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Grizedale Stages Rally - (Sat) 1 Dec 12

Posted: February 27, 2014 3:21 PM - 5125 Hits

Oliver Mellors Report

Posted: February 27, 2014 3:21 PM

After winning rallies at the highest level of Super 2000 rallying across the world, there was time for one more outing for the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (2011) title-taking Satria Neo S2000 last weekend. And the result was another stunning podium place for PROTON.

The rally? The Grizedale Stages, run through the English Lake District.

The driver? Oliver Mellors, the 17-year-old son of four-time British National Rally Champion and PROTON team principal Chris Mellors.

It will come as no surprise that Mellors Jr is no stranger to the Satria. When he’s not at school or doing his homework, he’s usually found in a Satria on PROTON’s test stage or under a PROTON in the factory.

But Saturday’s all-gravel event was the biggest test yet for the teen who now holds the mantle of the fastest fella around the Mellors’ kitchen table.

Grizedale forest is an unforgiving place. When it was included on the RAC Rally – then Britain’s round of the World Rally Championship – it earned the nickname of ‘Grizzly’. World-class drivers loved and loathed it in equal measure, with Ari Vatanen enjoying every flat-out minute of Britain’s most picturesque forest roads, while Juha Kankkunen labeled those same woods as: “the longest Mickey Mouse stages in the world.”

Grizzly got its reputation for catching out the likes of Kankkunen, Vatanen and Colin McRae with its super-quick straights and deceptive corners. But on Saturday, Mellors Jr stepped up to the plate and delivered an inch-perfect drive with Grizedale at its most grizzly.

The conditions ranged from ice to sheet ice; slippery to ridiculously slippery, but Mellors and co-driver Dan Barritt emerged unscathed, and without a scratch on the Satria-Neo S2000. What’s more, had they not been held up for two minutes behind a slower car in the second stage, they might actually have won.

Oliver only passed his driving test three months ago and Saturday was only his third ever rally – so it was probably only fitting that he finished third overall…

Mellors finished his first ever gravel rally in a Satria-Neo S2000 on the podium, having toppled numerous local heroes in their more powerful World Rally Cars along the way. And, as well as that, he impressed his team principal. And dad.

Oliver Mellors (age 17) said:
“Dad told me at the start to have a good day out, so I did. It was a bit slippery in places – lots of places actually – but we just kept it in the middle of the road. It’s quite amazing to get to the start of a stage and basically be told: “Go on, drive as fast as you can…” Having said that, I knew Dad was waiting for me at the finish and he knew he was pretty keen to see me, Dan and the car! We caught a car in the second stage; we were behind him for ages and dropped a good couple of minutes compared to our stage time for that one later in the day. I loved every minute of it and want to do it again tomorrow. Unfortunately, I’ll be back behind the books again this week, but counting the minutes until I can get back in the car again.”

MEM team principal (and Oliver’s dad) Chris Mellors said:
“Oliver’s always had a passion for the sport – not sure where he gets that from! And since he passed his driving test a few months ago, he’s been working to get signatures on his [competition] licence. He was really keen to have a go at Grizedale; we had Aliastair Fisher’s car from the last SWRC round in Spain sitting needing a rebuild, so Oliver asked if he could give it a wash, give it a quick refettle and take it up to the Lakes. I said yes, but I have to admit when we got out of the car this morning and I could hardly stand up in the car park, I was beginning to have my reservations. But he came out of the end of every stage, quite happy, totally relaxed and just getting on with it. He’s had a good day, which is what this was all about. And he’s got another signature on his licence. And he didn’t put a mark on the car, which makes me very happy!”

Last Stage Heartbreak For Bird

Posted: February 27, 2014 3:19 PM

Cumbrian rally driver Paul Bird saw his Grizedale jinx strike again when he came within four miles of winning the Coppermines Grizedale Stages Rally in his native Lake District today only for disaster to strike.

Bird, from Langwathby near Penrith, had to overcome some seriously slippery conditions after a severe overnight frost caused problems on the stages and he slithered to second fastest time some 15 seconds down on the opening nine-mile stage before reducing that to nine seconds after SS2 behind Alex Allingham's Subaru.

