Sunday 27 May 2012

Monaghan looking for repeat performance on Jim Clark rally

Kev Monaghan is aiming to repeat the class win he got last year when he contests next weekend’s Jim Clark National rally in his Pirtek-backed Vauxhall Corsa Kit Car.

The event is round three of the MSA Asphalt Rally Championship and Monaghan has had a mixed start to his title campaign, a retirement on the opening round followed by a good second in class finish on the Isle of Man at round two.

With usual co-driver Chris Purvis still out injured Steve Dargan will be on the notes with Monaghan for the Kelso-based event.

“We had a really good run on last year’s event,” said Monaghan. “We need another good result to help our championship hopes so getting another class win would be the perfect result although rallying is never that easy.”

“I was very happy with the second place we got on the Manx rally but I’m looking to go one better on the Jim Clark. Steve has co-driven for me before so there won’t be any issues getting used to the notes, we’ll be aiming to be quick right away.”

“The event is usually very challenging with a mix of extremely fast roads and tight and twisty lanes, it will test cars and crews to the maximum but I’m confident that we’ll go well. Thanks to Pirtek Tyne & Wear, F&R Belbin, GB Lubricants and Playskool Motorsport for their support and thanks also to Proflex for their speedy work getting the suspension changed since the Manx.”

The rally starts on Friday evening with a stage which runs around Duns town centre in front of thousands of spectators. A full day of action will take place on Saturday with the crews battling over stages on closed public roads around Duns.

Image courtesy Jess Quirk

Sykes ready to resume title challenge on Jim Clark rally

Stourbridge’s Richard Sykes is hoping to put the disappointment of his retirement on the previous BRC Challenge championship round behind him next weekend when he contests the Jim Clark Challenge rally in the Scottish Borders.

Sykes and co-driver Simon Taylor were in second place on April’s Pirelli rally in their Bathams Brewery, G I Sykes Ltd, Boroughbridge Marina and Silverstone Tyres-supported Citroën C2 R2 Max, ideally placed to challenge for a win. However, an electrical fault meant the car was unable to complete one of the stages resulting in a retirement and no points for the championship battle.

After three rounds on gravel the Jim Clark rally will see the championship crews battle on closed public roads in and around Duns. Sykes had a good result on last year’s event and, with tarmac being his preferred surface, he is looking for a win to get his title challenge back on track.

“The Pirelli was a huge disappointment after all the work we did to prepare the car,” said Sykes. “We’ve put that behind us now though and we are all set to go flat out for the win on the Jim Clark.”

“The tarmac suspension has been completely overhauled and the car is set up the same as last year as we were very happy with how it performed. We’ll do the shakedown stage on Friday to get both us and the car settled and then we’re aiming to be on the pace right from the start.”

“I think we can win the event, we have the speed, experience and team to do so. There’s no doubt that our main rivals are very quick but tarmac is my preferred surface and I think the work we did fine-tuning the car on last year’s event will pay-off this year.”

“The championship allows us to drop a score so we’re still in a great position to take the title but a good result at the weekend is absolutely vital. Hopefully the current good weather will continue as dry conditions are preferable but we’re ready for rain too.”

The rally starts on Friday evening with a short spectator stage around Duns town centre. The crews will then have a full day of competition on Saturday.

Image courtesy Jakob Ebrey Motorsport Photography

Monday 21 May 2012

Wright sails to Plains podium

Bentham’s David Wright continued his run of rally success last weekend when he finished in a brilliant second place on the Plains rally, just one week after winning the Tour of Hamsterley.

The Welshpool-based event was round four of the BTRDA rally championship and after two retirements on the early championship rounds Wright was keen to get a strong result in the mid-Wales forests.

The rally kicked off with a stage in Gartheiniog forest which, at over 10 miles, provided a stern test for the crews. Wright was immediately on the pace in his Kumho Tyres, Drenth, York Brewery, Proflex and Grove Hill Garage-supported GPM Mitsubishi Evo 9, finishing the stage in second place.

