Sunday 29 March 2009

Images from the Bulldog rally


The 2009 British Rally Championship kicked off on Saturday (28th March) with the Bulldog International Rally of North Wales which took place in the forests of Dyfnant, Aberhirnant, Dyfi and Gartheiniog. The event was won by Keith Cronin and Greg Shinnors in their Mitsubishi Evo (car 2).

Also starting at the Bulldog was the British Historic Rally Championship. Category 1 was won by Jonathan Gale in his Sunbeam Tiger, Category 2 by David Higgins in a Mk1 Escort and Category 3 by Nick Elliot in his Mk2.

The accompanying Challenge and Clubman events were won by Matt Edwards and Michael O'Brien respectively.

BHRC R1 report: Bulldog Historic Rally

The 2009 Dunlop/Gambia MSA British Historic Rally Championship got off to a fantastic start on the Bulldog Historic Rally (Saturday 28 March) as a fabulous field of cars made a fine spectacle in the Welsh forests. The big winners of the day were category victors Jonathan Gale/Graham Gale (Sunbeam Tiger), David Higgins/Ieuan Thomas (Ford Escort Mk1) and Nick Elliott/Dave Price (Ford Escort Mk2).

The response to the historic event from the fans out in the forests was overwhelming and the Bulldog has set the scene for a great season of historic rallying. The event received widespread acclaim from the BHRC contenders, with the only negative comments relating to a section of re-graded stage in Dyfi.

Category 1: It was tricky to predict how Jonathan Gale would get on during his first event in the ex-Patrick Watts Sunbeam Tiger, but that question was emphatically answered at the end of the opening eight-mile stage in Aberhirnant. The Messagelabs-backed Tiger was a massive 27s faster than the rest of category one and that set the seal on victory, adding to the celebrations for Graham Gale's 69th birthday.

However, this was never an easy victory for the Gales as Stuart Rolt/Richard Pomfret (Porsche 911) gave valiant chase. But an error on the opening stage cost Rolt a chance of victory on one of his rare forays into the BHRC. "I knocked the ignition switch off on the first stage," admitted Rolt after dropping 25s. "After that we went very well." However, even a stall on a hairpin in Dyfi didn’t unsettle Gale on his way to a fine victory.

Graham Waite/Gill Cotton (Volvo Amazon) clinched class B4 victory as well as third in the category with a mighty performance, finishing half a minute up on Dessie Nutt/Geraldine McBride (Porsche 911). "A few hairy moments, but a really good day," said Waite.

Only father and son crew Phil and Stuart Smith made it to the finish from the class B2 field, with Phil driving his Mini Cooper for the first time in four years. A broken wishbone sidelined the MG Midget of James Stait/Fin Mackintosh.

One of the battles of the rally came in B1 as Gary and Jane Edgington scored a mighty last stage victory in their Singer Chamois. Over the first three stages Geoff Taylor and Steve Greenhill set a cracking pace in their Sunbeam Imp, and going into the final eight miles in Dyfnant they were 14s ahead. But Edgington drove an amazing stage to be 26s faster and take the class. Their stage time was third fastest in category one. "I drove better than I ever have in my life," said Edgington. "He took his brain out," added Taylor as he congratulated his rival.

Category 2: David Higgins nearly didn’t make his BHRC debut after injuring his hand in the workshop on Thursday, but after spending Friday morning at hospital, he managed to make the start. However, gripping the wheel was still a problem as he led the field into the four long stages.

Getting used to route notes rather than their own pace notes was another adjustment for Higgins and Ieuan Thomas, and was a factor in them going off at high-speed in Dyfi. They dropped two minutes and damaged the back of the car, but got out of the stage with a slender lead over Rupert Lomax/David Alcock (Escort Mk1). Higgins then went quickest in Dyfnant to settle the result by 15s. "It wasn't a great rally for us, but it was great fun," said Higgins.

Lomax was very happy with his result, but it was a bad day for David Stokes/Guy Weaver who went off at the same place at Higgins and badly damaged their Escort Mk1.
Third in category two, and first in class C4, went to the wonderful Ford Capri RS3100 of Jeremy Easson/Alun Cook after a great BHRC debut. "It's been a proper rally and a real laugh," said Easson after a fine run. However, Tim Mason/Graham Wild (Porsche 911) had been looking good for C4 spoils until forced to stop and change a puncture in Dyfi.

