoming Pirelli International Rally on 17/18th April.  

All the crews will need to be on their toes to turn their cars around for the event, which has previously been the start point for the BRC, as Easter also falls between the two rallies. Despite the tight schedule, over forty entries are already on the International list.  

Absent from the tussle at the top between Cronin/Greg Shinnors and Mark Higgins/Bryan Thomas, was reigning BRC Champion Guy Wilks, but he and Phil Pugh will be back to try and secure their own hat-trick of wins on the Carlisle based rally. Wilks’ switch to a Proton S2000 will mean an unfamiliar package for the Durham driver.  

Seeded at car one as the winner of both the 2007 and 2008 Pirelli International and British Rally Championships, Wilks should add even more spice to the action at the front, the ultra fast Cumbrian stages suiting his smooth yet attacking driving style.  

Iceland’s Daniel Sigurdarsson takes the place of Stuart Jones in a Team JRM Lico evolution 10, the 32year-old former Icelandic Rally Champion and BRC newcomer making the move from his regular Evo 9 for the Cumbrian event.  

2008 Pirelli Star Diver Adam Gould and Seb Marshall will benefit from previous experience on the event, as will Andreas Sjölander and Håkan Jacobsson, both crews expected to go well after impressive UK 4WD debuts in Wales.  

Two Scottish Davids; Bogie and Weston Junior, with co-drivers Kevin Rae and Neil Shanks respectively, will battle for Celtic honours against two Northern Irishmen, the four taking fifth to eighth points on round one. The Irishmen in question come in the form of Alastair Fisher and Jonny Greer, former BRC and Irish Champion co-driver Rory Kennedy alongside Fisher, with Antony O'Conaill guiding Greer.  

British Teams Rally Championship  
As leaders in the category, Pirelli TEG Sport drivers Higgins and Gould will be watching their backs for improvements in the JRM Lico Team. Sigurdarsson and Bogie have certainly got a bit of ground to make up, but speed and consistency are required for the Team award.  

Unfortunate not to finish the first round, Rob Swann/Darren Garrod and Euan Thorburn/Claire Mole’s Revolution Wheels team will be burning some midnight oil to make the start of the rally. Swann’s car suffered an electrical failure while Thorburn’s introduction to the BRC ended more violently, crashing out on stage three of the Bulldog.  

BRC Classes  

Rally 3  
The class wars will continue in Kielder, MSA British Junior Championship leader Tom Walster also top of Rally 3, ahead of a gaggle of Fiesta SportTrophy cars. The one make series is now led by Matt Edwards, opening a gap of five points from Kris Hall in Wales with a BRC Challenge win. Former Finnish Junior Champion Matti Rantanen heads the R3's despite a non finish in Wales, while Steve Graham and Fin McCaul will rejoin their struggle for Diesel Rally Cup supremacy within R3, McCaul retiring with propshaft problems first time out.  

Rally 2  
Rally 2 is an all Citroën C2 affair, Jason Pritchard ahead of Marty McCormack and last year’s Suzuki Champion Mark Gamble. The leading pair do have an advantage though, as they both have the new Max kits, although all drivers in the C2R2 Cup also qualify for the Citroën Racing Trophy prize fund, making the battle even more worth fighting for.  

Rally 1  
Taking over at the head of Rally 1 and the Swift Sport Cup is Australian Molly Taylor, socking it to the men on only her second visit to the UK stages. Luke Pinder is her closest rival, with newcomer Joseph McGonigle third in R1 in a Civic and 2008 Swift Sport Cup runner-up Gordon Nichol third in the BRC’s one make series.  

The organisers of the BRC’s traditional first round have not rested on their laurels this year. The new base for the Pirelli International Rally will be Carlisle Racecourse; close to the City centre and with excellent facilities, this is coupled with new stages in the infamous Kielder forest complex, keeping the April event fresh and exciting.  

The Pirelli International Rally runs over the weekend of 17th / 18th April and the action gets underway at the racecourse, with cars leaving from 4:30pm on Friday. There is ample spectator viewing from the main grandstand and a full commentary as the cars head off.  