Wright went one better in the following Dyfi stage as he was fastest through the twisty forest tracks. Three stages in Hafren and Sweet Lamb were next and Wright kept up his challenge for the win with another fastest time backed up by two third quickests.

A storming run through the second run of Gartheiniog saw Wright lie just three seconds off the lead going into the final Woodyard stage. Despite the stage only being one mile long Wright went flat out for the win but he overshot a corner which lost him time, meaning that he had to settle for second place.

“It was disappointing to have the overshoot as I think we would’ve been very close to taking the win,” said Wright. “I’m extremely happy with the result though, it has been an incredible few days winning in Hamsterley and then finishing second here. It has made all the hard work we’ve done on the car worthwhile. Thank you to all the sponsors and the team that have helped me get such fantastic results on the last two events.”

As well as his rally success Wright received some other good news with an invitation to take part in the prestigious Goodwood Festival of Speed at the end of June.

“I’m really looking forward to taking part in the festival, it’s an honour to be invited. I’ll be using the car on the rally circuit and I’ll be doing my best to put on a good show for all the spectators!”

Image courtesy Simon Clarke

Images from the Stravaigers Lodge Gravel Sprint

Please click here to see the images.

Monday 14 May 2012

Monaghan fights back to take second in class

Kev Monghan made an excellent fight back from a stage one disaster to take second in class on last weekend’s Manx National rally, round two of the MSA Asphalt Rally Championship.

The rally kicked off on Friday evening with a stage that started in Port Erin town centre before heading up a hill out of the town over a very testing series of bends and crests. Monaghan and co-driver Dave Jones had a good run through the stage but as they crossed the finish line a joint on the driveshaft sheared which meant they had no drive in their Pirtek-backed Vauxhall Corsa Kit Car.

They managed to get back to service where Neil Thompson and Derek Belbin set about repairing the car, determined that it would be ready for Saturday’s action. Thanks to their efforts the car was ready to go again and with nothing to lose Monaghan pushed hard on all of Saturday’s stages.

With no further problems Monaghan was able to climb back up the leaderboard to claim vital championship points with a second in class finish.

“We were lucky that the rally rules meant that we could take a penalty and restart on Saturday,” said Monaghan. “The guys in service did a fantastic job in getting the car fixed and to get points for second in class was a huge unexpected bonus after our disastrous Friday night.”

“Thanks to Pirtek Tyne & Wear, F&R Belbin, GB Lubricants, Playskool Motorsport for their support and to Dave Jones for co-driving.”

Monaghan will continue his championship campaign on the Jim Clark National rally at the start of June.

Image courtesy Jess Quirk

Images from BCCC Epynt

Please click here to see the images.

Wright returns to winning ways in Hamsterley

Rally driver David Wright, from Bentham, put his disappointing start to the 2012 rally season behind him when took victory on the Tour of Hamsterley event last weekend.

After retirements on both the Wyedean and Malcolm Wilson rallies Wright decided to take some time out from competing to make some modifications to his Kumho Tyres, Drenth, York Brewery, Proflex and Grove Hill Garage-supported Mitsubishi Evo 9. With the modifications finished last week he entered the Hamsterley forest event as a test ahead of the BTRDA championship Plains rally next weekend.

Wright and co-driver Michael Wilkinson made a fantastic start to the event, setting fastest times on the first three stages to lead by 34 seconds. However, most of that lead was lost on stage four when a puncture meant that Wright was only 7th fastest.

Wright fought back from the puncture to take another fastest time on the fifth and final stage which meant he won the event by 7 seconds.

“We had a brilliant event, the car is absolutely awesome, and the stages were fantastic – really fast and flowing which suited us,” said Wright. “It was frustrating to lose the time with the puncture but I am delighted to have been fastest on most of the stages. It’s great for Michael to win his local event too.”

