Patriot Stages - 25 Sep 11

Posted: December 17, 2011 12:54 PM - 4647 Hits

Round 8 - 2011 MSA Asphalt Rally Championship

Cole is King......

Posted: December 17, 2011 12:54 PM

Outright victory on the EDP Photo News & Bob Dowen Rally Services Patriot Stages at the weekend was enough to confirm Damian Cole and James Morgan as 2011 REIS MSA Asphalt Rally Champions. Prior to the Caerwent event, the only crew who could possibly deny them the title were Simon Mauger/Brian Cammack who needed to score well on both the Patriot and final round on the Otterburn Ranges if they were to reverse the standings at the top of the points table. So, when Mauger’s Ford Escort MkII ground to a halt during the latter stages of the rally, the matter was settled.

The rally was subject to vastly differing weather conditions during the day and the third stage was held up after the Escort of Chris Lloyd/Gerwyn Barry was involved in a big accident. The car stood up very well to the impact but both crew members were hospitalised – the South Wales crew have been one of the ‘finds’ of the REIS Championship this year and everyone involved wishes them a speedy recovery and we look forward to seeing them out and about again very soon.

2010 MSA Asphalt Champion Cole had set his sights on back-to-back titles, but had to wait a bit longer this time to make sure of it – he was crowned after the 2010 Mewla at the end of August - whilst, at just 20 years of age, Morgan becomes the youngest winning co-driver since the Championship first ran in 1984. Caerwent was also the scene of Cole’s first-ever rally victory back in 2000 and, so, it was fitting that the title was clinched back there.

Mauger’s retirement on the Patriot was down to a broken throttle return spring – a small item that was to have a big effect on the Bicester driver’s season. However, once again, he has shown just what can be achieved by a two-wheel drive normally-aspirated machine and should be well-pleased with his runner-up spot in the overall REIS Championship, plus victory in the inaugural Millington Escort Challenge.

John Indri/Dave Engwell had a frustrating day at Caerwent and can count themselves lucky to have finished after their Darrian T90 GTR survived a few contacts with the notorious kerbs at the MoD facility. They arrived in Wales knowing that their 3rd place in the Championship points table was not secure, but runners-up spot on the day confirmed them in the final podium place in the 2011 Asphalt Championship. It has been a very steep learning curve for the pair of them and they have adapted to the variety of events admirably. But for the ‘off’ on Rally of the Midlands which also precluded their participation on the ALMC Stages, things could well have been even better!

Bob Fowden/Jason Sugden were 5th in their Subaru Impreza, a handful of seconds ahead of top Millington Escort Challenge finishers Pete Rayner/Richard Bonner in their 2.5 litre MkII. Gary Le Coadou/Paul Hollingham brought their Toyota Corolla WRC home in 7th place, exactly a minute in front of co-driver Terry Martin who had hitched a ride in a Metro 6R4.

Having rolled out of the Tyneside Stages in July, Paul Swift returned to the Championship in his once-again pristine Escort to claim a Top 10 place and some more Millington Challenge points, while Darren & Sue Underwood put in another giant-killing performance in their Vauxhall Nova. They were heading for what looked to be a convincing class win a month ago on the Mewla until a driveshaft let go and put them out. However, it all came together on the Patriot and the husband-and-wife crew took 13th overall and a class win – for which Darren was awarded the John Horton Motorsport Management ‘Star Performer’ award.

As can be expected at this time of the season, several of the Championship classes have been put beyond doubt, but one that hasn’t is B10 – non-homologated up to 1600cc. Prior to the Patriot, Kev Monaghan held sway in his Vauxhall Corsa but his absence from the Welsh event has allowed Craig Jose/Nigel Hewett (Peugeot 205) and Paul Culverwell/Jo Saddington (Peugeot 205 RWD) to creep ahead of him, while Michael & Josh Davison (Proton Satria) and Kev Harbour/Dave Tortoishell (Peugeot 205) are closer to him than they were. Monaghan will now have to hope that the Cheviot Keith Knox Stages will give him the opportunity to re-impose his advantage!...

From the 100-strong entry, there were 22 REIS Championship-registered crews + two co-drivers. Other finishers included Phil Turner in his Subaru Impreza, Rod Bennett/ Henry Richardson’s Fiat Punto S1600, Tim Daltry’s Peugeot 205 and the Corsa of Stuart Spyer/Pete Williams. Chris Daykin’s maximum score in N4 has put pressure on class leader Richard Clews, while George Cooke/David Millard claimed N2 for the season in their Saxo VTS.

In addition to Mauger/Cammack, the list of retirements included Spencer Chard/Tim Babbage (Subaru Impreza), Neal Arden/Giles Corbett whose own Impreza went marginally further than this time last year when the gearbox packed up. Stephen Ritchie’s BMW Compact went out on the final stage while Samantha Bartlett’s ride came to an end after four stages when the Peugeot 205 in which she was co-driving lost its gears.

