Wednesday 28 October 2009

Roger Albert Clark Rally and Boucles de Spa link up

Two of the most popular and demanding historic rallies in Europe have formed a unique partnership, which will result in the winner of the Roger Albert Clark Rally having the chance to compete in the Boucles de Spa 0n 20 February 2010. In a reciprocal arrangement, the winner of the Boucles de Spa will be able to contest the 2010 Roger Albert Clark Rally.

The organisers of the two events, both rightly recognised as their country's top historic event, have formed an alliance to cross-promote their events to competitors across Europe.

The winner of next month's Roger Albert Clark Rally will earn a free entry into the famous Belgian event. In return, the Boucles de Spa winner will get a free entry into next year's Roger Albert Clark.

"We're delighted to form this partnership with one of the most successful historic rallies in Europe," said Colin Heppenstall, rally manager of the Roger Albert Clark. "I visited Spa last February and was hugely impressed with the quality and quantity of entry. We've been working for some time to increase the foreign entry in the Roger Albert Clark and this partnership will be a major boost for those plans."

Now firmly established as a must-do event on the British rallying calendar, the Roger Albert Clark Rally re-creates the classic RAC Rallies of the 1960s and 1970s, covering four days in November and taking in classic gravel stages in Yorkshire, Kielder, Scotland and Cumbria.

Meanwhile, the Boucles de Spa is the biggest historic event on the Belgian calendar and attracts a superb field of over 200 cars, including many famous names from rallying's recent history. In 2009, it ran in very snowy conditions as it took in challenging sections around the town of Spa-Francorchamps.

For more details about the Roger Albert Clark Rally, please visit

Sunday 18 October 2009

Rodgers takes third on Rally4Real Micra debut

Hull’s Tim Rodgers enjoyed a very successful Cambrian rally when he took third in the Rally First class on the debut event for his Rally4Real built Nissan Micra.

The opening pair of stages in Clocaenog forest saw Rodgers struggle a little as a slight leak saw oil dripping onto the clutch which caused it to slip. The time lost meant that he arrived at the first main service halt of the event in 10th place.

“It was disappointing to have the problem in the first couple of stages,” said Rodgers. “We started off well on the first stage but part way through the clutch started slipping which lost us some time. It’s been over a year since I last competed so it took a few miles to get back into the swing of it, especially in a brand new car.”

The service crew were able to fix the problem and with a fully fit car Rodgers was able to increase his pace in the next two tests in Penmachno forest.

The Peart Auto Services and backed Micra powered through the 15 miles of Penmachno defeating all the class rivals with the exception of Rally4Real team-mate Dave Bennett and Rodgers headed for the second main service halt of the day in third place.

The rally only had one stage to go but, at over 16 miles in length, it was a very tough end to the event. However, Rodgers kept up his Penmachno pace and once again achieved second fastest time in the class, maintaining his third place position overall.

“I’m delighted with the result, I think we showed the pace of the car, especially on the last three stages. I’m confident that we could’ve got second in class without the clutch problem. There are a few areas where the car can be improved and Rally4Real are going to do some more work to address these but for a debut event I think the car performed brilliantly.”

In a good event for the Rally4Real supported team Rally First champion Dave Bennett scored another dominant class victory in his Vauxhall Corsa while Tony Simpson won the 1.4L class in a Volkswagon Polo.

Wright crowned champion on Cambrian rally

Against the odds Bentham rally driver David Wright took the BTRDA Gold Star rally championship title last weekend on the Cambrian rally, despite suffering his first retirement of the year when a slight off damaged the oil cooler.

With title rival Will Nicholls only needing to finish 7th to take the title Wright was resigned to losing out on the crown before the event. However, all that was to change on the opening competitive stage of the event in Clocaenog forest.

Towards the end of the stage Nicholls was caught out on one of the corners and rolled his Subaru Impreza down a bank. The car was recovered by a group of spectators but Nicholls lost a lot of time. A further off in the second stage before finally retiring in stage three meant that the title was Wrights.

“We were running three cars behind Will and it was a shock to see him off the road,” said Wright. “We knew there was a chance that the title could now be ours but we had to keep our mind on the job and continue to push hard.”

The opening stage did not run smoothly for Wright either, a spin costing valuable time and meaning that he was down in 13th position. A good run on stage two saw him set fifth fastest time and move up to tenth overall at the first service halt.

The first of two stages in Penmachno forest saw Wright move up to sixth place, ahead of some of the crews from the World Rally championship who were also contesting the event. This was despite a problem with the exhaust.

Disaster struck on the second Penmachno stage though when Wright had a slight off-road excursion. While the off itself wasn’t serious the engine oil cooler was damaged by a tree stump and all the engine oil was lost, forcing Wright and co-driver Michael Wilkinson out of the event.

