Sunday 26 April 2009

Images from the Somerset Stages


The third round of the BTRDA championship was won by Will Nicholls in his Subaru Impreza WRC with Hugh Hunter in second place and the Peugeot Cosworth of Andy Burton/Shelley Rogerson in third.

Mad Malc Hague was leading the 1400s until the last corner of the last stage when his Mk2 lost drive, handing the victory to Nick Priddy in his Corsa.

Gemma maintains champion position in Somerset

Albourne based rally driver Gemma Wheeler maintained her position in the BTRDA Rally First championship last weekend when she finished eighth on the Somerset Stages event in a Peugeot 106.

The opening stage saw Gemma and new co-driver Emma Morrison finish 15th in the Rally First class but they picked up the pace over the next four forest stages to move up to 11th at the first service halt of the rally.

“I was disappointed with the opening stages. This was the first chance I’ve had to drive the car in normal conditions, the only other time I’ve driven it was on the snow and ice of the Wyedean rally,” said Gemma.

“I struggled with the handling, the car was really lively over the bumps and I backed off rather than risk having an off.”

In a change from the usual gravel forest tracks the rally had two stages on the tarmac of Porlock Hill next and Gemma, who is supported by Albany Homes Southern, moved up to ninth place in her prepared car.

Three more forestry stages were scheduled but an accident earlier in the event meant that one was cancelled, leaving two stages until the rally finish. Gemma maintained her pace and moved up another place to eighth.

“Porlock is my favourite stage, I enjoyed the two runs up the hill. The long Croydon stage was excellent too with some long straights to get some speed up.”

“The result means I maintain my championship position but overall I’m a little disappointed with the performance. Hopefully I will be able to do some testing in the car to get more used to the handling before the next round.”

Gemma will be competing on the next championship round, the Plains rally, in three weeks time. To keep up to date with her rallying please visit

Shelley gets championship back on track in Somerset

Lancaster’s Shelley Rogerson got her BTRDA rally championship bid back on track last weekend (25th April) after taking third place overall on the Somerset Stages rally.

Shelley was partnering Andrew Burton in his Peugeot Cosworth and after retiring on the previous championship round, the Malcolm Wilson rally, the aim was for a good finish in Somerset.

The rally started with five stages in the forests to the south of Minehead and Burton and Rogerson were second fastest on three of the stages and fourth fastest on the other two resulting in third place overall behind Will Nicholls in his Subaru Impreza and Hugh Hunter’s Ford Focus.

“Our rally got off to an ok start, we were a bit off the pace on the first two stages but things improved on the next three,” said Shelley.

“We were pleased that the engine was performing well after all the work undertaken on it after the Malcolm Wilson rally. Other than some issues with the brakes the opening stages were trouble free.”

After a service halt the rally moved on to the tarmac road of Porlock Hill for two stages. With the Peugeot not being as competitive on tarmac Burton and Rogerson dropped to fourth place overall after the two Porlock tests.

The rally returned to the forests for the remaining stages and the Peugeot crew pushed hard to take second fastest time in the Croydon stage and first fastest in Whits Wood to move back up to third place at the rally finish.

“We struggled a little on the Porlock stages, the car isn’t really suited to tarmac,” commented Shelley.

“The Croydon stage was excellent though, really fast and flowing, my favourite of the event. Our times on the last two stages were good and it bodes well for the next rally. It’s disappointing not to repeat the win we took on the event in 2006 but after the disappointment of the Malcolm Wilson rally it’s a relief to get a finish. I’d like to thank Co-ordSport, Nicky Grist, Gilletts Spar and Songasport for their support.”

The Somerset result means that Shelley has moved into 5th place in the BTRDA championship standings. The next round is the Plains rally in May.

For more information on Shelley’s rallying please visit

Somerset Stages target achieved for Wright

Rally driver Dave Wright, from Bentham, achieved his target of a top five finish on last weekend’s Somerset Stages rally when he took an excellent fourth place overall in his GPM-prepared Mitsubishi Evo 9.

The opening five forestry stages of the Minehead-based rally saw Wright and co-driver Michael Wilkinson trading times with the Peugeot Cosworth of Andrew Burton and as the rally headed to the first service halt of the event Wright was just nine seconds behind Burton.

