Tuesday 27 March 2012

Rally2Raise gets Merrick backing

The Rally2Raise charity project is delighted to announce that it will be supported by the Merrick Forest Stages Rally this year.

The project, founded by rally competitor and rescue volunteer Rachel Medich, is using rallying to help raise funds and awareness for four charities - Cancer Research UK, the Nystagmus Network, the MS Society and the Joanne Bingley Memorial Foundation for post-natal depression.

The "Merrick" will be offering navigator-turned-driver Rachel a free entry to the September 1st event, which will again be based in Wigtown in South West Scotland. The rally will be the penultimate round of the MSA Scottish Rally Championship.

Competitors on the event will be invited to make a donation to the project when they enter online through the event website.

"We are delighted to name Rally2Raise as our nominated charity for this year's Merrick", said Rally Manager Allan Marshall: "Rachel and the girls are raising funds for such very good causes. Hopefully our efforts will help them in reaching their target".

Rachel Medich commented: “The support that the Merrick organisers have offered Rally2Raise is absolutely fantastic and it will greatly assist us in achieving our goals of raising funds and awareness. The project is really taking off now and we have lots of exciting things planned for the forthcoming months.”

Please visit www.rally2raise.co.uk or www.facebook.com/rally2raise for more information on the project. Donations can be made online via uk.virginmoneygiving.com/rally2raise.

Monday 26 March 2012

Sykes storms into championship lead after Bulldog rally success

Stourbridge’s Richard Sykes took his first rally win in three years on the Bulldog Challenge event last weekend, a performance which put him in the lead of the BRC Challenge rally championship.

The Welshpool-based event, which was round two of the championship, started with the Big Ray stage. Keen to get a good haul of points Sykes and co-driver Simon Taylor were immediately on the pace, setting third fastest time in their Bathams Brewery, G I Sykes Ltd, Boroughbridge Marina and Silverstone Tyres-supported Citroën C2 R2 Max.

Sykes maintained his position after the second stage in Dyfi forest before powering into the lead with a stunning time in stage three, Gartheiniog.

“We made a decent start to the event although we had small problems in both of the opening two stages,” said Sykes. “We got held up in the dust of the car in front on stage one which cost us around 10 seconds and then we beached the car on a corner in stage two. Fortunately some spectators got us going again so we didn’t lose too much time.”

“It was brilliant to be leading after the third stage, we didn’t know how we were getting on till we got back to service so it was pleasing to see we were fastest.”

The rally headed north for a pair of stages near Bala, Llangywer and Penllyn, with Sykes 30 seconds ahead of his nearest rival. Despite his lead Sykes continued to push hard, setting the fastest time on both stages to extend his lead by a further nine seconds.

There was no let up in the final Dyfnant stage either, Sykes taking his fourth consecutive stage win to complete a dominant performance.

“Even though we had a relatively comfortable lead I wanted to keep going as quick as I could on the final three stages and I was aiming to set as many fastest times as possible. I was delighted to be quickest on them all!”

“It was my fourth time contesting the Bulldog, the previous three occasions resulted in the car breaking so it is great both to finally finish the event and to win it.”

“The event was very tough, some of my main championship rivals didn’t make it to the finish so we didn’t get to have a battle with them although I think we had the pace to still do the job. For once we have had a great start to the season while other crews are having problems and we will continue working as hard as we can to try and take the championship win.”

Sykes now leads the BRC Challenge championship on 56 points ahead of James Watts on 46. The next championship round will take place in April with the Carlisle-based Pirelli Challenge rally.

Image courtesy Jakob Ebrey Motorsport Photography

Douglas promenade spectacular to herald new era for Rally Isle of Man

Rally Isle of Man will burst into fresh life this September with a spectacular night-time action stage on the iconic Douglas promenade.

Organisers today announced that discussions with relevant authorities have seen permission granted for a road closure on Harris Promenade on the evening of Thursday 20th September, and a special stage that is purposely-designed for spectators, and that will add a new dimension to the event, will form the opening action of the three-day closed-roads classic.