But just who will be cantering up the final furlong to the winning post on Saturday is anybody’s guess and the bookies would be hard pressed to pick a winner.  

The Greenlight TV Pirelli International Rally preview programme will air at 6.30pm on Sky Sports Xtra on Wednesday 15th April, with coverage from the event shown on Monday 20th at 8pm on Sky Sports 3.

Forde Set To Continue Good Form On Pirelli

Posted: April 10, 2009 10:01 PM

After a fine top six placing on the previous round in Wales, Galway driver Ross Forde heads to the infamous Kielder Forest next weekend for round three of the Kick Energy Fiesta Sport Trophy UK which takes place with the Carlisle-based Pirelli Challenge.

Following improvements to his Motorsport Ireland and Irish Sports Council-backed Ford Fiesta, the tracks of Europe's largest man-made forest will hopefully suit the young Irishman and having retained the services of co driver Gary McElhinney for this event, he's hoping to improve on his sixth placing in the current championship standings:

"We are looking forward to the next round as we have really settled in with the car. I'm testing this forthcoming week and after looking at the times from the last round, we are fired up for the Pirelli. We were setting top three stage times constantly so I'm sure we can improve on that again and I'm delighted that Gary will be calling the notes again.

"I did the Pirelli Rally last year in the Suzuki Swift and was leading with only one stage to go but the car broke down so I'll be hoping for a better result. I did the full recce and all stages except one last year so hopefully this will stand me in good stead. I like the dark so I'm looking forward to the night stages too."

Forde is contesting a full season in the series this year in his M-Sport-run Ford Fiesta with the support of Global Group Ireland as his prize for winning the 2008 Billy Coleman Award.

The 51-stage mile Pirelli Challenge gets underway on Friday evening at 19.05 from Carlisle Racecourse with a pair of 8.5 mile stages to the north and after the overnight halt, the remaining crews will tackle a loop of four classic stages around Kielder Water on Saturday morning before the finish back at Carlisle Racecourse around 14.00.

David Higgins to miss Pirelli Historic

Posted: April 10, 2009 10:39 AM

David Higgins has announced that he will sadly have to sit out the second round of the Dunlop Gambia British Historic Rally Championship, the Pirelli Historic.

"It's not been an easy decision to miss a round," said David. "But it's due to commitments at the family rally school, and my hand not being fully healed after it was pierced by a piece of metal last month. The Chinese championship begins soon, and I cannot risk damaging my hand any further before that."

Alongside his co-driver Ieuan Thomas, David won the Category 2 section of the opening round, the Bulldog Historic, on his debut in the series.

BHRC preview, round two: Pirelli Historic Rally

Posted: April 10, 2009 10:34 AM

The second round of the Dunlop/Gambia MSA British Historic Rally Championship will pit another fine field of historic rally cars against the challenge of Kielder on the Pirelli Historic Rally (Friday/Saturday 17/18 April). With two stages on Friday evening and then four more in a quick-fire leg on Saturday morning, it will be a hugely competitive event with battles across all the classes.  

Category 1
Category one is for the oldest cars, from the pre '68 era, and they run first on the road with a short gap before the rest of the historic field. One of the stars of the Bulldog was Jonathan Gale, having his first rally in the ex-Patrick Watts Sunbeam Tiger. Co-driven by his father Graham, Jonathan drove superbly in Wales to win category 1 for the pre '68 cars.

Gale's rivals will again include Dessie Nutt/Geraldine McBride (Porsche 911) and Newcastle crew Paul Mankin/Desmond Bell (Lotus Cortina) on their home event. Meanwhile, returning to the category for this event with their Porsche 911 will be Phil and Barbara Smith.

One of the best battles on the Bulldog was for class B1 as Gary and Jane Edgington (Singer Chamois) beat Steve Taylor and Steve Greenhill (Hillman Imp Sport) in a great final stage contest.  

Category 2
In category two, for the post-historic cars, it is Ford Escort Mk1s against Porsche 911s at the head of the category. Former British Rally champion David Higgins is mounting a serious bid on the historic title this year in a Mk1 Escort from Mark Solloway's stable and started his campaign with category two (1968-74) victory in Wales. With Ieuan Thomas alongside, Higgins won despite a serious hand injury and having to adapt to route notes after nearly a decade using his own pace notes. He will surely be quicker still in Kielder.

