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Cheviot Stages Rally - DATE CHANGE - 28 Oct 18

Posted: July 23, 2019 4:42 AM - 1545 Hits

Round 6 - 2018 MSA Asphalt Rally Championship

Pritchard becomes 2018 Protyre MSA Asphalt Rally Champion after dramatic finale on the Ford Parts Cheviot Stages Rally

Posted: July 23, 2019 4:42 AM

Jason Pritchard is the 2018 Protyre MSA Asphalt Rally Champion, after taking his third maximum points score of the season on the Ford Parts Cheviot Stages Rally.

In a thrilling and dramatic season finale, he and co-driver Phil Clarke delivered a masterclass performance in their North Road Garage Ford Focus WRC05, on their first ever visit to Northumberland’s Otterburn Military Ranges.

Their target of winning the title was made harder by just one pass over each stage on a very icy Saturday recce, while the weather played an even more significant part in the outcome of the title on rally Sunday, with snow, sleet and torrential rain making the undulating and narrow asphalt roads exceptionally slippery. Yet Pritchard made only one mistake, overshooting a junction on SS10, to bring the car home without a scratch.

Winning the title is extra special for Jason and the Pritchard family, as it is 30 years since his father Eian narrowly missed out on clinching the Asphalt title on Otterburn – in the same year the now champion was born. It’s also Jason’s fourth major rally title in as many years, having won a record-breaking three MSA British Historic Rally Championships in a row (2015, ’16 and ‘17) and now the 2018 Protyre MSA Asphalt Rally Championship.

Daniel Harper was Pritchard’s main rival for the title, and whoever finished ahead of the other would become drivers’ champion; providing either one of them finished the event. Harper’s Minisport-run John Cooper Works Mini WRC had been rebuilt after an accident on a French rally three weeks ago, and at “zero miles an hour” he skidded into a bridge on SS2 – although much worse was to follow for him and co-driver Chris Campbell. Thanks to a monsoon-like downpour, there was running water in the downhill braking area coming down to a square right. Virtually all of the top 20 cars, and more after, either spun, went off or had some near miss there, but it was here that Harper’s title hopes vanished. The Mini snapped sideways under braking in the wet and went straight on at the junction, smashing through a fence and coming to rest in a field. This rally, and title aspirations, over.

This meant that Wayne Sisson/Max Freeman are runners-up in the Asphalt Championship, having decided not to enter their AMS Arnside Motorsport Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10 on the final round. The dropped score rule meant that they would have needed both Pritchard and Harper to retire to win the title anyway, and whatever points they’d score on Otterburn would probably have been irrelevant. Whilst they were missed by all, it turned out to be a wise decision, and Sisson was delighted to add second overall to his Class B14 trophy.

Stephen Simpson/Patrick Walsh picked up second Asphalt Championship points on the Cheviot after a spirited drive in their CA1 Sport-prepared Ford Fiesta. They had a big spin at the same corner as Harper, but survived to allow Simpson to leapfrog into seventh in the final points standings.

David Hardie hadn’t even sat in his TEG Sport Subaru Impreza for the best part of two months, but he quickly got back into his stride to finish third, despite downshift problems on the final three stages, with John McCulloch on the pace notes.

Damian Cole spent the opening loop of three stages getting reacquainted with his Get Connected Ford Focus WRC05, which he hadn’t rallied for three years. Co-driven by Jane Nicol, everything was going well until the rear end broke loose on a fifth gear uphill left hander after a crest, which sent the car spinning off the road. There was virtually no damage, but the grass was so wet that only a winch could eventually rescue him.

A new Frank Meagher inspired colour scheme was working wonders for Ross Brusby, who was up to an incredible fourth in his Chesterfield Transporters-backed Ford Escort Mk2. “I’m driving on the limit and hoping for the best,” said Brusby, who was well ahead of many four-wheel drive cars. Co-driven by Sam Collis, his brilliant run came to a cruel end with gearbox failure on SS10.