“To be on the pace of someone who was won the Somerset Stages so many times was very pleasing," said Wright.

"The overheating problems we had on the last event were cured and the car was performing well. We ran a bit wide on a couple of corners and that cost us a few seconds but overall I was happy to get to service in fourth place. “

The rally moved on to Porlock Hill for two stages on a testing tarmac road and Wright completed the course in third place having overhauled the Peugeot Cosworth.

Two forest stages remained and Wright and Wilkinson took fourth and second fastest times respectively although with Burton finishing second and first on the stages Wright dropped back to fourth.

“Porlock was interesting as there was some rain just as we started the stage and we were on slick tyres. We had a big moment on one of the hairpins but fortunately the car stayed on the road.”

“We lost some time on the long Croydon stage when we slid into the trees on a corner after locking the brakes which was disappointing but overall I’m very happy with finishing fourth, especially as it was the first time I’ve competed on the rally. I’d like to thank Grove Hill Garage and Kumho Tyres for their support and GPM for preparing the car.”

Wright now stands in third place in the BTRDA rally championship with the next round taking place at the Plains rally in May.

Monday 20 April 2009

Shelley hoping for better luck on Somerset Stages rally

Rally co-driver Shelley Rogerson, 23, is hoping for better luck next Saturday (25th April) when she contests the Somerset Stages rally.

Shelley, from Lancaster, will once again partner Andrew Burton in his Peugeot Cosworth and she is aiming for a decent finish after suffering a disappointing retirement from last month’s Malcolm Wilson rally.

“The car had engine problems on the last event and we didn’t even make it through the first stage of the rally,” said Shelley.

“Andrew and his team have been busy working on the engine and hopefully we can have a trouble-free run and get a good result to boost our championship hopes.”

Shelley has twice contested the event with Burton, taking victory in 2006 and retiring whilst in the lead of the 2008 event.

“It’d be great to repeat our 2006 result. I’d rather not have a repeat of last year though! I’m looking forward to competing again, we were both very disappointed with the Malcolm Wilson rally retirement and we’re keen to get back out on the stages. I’d like to thank Co-ordSport, Nicky Grist, Gilletts Spar and Songasport for their support.”

The Somerset Stages rally is the third round of the 2009 BTRDA rally championship, Shelley currently lies in 12th place.

For more information on Shelley’s rallying please visit

Wright aims for top five in Somerset

Bentham-based driver David Wright will continue his BTRDA rally championship campaign next weekend (25th April) when he contests the Somerset Stages rally in a GPM Mitsubishi Evo 9.

After a successful start to the season Wright currently lies in fourth place in the championship and he is aiming for a solid result to maintain his title hopes.

“I’ve never competed on the Somerset Stages before so there’s going to be a bit of a learning curve while I get used to the conditions,” said Wright.

“The rally has attracted a good quality entry so I reckon it will be close at the top of the leaderboard. I’ll be pleased if we can finish in the top five and get some more points for the championship.”

Since the previous round of the championship, March’s Malcolm Wilson rally, work has been done on the car to improve its cooling and to get a little more power from the engine.

“We had some problems with the engine overheating on the last event so we’ve fitted a new radiator which will hopefully make the engine run cooler,” commented Wright.

“We’ve also rebuilt and remapped the engine which has given some extra power.”

Wright, who is backed by Grove Hill Garage and Kumho Tyres, will be co-driven by Michael Wilkinson after their successful debut event together on the last round.

The rally is based in Minehead and will be contested over 40 mile of stages including the testing Porlock Hill tarmac road. For more information please visit

Gemma aiming for Somerset success on rally return

Albourne’s Gemma Wheeler returns to the rally stages next Saturday (25th April) when she contests the Minehead-based Somerset Stages rally in a Peugeot 106 prepared by

Gemma, 21, had a successful start to her rally season when she finished 4th in the Rally First class in treacherous snowy conditions on the Wyedean Forest rally in February and she is targeting another good result in Somerset.

"I expect the conditions to be rather different to those we experienced on the Wyedean rally although I enjoyed sliding the car around on the snow and ice," said Gemma.