“We’ll do the Plains rally next weekend and I’m feeling very confident that we can get a good result. We’ve nothing to lose after retiring on the first two BTRDA rounds so we will be pushing hard to battle with the World Rally class cars.”

Image courtesy Steve Pugh

Sunday 6 May 2012

Dominant DCC Stages victory for Vassallo

Fourteen year old rally driver Alexander Vassallo took a dominant win at last weekend’s DCC Junior Stages rally, his third consecutive victory in his debut season.

Vassallo, from Corbridge, is contesting both the Junior 1000 Rally Challenge and Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge championships this year, both championships are for drivers aged between 14 and 17 using cars with engines of 1000cc or less. Despite only starting rallying this year Vassallo had already won two of the three events he had contested prior to the DCC Stages so hopes were high of a good result at the Ingliston-based second round of the Ecosse Challenge.

With experienced co-driver Janice Moore in his Birkbeck-prepared Citroën C1 Vassallo made a storming start to the event, setting a time 28 seconds faster than his nearest rival. He continued that form throughout the days eight stages, being quickest on each one despite the tyres going off on stage 4 and a small overshoot on stage 5. By the end of the event he had pulled out a lead of almost three minutes, a remarkable performance when Junior 1000 events are more usually settled by a few seconds.

“To get my third win in four events is fantastic, I did not expect such a good start to my rally career,” said Vassallo. “I was very pleased with my performance and the car was faultless all day. The tyres going off and the overshoot cost us a few seconds but we still managed to be fastest on every stage.”

“Thanks to Chris Birkbeck and his team and to Janice who was sitting with me for the first time and did a great job.”

Vassallo’s Ecosse Challenge season will continue with the Summer Stages at Crail in June while the next Junior 1000 Rally Challenge round is the TSH Stages at Portreath on 18/19 May.

Image courtesy Davie Hatrick

Wright returns for Tour of Hamsterley

After being out of action since the Malcolm Wilson rally in early March Bentham’s David Wright will contest the Tour of Hamsterley next weekend.

Wright retired from the Cumbrian event with gear linkage problems and since then lots of work has been undertaken on his Kumho Tyres, Drenth, York Brewery, Proflex and Grove Hill Garage-supported Mitsubishi Evo 9 to increase both pace and reliability.

“We were going really well on the Malcolm Wilson rally but the gear linkage issue meant we had to retire,” commented Wright. “We also retired on the Wyedean event in February and, with our hopes for a good BTRDA championship result pretty much over, we decided to miss last month’s Somerset Stages to concentrate on getting the car ready.”

“We’ve had the car on a dyno and we’ve found some good gains on the engine so we should have a bit more performance to help us try and keep on the pace of the World Rally class cars.”

“The Tour of Hamsterley is my co-driver Michael Wilkinson’s local event so we’ve decided to enter it to test out the modifications to the car. We’ll also hopefully do the Plains rally in Wales the weekend after if all goes well.”

The Tour of Hamsterley takes place entirely in Hamsterley forest in County Durham with the crews facing around 37 miles of competition.

Friday 4 May 2012

Rally2Raise passes £1,500 mark in fundraising quest

The Rally2Raise project, which is using motorsport to raise funds and awareness for charitable causes, recently passed the £1,500 mark in donations.

 The project was set up in late 2011 by Rachel Medich to support the Nystagmus Network, the MS Society, Cancer Research UK and the Joanne Bingley Memorial Foundation for post-natal depression.

As well as undertaking fundraising activities Rachel and her friend Katherine Begg have been promoting all four causes through participating in motorsport events in their DMACK Tyres and Clark Motorsport-supported Rally2Raise Nissan Micra rally car.

 “The support for the project has been absolutely fantastic,” commented Rachel. “I’d like to thank everyone who has helped us so far, I am delighted that we have been able to raise so much already.”

“We’ve got a lot more fundraising events planned over the next few months so hopefully we will be able to raise even more.”