The tremendous C3 field made it one of the toughest classes on the event and it was a great performance from Tim Jones and Don James that netted victory, as well as fourth overall in category two. Driving out of Dyfi on a front puncture cost them around 20s, but they were still 1m27s up on Drew Wylie/Howard Pridmore as Andrew Siddall/Captain Thompson took second and third ahead of Ken Forster/John Stanger-Leathes, who took their freshly built Escort Mk1 to fourth. Series newcomers Richard Williams/Richard Ekin made a great start to their BHRC campaign by winning C2 by over a minute from Neil Rudd/Brian Hodgson.

Category 3: The line-up in category three was amazing, and the pace was fierce right from the start as Elliott/Price attacked Aberhirnant to take an immediate eight-second lead over Julian Reynolds/Ian Oakey. That set the tone for the rally, and Elliott continued to attack through the two long stages in Gartheiniog and Dyfi to build his lead to 26s before the final Dyfnant stage. "We put a marker down for ourselves on the first stage, but it was the long stages that really mattered," said Elliott after his second win in two BHRC outings. Having had a late engine change immediately before the rally, Reynolds was running without a rev counter and rev limiter, which forced a degree of caution. "That unsettled us a bit, but Nick was flying," said Reynolds.

Gwyndaf Evans/Clive Jenkins were getting quicker and quicker over the early miles of the rally in the Escort Mk2 from Viking Motorsport, but a spin in Dyfi left the car beached and they were OTL by the time they found enough spectators to get the car running again.

Into a fine third came Seamus O'Connell and Dai Roberts in their Escort Mk2, with the Irishman loving the flowing Welsh stages. Also new to the area was Darren Moon who, with Chris Parsons alongside for the first time, was on a steep learning curve but bagged a good fourth.

Simon Tysoe/Cliff Simmons, Will Onions/Tim Hobbs and Stuart Clarke/Nigel Gardner packed out the next places in their Escorts as top quality ran well beyond the top 10. Best of the non-Escorts, despite a wing-crunching off was the Vauxhall Chevette of Roger Kilty/Lynette Banks.

Local crew David Lloyd-Robert/Dei Jones bagged a fine class D3 win on their BHRC debut, though the charging Adrian Young/Keith Fellowes were never far away in their Escort.

Finally, championship newcomers Jacob Scannell/Nina Thompson clinched D2 with a good performance in their Escort Mk2.

The BHRC action resumes with round two, the Pirelli Historic Rally, on 17/18 April.

By Paul Lawrence
Image by Songasport

Thursday 26 March 2009

BHRC gets terrestrial TV for 2009

Five rounds of the Dunlop/Gambia MSA British Historic Rally Championship will be covered on terrestrial television in 2009 following confirmation of an exciting new broadcasting deal for the championship.

It had originally been planned to have the BHRC action shown on satellite stations, but recent changes in the motorsport television market place opened up a superb opportunity for historic rallying to be shown on Channel 5, within the successful Race and Rally UK series.

Thanks to Dunlop's increased backing for the championship, an agreement is now in place with AMG TV to film the five gravel events and broadcast them in a series of five hour-long programmes on Channel 5. The programmes will also be broadcast on the Motors TV channel.

The coverage will start with the Bulldog Historic Rally (28 March) and transmission times will be confirmed in due course.

This major development for the BHRC comes at a time when historic rallying is booming and becoming ever more popular among rally fans, both out on the stages and at home in front of TV screens. It underlines the BHRC's place at the pinnacle of UK historic rallying and sets the scene for a tremendous season in 2009.

"This is fantastic news for the championship and is one of the key enhancements made possible by Dunlop's increased support for the BHRC," said championship co-ordinator Simon Marks. "Getting historic rallying onto terrestrial TV is a massive boost for everyone involved in this branch of the sport and will bring the BHRC to a major new audience. We are very grateful to Steven Smith, the reigning BHRC champion, for all his time and work in pulling this huge advance together."

By Paul Lawrence
Image by Songasport

Monday 23 March 2009

Britpart BCCC Round 1: Moved!

Round 1 of the Britpart British Cross Country Championship, scheduled to take place on MoD land at Brough in Cumbria, has been moved to Crickhowell in South Wales. The event will still be on 11/12 April, regulations and entry details are available from

Friday 20 March 2009

BHRC Round 1: Bulldog Preview

The opening round of the Dunlop/Gambia MSA British Historic Rally Championship has attracted a sensational 83-car field to the Bulldog Historic Rally (Saturday 28 March).

