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Mewla National Rally - 26 Aug 07

Posted: August 29, 2007 11:24 AM - 4315 Hits

Round 6 - 2007 UK Fiesta Sporting Trophy

  • Mewla Rally FST Report - Fisher, Commander of the Ranges
  • Asphalt Rally Series - SPENCER MARKS HIS CARD!..

Posted: August 29, 2007 11:24 AM

Mewla Rally FST Report - Fisher, Commander of the Ranges

Alastair Fisher along with codriver Paul Morris stormed to victory on the FST section of last Sunday’s Mewla National Rally, recording their first win of the Vodka Kick backed Fiesta SportingTrophy UK. The final asphalt based round of this year’s series saw a tough battle for the lead develop over the opening stages. But it was Fisher and Morris who sprayed the champagne and claimed maximum championship points at the Builth Wells finish ramp.

Fifteen crews lined up at the start ramp in the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells on Sunday morning to tackle 87 competitive tarmac miles on the infamous Epynt military ranges in MidWales. Renowned as some of the most daunting stages in the UK, it was sure to be a battle of nerves over the 13 special stages of the event.

The opening three stages were repeated after first service and Adam Gould and Scott Martin immediately stamped their authority on the leaderboard. They set the fastest FST time on five of the six stages and held a 19 second lead going into second service. Fisher was on a steep learning curve, having never competed over Epynt before, but the experience of Morris gave him the confidence to push hard and he was quickest through stage 4. They arrived into service in second place after six stages. Tom Walster and Tim Sturla were in third place, just over 17 seconds behind Fisher, despite picking up a puncture at the end of SS6. Elfyn Evans and Richard Edwards were a further nine seconds behind Walster and five seconds ahead of series leaders Jonathan Greer and Jonny Hart.

A number of crews had problems on the opening group of stages. Liam Regan hit a ditch on stage 3, but emerged with minor damage. Bobby Mitchell had the wrong suspension setup for the Epynt crests, saying that the car was too low and the suspension was too hard. A few ‘tweeks’ at second service were carried out to improve the handling of the car.

Richard ParryJones went off on the opening stage and dropped approximately 40 seconds. Clive Hilton’s bonnet blew open on the way to stage 4 and smashed the windscreen. He and codriver Dylan Jenkins had to do the second loop of three stages with limited visibility as the morning sunshine reflected off the broken glass. Richard Archer and Chris Brooks suffered an off after the ‘German Village’ corner and broke a drive shaft.

Stage 7 saw a remarkable change in the leaderboard. Gould, who had led the event from the outset, retired after the finish of the 17 mile stage with terminal engine damage, white smoke billowing out of the exhaust on his Ford Fiesta ST. Despite this, Gould was still classified as leading the Fiestas after stage 7 but was unable to go any further. Walster suffered another puncture near the start of the stage and was forced to stop and change it. He dropped close to five minutes in the process and plummeted to 14th Fiesta. Fisher dropped some time also when his gearbox stuck in third gear for the last few miles of the stage.

Jonathan Greer caught a car on the stage and dropped approximately ten seconds trying to get past it. While Liam Regan and Mark Ammonds hit a large rock in the Irish Village, causing some damage to their suspension. Elfyn Evans was quickest through the stage but Fisher held the lead going into third service, by a mere 0.2 of a second. Greer moved up to third place a further 21 seconds behind Evans with six stages to go, while Max Utting and Huw Mathias were in fourth place, eleven seconds behind Greer.

As the pressure stepped up a gear at the head of the field, two of the top four encountered problems on the penultimate loop of three stages. Evans temporarily went off stage on stage 8 and dropped valuable time, over thirty seconds, while Max Utting picked up a puncture and lost the handling of his Fiesta ST. He hit some Armco on stage 8, broke a drive shaft and pushed the front left side wheel into the bodywork and was unable to continue.

Fisher arrived into the final service halt of the day with a commanding 43 second lead over fellow Ulster man Greer. Despite his loss of time on stage 8, Evans only dropped one place to third, 36 seconds behind Greer but more importantly, he was over a minute clear of Liam Regan who was fourth. With only seventeen miles of competitive tarmac remaining, it looked like the podium positions were safe.