"It’s been over two months since that event and I haven’t competed since so I will have to get back into the groove quickly. I’m aiming for a decent result in Rally First, it’d be great to keep a good position in the championship."

Gemma, who is supported by Albany Homes Southern, has already competed on the event twice before, including finishing 11th in the 1400s in 2008 driving a Ford Focus.

"I think my previous experience of the event will be an advantage over some of my rivals, especially on the tarmac of the Porlock Hill stage which presents a different challenge to the usual gravel forest tracks," commented Gemma.

"Porlock was amazing last year, my favourite stage on the rally, my dad was also competing and I was only two seconds behind him!"

The rally starts from Minehead on Saturday morning and will feature around 40 competitive miles.

To keep up to date with Gemma’s rallying please visit her website

BHRC Pirelli Rally report

Darren Moon and Chris Parsons were the big winners on round two of the 2009 Dunlop/Gambia MSA British Historic Rally Championship, the Pirelli Historic Rally (17/18 April). In a repeat of Moon's 2008 victory, they took their Ford Escort Mk2 to victory in category three after a tremendous performance. Other category victories went to the Porsches of Dessie Nutt/Geraldine McBride and Tim Mason/Graham Wild after six challenging stages in the Kershope and Kielder forest complexes.

Category 1: Running first on the road was a tough start for Jonathan and Graham Gale (Sunbeam Tiger) as the opening Glen Dhu stage was covered in loose gravel. They battled on, but were caught out towards the end of the stage and the Tiger slid off. It was undamaged, but could not be recovered before they went OTL. They restarted under super rally rules on Saturday to get some more time in the car.

Instead, Nutt/McBride headed the category one cars by nearly a minute overnight despite finding conditions very tough in the Kershope stages. "There was no grip anywhere; I'm really glad to have survived those two stages," said Nutt.
The Porsche 911 crew took that advantage into Saturday's leg of four stages in the main Kielder complex and were able to control their pace to ensure a clear victory.
Into a fine second place in the category, class B4 victory and the overall championship lead, went the Lotus Cortina of Paul Mankin/Desmond Bell. They had a clear run as Mankin arrived hot foot from a return holiday flight from Hong Kong, and finished a minute and a half down on Nutt. Equally impressive was third overall in category one and B1 victory for the Sunbeam Imp Sport of Geoff Taylor/Steve Greenhill. They lost class rivals Gary and Jen Edgington when the Singer Chamois fell victim to a particularly rough section of stage two, The Valley. A rock damaged the engine bay and wrecked the carburettors and, despite a mighty effort, they were out of the rally.

Class B2 went to Mike Barratt/Jody Watson, another crew to suffer on the rough section of SS2 in the Mini Cooper, while Nick Pinkett/Jonathan Lodge claimed B3 in their V4-powered Saab 96.

Category 2: Rupert Lomax/David Alcock set the category two pace throughout much of the rally in their Escort Mk1, but were denied victory by a rotor arm failure on the Pundershaw stage that opened Saturday's competition. They dropped 90 seconds changing the arm, but still clawed their way back to third at the finish.
Instead, it was Mason/Wild who bagged the spoils after coming close before and suffering a run of minor problems on recent events.

"It was probably the tidiest I've ever driven," said Mason after a controlled performance. Staying clear of punctures helped their progress and category two victory was a just reward. However, just 14s down on the Porsche was the best of the class C3 pack, the Escort Mk1 of Drew Wylie/Howard Pridmore. Once again, C3 proved to be one of the most competitive of all the classes and Wylie drove a storming event to finish 50s up on Tim Jones/Don James. However, after three stages Wylie was dead level with the Escort of Russell Morgan/Martin Kenyon. But Morgan went out with engine trouble in SS4 and Wylie was left with a clear run to class victory. "I was pleased about the company we were keeping," said Wylie.

Lomax/Alcock still took class C5, with second place going to Bob Bean/Malcolm Smithson on their first BHRC event with the ex-Jeremy Easson Escort Mk1. Easson and co-driver Alun Cook, meanwhile, took second in C4 with their Ford Capri RS3100 despite dramas with fuel vapourisation.

A great performance from Vince Bristow/Bob Duck secured a commanding class C2 in their Escort Mk1 as Matt Fowle/Steve Chapman and Richard Williams/Richard Ekin battled for second.