Rhidian Daniels/Tomos Whittle enjoyed a fantastic Otterburn debut to be the fourth registered crew home and to finish sixth on the overall points table. This was an even more impressive performance, considering they started the event on part worn tyres they’d used on the Mewla Rally and lost a minute when their rapid Citroen C1 Max broke a driveshaft on SS6.

The Class B10 drivers’ title had already been won by Kevin Harbour, and having sold his Citroen C2 R2 the Dovebank Motors driver brought his Peugeot 205 GTI out of a two year retirement to try and secure David Tortoishell the co-driver’s title. Despite alternator problems throughout the day, which meant he dare not turn on the Lazer laps for the final stage, Harbour achieved what he set out to do – and completed the only 100% finishing record in the series!

There wasn’t much luck this time for Graeme Sherry, however. After a strong season in his Honda Civic, he and Sam Colman retired on the opening stage after damaging the radiator – although they were far from the only ones to return to service at The Airstrips on a tow rope, as 34 out of the 88 starters failed to finish.

Paul and Julian Doroszczuk are celebrating becoming Class B11 champions after another excellent performance in their normally-aspirated Cosworth-engined Drockspeed Motorsport Escort Mk2. They had an eventful rally, witnessing a Subaru crashing right in front of them for one, and the only damage they sustained to their car was a crumpled rear arch, dented when it was being put on the trailer for the journey home!

The Welsh brothers were pushed hard for the title by Geoff Glover/Keith Barker – the RWD Astra crew taking the class win on the Cheviot after a great run, but finishing four points behind in the standings.

Great sportsman Mike Pugsley had already become Class B12 champion, but because so many northern-based drivers had come to his local region to contest the two Epynt rallies, he thought it only fair to go and support their local event. He was stopped behind several accidents (not involving registered Asphalt Championship competitors) and didn’t complete all the stages, but he finished the rally in his 1974 Escort Mk1 RS2000 to secure Marc Clatworthy the Class B12 co-drivers’ title, to go with the 1400S title he’d already won!

With Brusby out, Steve Retchless had a nervous last few stages in his Morris Lubricants/ralloy.com Ford Escort Mk2. After an accident on the Manx National, the B13 crown looked a tall order, but a faultless run over Otterburn by him and co-driver Sasha Heriot indeed gave him a very well deserved title – settling a very closely fought class battle that had raged all season. Brusby’s misfortune was also good news for Tim and Jack Waters, who finished second in class in their V6-engined Renault Sport Clio. It was a difficult event for the father and son team, who had to fix a fuel pump relay problem on the road section between SS1 and 2 and then drive around a rear brake issue.

1400C drivers’ champion Bill Paynter completed the morning’s loop of stage with power steering problems in his rapid Hilka-backed Peugeot 106 Rallye. He and co-driver Andy Hall came across a number of bad crashes during the course of the day, and were relieved to reach the finish unscathed.

Adrian Drury had rallied on Otterburn just once before, but together with Cat Lund had a great run in his orange Peugeot 106 GTI to record another good finish.

Jason Pritchard (1st) said: “We’ve had everything thrown at us today, even snow, so it was a case of keeping it clean and getting the car to the finish without a problem. We almost managed to do that without making any mistakes, but we had a bit of an overshoot on one stage, but apart from that everything was steady away and spot on. It was a hard day’s rallying and anyone who reached the finish deserves a medal. Winning the Asphalt Championship means a lot, because Dad tried so many times and came so close. Thirty years ago, I’d only just been born and he was fighting for the title up here on Otterburn, and now I’ve got it. It’s going to take a while to sink it.”

Stephen Simpson (2nd) said: “It was particularly slippery on the first three stages this morning, and then there was a lot of sleet and torrential rain on the next three stages, so we were pleased to reach the mid-point without too many dramas. The stages this afternoon were okay really and we were able to pick a bit of speed up and we started to really enjoy it. It was a bit late to challenge for victory by then, but I’m very happy to have reached the finish of such a tough event.”

David Hardie (3rd) said: “I’m very pleased because I haven’t been in the car for about eight weeks, so I was just taking it easy in the morning – and in many ways the rain before lunchtime probably helped us. We picked up our pace and were faster in the middle part of the rally and just maintained that pace to finish with a good result. We were struggling a little on the last three stages with the down change on the gearbox and, as a result, we couldn’t do much late braking, but we managed that problem pretty well and got the car home for a good result.”

