Monday 27 September 2010

Championship hopes end in Yorkshire for Peart

Burton Pidsea’s Chris Peart ended his BRC Challenge rally season last weekend with a disappointing retirement on the final round of the championship, the Trackrod Challenge rally. The retirement ended his hopes of taking the championship title.

Going into the event Peart had been just three points behind the championship leader and, with the event using some of his favourite Yorkshire forests, he had a good chance of claiming the crown.

The opening Housedale stage saw Peart and co-driver Jamie Forrest take third fastest time and second in class but it all went wrong on the second stage when his Peart Auto Services-backed Vauxhall Corsa S1600 ran wide on a bend and clipped a tree which caused damage to the wheel, brake disc and steering. The damage was severe enough to put Peart out of the event and end his championship hopes.

"The first stage went ok, we were still getting used to the car with it being our first time competing in it on gravel," said Peart.

"We were pushing hard on the second stage but took a long sweeping bend a little too quickly. There was a tree right next to the track and we hit it as we ran wide. Sadly the resulting damage meant we couldn’t continue."

"It’s a disappointing way to end the championship but overall I’m very pleased with my year, we’ve been competitive and the events have been very enjoyable."

Peart is currently deciding on his plans for 2011 and may contest some local events in the remainder of 2010.

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Thursday 16 September 2010

Sykes aims to end season on a high

Stourbridge rally driver Richard Sykes is hoping for a troublefree run on next weekend’s International Rally Yorkshire after a disappointing rally season which has been the worst he has ever encountered with several potential good results spoiled by problems.

The rally is the final round of the Citroën Racing Trophy which Sykes has been contesting in his Dulux Trade Paints, G I Sykes and Boroughbridge Marina backed Citroën C2 R2 Max.

Sykes’ last event in the C2 was the Rally Isle of Man which was held on closed public roads over two days in July. Sykes and co-driver Simon Taylor showed good pace on the notoriously tricky tarmac stages and they were lying in third place in the Citroën Racing Trophy part way through day two when their event came to a premature end.

On the 19th out of 21 stages it was absolutely pouring with rain and it was very difficult to maintain traction. Sykes and Australian driver Molly Taylor were only two seconds apart battling for third place and pushing as hard as they dare in the atrocious conditions. A fast section of open road where speeds of over 100mph were gained tightened quickly into an unseen corner and Sykes aquaplaned off the road and went through a large hedge at 90 mph and ended up 50 metres into a field. The crew did get the car out of the field but it took 23 minutes and they were out of time at the next time control.

"It was disheartening to have to retire again, we had been going well and I was pleased to be third in the Trophy," said Sykes.

"Day one of the event was fine, the stages were very enjoyable and we pushed hard to stay on the pace. It was great to see all the spectators out, especially in Castletown where the stage went right through the town centre."

"Day two started well also although the fog and rain in some stages made the conditions very hazardous. We maintained our position though and it looked as though we were on for a podium finish until the Ballanank stage when we went off the road and into retirement.”

After missing the championship round in Ulster Sykes has decided to return for the last round which sees the crews tackle some of the classic rally stages in the forests of North Yorkshire, starting with a tough 16 miles in Langdale forest on Friday night.

"I’m hoping that the International Rally Yorkshire will be a good event for us after all the disappointments we’ve had this year. The Friday night stage will be a big challenge, especially if we get the wind and rain that often appears in Yorkshire when there’s a rally on."

"We’ve got a packed day of stages on Saturday too including the famous Dalby stage. I’m going to be flat out from the start and giving it my all to try and get a good result."

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Peart set for championship battle in Yorkshire

Burton Pidsea’s Chris Peart goes into the final round of the BRC Challenge rally championship next weekend, the Trackrod Challenge Rally, with a chance of taking the title as he lies just three points behind the leader.

Peart and co-driver Jamie Forrest have enjoyed a very successful season so far and with the last championship round being held in Peart’s favourite Yorkshire forests hopes are high that they could take the title.

"The Yorkshire forests are pretty local to me and I’ve competed in them many times," said Peart. "After a season competing in places such as Wales and the Isle of Man it’s good to end the championship in Yorkshire and I’ll be pushing very hard to try and get the championship lead."

With the engine in his forest rallying car not ready Peart will use the Peart Auto Services-backed Vauxhall Corsa which he took to two second placed results on his last championship event, the Isle of Man Challenge Rally.

"It’s unfortunate that the car we used for the earlier forest events cannot be used, it’s quite a disadvantage to use the Corsa as I’ve never used it on gravel before. Hopefully I will get an opportunity to test the car before the rally."

The rally takes place next Saturday (25th September) and it includes stages in the classic North Yorkshire forests of Langdale and Dalby.

For further information on Chris Peart’s rallying please visit

Edwards to take on Isle of Mull rally challenge

Bolton-le-Sands rally driver Dave Edwards is completing preparations for his annual battle with the tight and tricky roads of the Isle of Mull where he will contest the Mull Rally for the third time in early October.

