This oft-used phrase was particularly appropriate to Chesterfield's Steve Perez and co-driver Paul Spooner, from Raglan, who won the Betta Somerset Stages Rally in their Ford Focus WRC after the similar car of Paul Bird/Aled Davies, which had led the event for nine of the twelve special stages, slid off the road and into retirement on the tenth, ironically named Slowley! Even then, Perez only claimed victory on a tie-break after Stephen Petch/Ian Windress, in another Focus WRC, finished on identical penalties - the difference being the time set on the first stage of the day, a run up the famous Porlock Toll Road, on which Perez was second fastest.
Third overall, and furthest travelled all the way down from Aberdeen, were Dave Weston/Kirsty Riddick in a Subaru Impreza WRC, while North Walians Luke Francis/John Roberts brought their Mitsubishi Lancer EVO9 back to the Bridgwater finish in 4th place.
Group N 'production' category cars have a history of strong performances in Somerset and so it was this time that, after 45 miles of competition, the Lancer EVO9 of Tom Naughton/Andi Mort finished 5th, just one second in front of the identical car of Pat Naylor/Ian Lawrence.
Local interest centred around Martyn & Dawn England, from Ilminster, whose Lancer EVOX finished 7th, ahead of another brace of Group N EVO9s, capably crewed by Russ Thompson/Andy Murphy and Roland Llewellin/Jamie Edwards.
The battle for two-wheel drive honours was also a close-fought affair, with Callum Black/Paul Wakely coming out on top, finishing tenth in their Citroen DS3. Next up, one place and six seconds behind, were Matthew Robinson/Sam Collis in their Ford Escort MkII, and then another DS3, in the hands of James Ford/Michael Gilbey, was 3rd.
From almost 50 crews in the 1400 category who started the rally, Darren Pinchin/Karen Jenkins (Proton Satria) came out on top, repeating the victory they took in 2010 prior to Julian Wilkes' domination of the category over the past three years. They arrived back at J24 nearly a minute ahead of the MG ZR of Joe Evett/Calvin Houldsworth while, in turn, Justin Lawson/Paul Hargreaves (Vauxhall Nova) were 3rd, a further five seconds adrift.
The Betta Somerset Stages Rally was the second round of the all-new 'Defender Challenge by Bowler'. All seven specially-prepared Land Rover Defender T90s that started completed the route and, from them, Robert & Jonathan Harford were the highest-placed finishers.
Having journeyed down to the south-west from Dumfries, David Bogie/Kevin Rae were on their way home almost before they had started when their Focus WRC's ignition coil failed after the opening stage. The first car to leave the start in Minehead, the Vauxhall Corsa of Dave Bennett/Alistair McNeil, lost six minutes when an electrical fault connected to the fuel pump caused a fuse to blow. The crew replaced it at the earliest opportunity but the problem persisted, eventually causing retirement.
Dramatic Victory For Perez On Somerset Stages
Posted: November 13, 2016 5:00 AM
13 months after last competing in his ex Marcus Gronholm Kick Energy Ford Focus WRC07 on the 2013 Malcolm Wilson Rally, triple British champion Steve Perez bounced back in the most sensational style by taking a dramatic victory on this weekend's Betta Somerset Stages Rally.
Along with regular Welsh co-driver Paul Spooner, the pair have shifted their attention to the 2014 REIS BTRDA Rally Series following a change of plans and were hoping for a good run on their first appearance in the series in the Focus.
A steady start saw them second overall to series leader Paul Bird after the opening loop of stages as they got used to the power of the car again around the short and twisty stages. Perez, the 2010 BTRDA champion, was just nine seconds adrift of his great friend and rival Bird after SS5 but a mistake on SS6 saw them concede half a dozen seconds more as the rally headed for its second phase.
Perez continued to shadow Bird but when his rival hit trouble on SS10, he took over at the front with a narrow seven second lead over last season's BTRDA runner-up Stephen Petch in his later version Ford Focus WRC.
An overshoot on the penultimate stage looked to have cost Perez victory only for him to learn Petch had done the same meaning the gap was down to four seconds going into the very last stage. Once more, Perez thought he had thrown away the victory when a faulty intercom dropped him more time but as the cars arrived back at the finish, both he and Petch were tied equal on time, they couldn't be separated.
In such a situation, rules decree that the driver setting fastest time on the opening stage is declared the winner and with Perez stopping the clocks five seconds faster on the opening run up Porlock Toll Road, he lifted the winner's laurels.