Nystagmus Network development manager John Sanders said: "We are so grateful to Rachel and Katherine for all that they are doing to raise both funds and awareness through their rally driving. At around one in 1,000, nystagmus is more common than most people think - you've almost certainly met someone with nystagmus for instance. One of the challenges we face is getting that message across, and that's where Rally2Raise is making a big difference."

Rachel is hoping to contest the Dumfries-based Scottish rally in June and she has already agreed to take part in the Merrick stages in September after the rally organisers made Rally2Raise their nominated charitable cause for 2012.

For more information on the project please visit or Online donations can be made via

Monaghan all set for Manx rally debut

Kev Monaghan is aiming to get his rally season back on track next weekend when he contests round 2 of the MSA Asphalt Rally Championship, the Manx National rally.

After retiring from the opening championship round in March  Monaghan needs a good finish on the Manx to kick start his championship campaign.

With usual co-driver Chris Purvis out injured after an accident at work Monaghan will have David Jones on the pacenotes in the Pirtek-backed Vauxhall Corsa Kit Car.

“Having competed for more years than I care to remember I cannot wait to rally on the Isle of Man, it is a venue that I have always wanted to compete at,” said Monaghan.

“Losing Chris is a big blow - as most drivers know the confidence you get from working together with the same co-driver over a period of time is difficult to replace but David Jones has competed on the Manx before so that experience will be very useful. Everyone at Pirtek wishes Chris a speedy recovery and we hope to see him competing again soon.”

The front hubs have been strengthened on the Corsa following problems on the last event and an additional front engine mount has been added to cope with the paddle shift gearbox.

“Hopefully the work we’ve done on the hubs will prevent the problem we had on the last round reoccurring. I’ll be aiming to get into the top three of the class so that we pick up a decent amount of points. Thanks to Pirtek Tyne & Wear, F&R Belbin, GB Lubricants, Playskool Motorsport and Carl and Rob Tuer for getting the car setup sorted.”

The rally starts on Friday evening (11th May) before continuing with a full day of action on Saturday. Competitors will face 120 miles of stages all held on the island’s closed public roads.

Wednesday 2 May 2012

Electrical gremlins rob Sykes of Pirelli podium

Rally driver Richard Sykes had a disappointing Pirelli Challenge rally last weekend when a mystery electrical problem caused him to retire from the event.

The Carlisle-based event was round 3 of the BRC Challenge championship and after excellent performances in his Bathams Brewery, G I Sykes Ltd, Boroughbridge Marina and Silverstone Tyres-supported Citroën C2 R2 Max on the opening two rounds Sykes went into the event at the head of the championship leaderboard.

The rally started well and going into the third stage Sykes was just six seconds behind rally leader Simon Moore despite not pushing hard as his target for the event was a podium finish rather than a win.

Part way through the third stage the car suffered an electrical problem which meant it had very little power as the engine would not rev above 1500rpm. Sykes and co-driver Simon Taylor carried on through the stage hoping to nurse the car to the end but there was a steep hill near the finish and the car did not have enough power to get up it. Despite frantic attempts to repair the car the event was over for the Stourbridge driver.

“Everything was going to plan, we were aiming for a podium finish so to be in second place early on was ideal,” commented Sykes. “Sadly the mysterious electrical fault ended our hopes. I tried changing various items on the car at the side of the stage but I couldn’t cure it.”

“It’s very disappointing as we’d prepared for the Pirelli more than any other rally we’ve done – I didn’t drink in the week before the event and I’d even been to the gym three times. The only positive thing is that the guys who took the podium places have already had retirements on the previous events so we’re still in a good position for the championship, especially as the next three rounds are on my preferred surface of tarmac.”

“Thanks to my service crew who have put heart and soul into the car for the last four weeks and were more gutted than we were at the retirement. We’ll get the little glitches sorted and move forward.”

Sykes’ next event will be the Jim Clark Challenge rally which takes place at the start of June.

Image courtesy Jakob Ebrey Motorsport Photography