The event, which has been held on the island for 40 years, is one of the toughest in the UK with a lot of the competition taking place through the night. All the rally stages are on closed public roads which are very testing in the dry and treacherous in the wet.

Edwards has finished the event on the two occasions he has competed, gaining valuable experience and confidence with every mile. In 2009 he finished a brilliant 47th from a start number of 145 and his aim this year is to finish even higher up the leaderboard.

Although he will use the same Vauxhall Astra GSi as previously Edwards will have a new co-driver for the event. Regular co-driver Rachel Medich is acting as Team Manager this year with Brampton’s Caroline Lodge taking up the navigator role. Lodge is a very experienced co-driver but, although she has attended the rally many times, she has never competed on Mull.

"It’s going to take a while to get used to a new co-driver," said Edwards. "You cannot take any risks on the Mull roads so we’ll take our time and get into the swing of things. We’re both a bit apprehensive but I’m sure once we get started it’ll be fine."

Edwards and his team have made several changes to the car from last year. A dog box has been fitted and a new exhaust system together with some rewiring after a nasty experience on the 2009 event when all the lights went out after a heavy landing. The car has been lightened too which should give it some extra speed.

"I’m hoping for a dry event so that I can make use of the car’s extra speed but the weather on Mull never goes to plan, you can start of a stage in dry conditions and it can be torrential rain within a few miles. Choosing the correct tyres is very difficult. Hopefully the rewiring will avoid a repeat of last year's incident with the lights, I definitely don't want to experience that again!"

With just over two weeks to go to the event Edwards is busy making arrangements for his chase car and service crew.

"We have service breaks in the middle of the night so we have to sort out proper lighting for the service crew. The crew are a vital part of the team and I’m very fortunate to have a top notch experienced bunch of guys to help us fix anything that goes wrong."

"At the moment I'm feeling a mix of worry and excitement, doing the rally is a huge challenge but I'm confident that all the team are very much up for it."

Edwards is looking for company sponsorship for his Mull challenge and interested companies are invited to get in touch via

The team are planning to provide live reports of their progress on the event with updates hopefully being available on and throughout the rally.

Wednesday 15 September 2010

Cristofaro flies to Brawdy victory

Rally driver Nick Cristofaro ended his Junior rallying career last weekend with a dominant victory in the Brawdy Stages rally which was held at Brawdy airfield in West Wales.

Cristofaro, 17, was co-driven on the event by Motorsport News journalist Sean Moriarty who is writing a feature on junior rallying. The new pairing got off to a brilliant start in their Nissan Micra, setting fastest time on the opening stage of the event.

"I quickly got used to Sean in the co-driver's seat and also to driving on tarmac again after my forest rally outing the weekend before," said Cristofaro. "We had a slight problem on the opening stage with our tyres getting too hot which resulted in a lot of understeer but other than that we had no incidents."

From the second stage onwards Cristofaro, from Milford Haven, concentrated on keeping his lines as smooth as possible to prevent the tyres from overheating and it was a tactic which paid off as he built up his lead on all the remaining stages, ending up a minute up on his nearest rival at the finish.

"It was a very successful day, it was great to finish my Junior rallying championship on a high. I would like to say thanks to Tristan Dodd for organising the championship, it has given me invaluable experience of competing on tarmac rallies and I'm aiming to put that to good use in the rest of my rallying career. Thanks also to the championship sponsors, especially Kick Energy who funded some test days in the forests which were also very useful in helping me prepare for a future in the sport."

Moriarty enjoyed his day co-driving, “I was really surprised at the standard of driving from all the juniors and it was a great day out. I was a lot busier in the co-driver’s seat than I expected as I tried to deliver the route instructions to Nick. The Juniors are getting a very valuable grounding in the sport and will be more than prepared when they move up to senior rallying. The Junior rally feature will appear in Motorsport News in late September or early October so please keep an eye out for it.”

Cristofaro is hoping to compete in some national level forestry level events in the next few months, starting with the Cambrian rally in October. His plans depend on finding sufficient funding, potential sponsors are invited to get in touch via for a portfolio.

The Brawdy Stages will be televised on the Ralio programme on S4C on 23rd September at 9.30pm.

Monday 6 September 2010

Cristofaro passes Woodpecker rally test

Milford Haven rally driver Nick Cristofaro successfully completed a very testing week when he reached the finish of the Woodpecker Stages rally in Ludlow last weekend and in doing so became one of the youngest ever competitors to complete a national level rally in the UK.

Cristofaro has been competing in the Junior 1000 championship, a series of events for 14-17 year olds which does not require a driving licence. However, national level rallies need a full driving licence and with his 17th birthday on 28th August and the offer of a drive on the national Woodpecker rally on 4th September the race was on for Cristofaro to pass both his theory and driving test.