Steve said: "That was close, and I wonder when the last time a National Championship rally was decided in this way! We chose the wrong tyres for the two tarmac stages and from then on, we were playing catch up to Birdy. We held a steady pace all day and had resigned ourselves to finishing second when I saw him off the road on SS10. I slowed down to make sure all was OK but I didn't realize just how much Stephen Petch was speeding up. With our problems on the last couple of stages I thought I'd blown it but when I heard we were level on time, I couldn't believe it. Fair play and hard luck to both Stephen and Paul, but we'll happily take the win as it was important to come back strong if we are to challenge for this title. To rub salt into Birdy's wound, I still hold the record up Porlock too, I forgot to remind him about that!"
Steve's next outing will be the Plains Rally which takes place on 17th May.
Posted: November 13, 2016 4:56 AM
1 Steve Perez/Paul Spooner - Ford Focus WRC - 42:28
2 Stephen Petch/Ian Windress - Ford Focus WRC - 42:28
3 David Weston/Kirsty Riddick - Subaru Impreza WRC - 42:56
4 Luke Francis/John H Roberts - Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 - 44:00
5 Tom Naughton/Andi Mort - Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 - 44:25
6 Pat Naylor/Ian Lawrence - Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 - 44:26
7 Martyn England/Dawn England - Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10 - 45:23
8 Russ Thompson/Andy Murphy - Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 - 45:36
9 Roland Llewellin/Jamie Edwards - Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 - 45:43
10 Callum Black/Paul Wakely - Citroen DS3 R3T - 46:37
The Betta Somerset Stages Rally (12th April) is the second round of the all-new ‘ Defender Challenge by
Bowler’ which will feature up to a dozen specially prepared Land Rover Defender T90s.
Supported by Land Rover, the series first saw the light of day on the Newtown-based Mid Wales Stages
at the beginning of March and is designed to act as a feeder to the annual Dakar Rally, one of the
toughest motorsport challenges in the world.
Prepared by well-known Land Rover partner Bowler Motorsport, the vehicles feature uprated 170 horsepower
2.2 litre diesel engines and six-speed gearboxes. A bespoke suspension system, designed in
conjunction with Bilstein, includes new dampers, spring roll-bars and bushes, plus a set of lightweight
18-inch wheels are all included in the £50,000+VAT package.
Following the Mid Wales Stages, Edd Cobley/Allan Jackson lead the table from Damien & Simon Taft.
Their seven-round calendar includes several more rallies, plus both the Welsh & Scottish Hill Rallies,
and is due to finish in mid November.
BIRD PERCHED ON TOP OF TABLE!...
Posted: March 12, 2014 10:39 AM
The Betta Somerset Stages Rally (12th April) is the third round of the REIS BTRDA® Rally Series which will see competitors from all over the UK converging on the (M5) Junction 24 Auction Mart for the pre- event formalities, before heading off to Minehead for the actual start. Having finished runner-up on the opener in the Forest of Dean and then followed it up with a record-equalling fourth victory on Round 2, the Malcolm Wilson Rally in the Lake District, Cumbrian Paul Bird (Ford Focus WRC) arrives in the south-west as Championship leader.
However, any thoughts he and co-driver Aled Davies may have of maintaining their dominance will depend not only on a continuation of their current form, but also on what the opposition has to offer. At this stage, it is unclear just from where that opposition will come - the BTRDA Series requires each competitor to count their best six scores from the nine-event calendar towards their final tally and, consequently, an absence from a particular round should not be regarded as being in any way sinister.
Thus far, there appears to be something of a north-south divide opening up amongst contenders, with the strongest challenges coming from a number of Focus WRCs crewed by multiple Scottish Rally Champions David Bogie/Kevin Rae and defending BTRDA Gold Star® winners Euan Thorburn/Paul Beaton from Duns. Bishop Auckland’s Stephen Petch/Ian Windress have already proved themselves capable of winning at this level and, with 2013 Somerset Stages winners Connor McCloskey/Francis Regan not competing this year, it goes without saying that there will be a fierce battle before the identity of the ‘new’ name on the winners’ trophy is known!
Regulations and entry forms for the Betta Somerset Stages Rally (12th April) are now available to download from www.somersetstagesrally.com and they highlight a number of changes to the format of this year’s event.
First of all, the organisers, Burnham-on-Sea & Minehead Motor Clubs, are delighted to welcome the return of Betta Aquatics as headline sponsor for 2014. MD Paul James has always been an enthusiastic supporter of the rally and his continued involvement is much appreciated by all.
Rally Headquarters will be at the Junction 24 Auction Centre, Bridgwater, where Scrutineering and Documentation will take place on the Friday afternoon (11th April) from 2.30pm. The first car will then leave the actual start of the rally in Minehead at 8.00am on Saturday morning. The route includes twelve special stages - ten in the Exmoor National Park, plus the traditional two runs up Porlock Toll Road.
The Service Area will be in the sea-front car parks in Minehead, before the finish back at Junction 24 where the first car is expected at about 4.00pm. As soon as the results are declared final, the Awards Presentation will also take place there.