Evans was quickest over stage 11 and a last minute charge from Greer saw him set quickest times through stages 12 and 13. Fisher set a safe pace over the final thee stages to secure his first FST UK win of the season, arriving back at the Builth Wells finish ramp over a minute ahead of Greer and Hart. Evans finished the event a further 54 seconds behind Greer but claimed third place points.

Regan crossed the finish ramp in fourth place, 37 seconds clear of closest rivals Bobby Mitchell and Seb Marshall. Mitchell, 21 from Dunbar in Scotland, recorded his highest placed FST finish of the season so far and claimed 18 championship points.

James Everard and David Jobling had pushed over the final two stages but were beaten to fifth place by Mitchell by only 2 seconds. Richard ParryJones and Hugh ParryJones finished the event in seventh place, eleven seconds behind Everard and also recorded their highest place finish so far this season. Rory Hall and Gareth Roberts rounded off the top eight, finishing 53 seconds behind the ParryJones brothers.

Despite the punctures early in the rally, Walster managed to make his way back up the leaderboard to finish in ninth place. Barry Greer and John Lemon, who were eight seconds clear of Walster going into the final stage, were beaten to ninth place by a mere four seconds.

Clive Hilton and Dylan Jenkins finished just outside the top ten while Eduardo Valdes and Diego Rumbo made up the remainder of the Fiesta SportingTrophy finishers. Richard Archer, who had held ninth place after stage 10, retired with gearbox problems on the final loop, a disappointing end to the day.

Alastair Fisher, 19 from Enniskillen remarked:
“It is a good feeling to get my first win in the UK championship. The stages were very good and a great challenge. Paul (Morris) knows Epynt very well which gave me the confidence to push on he tricky sections. I am looking forward to the McRae and going back onto gravel but it will be a frantic weekend as I travel straight to Cork straight after the rally for the final round of the Irish series”

Despite his retirement, Gould collected the Castrol Hard Charger Award for the highest number of fastest stage times, five in total against Alastair Fisher’s tally of four. Three drivers collected maximum points for the Competition Car Insurance Best Improvement on Seeding Award – Bobby Mitchell, Rory Hall and Richard ParryJones all improved their FST start positions by 5 places at the Builth Wells finish.

Asphalt Rally Series - SPENCER MARKS HIS CARD!..
ADRIAN SPENCER and co-driver MARK HEWITT took their second maximum score in the BTRDA Asphalt Rally Series on the Eventsigns Mewla National Rally over August Bank Holiday weekend, moving the driver to the head of the points table with one round left to go. A Top 10 finish in his Subaru Impreza saw him move ahead of ANDY BARKER who was forced to miss the event through illness. Spencer’s run was not without its problems as a broken driveshaft at the beginning of the sixth stage cost some time and a ten-second road penalty didn’t help his cause either. However, the stage is now set for a grandstand finale on the Otterburn Ranges on 11th November.

After an enjoyable run over the Epynt Military Ranges, GARY LE COADOU finished less than a minute behind Spencer in his Toyota Celica GT4 to take his third second-place score of the season and he, too, is one of a number of drivers who are in with a chance of outright victory in the inaugural BTRDA Series.

PAUL KENDRICK/ANTON BIRD maintained their 100% finishing record - 5 starts, 5 finishes – with another polished performance in their 1600cc Chrysler Sunbeam. They are now assured of Class C2 victory and Bird currently tops the Co-drivers’ points table.

Father-and-son KARL & CHRIS DAVIES (Subaru Impreza) finished 2nd in Class S behind Spencer/Hewitt and now head into the final round with a good chance of a top three finish at the end of the season. Meanwhile, GRAHAM WATKINS/MARK POWELL were another crew to take their fifth finish of the season, taking their 3rd maximum class score and leaving the opposition with everything to do on Otterburn. Watkins was awarded the ‘John Price Rallying Star Drive’ salver for his efforts on the day.

ANDREW GREGORY/HUW DAVIES have now contested both Series events on Epynt in their Nissan Micra, taking maximum points on each occasion. They arrived back at the finish of the Mewla at the Royal Welsh Showground, in Builth Wells, just over half a minute ahead of the Vauxhall Nova of STUART SPYER/PETER WILLIAMS and the two crews must fight it out on the final round to see who takes the class.

CRAIG JOSE/CHRIS HOWELLS had to contend with a misfire in their Peugeot 205 for much of the day, but still finished 2nd in class behind Kendrick/Bird to take a healthy points score home with them.