Three former British champions and four former British historic champions are all in the entry for the event that tackles 50 miles of prime Welsh forest roads in just four special stages. It promises to be a fabulous start to the 2009 season.

Category 1: Category one is for the oldest cars, from the pre '68 era, and they run first on the road with a short gap before the rest of the historic field. Top of the tree is the Porsche 911 of former champions Dessie Nutt/Geraldine McBride, but they can expect a stern challenge from the similar car of team mates Stuart Rolt/Richard Pomfret, making a rare but welcome BHRC appearance.

Lining up against the Porsches will be the former championship winning Sunbeam Tiger, now in the hands of Jonathan Gale, who is co-driven by his father Graham for his debut rally in the ex-Patrick Watts car. Meanwhile, Russell Brookes, a winner of this rally 20 years ago, is having a one-off run in the Porsche 911 of Steve Perez, with Neil Wilson alongside.

Local driver Gwilym Roberts heads the B4 field in his Lotus Cortina, partnered by Gwawr Hughes, but the amazing Volvo Amazon of Graham Waite/Gill Cotton will be hustled through the forests in fine style. James Stait heads the B2 pack in his MG Midget, while local crew Gary and Jane Edgington from Corwen top the B1 field in their wonderful Singer Chamois.

Category 2: In category two, for the post-historic cars, it is Ford Escort Mk1s against Porsche 911s at the head of the category. In the Escort brigade, BHRC debutant David Higgins, partnered by Ieuan Thomas, should really fly in one of Mark Solloway's Mk1 Escorts. David Stokes and Guy Weaver have already scored two great results this season in warm-up events, so they will be fully match fit. But with rivalry from Rupert Lomax/David Alcock and Rikki Proffitt/Phill Harrison, it will be very hard fought. Also in C5 is the beautiful Lancia Stratos of Steve Perez/Paul Spooner. Jeremy Easson has switched to his stunning Ford Capri RS3100 and will be a real crowd favourite, but goes up against at least five Porsche 911s in class C4. Tim Mason/Graham Wild and Andrew Haddon/Mark Crisp are established pacesetters, while the newly completed 911 of Peter Smith/Russ Langthorne could also be a major contender.

Class C3 is dominated by the 2-litre Pinto-powered Escort Mk1s and there are as many as seven potential class winners in what will surely be one of the most competitive classes of the rally. Pick a winner from Ken Forster/John Stanger-Leathes, Russell Morgan/Martin Kenyon, James Young/David Young, Neal James/Kevin Jones, Tim Jones/Don James, Andrew Siddall/Captain Thompson and Robin Shuttleworth/Mark Midgley. It will be a fierce contest!

In class C2 for the 1600cc cars, championship newcomers Richard Williams/Richard Ekin take on the similar Mk1 Escort of Tony Ginns/Mark Ellis.

Category 3: Leading the category three competitors away will be Gwyndaf Evans, partnered by Gareth Roberts in a fresh Mk2 Escort from the new company set up by World champion co-driver Phil Mills. No one knows these stages better than Gwyndaf, so expect him to fly on what is, at least initially, a one-off outing.

The line-up of established BHRC contenders is hugely impressive and it is the Ford Escort Mk2 crews of Darren Moon/Chris Parsons, Richard Hill/Patrick Cooper, Nick Elliott/Dave Price, Gareth Lloyd/Ryland James, Will Onions/Tim Hobbs and Simon Tysoe/Cliff Simmons that will be right on the pace. Then there is the Mk2 of Julian Reynolds/Ian Oakey, which could be the quickest of the lot. What is certain is that the pace in class D5 is going to be ferocious.

But no one should see D5 as just about Ford Escorts. The Vauxhall Chevette of Rob Smith/Shaun O'Gorman is sure to fly on its BHRC debut, with the car more than capable of shaking up the Escort ranks. Then there is the class D4 Triumph TR7 V8 of Mike Anderson/Alan Brown as the driver returns to forest rallying after a lengthy break.

In D3, for the Pinto-powered Escorts, Guy Woodcock/Iwan Jones should go well even though Guy has done very little gravel rallying in his long career. The D3 benchmark should be the similar Mk2 Escort of Richard Lane/Frank Richer. In D2, Jacob Scannell and Nina Thompson make their BHRC debut in a 1600cc Escort Mk2.