His theory test was successfully passed on his birthday and, with the assistance of Simon Mottram at Fast Track Driving School, Cristofaro passed his driving test on 2nd September with flying colours.

“With the Woodpecker just a week after my birthday the pressure was on to get both the theory and practical tests done,” said Cristofaro. “Simon from Fast Track was brilliant though and taught me all I needed to know to pass, I highly recommend him if you want to get your test done and dusted in a small amount of time!”

With his new licence in hand Cristofaro headed to Ludlow for the Woodpecker event where he had been given a free drive in a VW Lupo courtesy of The rally was Cristofaro’s first using pacenotes and also his first on a gravel surface. With a new more powerful car to get used to as well Cristofaro faced a very challenging day if he was to reach the rally finish.

The opening stage of the event in Bringewood forest went well and Cristofaro and co-driver Emma Morrison had no problems. After a cautious start Cristofaro increased his pace throughout the day to be well positioned in his class at the rally finish.

"It was a very steep learning curve, the Lupo has around twice the power of my own rally car as well as different brakes and handling," commented Cristofaro. "I did not want to retire from my first national event so I gradually got quicker as I got more comfortable with the car."

"We had one slight incident where the intercom stopped working, we were coming down a hill at around 90mph and suddenly there was a chicane. I tried to slow the car down as fast as I could but we arrived at the chicane too quickly and hit a log but fortunately there was little damage and we carried on to the finish."

"I was delighted to reach the end of the event and was very pleased with my performance, thanks to for the drive."

Cristofaro will be competing in his final Junior event next weekend at Brawdy airfield and after that he hopes to sell his Micra and try and get sponsorship to compete in the British Rally Championship next year. Potential sponsors are invited to get in touch via for a portfolio. As well as Brawdy he is also planning to compete in the Cambrian rally in October, Wales Rally GB in November and the Grizedale Stages in December. Cristofaro has also been chosen by Robert Reid of the MSA to take part in the Elite Driver Academy where he will undertake an intense course involving driver fitness, psychology and nutrition.

Image courtesy Simon Clarke

Fuel pressure problems end victory hopes for Wright

Bentham rally driver David Wright suffered an early retirement on last weekend's Merrick rally in South West Scotland when fuel pressure problems forced his Drenth, Proflex, Kumho Tyres and Grove Hill Garage-backed GPM Mitsubishi Evo 9 out of the event after the first stage.

2009 BTRDA champion Wright and co-driver Michael Wilkinson were competing on the Wigtown-based event to gain experience ahead of a possible switch to the Scottish Rally Championship in 2011.

Sadly for Wright the Evo's fuel pump popped a seal half way through the opening stage and the resulting loss of fuel pressure ended the event.

"I was gutted to retire so early," said Wright. "The first half of the stage had gone really well and then we had the problem and that was that."

"It's especially disappointing as I heard we were three seconds up on the eventual rally winner half way through the stage so it could've been a good battle."

"The competition at the top of the leaderboard is extrememly close in the Scottish championship and I'm seriously considering competing in the events next year."

Wright will now concentrate on completing his new car which he hopes to debut before the end of the year.

Sunday 5 September 2010

Radnor roll ends rally for Becky

Burton Pidsea rally driver Becky Kirvan made a dramatic exit from last weekend's Woodpecker Stages rally when her Nissan Micra rolled after leaving the track at high speed. The accident destroyed the car and left Kirvan badly bruised and co-driver Rob Walters with a dislocated shoulder.

Kirvan made a good start to the event, taking the hire car to seventh in class on the opening Bringewood stage but a spin on stage two was followed by a time consuming off in stage three which dropped her to the back of the field.

"The Bringewood stage went well although the steep uphill sections were a struggle in our car," said Kirvan. "The stage two spin cost a few seconds and then we lost a lot more time in stage three. Fortunately some spectators were able to get us out of the hole that the car landed in, I'm grateful to them for their help."

Kirvan continued to push hard in the fourth stage in Radnor forest but disaster struck on a very quick section of the course when a compression in the track unsettled the car and threw it off the road. The Peart Auto Services-backed machine collided with several tree stumps as it rolled down a hillside and by the time it came to rest the bodyshell was wrecked.

"We were flat out going down a hill and then as the track bottomed out there was a compression which made the back of the car step out of line. There was no time to correct it and we were immediately off the track and rolling down the hillside. The car took a very big impact on the tree stumps and it rolled three or four times."

"I'm very grateful to the rescue and recovery crews for helping Rob and myself and also extracting what was left of the car. Although we've both got injuries it could've been a lot worse, I am lucky that the Rally4Real car was very well built."

"I am hoping to be out again on the Cambrian rally in October although I am not sure what car I will use. We're going to strip the Micra and see if anything can be salvaged."

Despite the accident Kirvan still leads the BTRDA ladies championship with one round to go.

For more information please visit

Image courtesy Simon Clarke