It’ll feature head-to-head action as two cars contest the stage side by side, something never before seen on a rally on the island.

The stage itself will take in the very heart of the Promenade with the area from Broadway across to the Rendezvous set to offer a real thrill for all motorsport fans. With the stunning background of Douglas Bay and the landmark Villa Marina and Gaiety Theatre complex as a further back-drop, it offers a wonderful viewing opportunity as well as a challenging route for crews.

Rally Isle of Man Chairman John Gill confirms the news. “The organising team has been working on this stage for several months after an initial idea that came from one of the new members, Adam Warburton. It’s great to be able to confirm that it has come to fruition. We have every reason to think it’ll become an instant hit with competitors and spectators alike and another element of the unique atmosphere created by our event.”

Rally Isle of Man wish to thank the Isle of Man Government Departments of Infrastructure and Community, Culture and Leisure for their support as well as the Villa Marina and Gaiety Theatre management, Sefton Hotel and Douglas Corporation.

The Villa Marina is in a position to offer hospitality opportunities for the event, with balcony viewing of the stage, and any interested parties should contact the complex management directly.

In addition event organisers would be delighted from any other groups or activities that may be compatible with the location and stages to compliment and enhance the entertainment factor for spectators, and help create a truly memorable night.

Put the date in your diaries now – get closer to Rally Isle of Man!

Thursday 22 March 2012

Rally Isle of Man returns as three-day classic

When Rally Isle of Man returns to the calendar this September, it’ll do so as a three-day event.

Organisers have confirmed that they will run stages from Thursday 20th September through to Saturday 22nd, taking the event, which will incorporate Druidale Motor Clubs’ Duke Stages Rally, back to its traditional format and revered place as one of the biggest challenges in the sport.

Rally Isle of Man Chairman John Gill confirms the news: “The organising team is fully aware of this events standing at the heart of British and Irish rallying. Since the return of the rally was announced many competitors have told us they would like to see it come back as three days. We are proud of the fact that it has a heritage to live up to, and excited that we have been able to ensure that the first step towards that is to deliver a traditional style event.”

“Scrutineering has always taken place during Thursday, and since the cars and competitors are here let’s use the opportunity to re-launch Rally Isle of Man in style!”

The opening evening is set to feature four stages, before daytime and evening legs on Friday and daytime stages throughout Saturday.

The team is also mindful of the current financial environment, both within the sport and generally, and is working to offer the best possible value for money to competitors.

Rally Isle of Man was most recently a three-day event in 2008, when recently-announced event Patron Mark Higgins and co-driver Rory Kennedy scored the closest ever victory in the rally’s history, by just 11.6 seconds over Irish champions Eamonn Boland and Damien Morrissey.

The route for the 2012 edition is currently being confirmed with local authorities and organisers hope to announce further information in the next few days – and whether you’re a competitor, official or spectator, the exciting plans will have you chomping at the bit for the return of Rally Isle of Man!

Sunday 18 March 2012

Sykes keen to maintain title charge on Bulldog Challenge rally

Rally driver Richard Sykes will continue his quest for the 2012 BRC Challenge rally championship title next weekend when he contests the Bulldog Challenge event.

Stourbridge's Sykes made an excellent start to the season on the opening round of the championship, taking second place on the Rallye Sunseeker Challenge in his Bathams Brewery, G I Sykes Ltd, Boroughbridge Marina and Silverstone Tyres-supported Citroën C2 R2 Max, and he is keen to put in another good performance on the Welshpool-based round two.

"The Sunseeker went really well for us, the pace at the top of the leaderboard was very quick so I was delighted to finish second," said Sykes. "My aim for this season is to take the BRC Challenge title so I need another strong result next weekend."