The Bulldog Historic Rally is organised by Wolverhampton and South Staffs Car Club and starts at 7.45am on Saturday 28 March from Llangollen. For more details about the event, please visit the website at:

By Paul Lawrence
Image by Songasport

Sunday 15 March 2009

Cookson and Wilkinson aim to keep momentum going on Border Counties Rally

Saltash driver Alan Cookson and London co-driver Julian Wilkinson are aiming for a repeat performance when they contest round two of the Pirelli MSA Gravel Rally Championship next weekend (20 –21 March), the Border Counties Rally.

Fresh from their top 10 finish on the season opening Rallye Sunseeker last month, the pair will be back in action in their Robert Wiseman Dairies, Kick Energy,, Riverside Property Services, SPAR and supported Subaru Impreza World Rally Car (WRC), run by TEG Sport, on the Jedburgh-based event.

It is the third year in succession that the crew will be tackling the challenging Kielder Forest stages.

In 2008 they finished 17th overall after being hampered by a faulty diff and after battling through adverse weather conditions ranging from snow and fog to torrential rain.

They picked up an all-important 16 points on the Sunseeker and they hope to keep the momentum up when they make the long trip north next week.

“After the best start to our season for the last two years, we’re hoping to capitalise on it and get another top 10 result,” Cookson said.

“But first of all we need to finish the event and avoid those infamous ditches in Kielder.

“We’re hoping the stages are in a bit better condition this time out as they seemed rough in places last year and we felt like we never really got fully settled in. The weather didn’t help either and contributed to it being one of the toughest rallies we’ve ever done.

“We’re also looking forward to doing some stages in the dark on Friday night which is a great opportunity. I’ve been making sure I get a good dose of carrots by drinking carrot and coriander soup in the hope of developing my night vision as I’m sure we’ll need as much help as we can get!”

By Amanda Cornforth
Image courtesy Songasport

Friday 13 March 2009

Regs available for Britpart BCCC

Regulations for the 2009 Britpart MSA British Cross Country Championship (B.C.C.C.) are now available. The championship will consist of six "competitive safari" events between April and October held at such venues as Walter’s Arena and Radnor forest.

Each event will be held over two days and will consist of approximately 80-100 competitive miles. The opening round is on the army ranges near Brough in Cumbria and it takes place on the weekend of 11/12th April.

Competitive safaris are the UK's offroad motorsport equivalent of a multi-use stage rally. A course is set out, usually around 6-10 miles long, and the competitors are given a set number of laps to achieve over the weekend. Each of the laps is timed and the lowest aggregate time at the end of the day wins.

A wide variety of vehicles take part in the events, from almost standard production vehicles to purpose-built specials such as the BMW M3-engined 6R4 of Rochdale’s Phil Ibbotson pictured.

For more information and to download the regs please visit

By Songasport

Thursday 12 March 2009

Greystoke gasket grief for rallying Rachel

Carlisle-based rally co-driver Rachel Medich had a disappointing end to the Malcolm Wilson Rally last Saturday when mechanical failure forced the MGL Transport LTD supported Talbot Sunbeam she was sharing with Irishman Martin Lynch into retirement. Rachel gives the story of her event in this interview.

I gather you had a bit of drama with the car in the week before the rally?

Yes, just a bit, we needed a new engine as, according to Martin, we were sabotaged by Ken Jackson in car 88! He took the Sunbeam out for a run and the engine blew up… of course we have no proof, but Martin reckons he found evidence of toffee forced into the cylinder head. He got it fixed in good time only to complain at me about a “new noise” in the rear, which, as I informed him, had been present since before the Galloway Hills Rally last year. He complained about the “new noise” then too. We took the car to scrutineering only to discover that during a recent respray, the safety stickers on the bonnet had not been replaced, meaning I had to guess which was the engine kill pull switch. I pulled one, using the eeny, meeny, miny, moo method and promptly removed it, snapping it and almost performing a finger amputation on myself. So, with blood pouring from my finger, we went in search of a new switch and some stickers to pass scrutineering, which, we luckily did.

It must’ve been a relief just to get to the startline then! How did the first stage go?