“It was a sad way to end the event, especially as we had a perfect finishing record up till then. We can console ourselves with the championship though - we knew the title was ours once we heard that Will had retired on the third stage.”

“It’s fantastic to win the title at our first attempt. It’s been a steep learning curve, developing the car through the year and experiencing events that I’ve never competed on before.”

“I’d like to thank Giles Philips at GPM for preparing a car which has allowed me to win the title despite being up against several World Rally cars and thanks to Phil Marks for his work on the engine. I’d also like to thank Grove Hill Garage, Kumho Tyres and Proflex for their support.”

Wright is planning to end the season by contesting the Grizedale Stages rally in Cumbria in December and he is hoping to return to defend his BTRDA title in 2010.

Images from the Cambrian rally

Wright takes the title, Nicholls crashes out, Hirvonen wows the crowds...


Wednesday 14 October 2009

Rachel rallies to island success

Intensive preparation paid off last weekend for Penrith rally co-driver Rachel Medich when she successfully completed the notoriously difficult Tour of Mull car rally. Rachel and driver Dave Edwards took their Vauxhall Astra to 47th place from a start number of 145.

The rally took place on the Isle of Mull, off the west coast of Scotland, and it used closed public roads for the 144 competitive miles of the event.

Preparations for the rally started over two weeks before the start with Edwards and his service crew checking everything over on the rally car to make sure it was up to the job of surviving the tough conditions that Mull would present. Having contested the rally last year Rachel already had pacenotes for most of the course but these needed rehashed into the correct order for the 2009 event. The crew travelled to the island on the Monday before the rally and had a busy few days of making pacenotes for the new sections of the course and then driving each stage several times both in the daylight and at night where necessary to check the notes and try and remember as much of the stages as they could.

Friday evening arrived, the rally was due to start, and a usually calm Rachel was feeling nervous.

“I don't really get nervous before events any more but this one is a whole different ball game,” she said. “We weren't as nervous as last year that’s for sure but we were definitely biting our nails before the start.”

Their rally kicked off at 10.16pm on Friday night with two short stages in Tobermory. They were pleased to be only nine seconds down on rally leader Dougi Hall. Several crews crashed out of the event during the opening night with many more suffering mechanical problems. Edwards and Medich battled through the treacherous conditions to end the night in 80th place.

“The stages were very very slippy with the rain and there were cars off all over the place. It was a relief to get through the night. Some of the stages were cancelled and there were a few hold ups – we didn’t get back to our accommodation till 5.30am!”

“We had our first major moment of the event on the Loch Tuath stage, we took a jump a bit too quickly and when we landed all the lights went out! In the ensuing confusion I turned two pages in the notes but luckily we only had one corner and a long straight to go before service where our excellent crew fixed us up again.”

The rally restarted on Saturday afternoon with five stages in the daylight. The rain that blighted the opening night of the rally had gone and Edwards and Medich put cut slick tyres on the Astra. A good run through the stages saw them move up to 55th place at the end of the second leg of the event although the afternoon was not without incident.

“We had a big moment on the Hill Road stage where the road disappears hard right over a crest and then tightens. Added to this there is an off-camber to it and a 100 foot drop on the outside. We locked up under braking coming into it, that was a moment to have you tightening your belts believe me!”

The crew had a few hours to rest before the start of leg three which would see further stages through Saturday night into Sunday morning. Most of the stages were dry but torrential rain on the final stage nearly caught the Astra crew out.

“The whole of the final stage was one big moment, we set off into it and it was dry, yet 100 metres in the heavens opened and we had to back right off as we were on slick tyres. We kept expecting to be caught as we thought we were going so slow but as we headed up Glen Bellart we caught the car in front and chased him to the finish. We were very lucky not to put the car off the road in those conditions.”

Despite the long hours the rally attracted vast numbers of enthusiasts who braved the variable weather conditions to support the event and create a unique atmosphere.

“The atmosphere is like nothing I've ever experienced before on an event. Everyone you meet is really friendly, even the poor marshals stood outside in the driving rain and freezing wind in the middle of the night still manage to retain their sense of humour!”

“When there is a hold up, even though it's pitch black and you can't see faces, every competitor is out of the car and chatting, it's like a mutual respect for everyone that has the guts to compete on such a difficult event.

“There are some remote sections of the rally where you feel very alone, all you see whilst going through the stage is the occasional light from a radio car or a marshal's fluorescent jacket. Then you come to a spectator area or popular stage and there are thousands of people cheering you on, some with camp fires (don't blame them in that cold) all enjoying the rally and staying to watch the final competitors through.”

A tired but elated crew arrived at the rally finish at 3.06am having survived the event to finish 47th overall.

“We are absolutely thrilled to bits with the result. We went to the island with the intention of improving on our cautious result last year when we finished 65th and we really did that! 47th overall from a starting position of 145 is a massive improvement on seeding and it's an achievement we are very proud of.”