Co driven by Dumfries' Kirsty Riddick, the Fuchs Titan, Rapid Solicitors and Kick Energy-backed Frank Bird Poultry Ford Focus WRC07 pair flew through the first of the Broughton Moor stages to stop the clocks eight seconds quicker than any of their rivals over the 2.5 miles and hit the front after SS4 to lead at service by 14 seconds.

With the temperatures hardly getting above freezing all day despite the sunny conditions, just 16.4 miles of Grizedale lay between Bird and his second win on his local event to add to his 2009 success. All was going fine and was maintaining his lead when he slid wide three-quarters of the way into the final stage and clipped a ditch which caused the car to spin into a tree, breaking the steering in the process and causing instant retirement.

Paul Bird:
"I just can't believe my luck once again. I'd not put a foot wrong all day despite it being the slippiest it's ever been in Grizedale and was well on the way to winning when something like this happens. I made a slight mistake over a crest, over corrected into a ditch but made the mistake of keeping my foot in to try to drag us out. That's where I clouted this tree which launched us into the air and broke the steering which wrenched my wrist and think it could be broken so I'm off for an x-ray. We paid a heavy price for a small error but that doesn't help with the disappointment as once again, my Grizedale jinx has struck!"


Posted: February 27, 2014 3:17 PM

Birdy's Back!

Posted: November 30, 2012 10:12 AM

Former National Champion Paul Bird returns to the rally stages this Saturday (1st December) when he contests the Coppermines Grizedale Stages Rally in his native Lake District.

Bird, from Langwathby near Penrith, was last in the forests way back in March when he finished a very close second on the Malcolm Wilson Rally in the Fuchs Titan, Rapid Solicitors and Kick Energy-backed Frank Bird Poultry Ford Focus WRC07 whilst dipping his toe in the MSA Asphalt Rally Championship at the beginning of the season also.

Since then, the MotoGP and BSB team boss has been concentrating on his bike racing teams which culminated in Shane 'Shakey' Byrne winning the British Superbike Championship and Kawasaki team-mate Keith Farmer winning the Superstock 1000 crown. In MotoGP, fellow Cumbrian James Ellison took the PBM UK Aprilia to fourth in the CRT class, famously winning at the French Grand Prix at Le Mans.

'Birdy' did take time out of his hectic schedule in June to compete in SOL Rally Barbados where he took a fantastic victory after a number of years trying so is looking forward to returning to action on the event he won in 2009, along with regular Scottish co-driver Kirsty Riddick.

Paul Bird:
"It's been a very busy season what with running my two bike racing teams and I've not really had that much time to do as much rallying as I would have liked. We've sorted most of the stuff out for next season now so it's time for me to have a bit of a play and I'm really looking forward to it. Having not driven on gravel for nine months means I may be a bit rusty and there is a top quality entry so I'll give it my best shot and see where we end up. I've been training really hard over this past couple of months and have lost over two stones in weight so I can't use lack of fitness as an excuse!"

The rally gets underway from Coniston at 10.00 on Saturday 1st December with stages in the Grizedale complex at 10.19, 10.40, 13.56 and 14.05 before the finish in Coniston at 14.25. Further information is available at www.grizedalestages.co.uk and for further information on Paul Bird Motorsport, please visit www.pbmuk.net. Follow Paul Bird on Facebook (paul.bird.9809) and Twitter (@paulbirdpbm) for the latest news and information.

Seeded Entry List

Posted: November 23, 2012 1:13 PM

Available at:

Regulations / Entry Form

Posted: October 25, 2012 12:01 PM

Available at:

Provisional Details

Posted: September 30, 2012 11:06 AM

  • New one day format including scrutineering
  • 42 stage miles
  • 5 stages including two 9-milers and a Monster 18-miler to finish
  • Only 40 road miles
  • Management cars allowed
  • Patterson Safety Notes and DVD available
  • 30-min Service halt at Skelwith Fold
  • Historics and 1400’s run at the front of the field
  • MAXIMUM entry of 75 cars
  • Regs available online from 15th October

Rally Website

Posted: September 30, 2012 11:06 AM

Topics: Grizedale stages 

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