PETE DONNACHIE had ‘one of this days his mother warned him about’ in his 2.5 Subaru Impreza. A broken driveshaft on the tenth of the thirteen stages cost a great deal of time and pushed him way down the finishing order.

On a very hot day and on an event where the pace was fast and furious, well over one–third of the original starters failed to make it to the finish. Not that it will be any consolation to them, but just three BTRDA Asphalt Rally Series competitors were amongst that number. RICHARD & PAT EGGER were the first to go when their Nova’s sump was damaged on the second stage and they were followed by PAUL DAVEY/ANDY TODD (MG ZR) and IAN COPPING/DAVE ROWLEY who were sidelined by clutch failure on their Ford Fiesta RWD.

All outstanding matters will now be resolved on the final round of the Series, the Keith Knox Stages, which takes place on Sunday 11th November.

  • Fiesta crews ‘fired up’ for Epynt Challenge

The summer break for BTRDA Asphalt Rally Series competitors is brought to an end over August Bank Holiday weekend with the Eventsigns Mewla National Rally. It is the penultimate round of the inaugural BTRDA Series, the popularity of which really seems to have caught competitors’ imagination. As the season draws to a close, there are a number of close battles which need to be resolved, not least of which is that at the head of the overall points table!

As crews head for Builth Wells, Andy Barker leads the race for the Drivers’ title in his home-built Ford Focus STI by just one point from the Chrysler Sunbeam of Paul Kendrick. Meanwhile, the roles are reversed on the Co-drivers’ side with Anton Bird (Kendrick) narrowly ahead of Steve Mort (Barker). Each competitor’s four best scores (from six events) count towards their final tally and Barker/Mort currently have a score in hand over Kendrick/Bird, having retired on the opening round back in March. Meanwhile, the latter crew have maintained a 100% finishing record thus far which should also see them in good stead in the final reckoning.

With one first and two third places to his credit, Adrian Spencer finds himself in third place in the Drivers’ table. His Subaru Impreza missed the trip to the Tour of Cornwall but has scored strongly on each of the events it has contested.

Not content with pushing their VW Golf into 4th place overall, Graham Watkins/ Mark Powell are also leading their class, ahead of the Ford Fiesta RWD of Ian Copping/Dave Rowley. Copping was unable to start the last event, the Rally of the Midlands, after his car’s gearbox broke as it was being loaded on to the trailer. Consequently, he will be looking to the Mewla for the chance to make up some lost ground.

In the small capacity (1 litre) class, Andrew Gregory (Nissan Micra), Mark Carrow (Peugeot 106) & Stuart Spyer (Vauxhall Nova) are inseparable in the joint-lead while, in the up to 1600cc class, Kendrick/Bird have a significant advantage over the MG ZR of Cornishmen Paul Davey/Andy Todd.

Class S, for the four-wheel drive turbo-charged cars, is the most popular and, behind Mort and Spencer, Gary Le Coadou’s Toyota Celica GT4 is in 3rd place. Having missed the opening round, he took 2nd placed points overall, behind Barker, on both Cornwall and the Rally of the Midlands, but must now score on the two remaining events if he is to make an impression on the leaders.

If there was a prize for ‘furthest-travelled’, it would doubtless go to Neil Cloughley who commutes from the USA to contest events in the series. Completing Cornwall with fewer forward gears than should have been forthcoming from his Ford Escort Cosworth’s box preceded a coming-together with another car that spun in front of him at Millbrook. His participation on Rally of the Midlands was brought to a premature halt when his co-driver fell ill – so, as can be seen, Neil is overdue for a slice of good luck!

Just behind him in the class is Richard Connolly who was leading the series overall after the first two events in his Ford Sierra Cosworth. Retirements from both Millbrook and Midlands have seen his fortunes slump, but there is still time for a revival before the end of the season.

Third co-driver in Class S is 16-year old Chris Davies who navigates for his father Karl in their Impreza. Following finishes on Epynt and Rally of the Midlands, both hold positions in the Top 10 overall and another good run this time will do them no harm at all!

The organisers of the Eventsigns Mewla National Rally, Epynt Motor Club, will be hoping that there is no repeat of the illegal ‘rave’ that caused them a major headache – and re-route! – on last year’s event! Their experience paid dividends then and will be put to good use once again on what is always a very friendly and well-run rally.