"I'm really looking forward to the event, it uses some of the classic Welsh rally stages such as Dyfi and Gartheiniog and they are sure to provide a tough test for all the crews. With every second counting in the BRC Challenge we'll have to be fast right from the start to be in with a chance of taking a top position."

Sykes will be partnered by co-driver Simon Taylor on the event which will start from Welshpool at lunchtime on Saturday. The BRC Challenge crews will face an opening loop of three stages in Dyfi and Gartheiniog forests and then three further stages in Llangywer, Penllyn and Dyfnant before heading back to Welshpool for the finish. The rally will be preceded by a ceremonial start in Welshpool town centre on Friday evening.

Image courtesy John Evans

Monday 12 March 2012

Wheel of misfortune for Monaghan on Epynt

Rally driver Kev Monaghan suffered mixed fortunes on the Tour of Epynt rally last weekend when he was forced to retire his Vauxhall Corsa on the final stage after showing good pace all day.

The rally was the opening round of the 2012 MSA Asphalt Rally Championship and Monaghan and co-driver Chris Purvis were hoping to kick off the season with a good haul of points.

They made a steady start in their Pirtek-backed Corsa Kit Car, lying fourth in class after the opening pair of stages as Monaghan got used to the new paddle-shift gearbox which had been fitted over the winter.

Stages three and four were a repeat of one and two and Monaghan increased the pace to move up to third in class after a troublefree run across the notoriously tricky tarmac of the Epynt military ranges.

“We took it easy on the first two stages as it was the first time I have used the paddle-shift gearbox in competition,” said Monaghan. “The second loop of stages was quicker for us and third was a decent position to be in at the mid-way point.”

The second half of the event consisted of three long stages, all of which included some of the high-speed jumps which have caught out many rally crews over the years. Monaghan maintained his third in class after stage five and decided to push hard in stage six. Part way through the stage the Corsa spun and hit a rock but the crew were able to continue with a few seconds of time lost.

Back in the service area after stage six the car was checked over and it was found that one of the wheel nuts had snapped off. With no time left to replace it Monaghan decided to head out to the final stage with three nuts holding the wheel onto the car. Despite driving cautiously the remaining nuts sheared approaching a corner in the stage and Monaghan was unable to continue.

“We thought we would be able to get through the last stage and pick up some points even though we would have to take it very easy. Sadly it wasn’t to be as the wheel parted company with the car part way through the stage forcing us into retirement. Fortunately there was very little other damage to the car so it will soon be fixed and ready for the next event.”

“Thanks to F & R Belbin Engineering and GB Lubricants for their support and also Darren and Sue Underwood for their hospitality. It’s a shame we didn’t get a finish but I’m pleased that I have built up more experience of Epynt and showed that we are on the pace again this year.”

Monaghan’s championship campaign will continue in May when he competes on the Isle of Man for the first time in the Manx National rally.

Wednesday 7 March 2012

Images from the Malcolm Wilson rally

Please click here to view the images.

Fundraising boost for Rally2Raise at Saltire Classic rally

The Rally2Raise team took part in their second event of 2012 last weekend when they ran their Nissan Micra on the Edradour Saltire Classic rally.

The Birnam-based event was organised by the Saltire Rally Club, who have nominated Rally2Raise as their chosen charitable cause for this year, and it consisted of 16 tests and three regularity sections on a route around the area of Pitlochry and Loch Tummel.

The tests provided good experience for driver Rachel Medich as they consisted of a mix of surfaces including tarmac, gravel and muddy tracks, enabling Rachel to learn more about how the car handled in preparation for future events.

Rachel and co-driver Marieanne Gray completed all the tests in their Clark Motorsport-supported car which performed faultlessly all day.

“It was a brilliant event, I enjoyed every minute of it,” said Rachel. “The tests were fantastic and great fun. My favourite was one which ran around a quarry on gravel, I could really throw the car around there and it was very useful experience for driving on forest rallies.”

