Sunday, 4 September 2011

Wright moves into championship lead despite Woodpecker woes

Bethham-based rally driver David Wright had mixed fortunes on last weekend’s Woodpecker Stages rally when a series of problems meant he only finished fifth in class but the result was good enough for him to move into the lead of the class championship.

The Ludlow-based event kicked off with the High Vinnalls stages. Wright was going well in his Kumho Tyres, Drenth, Proflex and Grove Hill Garage-supported GPM Mitsubishi Evo 9 but three miles from the end of the stage the engine started overheating forcing him to reduce his pace. Despite this he was still third fastest in the BTRDA B13 class.

In the second stage, Hazel Coppice, Wright thought the engine was seizing and so stopped for 90 seconds. With the engine cooled sufficiently he got to the end of the stage and back to the service halt where a quick oil change was performed but the delay had dropped him to 69th place overall and 14th in class.

“It was a disappointing start to the event, we had been flying in the High Vinnalls stage but the time loss at the end of that stage and in Hazel Coppice meant our hopes of going for a class win were over,” commented Wright. “The guys in service changed the engine oil to try and cure the overheating as there were no other apparent problems.”

The crews headed to Radnor for the Cwm y Gerwyn stage and Wright’s engine overheating troubles were over as he set the fastest time in his class. A different kind of problem was experienced in stage 4, Stanlow Tump, when Wright caught the competitor in front and was unable to get past because of dust which severely hampered visibility. With a clear run on the following Wigmore stage Wright was again fastest in his class, a feat he repeated on stage 6 to move up to seventh in class. A charge through the final Haye Park stage enabled Wright to move up to 14th overall and fifth in class by the rally finish.

“I was pleased that the oil change cured the overheating problem and we had a good run on the rest of the stages apart from losing around 50 seconds being held up in the fourth stage. Fifth in class is a good result considering where we were after stage two and the points we got have put us in a strong position in the championship. It was a very tough rally and it was great to be on the pace of the World Rally class cars.”

Wright now leads the B13 class championship with one round to go, the Cambrian rally in early October.