Seven stages at Caerwent had been planned but delays caused by the earlier accident caused the loss of the final one. Nevertheless, the venue is always extremely demanding - as both finishers and retirees would testify!

The UTS Cheviot Keith Knox Stages Rally, on 23rd October, rounds off the 2011 REIS MSA Asphalt Rally Championship. John Stone won it last year and, after a fraught season so far, it is hoped that he will be back not only to defend his victory, but also to get some miles under his belt in preparation for the new year.


Posted: December 17, 2011 12:52 PM


Posted: September 19, 2011 3:08 PM

This time last year, the race for the REIS MSA Asphalt Rally Championship crown was over – Damian Cole had amassed enough points by the end of the Mewla Rally in August to claim the coveted trophy and remove the need to contest the final couple of events in the calendar. Not so this time! Yes, Cole and James Morgan head their respective categories in the points tables but, as they arrive at Caerwent for the Patriot Stages, the penultimate round of the nine-event series, Simon Mauger and Brian Cammack are still too close for comfort – and Mauger won the Patriot Stages outright last year in his Ford Escort MkII!...

If Cole finishes ahead of Mauger at the MoD facility, it’s ‘game-over’ and the Ford Focus WRC driver will have achieved his aim of back-to-back MSA Asphalt Rally Championship titles but, should things go awry, the battle will go to the final round on the Otterburn Military Ranges at the end of October.

John Indri/Dave Engwell’s Darrian T90 GTR cannot finish higher than 3rd overall at the end of the season – the position which it currently occupies – but it is conceivable that it could be caught and passed as the Championship draws to a close. On the Patriot, it is Chris Lloyd/Gerwyn Barry, whose Ford Escort is also chasing Millington Challenge points, that they need to keep an eye on. The Melvyn Evans Motorsport- prepared car has only finished four events to date but is still in 6th place with a score ‘in-hand’ over most of its rivals.

Whilst not in contention for overall Championship honours, Bob Fowden/Jason Sugden (Subaru Impreza) and the returning Gary Le Coadou/Paul Hollingham (Toyota Corolla WRC) both have experience of the tricky stages at Caerwent and can reasonably be expected to be amongst the front-runners. Indeed, as the Toyota underwent continuing development last year, it finished in 9th place and the crew took their old Celica to 6th in 2008.

The four-wheel drive contingent are joined on the Patriot Stages by a quartet of Imprezas in the capable hands of Neal Arden/Giles Corbett, Chris Daykin/Rob Cook, Phil Turner/Simon Anthony and Spencer Chard/Tim Babbage. In 2010, all four crews started the rally but Chard/Babbage were the only ones to be classified as finishers!

The aforementioned Millington Escort Challenge is split into two classes, up to 2100cc and 2101-2500cc. Arriving from Essex with their MkII, Pete Rayner/Richard Bonner will be hoping to return home with a bag full of points in the larger capacity class, while the similar car of Darlington’s Paul Swift, accompanied on this occasion by Stuart Powell, is fitted with a 2.1 litre engine.

Stephen Ritchie’s BMW M3 Compact has a 3-litre engine and, consequently, there are bound to be some fireworks as two-wheel drive honours are disputed during the day! Rod Bennett/Henry Richardson could move into the lead of Class A6 at this crucial point of the season if their Fiat Punto S1600 can produce a similar class-winning result to that on the Mewla Rally last time out.

Tim Daltry also scored good points on the Mewla in his 1.9 Peugeot 205 GTI and a similar performance could do him a power of good, not only in Class B11 but also in the FWD Challenge which is still yet to be sorted. In there fighting are Michael & Josh Davison (Proton Satria) and Kevin Harbour/Dave Tortoishell (Peugeot 205), while Stuart Spyer/Pete Williams (Vauxhall Corsa) and George Cooke/David Millard (Citroen Saxo VTS) should view the event as a good points-scoring opportunity.

Having been absent from the trip to Ireland in July, the Peugeot 205 RWD of Paul Culverwell/Jo Saddington lunched its engine on the next outing on the Tyneside Stages which then led to a no-show on the Mewla. So, the Midlands crew haven’t actually finished a round of the Championship since Rally of the Midlands in June. It goes without saying, therefore, that they will be keeping their fingers crossed that the situation changes at Caerwent.

Darren & Sue Underwood’s 1600cc Vauxhall Nova had worked its way into the Top 20 on the Mewla before a broken CV joint put them out. If they can translate that speed into a result this time, it should be a very impressive one!

The capacity 100-strong entry for the Patriot Stages contains 21 Championship-registered contenders + REIS employee Samantha Bartlett who is co-driving for Nigel Dodds in his Peugeot 205. Caerwent Training Area is a non-spectator venue, but the programme featuring all the REIS MSA Asphalt Rally Championship competitors on the event is due to be broadcast on Motors TV on 29th October at 22.35.

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