Sure to go well, however, will be Rupert Lomax and David Alcock in their Escort Mk1. They took second to Higgins in Wales and won here a year ago, on their Kielder debut. Meanwhile, a real dark horse in class C5 is Bob Bean, the amazingly quick 71-year old who has acquired the ex-Jeremy Easson Escort for this season and has Malcolm Smithson alongside as usual.

Tim Mason/Graham Wild are overdue a strong result and have previously shown their pace in the region with their Porsche 911, while the newly completed 911 of Peter Smith/Russ Langthorne could also be a major contender. Ranged against the Porsches in class C4 will be the Ford Capri RS3100 of Jeremy Easson/Alun Cook, fresh from a great result on the Bulldog.

Class C3 is dominated by the 2-litre Pinto-powered Escort Mk1s and there are a gaggle of potential class winners in what will surely be one of the most competitive classes of the rally. Strong contenders include Bulldog victors Tim Jones and Don James, while Northumberland crew Ken Forster and John Stanger-Leathes will also be right up there on their home event along with Drew Wylie/Howard Pridmore and Andrew Siddall/Captain Thompson.

In class C2 for the 1600cc cars, championship newcomers Richard Williams and Richard Ekin took their Mk1 Escort to victory on the Bulldog.  

Category 3
Category three is for the cars produced from 1975 to 1981 and here it is the Ford Escort Mk2 that is the car to beat. With a stunning charge, Nick Elliott and Dave Price won the Bulldog to make it two wins from two BHRC starts. Can the Cheltenham crew complete the hat-trick in Cumbria?
Their major rivals include Julian Reynolds/Ian Oakey, who claimed second in Wales despite some pre-event engine dramas, while more fast and spectacular Escorts will be in the hands of 2008 Pirelli winner Darren Moon, now teamed with Chris Parsons, Bulldog star Seamus O'Connell, Will Onions/Tim Hobbs and Simon Tysoe/Cliff Simmons. Joining the D5 ranks for this event will be David Stokes and Guy Weaver in the Escort Mk2 of Jonathan Brace, which is on loan after Stokes' regular Mk1 was badly damaged on the Bulldog.

But no one should see class D5 as just about Ford Escorts. Two Vauxhall Chevettes are sure to fly, with the car of Rob Smith/Shaun O'Gorman more than capable of shaking up the Escort ranks, while Roger Kilty/Lynette Banks are getting quicker and quicker in their Chevette. Added to the mix is the Triumph TR7 V8 of Mike Anderson/Mark Perryman, with its Bulldog engine maladies hopefully resolved.

In D3, for the Pinto-powered Escorts, the benchmarks should be the Mk2 Escort of Richard Lane/Frank Richer, which was hobbled by a puncture in Wales, and David Lloyd-Roberts/Dei Jones, while Chris Shooter/Bev LeGood will also be up there in another Escort Mk2.

In D2, the Escort Mk2 crew of Jakob Scannell/Nina Thompson make the long trek north from Dorset in search of another class win.


Posted: April 10, 2009 10:33 AM

The first of two brand new events in the 2009 Pirelli MSA Gravel Rally Championship takes place next Saturday and the Pirelli Tour of Cumbria could prove pivotal in the race for ANCRO honours this season.

After all missed out on Rallye Sunseeker, defending champion Marcus Dodd (Poole) narrowly saw off former champs Steve Perez (Chesterfield) and Paul Bird (Penrith) on last month's Brick and Steel Border Counties Rally to claim maximum points but the two Ford Focus drivers will be hoping to turn the tables on the Hyundai ace as the crews return for another salvo in the daunting Kielder Forest complex.

The Carlisle-based event will see a dozen registered crews in action over eight stages totalling nearly seventy miles and whereas the leaderboard is headed by a couple of Mitsubishi Ralliart Evo Challenge runners in the shape of Daniel Barry (Enniskerry) and Simon Hughes (Abergele), it should only be a matter of time before the 'big guns' start topping the points table but as the old adage goes: 'in order to finish first, first you have to finish...'