“We really need to say a huge thanks to Chris Thomas, Mal Atkinson, Colin Longton, Christian Parker and Adam and Graham Foxcroft - without them we couldn't have got the result. Also thanks to Dave's family, Sandra, Peter and Ailsa Edwards for looking after us so well.”

After their fine performance Rachel hopes to return to the island in 2010 for a hat-trick of finishes.

“We’re planning to be back next year and hope to improve further. I have already been given the task of providing a talk to the kids at Tobermory High School on rally safety next year so I hope we will get an entry to the event… hint hint!”

Thanks to Rob Lees for the photo

Tuesday 13 October 2009

Superb stages for the Roger Albert Clark Rally

The best condition ever for the special stages is how Colin Heppenstall, rally manager for the Roger Albert Clark Rally, has described the stages for the 2009 event following a major route survey at the end of September.

Heppenstall drove the entire stage route and believes that competitors are in for a real treat as the gravel stages will be in prime condition for the 13-16 November event.

"The stages in Kielder and Scotland have all been re-graded since the last rally," said Heppenstall. "It is the best I've ever seen these stages and the Scottish stages have had four months to settle since they were re-graded."

Heppenstall was also able to report superb conditions in Greystoke Forest, which is used twice on the afternoon of the second day. Heppenstall confirmed that the stage has just been completely re-graded to a very high standard, ahead of the 13-16 November event.

Meanwhile, with exactly a month to go before the rally starts in Pickering, entries for the main event and the five support rallies continue to build. With a surge of entries expected in the final countdown towards the rally, the main event already has a 45-car field with at least another 10 entries expected. Entries are also coming in for the support events:

The Kall Kwik Rally, which runs in Yorkshire on Saturday;
The De Lacy Night Rally, which runs in Kielder on Saturday night;
The Clubman's Rally, which runs on Sunday in the Ae complex;
The Greystoke Challenge on Sunday afternoon;
The Kielder Challenge on Monday.

For more details about the Roger Albert Clark Rally, and the five support rallies, please visit

Monday 12 October 2009

Images from Britpart BCCC round 5


Kershaw triumphs as Dilworth crashes out at Crickhowell

Huddersfield’s Richard Kershaw took his second Britpart B.C.C.C. victory of the season as the championship returned to the Glanusk estate near Crickhowell. Dan Lofthouse took second place and Steven Smith claimed third.

Rain in the lead up to the event meant that the course was extremely slippery and the crews treated the opening runs with caution. Tim Dilworth set the early pace, building up a lead of 47 seconds over Kershaw in the first four runs.

The challenging route was causing some casualties amongst the crews, Brian Farmer rolling his Peugeot following a bad landing after a jump, Martin Gould suffering two stage maximums as his Mattserati picked up two punctures and then broke a propshaft, and Alan Wilkinson putting his Milner off the road at a hairpin.

The remaining three runs of day one saw Kershaw fight back against Dilworth on a drying track, pushing hard in his GSR 206 Evo 9 to end the day with a lead of eight seconds. Lofthouse was a further four minutes back in third. Ian Rochelle joined the casualty list with a broken suspension arm on his Millingon Mattserati while Paul Myers suffered power steering failure in the Britpart 100.

Dilworth was immediately on the pace for the opening runs of day two, putting himself back into the lead but then disaster struck, the steering on his Peugeot 206 STi breaking at 70mph causing the car to crash. The resulting stage maximums pushed Dilworth down the leaderboard leaving Kershaw to claim victory by over nine minutes from Lofthouse.

After a tough event Kershaw was pleased with the victory. “It’s been a good event and we’ve come out with the victory we wanted. We’ve had some fantastic racing on a challenging course.”

Lofthouse was happy to follow up his victory in the previous round with second at Glanusk. “We had a reliable weekend, the event has been quite difficult with a tough course. We didn’t have the speed of Richard or Tim so it’s good to take second.”

Steven Smith showed consistent pace all weekend and, apart from a slight incident with a tree, stayed relatively trouble-free to take third place in his JRG Indy 2 while the Bowler Wildcat of Colin Gould took fourth.

Bob Seaman was fifth overall and also won the Trophy category. The Bartletts returned to the championship with Gary taking sixth and Ian eighth. They were split by Phil Ibbotson who survived some gearbox problems in his Metro 6R4 Evo on day two to finish seventh. Rounding off the top ten were Tony Coid in his battle-scarred Tomcat and Tim Dilworth.

The championship ends with round 6 at Driffield in three weeks.