It certainly was. The first stage was good fun, I can remember glancing up a few times and thinking “ooh, that tree/ rock is a wee bit close” as Martin used the ditches to hook the car around the corner. We made it to the end and started to get into the swing of things, Martin is always very nervous at first and only relaxes once he has one completed stage under his belt.

The next two stages were Comb and Wythop which run in the hills near Keswick. There are some pretty big drops in there, did you or Martin shut your eyes on any of them?

If I find out Martin shut his eyes I’ll be having words! I warned him before we went into the Comb stage that when I say “fresh air bend” I mean a drop of around 400 feet and nothing to break the fall. I don’t know if he was listening as I would call the corner along the lines of “100 into hairpin right, FRESH AIR BEND! give it some respect, back off!” and it was only as we neared the end of the 100 straight when he saw that I wasn’t joking that I felt his right foot lift. It’s very worrying as you fly into some of those bends and look into the abyss, some of the drops have claimed a few cars, luckily with no injuries. Martin and I did enjoy the “big dipper” in Wythop, a 500 metre straight where you end up in top gear on the rev limiter. He was smiling at that.

There’s some footage of you doing an F1-style passing move in Comb, what was going on there?

Car 86, which was directly behind us, managed to pass us on a road section as we checked our tyres and wheel nuts. Unfortunately he was a lot slower than us and we caught him around a mile before the end of the 6 mile Comb stage. We undertook him on an acute hairpin and regained our road position. Unfortunately Martin convinced himself we had a rear pucture and slowed after that, only to discover it was a phantom and that the excessive rear movement was due to the slippy stages.

The rally then moved on to Greystoke where your event came to a premature end, what happened?

Greystoke was extremely rough, in fact I picked up bruises on my collar bones from the jarring effect it was having and the use of the harness. We set off into the stage and it soon became apparent that we were overheating, the windscreen had completely steamed up and Martin was having to wipe his window constantly. I could not see a thing so it’s pretty lucky that I have developed the subtle art of co-driving off feeling alone, although on long straights it helps if you can see when to call the next corner. Around 3/4 of the way through we noticed the engine note change, I told Martin we had around two miles to go and he continued. I looked down at my feet as they felt hot and there was smoke!!! We went over the flying finish and I jumped out, promptly bungeeing myself back into the car as I’d neglected to disconnect my helmet. I thought we were going up in smoke. It was oil burning due to the headgasket blowing. We had knocked the bottom out of the radiator in the rough stage, lost all the water and cooked the poor engine.

Pretty disappointing not to get a finish then?

Yes very, more so for Martin, I’m very used to it, I haven’t finished the event yet in three times of trying. Malcolm Wilson Rally 3, Rachel 0

Your next event is at MIRA in April with a different car, different driver and different surface. You’ll be hoping for a different result as well?

Oh yes, myself and Marcus Tinsley in the Tinsley Joiners Peugeot 106 Rallye always seem to have fun on our events, I won’t tempt fate by saying we usually finish but……… We’ll be taking part in the Horiba d’Isis stages at the MIRA proving ground. It’s an excellent event with so many driver and co-driver challenges, theres simulated rail track, excessive camber and even a wall of death where you are literally vertical in the car. Last year we had a big moment where we hit some armco at around 70mph and only narrowly avoided rolling end over end. We went on to finish the event though. Hopefully we will get to the end this year too!

And you still like chocolate ice cream?

Of course! And Smarties ice cream!!!!

By Songasport

Monday 9 March 2009

Mechanical misery for Shelley

Lancaster’s Shelley Rogerson suffered a disappointing Malcolm Wilson rally last Saturday (7th March) when mechanical problems ended her event on the opening stage.

Shelley was partnering Andrew Burton in his Peugeot Cosworth. It was the first time that the popular car had appeared on the Lake District event, the second round of the BTRDA rally championship.

Following a maximum points haul on the opening round of the championship, last months Wyedean Forest rally, hopes were high for a good result to maintain the championship lead. However, disaster was to strike on the opening three mile Hobcarton stage.

“The stage was going quite well but towards the end there was a bang from the engine and we lost power,” said Shelley.

“Andrew switched the engine off and we coasted down the incline at the stage finish. We tried starting it up again but it wouldn’t start and our rally was over. We’re very disappointed as we were confident of getting a decent result.”

“The engine will need stripped down to see exactly what is wrong with it but hopefully it will be fixed for the next championship round in April. I’d like to thank Co-ordSport, Pacenotes, Legend Fires, Gilletts Spar, Nicky Grist and Songasport for their support.”