The live streaming broadcasts from the Whickham & District Motor Club and Hadrian Motor Sports Club organised Cheviot Rally, with commentary from Howard Davies and special guest Ryan Champion, will remain on-line for viewing on the Special Stage Facebook page. Edited highlights will be broadcast on Front Runner and on the Motor Trend On Demand channel, as well as the Special Stage Facebook, YouTube and App platforms, in due course – please check TV guides for details.

The 2018 Protyre MSA Asphalt Rally Championship gala prize-giving takes place at the beautiful Billesley Manor Hotel, near Stratford upon Avon, on Saturday 17 November.

Close three-way fight for Protyre MSA Asphalt Rally Championship title, as series reaches exciting climax on Otterburn

Posted: October 23, 2018 4:18 AM

Three drivers are in contention for the 2018 Protyre MSA Asphalt Rally Championship title, as the close fight for overall honours and the prestigious BTRDA Gold Stars goes down to the final round – the Ford Parts Cheviot Stages Rally (Sunday 28 October). But while Jason Pritchard and Daniel Harper go head-to-head on Otterburn, series leader Wayne Sisson will be watching the stages streamed live on-line at home, as he sits out the title decider.

The AMS Arnside Motorsport Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10 driver has a strong 100% finishing record this year – consisting of two thirds, two fifths and a seventh place points finish. With his current lowest score of 24 points to drop in the mandatory one dropped score rule, Sisson feels that there is little point contesting the event, for he cannot realistically improve on his overall points tally and needs both Pritchard and Harper to retire (or at least finish way down the leaderboard) for him and co-driver Max Freeman to be crowned champions. Instead, Sisson will be waiting for his own Tommi Mäkinen moment – when the now Toyota WRC chief received a ‘phone call to say that Carlos Sainz had retired within sight of the finish of the 1998 RAC Rally and that he was champion!

“I’d have loved to have done the Cheviot Rally and to finish the Asphalt Championship with a clean sheet, but having looked at all the possibilities there isn’t really any benefit in me going,” said Sisson. “At the very least I’ll finish in the top three overall in the series, which I’d have happily taken at the start of the season. I’ll be watching the live coverage on the internet with Howard Davies and the Special Stage crew from the warmth and comfort of my front room, and hoping for a ‘phone call!”

Pritchard and Harper, who are tied in second place, both have a low score to drop – in Pritchard’s case it’s the one point he picked up on the Rally van Wervik, and for Harper it’s a zero after he was forced to miss the Tour of Epynt through illness. Taking dropped scores into account, the maximum number of points Pritchard can finish on is 141, while for Harper it’s 142. It just couldn’t be closer.

Having won the Bet On Aces Manx National and Old Forge Garage Mewla rallies in his North Road Garage Ford Focus WRC05, Otterburn will be all-new for Pritchard as he competes there for the first time. It’s a very difficult and deceptive venue, even more so than Epynt, so it will be a great challenge for Pritchard and co-driver Phil Clarke, who have always excelled on unfamiliar territory.

Harper has a slight Otterburn advantage, having finished sixth there on last year’s Tyneside Stages. He and co-driver Chris Campbell are also on a brilliant run of form, with a win, a second and two thirds on the last four Asphalt rounds in their Minisport team run John Cooper Works Mini WRC.

Not in the battle for the title, but definitely in line for another Cheviot Rally win, is Damian Cole, who takes his Get Connected Ford Focus WRC05 out from under the dust sheet for the first time since 2015. The Abergavenny driver has won 24 rallies in the car, six of which on Otterburn – three Cheviot Rally wins (2011, ’13 and ’14) and three Tyneside Rally wins (2011, ’12 and ‘13) – not to mention five consecutive Asphalt Championship titles! Cole will be out to end an up and down season on a high and will be co-driven by Scottish Champion and Wales Rally GB National winner Jane Nicol, as regular co-driver Jamie Edwards is unavailable.

