The sun was out to greet the capacity entry for the first running of the East Riding Stages Rally, the first closed road rally in Yorkshire.
From the start at Bishop Burton College it was a short drive to the opening stage at Wawne Common, where David Henderson/Chris Lees topped the times in their Fiesta R5, four seconds up on Mark Kelly/Neil Colman’s similar car.
Only one second back in third was Tom Preston/Carl Williamson’s Fiesta R5, with James Williams/Dai Roberts’ Hyundai R5, Neil Roskell/Andrew Roughead’s Fiesta R5 and Davis Bogie/Kevin Rae’s Escort Mk2 completing the top six.
It was just a trip across the road for SS2 at Coom Hill, which also incorporated the spectator area at Burton Constable Hall. Kelly was quickest, which halved Henderson’s lead, and Williams was up to third, with Preston now tied in fourth with Roskell. “I had a soft creeping brake pedal from part way into the opening stage, so I was losing confidence,” said Henderson. “It was my first real event in the car, so a steady start but there’s more to come,” Williams added. Roskell was particularly complimentary about the stages. “Fantastic, I was steady on SS1 then pushed on a bit,” he explained.
David Henderson and Chris Lees on their way to victory. Photo: Peter Rolt
SS3 Rise caused a few problems at the top of the leaderboard. Williams was the quickest and was into second place, five seconds off Henderson’s lead and a second ahead of Kelly. “The stages are really good, but I made two errors and ran wide onto the grass,” Kelly admitted. Roskell had pulled two seconds clear of Preston in fourth too, “I went sideways across the water at the finish though,” said Roskell. “I’ve had a few minor issues and I’m on the limiter, but all good,” Preston added.
The Dunnington stage completed the first leg before returning to service and Kelly was quickest again. So Henderson came out with his five second lead intact, but it was Kelly back into second, from Williams, with Roskell a further nine seconds down in fourth. “I had got a bit of a brake issue and put the rear end in a ditch, but managed to pull it out,” Roskell explained.
The top seeded car of Mark Kelly/Neil Colman fought hard for second place. Photo: Peter Rolt
Preston was one second down in fifth position, and having moved into sixth after SS2, Simon Bowen/Craig Simkiss’ Fiesta had consolidated the place. “I’m a bit rusty on the lanes and still learning the car and on SS3 through a right hander I tried slowing from 125mph in 40 yards and was sideways up a bank,” he admitted.
In seventh Andy Fenwick/Rob Fagg’s Hyundai was tied with John Stone/Cameron Fair’s VW Polo R5. “My first time in the car, the tyres were OK, but I’m not pushing too hard,” said Fenwick. “I
was on the wrong tyres, so it was tough and I was losing out under braking,” Stone added.
Bogie had slipped to ninth, but was comfortably fastest two- wheel drive, while behind him Joe Cunningham/ Josh Beer’s Fiesta R5 rounded off the top 10. “My tyres were too hard so I lost traction. I went for a brave set up but going softer for the afternoon,” said Bogie. “I just need to be braver, but I’ve not done much of this sort of thing,” Cunningham added.
Williams was quick out of the blocks in the afternoon and was quickest on both SS 5 & 6, bringing Henderson’s lead down to three seconds. Kelly and Roskell were both settled in third and fourth, despite Roskell hitting a chicane on SS6. But Preston’s rally was over after his Fiesta expired on stage five, moving Bowen up to fifth, with Bogie back up to sixth.
James Williams / Dai Roberts had to settle for third after an eventful afternoon. Photo: Peter Rolt
Williams' push to close the gap still further was thwarted with an off on SS7, before further dramas at the start of the final stage. “We had a wait at the start and as we had starting problems all weekend, I kept it running and then it stalled and just wouldn’t restart,” he explained.
Henderson was left to take an 18 seconds victory, having set the pace again on both of the final tests. “My brakes were marginally better. But I just managed and made some right choices,” he said.
Williams demise had dropped him to third and promoted Kelly once more. “It was much better on the second leg. I made no mistakes and got braver,” said Kelly.
Despite an off in the same field as Williams on SS7, Roskell retained a solid fourth with Bogie claiming a late fifth after Bowen hit trouble. “We broke a driveshaft early into SS7, just as I was getting into it,” he explained.
Rob Swann/Darren Garrod’s Fiesta R5 had been on the edge of the top 10 during the morning, but finally settled in sixth. “I had a grip issue early on and wasn’t at my best,” said Swann.
Fenwick held onto seventh by one second from Stone, with Steve Simpson/Patrick Walsh’s Fiesta Rally2 and Cunningham completing the top 10. “We had the handbrake stick in on SS7. We stopped, restarted and managed to push it off,” said Cunningham.
Bowen still managed to finish the rally in 11th, with Jonathan Mounsey/Richard Wardle’s Fiesta 12th, James Ford/Llion Williams Historic spec Escort 13th and John Indri/Matt Smalley’s Mitsubishi Mirage R5+ 14th, despite a big off earlier. “I spun on the second stage and hit a bank doing about 120mph. We spun again in the air but were able to carry on,” Indri explained.
In Class A Mark/Andrew Constantine’s Corsa led all day, but his comfortable lead was eroded by Ash Slights/Dave Robson’s Escort, sending them into the final stage tied for the class lead. “The car is so reliable, but sometimes it’s me that lets it down,” reckoned Constantine. “It’s just a run around and our first time in this car,” Slights replied.
Constantine finally took victory by one second, with Chris/Heidi Woodcock’s Proton Satria third and Nicky Cowperthwaite/Jonathan Fowler’s Corsa fourth, despite picking up a two minute penalty for hitting a chicane on SS2.
Chris Ruck/Steve Harris’ Corsa Kit Car had led Class B from the start and were 13 secs up on John Deegan/Colin Blunt’s Subaru Justy after five stages. But problems on SS6 dropped Ruck to third and handed the win to Deegan with seven seconds in hand over Tim Johnson/Nigel Hutchinson’s Honda Civic. Billy Grew/Will Atkins’ Fiesta was fourth in class after ousting Gawaine/Lois Clark’s Peugeot 205 Gti on the penultimate stage. “We boiled the brake fluid on SS2 and had to park on the road and let it cool,” said Grew.
In Class C no one could match Tim Mewett/Liz Jordan’s Escort. Having led all day they took the class by 35 secs from Ben/Simon Howlett’s Peugeot 306. Anthony Allery/Simon Dockray’s Escort had held second all day, only to receive a two minute penalty for booking in early at the final control. Ken Sturdy/Tom Hutchings’ Avenger was third, despite losing 20 secs in a field on SS3 and Nathan Evans/Rhys Williams-Edwards’ Clio was fourth after fixing a leaky master cylinder in service.
Behind Bogie in Class D it was Darren Atkinson/Phil Sandham’s Escort. “We were maybe a bit too cautious with our braking early on,” Atkinson admitted. Gerry Frizelle/Mark Mason’s Escort held third from stage three, after Oliver Davies/Ben Innes found a field on SS2. The crew managed to hang on to fourth, “Luckily there wasn’t a gate and we were able to drive back out again,” Davies explained.
As well as being second quickest two-wheel drive, James Ford/Llion Williams dominated the Historic class. “No real dramas, we made a good tyre choice and just went flat out,” Ford said. Will Rowlands/Rich Birch were comfortably in second until their Escort retired on SS5, promoting Gareth Bevan/Steffan Evans’ Escort, with David Kynaston/Andy Conibear’s TR7 V8 third and Tony Shields/Graham Wilcock’s Escort fourth.
View the full results online at rallies.info
By Peter Scherer