Dodd and co driver Andrew Bargery (Hove) know how unforgiving the Kielder ditches can be after one claimed them on last year's Border Counties and Bird, along with co driver Ian Windress (Northallerton), champions in 2005, were bitten by a log pile earlier this season in the Lake District which badly damaged their Ford Focus WRC07. 2004 winner Perez and co driver Paul Spooner (Raglan) slid out of the rally in Bournemouth's season opener in his 07 car too, so it's by no means a foregone conclusion all three will see the finish ramp, but if they do, it is anyone's guess as to in what order.

Irishman Barry and co driver Martin Brady (Nevan) along with Welsh counterpart Hughes and his co driver Craig Parry (Oswestry) will resume battle in Group N and are expected to show well and add to their points tally but soon they will need to drop points as in this year's series, a competitor's best five scores from eight rounds count so they need to be thinking in terms of a podium, like they scored on Rallye Sunseeker.

The tag of 'Mr Consistency' as far as the WRC contingent goes should be attributed to Alan Cookson (Saltash) and co driver Julian Wilkinson (Wandsworth) in their Subaru and they'll be looking to improve on their 7th and 6th place finishes so far and after much-publicised problems in recent weeks, Charlie Payne (Ripon) and Craig Thorley (Pocklington) will be after a good result in their Mitsubishi WRC Step 2.

If any of the fancied runners slip up, then it could well be one of the other Mitsubishi Ralliart Evo Challenge and ANCRO Group N runners who benefit such as Nik Elsmore (Coleford), Owen Murphy (Kilcrea) and Alan Carmichael (Co Antrim) as they are all currently in the top six of the overall standings.

Trevor Martin and Ray Cleghorn make a welcome return to the ANCRO fold in their Subaru and the legendary Steve Bannister (Malton) along with Scottish co driver Louise Sutherland have recently announced they will challenge for honours in the Mintex Two Wheel Drive Championship in their Ford Escort Mk2.

The Pirelli Tour of Cumbria gets underway at 10.15 from Carlisle Racecourse whereafter crews tackle the Kielder classics of Pundershaw, Trinket, Roughside and Chirdonhead before returning to service followed by the second loop later in the day and the finish back at Carlisle Racecourse around 18.40.

Entries to Date

Posted: April 1, 2009 11:59 AM


Posted: March 20, 2009 1:43 PM

Title change follows ANCRO announcement

Posted: February 4, 2009 10:50 AM

Following the news that the Pirelli National Rally will be a round of the ANCRO organised Pirelli MSA Gravel Rally Championship, the Cumberland Sporting Car Club, who were founder members of ANCRO, have decided to mark the occasion by re-naming the event The Pirelli Tour of Cumbria, the name by which it was known when it was a leading event in the ANCRO series.

The Pirelli Tour of Cumbria has a long history, it was first run in 1975 with support from Pirelli who have a major manufacturing facility in Carlisle , when it was won by Chris Wathen driving a Vospers of Plymouth backed Ford Escort. Pirelli assumed title sponsorship in 1979 when the event joined the ANCRO series, that year saw the first of two successive wins for a young, up and coming Cumbrian driver, Malcolm Wilson.

Over the years the Pirelli Tour of Cumbria saw many famous names on the winners trophy including Russell Brookes, David Llewellin, Trevor Smith and the late, great Colin McRae while the final year that the rally featured as an ANCRO round, saw Jimmie McRae take victory in a Shell backed Ford Sierra Cosworth.

The Cumberland Sporting Car Club are very proud to once again be associated with ANCRO and the Pirelli MSA Gravel Rally Championship and will be pulling out all the stops to make sure that the Pirelli Tour of Cumbria Rally is a good contribution to the series. The organisers have gone to great lengths to come up with a new, super compact route format while the superb facilities at the new Rally Headquarters at Carlisle Racecourse should be a major asset to the event and a very welcome haven for competitors.

Event Website / Details

Posted: January 1, 2009 12:01 AM

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