The retirement means that Shelley drops to 12th in the BTRDA championship table. Please visit for all the latest news and pictures.

By Songasport
Image courtesy Steve Pugh

Perez triumphs in Cumbria - Malcolm Wilson rally photos


Chesterfield’s Steve Perez won the Malcolm Wilson rally last Saturday in his Focus WRC ahead of Will Nicholls and David Wright. Leading entries Paul Bird and Andrew Burton both retired early in the event, Burton suffering engine damage in stage 1 and Bird putting his car off the road in stage 2.

The 1400 category was won by Graham Middleton/Ella Flynn in a Suzuki Ignis with Mick Jones winning the Silver Star category in his Mk 2 Escort.

For full results please see the BTRDA website.

By Songasport

Hall and Durant triumph in Fiesta battle - pics!


Kris Hall and Robbie Durant took victory in the opening round of the 2009 Fiesta Sporting Trophy with Matt Edwards and Andy Murphy in second. Please click the link to see images of all crews who made it to Comb.

Wright claims podium finish on new car debut

Bentham’s David Wright enjoyed a successful debut event in his new GPM-prepared Mitsubishi Evo 9 when he took third place overall on the Malcolm Wilson rally in Cumbria last Saturday (7th March).

Despite only driving the car briefly at a test session before the rally Wright and co-driver Michael Wilkinson were immediately on the pace on the opening Hobcarton stage setting 4th fastest time.

“I was pleased to be on the pace with the new car. We had a test in Stang forest before the rally to get things set up properly and the work paid off,” said Wright.

“As well as the new car I’d to get used to a new co-driver for the event so that made the time even more pleasing”.

Quick times on the Comb and Wythop stages saw Wright and Wilkinson up to third overall as the rally headed to Greystoke forest near Penrith. The Greystoke stage proved unlucky as the car picked up a puncture which lost the crew over 40 seconds to the leaders, dropping them to 9th place.

Two stages in Grizedale followed with Wright flying through the forest and setting two second fastest times to jump back up to third place, a position which was consolidated on the final Greystoke stage.

“The puncture was disappointing, without the time loss we would’ve finished second overall and got maximum points as the rally winner Steve Perez was not registered.”

“However, I enjoyed the event and the car was fantastic. Thanks to GPM for preparing the car and to Grove Hill Garage and Kumho Tyres for their support. We’re going to make a few refinements to the car over the next few weeks and then hopefully we’ll be out again on the Somerset Stages in April.”

The Malcolm Wilson rally was the second round of the BTRDA rally championship. Wright currently stands in fourth place in the championship.

By Songasport

Thursday 5 March 2009

Higgins launches BHRC campaign

Former British Rally Champion David Higgins has announced plans to contest the Dunlop/Gambia MSA British Historic Rally Championship in a Ford Escort, starting with the Bulldog Historic Rally on 28 March.

Higgins plans to contest six of the season’s eight events, but will miss the Severn Valley Stages in May and the Tour of Flanders in September due to clashes with his programme in China with a Group N Mitsubishi.

The 2004 British Rally champion will compete in a car from Mark Solloway’s Historic Rallysport concern and will tackle the Bulldog in a Mk1 Escort.

“I’ve got 95% of the budget we need and Mark produces a fantastic car, so I gave him a ring to see if he was up for it,” said Higgins. He will be joined on the Bulldog by his 2008 team mate Hugh Evans, who will contest at least the season opener in one of Solloway’s Mk2 Escorts.

“I’m really excited about it,” said Higgins as he looked forward to the Welsh event. “The competition in historics is very strong and the cars are brilliant fun to drive. You get such a buzz out of driving these cars.”

By Paul Lawrence
Image courtesy Songasport

Tuesday 3 March 2009

Cookson and Wilkinson get top ten finish on Rallye Sunseeker

Saltash driver Alan Cookson and London co-driver Julian Wilkinson got off to the best possible start to the season as they finished in the top 10 on this weekend’s Rallye Sunseeker (27 – 28 February).

The crew came home 10th overall and second in class four in their Robert Wiseman Dairies, Kick Energy,, Riverside Property Services, SPAR and supported Subaru Impreza World Rally Car (WRC) on the Bournemouth-based gravel event.