Category 3: The formbook for category three was really shaken up on the opening two stages of Friday evening. Nick Elliott/Dave Price set the pace on the first stage to take an immediate lead, but slid off on the second stage and ended their rally in a ditch. But things were not much better for Julian Reynolds/Ian Oakey in the battle of the Mk2 Escorts. They hit major gearbox problems on the first stage and struggled through to service for a change of 'box. However, overheating woes and an off on Saturday morning brought their rally to a halt.
Instead, Moon and Parsons were turning in a great performance and upped their pace on Saturday morning to build a lead they would hold all the way back to the finish in Carlisle. "That's the first time I've got three Kielder in three attempts," said Parsons.

But it was never easy for Moon as Seamus O'Connell and Mark Glennerster mounted a major charge on Saturday after dropping time on Friday's stages. At the finish the gap was just 15s after O'Connell set fastest time on the final two stages.
Third overall in category three and clear class D3 victory came after a stunning performance by championship newcomers Ryan Barrett and Barry Ferris in their Pinto-engined Escort Mk2. Despite not knowing the region at all, they absolutely flew through Saturday's stages. Second in D3 went to Richard Lane/Frank Richer.
Third in D5 was another good Kielder result for Dick Slaughter/Geoff Dearing, who stayed clear of James Potter/Arwel Jenkins in one of the best BHRC results to date for Potter.

The BHRC action resumes with round three, the Seven Valley Historic Rally, on 30 May. Full results from the Pirelli Historic Rally are at:

By Paul Lawrence

Monday 13 April 2009

Kershaw flies to Crickhowell victory


Reigning champion Richard Kershaw got his title defence off to a perfect start as he took victory in the opening round of the Britpart MSA British Cross Country Championship at a sun-drenched Glanusk Estate near Crickhowell.

The venue was a new one for the championship and a six mile course using the Estate’s gravel and dirt tracks proved to be testing for the competing crews with a mix of fast straights and tight tree-lined corners.

Huddersfield’s Kershaw led the event from run two onwards and finished up over two minutes ahead of nearest rival Chris Hammond.

"The first run was very slippy, it was a bit of a wake up call and it took a while to get back in the groove after a few months away from competing," Kershaw said. "We were lucky and had a trouble-free event with no breakdowns, several of the other guys at the top of the entry had a few problems which lost them time. It was a good event, very enjoyable, and the sunshine was glorious!"

Hammond was pleased with second overall after a consistently quick performance in his Milner R5.

"I thoroughly enjoyed the event, the course was very technical which made it challenging" he said. "It’s a very good start to the championship for me and I’m looking forward to the next round."

Hyde’s Martin Gould took third place in his Mattserati, a further three minutes behind Hammond, with Steve Lloyd claiming a solid result in fourth.

Dan Lofthouse led the event after the first run in the Lofthouse Proto LD4 but problems, including two punctures on one of the runs, dropped him back to fifth overall at the finish.

Tim Dilworth set several top three fastest times in his Peugeot but two stage maximums dropped him down the order as he experienced trouble with the fuel system including a dramatic fire at the finish of the course.

In the Trophy class Bob Seaman took victory in his Milner R4 with Kevin Groos winning the Clubman event.

The championship moves to Radnor in Powys for round two in May with a challenging forest course being planned.


Richard Kershaw (206 Evo 9) 1:21:14
Chris Hammond (Milner R5) 1:23:29
Martin Gould (Mattserati) 1:26:59
Steve Lloyd (Milner R5) 1:30:53
Dan Lofthouse (Lofthouse Proto LD4) 1:38:10
Tony Coid (Tomcat 100) 1:38:44
Martin Cox (Tornado Evo 2) 1:40:08
Michael Moran (Wildcat 100) 1:41:39
Greg MacLeod (Tomcat 100) 1:43:13
Gary Bartlett (Milner R4) 1:43:41

Trophy Winner: Bob Seaman (Milner R4)

Clubman Winner: Kevin Groos (Mattserati)

Report and images by Songasport

Thursday 9 April 2009

Rachel triumphs in tarmac test - interview!