The first car – the Audi A3 Quattro of last year’s winners David Kynaston/Andy Russell - leaves the start at the Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells, at 8.00am on Sunday 26th August for the first of 13 stages, totalling 85 miles, on the Epynt Military Ranges. Meanwhile the survivors of what will, doubtless, be a very tough day begin arriving back at the finish from 5.00pm.

Fiesta crews ‘fired up’ for Epynt Challenge
Registered crews of the Vodka Kick supported Fiesta SportingTrophy UK will start round six of the series next Sunday, 26 August, when they return to a tarmac surface for the second and last time this year taking on the notorious Epynt military ranges for the Mewla National Rally. When not hosting the rally, the area is a live firing test range for the British Army so crews will be especially careful not to stray off the tarmac road.

The roads have long been recognised as some of the most daunting tarmac stages in the UK and nerves of steel are required at the best of times. The event will cover 89 competitive miles over 13 stages and the 15 registered crews will start from the Royal Welsh Showground complex in Builth Wells with the service area located in the heart of the action on the military ranges complex.

Eighteen-year-old Jonathan Greer from Carryduff, Northern Ireland, will lead the Fiesta SportingTrophy field away. He will once again be co-driven by Jonny Hart as he aims to increase his lead in the overall championship. Greer, who is also competing in the Irish series, will be hoping his experience from the predominantly tarmac based championship will help him add a third victory to his tally in the UK series so far this season.

Alastair Fisher, 19 from Enniskillen, will start the event behind Greer and will be once again co-driven by Paul Morris. Fisher currently lies 31 points adrift of the overall lead after Swansea Bay and will be counting on Morris’ considerable experience of the ranges to close to the gap on the championship leader.

Tom Walster, 20 from Nottingham, returns to the series after crashing out from the lead of round five, the Swansea Bay Clubman Rally. Walster, who will once again be partnered by co-driver Tim Sturla, will be aiming to finish as high up the leader board as possible following his second non-finish of this year’s championship. He led the first tarmac round, the RBS International Manx Rally, until the last stage before a fuel pipe came loose and forced him into retirement. With two ‘dropped scores’ available in the series, Walster must now count all his event finishes for the overall championship result. With two firsts and a second in his tally, he remains firmly in contention for the series win.

Elfyn Evans, 18 from Machynlleth and co-driver Richard Edwards will also be hoping for a good result in an effort to close the five-point deficit to Walster in the overall standings. Evans performed very well on the RBS International Manx Rally earlier in the year, setting three fastest FST times on his first attempt of the event, finishing third overall behind Greer and Fisher.

Adam Gould, 20 from Bristol, will line up fifth Fiesta on the road and will have the experienced Scott Martin on the notes once again. Gould currently sits in ninth place overall after five rounds having only scored on two rounds so far this season, third on the Malcolm Wilson Stages and second in Swansea Bay last month. Gould will be reunited with his own car for this event, having used fellow competitor Richard Archer’s car on the Swansea Bay Rally as his own was still being repaired.

Liam Regan and Mark Ammonds will begin the event behind Gould. Regan, 19 from Belfast, is currently fifth overall in the championship standings having displayed a consistent improvement of pace throughout the season. He currently lies three points behind Evans and will be pushing hard to put him under pressure.

Max Utting, Richard Archer, James Everard, Bobby Mitchell, Barry Greer, Richard Parry-Jones, Rory Hall, Eduardo Valdes and Clive Hilton round off the Fiesta entries for what promises to be an immense battle throughout the field.

All registered crews will be competing for a prize fund of ?23,400 over the course of the year, with the winner of each round taking home ?750, down to ?75 for eighth position.

At the end of the season, the winner will be presented with a Ford Fiesta ST road car and the top-two, plus a ‘wildcard’, will be given the opportunity to compete head-to-head with drivers from all over the world at the FST International Shoot-Out for an opportunity to win a years work experience with the BP FORD World Rally Team. In addition, Steve Perez, Managing Director of Global Brands Limited, the team behind the Vodka Kick brand has offered the opportunity for a driver from the FST series the chance to compete on a UK event in his own Ford Focus WRC – an incredible opportunity for any young driver.

Championship leader Jonathan Greer said:
“I’m just going to see how the first couple of stages go and see from there. There is no point in taking any risks in a place like Epynt. I have to keep the championship in mind.”

Topics: Mewla National 

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