Peter Taylor/Andrew Roughead return to the Asphalt Championship in their ex-Robert Kubica Border Caravans-backed Fiesta WRC – they too are former Tyneside Stages winners, and will undoubtedly go well. Also back are Chris Ford/Neil Colman in their ex-Chris Atkinson Century Hose-backed Subaru Impreza WRC S11, David Hardie/John McCulloch in their smart TEG Sport Subaru Impreza and Stephen Simpson/Patrick Walsh in their Fiesta WRC.

In the classes, Kevin Harbour has an unassailable lead in B10, but still needs a good result to secure David Tortoishell the co-drivers' title. Having recently sold his Dovebank Motors Citroen C2 R2, Harbour will be aiming to complete his 100% finishing record in his old Peugeot 205. Rhidian Daniels/Tomos Whittle have enjoyed a fantastic year and have got better as the season’s progressed, taking Class B10 honours on the last two rounds. They’ll be eager to finish on a high in their Citroen C1 Max, while series stalwart Graeme Sherry (this time co-driven by Sam Colman) will be looking for another giant-killing performance in his nifty Honda Civic.

Two class wins in a row has put brothers Paul and Julian Doroszczuk on the verge of clinching the Class B11 title in their normally-aspirated Cosworth-engined Drockspeed Motorsport Escort Mk2. Finishing 20th on the Mewla, their highest place overall finish in the car, has boosted their confidence, as they take a seven point lead to Otterburn. Hot on their heels however is Geoff Glover/Keith Barker in their RWD Astra, who ensures the title fight goes right down to the wire.

Mike Pugsley is already Class B12 champion, after a tremendous season in his 1974 Escort Mk1 RS2000. The Welshman will have Marc Clatworthy with him on the Cheviot, who is aiming to sow up the class co-drivers’ title.

There is a magnificent battle for Class B13 honours, with three drivers very much in contention. Ross Brusby and Steve Retchless are tied for the lead on 42 points. The former has used more and one co-driver in his Chesterfield Transporters-backed Ford Escort Mk2 this year and won twice (and will be co-driven this time by Sam Collis), while the latter has used more than one car (but mostly his Morris Lubricants/ralloy.com full stage rally-prepared Escort Mk2) with Sasha Heriot co-driving, and has finished second twice. If they hit problems, both could be pipped to the title by third placed Tim Waters who, co-driven by his son Jack, has had a wonderful season in his mid-engined Renault Clio V6.

1400C drivers’ champion Bill Paynter contests the event in his rapid Hilka-backed Peugeot 106 Rallye, co-driven by Andy Hall, while Adrian Drury/Cat Lund compete in their smart Peugeot 106 GTi.

Protyre Motorsport will take a large number of tyres to the Cheviot Rally, including Pirelli, Michelin and Hoosier, and operate an on-event fitting service for all registered Championship contenders.

The Cheviot Rally will be streamed live on the Special Stage Facebook page, with commentary from Howard Davies and special guests. The live streamed footage will remain on-line for fans to view after the event, while edited highlights will be televised on the Sky/Freesat Front Runner channel, on the Motor Trend On Demand channel and on the Special Stage Facebook, YouTube and App platforms shortly afterwards.

Organised by Whickham & District Motor Club and Hadrian Motor Sports Club, and run in the memory of Keith Knox, this year’s Ford Parts Cheviot Stages Rally takes place over 60 stage miles on the Otterburn Military Ranges in Northumberland, which is one of the largest live firing MOD ranges in the UK. The event will be based at an area known locally as The Airstrips. On Saturday (27 October), this provides the recce assembly and start point and scrutineering location, whilst documentation will be held in the Rochester Village Hall, approximately five miles from The Airstrips. On Sunday (28 October) The Airstrips host the service area and rally start and finish, with the awards presentation held in the Village Hall on Sunday evening.

Seeded Entry List

Posted: October 23, 2018 4:11 AM

Entries Received / On Line Entry

Posted: September 4, 2018 10:30 AM

Rally Guide available

Posted: July 28, 2018 4:54 PM

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