1. Richard Kershaw GSR 206 Evo 9 2:10:51
2. Dan Lofthouse Lofthouse Proto LD4 2:20:00
3. Steven Smith JRG Indy 2 2:31:52
4. Colin Gould Bowler Wildcat 2:33:32
5. Bob Seaman Milner R4 2:35:26
6. Ian Bartlett Bartletts 3M206 2:35:48
7. Phil Ibbotson Metro 6R4 Evo 2:36:46
8. Gary Bartlett Milner R4 2:39:04
9. Tony Coid Tomcat 100 2:39:58
10. Tim Dilworth Peugeot 206 STi 2:44:25

Trophy Winner: Bob Seaman Milner R4

Friday 9 October 2009

Rodgers to debut Micra on Cambrian Rally

Hull’s Tim Rodgers will make his return to rally competition next Saturday (17th October) when he contests the Cambrian rally in a Nissan Micra.

The car has recently been built by for their hire fleet and it will run in the popular low-budget Rally First class of the BTRDA championship.

Rodgers has not competed on a stage event since last years Plains rally and he is keen to return to the forests.

"It’ll be great to be out competing again. We’re doing the event to test the new car so we’re not expecting too much," said Rodgers.

"The aim is to get to the finish. The competition in Rally First is very close so to get a good result would be a bonus."

Rodgers and co-driver Paul Woodford will form part of a three car supported team – they will be accompanied by Rally First champion Dave Bennett in his Vauxhall Corsa and Tony Simpson who will be out in a Volkswagon Polo 1400.

The Cambrian rally is based in Llandudno and features 45 miles of competitive action in the forests of Clocaenog and Penmachno. The event is the final round of the BTRDA championship and it has attracted a high quality entry, including several crews from the World Rally championship.

Title battle down to the wire for Wright

Bentham rally driver David Wright will go into the final round of the 2009 BTRDA rally championship next Saturday (17th October) with a chance of claiming the overall title.

Wright presently leads the championship in his GPM Mitsubishi Evo 9 but once dropped scores have been taken into account, as per the series regulations, it is rival driver Will Nicholls who possibly has the best chance of the title having already had two retirements this year while Wright has successfully completed all the events.

After a tough season which has seen the crews compete all over England and Wales the championship ends with the Cambrian rally which is based in Llandudno. Wright contested the event last year so he has some experience of the stages.

“It’s great that we’re in with a chance of the title but realistically Will would have to retire for us to win. We’ve also got to keep an eye on Nigel Griffiths who is quite close behind us in the standings,” said Wright.

“We’ve done a little work on the car since the last round and hopefully we’ve cured the misfire problem we had. I’ll be pushing hard to get as good a result as possible to end the championship on a high, my experience from last year should be an advantage. I’d like to thank Giles Philips Motorsport, Kumho Tyres, Proflex and Grove Hill Garage for their support.”

The rally kicks off on Saturday morning from Llandudno and it will be contested over 45 miles of gravel tracks in Clocaenog and Penmachno forests.

Wednesday 7 October 2009

Crickhowell set for BCCC return

The Glanusk Estate near Crickhowell will once again echo to the sound of engines next weekend when the Britpart British Cross Country Championship returns to the venue for round 5 of the series having previously being used in April for the opening event.

Reigning champion Richard Kershaw leads the title race going into round 5 after scoring a second place in the previous round at Sweet Lamb while nearest rival Tim Dilworth had a disappointing result after his car suffered propshaft failure on one of the runs. Dan Lofthouse will be looking for another good result to follow his round 4 victory.

A course of around 6 miles has been planned for Crickhowell, most of it being reversed from the previous event to give some variety.

For more information please visit

Mud Magnet Mull Updates

Carlisle's Rachel Medich has ventured north to the beautiful Isle of Mull to contest the Tour of Mull rally.

She's navigating for Dave Edwards in his Vauxhall Astra and it'll be her second time competing on the island after successfully completing the event last year, also with Edwards.

We will be updating her website throughout the week (subject to phone signals!) so to keep in touch with what's going on please visit

Thursday 1 October 2009

Mason and Wild set for Roger Albert Clark Rally

Tim Mason and Graham Wild are gearing up for another challenge on the Roger Albert Clark Rally this November and are aiming at a top six finish in their Porsche 911.

Leeds-based Mason and Wild, who now lives on the Isle of Man, have shown excellent pace on the last three Roger Albert Clark Rallies, but have yet to secure the result that their speed deserves.

However, they now hope that their bad luck is behind them after a very early departure from the Trackrod Historic Cup on Saturday, 26 September. A broken driveshaft put them out within seconds of the start of the opening special stage in Dalby forest.

Wild calculated that their rally lasted just 130 yards. It was the first time they had run an in-car camera for the TV coverage of the British Historic Rally Championship, and it seems that the curse of the camera struck early.

However, Wild says that there is a positive side of the early retirement on the Trackrod. "We've got eight new tyres and a tank of fuel ready for the Roger Albert Clark Rally, so we'll get it right for that," he said.

For more details about the Roger Albert Clark Rally, please visit