At the awards ceremony at the end of the event organiser Colin Wallace announced that over £400 had been raised by the event for the four Rally2Raise causes - Cancer Research UK, the Nystagmus Network, the MS Society and the Joanne Bingley Memorial Foundation.

“I am very grateful to Colin, all the organisers and marshals, the competitors and event sponsor Edradour, to raise over £400 is fantastic and I am sure our four causes will be delighted.”

The next event for the Rally2Raise team is likely to be the Granite City rally in April where Rachel will be joined by Katherine Begg who will co-drive on her first ever rally. Please visit www.rally2raise.co.uk or www.facebook.com/rally2raise for more information on the project. Donations can be made online via uk.virginmoneygiving.com/rally2raise.

Sunday 4 March 2012

Wright robbed of victory chance on Malcolm Wilson rally

Bentham’s David Wright was denied the chance of winning the Malcolm Wilson rally last weekend when a broken gear linkage forced him out of the event in Grizedale forest.

The rally kicked off with the Comb stage in Whinlatter forest and Wright was immediately on the pace, setting second fastest time just four seconds behind the Ford Focus WRC of Hugh Hunter.

The Hobcarton stage was next up and Wright continued to push hard in his Kumho Tyres, Drenth, York Brewery, Proflex and Grove Hill Garage-supported Mitsubishi Evo 9, powering through the stage in second place again.

Wright maintained his second place after the third stage, Greystoke, and he headed to the first of two tests in Grizedale just nine seconds off the lead.

“The first three stages went really well, we were flat out all the way,” said Wright. “It was very pleasing to be just nine seconds off the lead with the Grizedale stages to come.”

Wright usually goes very well in Grizedale and in the first of the two stages he was an impressive six seconds faster than the rally leader, reducing the deficit to just three seconds. The scene was set for an attack for the lead in the second longer Grizedale test but, sadly for Wright, his victory hopes were ended when the gear linkage broke leaving him stuck in fifth gear and unable to complete the stage.

“I really thought we could get the lead in the second Grizedale test. We had already made up six seconds in the shorter stage so I was confident we could leave the second stage in the lead. Unfortunately it was not to be. It’s very disappointing as I think the victory could’ve been ours but it seems like we’re not having any luck at all so far this year. I was happy that we again showed we are the fastest in our class as well as beating most of the drivers in the class above.’

Wright’s next event is scheduled to be the Somerset Stages in April.

Thursday 1 March 2012

Monaghan ready for Epynt rally return

Rally driver Kev Monaghan will start his 2012 season next Sunday (11th March) when he contests round one of the MSA Asphalt Rally Championship, the Tour of Epynt.

Monaghan will use his usual Vauxhall Corsa Kit Car backed by Pirtek Tyne & Wear, F & R Belbin Engineering and GB Lubricants, a car in which he and co-driver Chris Purvis almost won the class championship in 2011. The car has had a full engine rebuild by Bill Falconer over the winter and it has also had a paddle shift gear change fitted thanks to Playskool Motorsport which should ensure that Monaghan has the speed to do well again this year.

"We had a very disappointing end to the 2011 championship when a fractured oil cooler forced us to retire on the final round," said Monaghan. "That cost us the class championship as well as the honour of finishing as first two wheel drive car."

"The car is all set for the opening round and we’re looking to build on the three class wins we got last year, I am confident that we will perform well again."

Round one of the championship takes place on the notoriously tough tarmac of the Epynt military ranges near Llandovery in Wales. It will be Monaghan’s second visit to the venue.

"I made my Epynt debut last year and it is fair to say that I was totally in awe of the place. The roads there are so fast with lots of places to have a big accident if you get it slightly wrong. The awful conditions on the day didn’t help me get much confidence so hopefully they will be better next weekend."

"The aim for round one is to be on the pace of the leading crews in the class and to get a good finish with a decent haul of championship points."

The rally start from the Castle Hotel in Llandovery with the crews contesting seven stages over the ranges totalling 80 miles.

Image courtesy Ian Hardy