Carlisle’s Rachel Medich enjoyed a successful Horiba d’Isis rally last Saturday when she took second in class with Marcus Tinsley in a Peugeot 106. The event took place at the MIRA test track near Nuneaton. Rachel describes her event in this exclusive interview.

Your last event was the Malcolm Wilson rally in Cumbria which was on gravel forest tracks, the tarmac of the Horiba d’Isis was rather different to compete on I expect?

Definately! The Malcolm Wilson rally was a multi-venue, gravel rally, whereas the Horiba d'Isis was a tarmac, single venue event with a bit of a twist. MIRA is a very fast track with a lot of variation, it's used by car companies to test their new builds so it has everything from massively off-camber corners to the wall of death! Obviously it's not really a wall of death but the track is literally vertical for a few hundred meters which is the strangest feeling ever, although very very good fun. The Tinsley Joiners backed Peugeot 106 was perfectly set up for the venue, she just needed the crew to catch up, although I think we did her justice this time with her first class award since she was built.

You’ve competed on the event before but things didn’t quite go to plan last time?

Unfortunately not! We were travelling along a 800 metre straight into a very tight hairpin left. Whilst braking for the corner we deviated right slightly onto a bit of gravel and walloped the armco at around 70mph. The marshals on that corner thought we were going to go end over end but luckily we didn't, they even returned our missing wing mirror! Thankfully this year was much better, although we did give that corner a bit of respect.

What sort of speeds were you getting up to in the little Peugeot?

I never ever look at the speedo on purpose as we need to keep our speeds high to be competitive in that car, although I did get a accidental glance as we headed into a hairpin left and we were doing 80mph when we were around 50 metres away from said corner! Hence why I keep my head down and read the map!

Any scary moments during the day?

One minor one, there are a couple of crests on the handling section of the course, the first one is designed to make the car go very light over it and that feels awful, then immediately after there is a dip which compresses the suspension and then sends you into a jump while the car isn't ideally set up for it. The jump is also slightly off camber so you hit it at an angle. We hit it flat out after a massive compression, bottomed out and then had a few hundred yards of trying to collect ourselves before the next corner.

After your disappointing retirement on the Malcolm Wilson rally it must feel good to get to the finish?

It certainly did! And winning second in class made it all very worthwhile. We were over a minute up on third place but over a minute down on first, there was no way we'd catch the guy in first as he was on it!! He passed us on one stage as we'd got stuck in gear and couldn't free it, we followed him, he was very neat and had an awesome car. We were very pleased with our second place, we were there from the first stage and held it all day, our first of many class awards in that car we hope.

So when will we see you out next? You’ll be on rescue duties on the Pirelli I expect?

Yes, I shall be at the start of the Pundershaw stage on the Pirelli, I'll be wearing extra trauma repellent so hopefully all the crews will get through incident free. After that I'll be at the Granite City rally in Aberdeen, again on rescue duties. My next competitive outings are the Procare stages and then Hamsterly, both in the MGL Transport LTD backed Sunbeam of Martin Lynch, hoping for a finish this time in that car!

Britpart BCCC to kick off in Crickhowell

The 2009 Britpart British Cross Country Championship starts at the weekend (11/12 April) when the opening round takes place near Crickhowell in South Wales.

The venue is a new one for the championship and a course of six miles, made up of gravel and dirt tracks, will test the competitors over the two days of the event.

Several of last year's leading crews have confirmed their entries for 2009, including 2008 champion Richard Kershaw.

The championship consists of six rounds including events in Radnor forest and at Sweet Lamb. The cost of entering for the full season is £900 with entries also available for individual events.

Regulations and entry forms are available from or from Lilian Turley, 01594 810161 /

BHRC heads for Pirelli Historic Rally

The second round of the Dunlop/Gambia MSA British Historic Rally Championship will pit another fine field of historic rally cars against the challenge of Kielder on the Pirelli Historic Rally (Friday/Saturday 17/18 April).

With two stages on Friday evening and then four more in a quick-fire leg on Saturday morning, it will be a hugely competitive event with battles across all the classes.