It was the opening round of the 2009 Pirelli MSA Gravel Rally Championship for Cookson and Wilkinson and they clinched an all-important 16 points as they claimed a result on the rally for the first time on their third attempt.

They consistently posted times inside the top 13 throughout the event and enjoyed a close battle with the Mitsubishi WRC Evo of Charlie Payne and Craig Thorley for position.

There were concerns on the first loop of stages on Saturday morning when the car was pulling from left to right and the pair thought it was a serious suspension problem. It turned out to be a tyre issue when the team realised the car had been fitted with a wrong sized tyre. They also had an engine that seemed to be down on power in the morning, but the fitting of some different plugs at service by the TEG Sport Team cured the problem.

The rest of the event ran relatively trouble-free. They picked up a puncture just before the start of stage 11 but after noticing it, promptly changed the tyre so it caused them no woe.

They set a fine pace on the final stage as they were seventh quickest on the Hoare Banks 2 test, their fastest time of the event.

“I’m delighted. It’s third time lucky and to get in the top ten I’m absolutely over the moon,” Cookson said.

“It was lucky that I noticed that puncture before the 10 mile 11th test or it could have been a lot different, but this result is a great start to our season and one that is not bad for a 12-year-old car.

“The car felt great all afternoon and we set some competitive times against what was a very strong field, but most of all it’s good to finally put the misfortune of the past behind us. After not finishing the last two years, you would have thought we had won the rally when we crossed the finish line on stage 13 it meant that much to both Julian and I to finally finish our local event.

“I have a few SPAR stores in the Bournemouth and Dorset area and it was good to see some of the staff out supporting us and to give them a good result was the icing on the cake.”

Cookson and Wilkinson will next be in action on the Border Counties Rally based in Jedburgh in just under three weeks time where they hope to capitalise on their best start to a season in three years.

By Amanda Cornforth
Image courtesy Simon Clarkr

Monday 2 March 2009

Shelley set for battle in the Lakes

Shelley Rogerson, 23, will be back out on the rally stages next Saturday (7th March) when she contests the Malcolm Wilson rally in Cumbria, the second round of the BTRDA championship. Shelley, from Lancaster, will partner Andrew Burton in his Peugeot Cosworth. It is the first time the crowd-pleasing Peugeot has been entered the event although Andrew has taken part previously in his old Alfa Ferrari car.

The pairing head to the Lake District in the lead of the BTRDA championship after scoring maximum points on the opening round, February’s Wyedean Forest rally.

“The Malcolm Wilson rally is my local event, I’m hoping we will get a decent finish and maintain our championship lead,” said Shelley.

“The rally has attracted a top quality entry, there seems to be more World Rally cars on the entry list than on a world championship round! It’s certainly going to be close at the top of the leaderboard, there are several crews who could take victory.

“It’s a few years since Andrew competed in Cumbria so it will be interesting to see how he goes, hopefully we will be competitive.”

Shelley, who is backed by Co-ordSport, Legend Fires, Gilletts Spar, Nicky Grist and Songasport, is planning on doing most rounds of the BTRDA championship in 2009 as well as selected rounds of the ANCRO championship. To keep up to date with her rallying please visit

By Songasport

Wright to debut new car on Malcolm Wilson rally

Bentham’s David Wright will debut a brand new Mitsubishi Evo 9 on next Saturday’s Malcolm Wilson rally. The car, which has been prepared by Giles Philips Motorsport, features a more powerful engine and is lighter than the car Wright used on the recent Wyedean Forest rally, where he finished 16th after a few spins in the snowy conditions.

Wright has a good record on the Cumbrian event, having finished 5th in both 2007 and 2008, and he is aiming for another decent finish on Saturday.

“The new car should be a bit quicker than the old one and it’s certainly faster than the car we finished 5th in last year so hopefully we’ll get a good result, although it’s going to be very competitive with a lot of World Rally cars doing the event as well as the Peugeot Cosworth,” said Wright.

“As well as the new car I’ve got a new co-driver for the event, Michael Wilkinson, so the first couple of stages should be interesting as I get used to everything. We’re going to test the car before the rally so at least I’ll have a bit of mileage in it before the first rally stage. I’d like to thank Grove Hill Garage and Kumho Tyres for their support”.

The rally is the second round of the BTRDA championship and it starts in Cockermouth before the crews head out for seven competitive stages in the Lake District forests. For further information on the event please visit

By Songasport