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. One of the stars of the Bulldog was Jonathan Gale, having his first rally in the ex-Patrick Watts Sunbeam Tiger. Co-driven by his father Graham, Jonathan drove superbly in Wales to win category 1 for the pre '68 cars. Gale's rivals will again include Dessie Nutt/Geraldine McBride (Porsche 911) and Newcastle crew Paul Mankin/Desmond Bell (Lotus Cortina) on their home event. Meanwhile, returning to the category for this event with their Porsche 911 will be Phil and Barbara Smith.
One of the best battles on the Bulldog was for class B1 as Gary and Jane Edgington (Singer Chamois) beat Steve Taylor and Steve Greenhill (Hillman Imp Sport) in a great final stage contest.

Category 2: In category two, for the post-historic cars, it is Ford Escort Mk1s against Porsche 911s at the head of the category. Former British Rally champion David Higgins is mounting a serious bid on the historic title this year in a Mk1 Escort from Mark Solloway's stable and started his campaign with category two (1968-74) victory in Wales. With Ieuan Thomas alongside, Higgins won despite a serious hand injury and having to adapt to route notes after nearly a decade using his own pace notes. He will surely be quicker still in Kielder. Sure to go well, however, will be Rupert Lomax and David Alcock in their Escort Mk1. They took second to Higgins in Wales and won here a year ago, on their Kielder debut. Meanwhile, a real dark horse in class C5 is Bob Bean, the amazingly quick 71-year old who has acquired the ex-Jeremy Easson Escort for this season and has Malcolm Smithson alongside as usual. Tim Mason/Graham Wild are overdue a strong result and have previously shown their pace in the region with their Porsche 911, while the newly completed 911 of Peter Smith/Russ Langthorne could also be a major contender. Ranged against the Porsches in class C4 will be the Ford Capri RS3100 of Jeremy Easson/Alun Cook, fresh from a great result on the Bulldog.

Class C3 is dominated by the 2-litre Pinto-powered Escort Mk1s and there are a gaggle of potential class winners in what will surely be one of the most competitive classes of the rally. Strong contenders include Bulldog victors Tim Jones and Don James, while Northumberland crew Ken Forster and John Stanger-Leathes will also be right up there on their home event along with Drew Wylie/Howard Pridmore and Andrew Siddall/Captain Thompson.

In class C2 for the 1600cc cars, championship newcomers Richard Williams and Richard Ekin took their Mk1 Escort to victory on the Bulldog.

Category 3: Category three is for the cars produced from 1975 to 1981 and here it is the Ford Escort Mk2 that is the car to beat. With a stunning charge, Nick Elliott and Dave Price won the Bulldog to make it two wins from two BHRC starts. Can the Cheltenham crew complete the hat-trick in Cumbria?
Their major rivals include Julian Reynolds/Ian Oakey, who claimed second in Wales despite some pre-event engine dramas, while more fast and spectacular Escorts will be in the hands of 2008 Pirelli winner Darren Moon, now teamed with Chris Parsons, Bulldog star Seamus O'Connell, Will Onions/Tim Hobbs and Simon Tysoe/Cliff Simmons. Joining the D5 ranks for this event will be David Stokes and Guy Weaver in the Escort Mk2 of Jonathan Brace, which is on loan after Stokes' regular Mk1 was badly damaged on the Bulldog. But no one should see class D5 as just about Ford Escorts. Two Vauxhall Chevettes are sure to fly, with the car of Rob Smith/Shaun O'Gorman more than capable of shaking up the Escort ranks, while Roger Kilty/Lynette Banks are getting quicker and quicker in their Chevette. Added to the mix is the Triumph TR7 V8 of Mike Anderson/Mark Perryman, with its Bulldog engine maladies hopefully resolved.

In D3, for the Pinto-powered Escorts, the benchmarks should be the Mk2 Escort of Richard Lane/Frank Richer, which was hobbled by a puncture in Wales, and David Lloyd-Roberts/Dei Jones, while Chris Shooter/Bev LeGood will also be up there in another Escort Mk2.

In D2, the Escort Mk2 crew of Jakob Scannell/Nina Thompson make the long trek north from Dorset in search of another class win.

The Pirelli Historic Rally is organised by the Cumberland Sporting Car Club and for more details about the event, please visit the website at:

By Paul Lawrence
Image courtesy Songasport