Sunday 30 June 2013

Successful Scottish for Rally2Raise team

The Rally2Raise team of Aberdeen’s Rachel Clark and Brampton’s Caroline Lodge enjoyed a successful Scottish rally last weekend when they finished second in class with driver Rachel also picking up the trophy for the best lady driver.

After a disappointing Granite City rally in April the team’s aim for the Scottish was to get to the finish in their E.Watson & Son, Pirelli, AW Motorsport, McPherson Document Solutions, Charles Derby Ecosse and San Juan Services-supported Nissan Micra 1300.

The event started with a pair of stages near the village of Ae. Both of these went well  although with Rachel recovering from glandular fever she was suffering at the end of the 14 mile-long second stage.

“I was pleased with the first two stages, it was the first time Caroline and I have competed together but we quickly gelled and had a troublefree run,” said Rachel.  “The second stage left me worn out, the glandular fever totally zapped my energy and I’m not back to full health yet so doing a 14 mile stage in a very hot rally car wasn’t ideal but we made it through and it was great to find we were third in class going into service.”

After the service halt the team faced three more stages. The first was a short blast through Heathhall where the Micra entertained the huge crowd of spectators watching at the watersplash. The event ended with two stages near Gatehouse of Fleet which the team completed with no problems and they headed back to the finish in Dumfries town centre in second in class.

“I’m delighted with the result and winning a trophy that has previously been won by the likes of Louise Aitken-Walker just topped off what was a fantastic weekend. I’d like to dedicate the trophy to Cath Simpson who we lost recently, a true rally enthusiast that will be greatly missed by many including me and the team.”

“Thanks to Caroline for a spot-on job with the notes and keeping me alive with drinks and sweets all day, Colin and Craig Wallace for transporting the car to and from the event, Clark Motorsport for servicing, Paul at Motorsport Mugs for sorting our last minute graphics request and all our sponsors for their support.”

The Rally2Raise team will be back in action on the Speyside Stages in early August. Please visit or for more information.

Final stage disaster ends brilliant Scottish rally drive by Rodgers

Burton upon Stather’s Tim Rodgers contested his first gravel rally for three years last weekend on the Scottish Challenge event and he was heading for a second place finish when he went off the road avoiding another crew’s accident on the final stage.

Rodgers and co-driver Stefan Arndt were using a Ford Fiesta ST and after being on the pace on the tarmac of the Jim Clark Challenge rally they were aiming to be the fastest Fiesta crew in the forests of Dumfries and Galloway.

The event started with two stages in the forests around Ae village before a blast around the popular spectator stage in Heathhall. Despite bending the rear beam in Ae West Rodgers lay in 6th place. Rodgers moved up to fifth after stage four and then a stunning time in the second run of Ae West, where he was quicker than all the other crews, saw him up into third.

“We started off not pushing too hard as I’ve not competed on gravel for a long time,” said Rodgers. “Even so we were beating all the other Group N Fiesta crews and we had a decent position overall. The bent beam meant I had to get used to the car handling slightly differently but it didn’t slow us much. For the second run of Ae I decided to have a real go and it paid off, we were three seconds faster than the event leader and almost 30 seconds quicker than the nearest Fiesta crew.”

The rally moved west for the final two stages in Clatteringshaws forest. Rodgers headed the timesheets again in stage 7, Shaw Hill, and moved into second place overall. He kept up his charge in the final Loch Grannoch stage and it was all going perfectly until a mile from the end when he came round a slight corner at the end of a long straight to find another car partially blocking the road after crashing. Rodgers managed to avoid hitting the car but in doing so his own car went in a ditch at the side of the road and hit some logs. With the car stuck he had no choice but to wait to be recovered and his likely podium finish was gone.

“I’m totally devastated. The team have worked so hard to get us to the event and it looked like we were going to get a second place finish which would’ve been fantastic. It’s particularly gutting that we went out through no fault of our own, there was no time to slow down enough so it was either hit the stricken car or avoid it and land in the ditch and hit the logs, there was nothing else we could do.”

“Thanks to Stefan for a great job on the notes and to Becky Kirvan for the loan of her car. Thanks also to my family for helping me do the rally.”

Rodgers has no definite plans for further events but an entry for his home event, the Trackrod Challenge rally, is possible if he can find sufficient funding.


Sunday 23 June 2013

Rally2Raise team back in action on Scottish rally

The all-female Rally2Raise charity motorsport team will be in action next weekend when they contest the Dumfries-based RSAC Scottish rally in their E.Watson and Son, Pirelli, AW Motorsport, McPherson Document Solutions, San Juan Services and Charles Derby Ecosse-supported Nissan Micra.
The team, led by driver Rachel Clark from Blackburn in Aberdeenshire, are contesting selected rounds of the Scottish Rally Championship as part of their project to raise funds for the Nystagmus Network and to raise awareness of the Bottle Stop campaign.
Joining Rachel in the car will be co-driver Caroline Lodge from Brampton in Cumbria as usual co-driver Katherine Begg has had to withdraw due to illness.
“I’m really looking forward to the Scottish rally,” said Rachel. “The event uses some classic forest stages such as Ae and there’s also the hugely popular spectator stage at Heathhall, it’s sure to be a great event.”
“The car has been fixed after we bent a beam clipping a bridge on the Granite City rally in April so we’re all set for the start. We’ll be running somewhere near the back of the rally as our car is only a 1300cc Micra but we will be trying hard though and aiming to beat some of the bigger-engined entries.”
The rally starts from Dumfries town centre on Saturday 29th June with the crews competing in the local forests as well as the Heathhall spectator stage. More information on Rally2Raise can be found at

Rodgers returns for Scottish Challenge rally

After a successful comeback event on the recent Jim Clark Challenge rally Burton upon Stather driver Tim Rodgers will contest the Scottish Challenge rally next weekend in his Ford Fiesta ST.

Rodgers finished 7th overall on the Jim Clark and was only 3 seconds away from being the leading Fiesta driver on what was his first event for three years. With the Scottish Challenge rally being on the forest gravel stages he is more familiar with rather than the tarmac of the Jim Clark Rodgers has high hopes for another good result. He will once again have Stefan Arndt in the co-driver’s seat.

“I was happy with our performance on the Jim Clark rally, I think had we done all of the stages we would’ve been the quickest Fiesta crew but sadly over half of the competitive mileage was cancelled by the rally organisers due to various incidents. Not being able to do the full rally was a bit of a let down so I decided we’d try and get the budget together to have a run on the Scottish.”

“I’m more used to gravel stages although it’s three years since I did a gravel event. I am confident that we’ll be on the pace though. The Scottish route looks excellent with some classic rallying territory such as Ae forest, it’s going to be a tough event but hopefully a rewarding one.”

The rally has a ceremonial start on the evening of Friday 28th June before 61 competitive stage miles on Saturday 29th June.

Points vital for Sykes on Scottish Challenge rally

Stourbridge’s Richard Sykes will contest the Scottish Challenge rally next weekend and, after a disappointing finish on his last event, a good points haul is vital for his hopes of defending his BRC Challenge championship title.

Sykes was leading at the overnight halt of the last Challenge round, the Jim Clark Challenge rally, but an accident on the first stage of the second day dropped him down the leaderboard. With several stages cancelled by the organisers he was denied the opportunity to fight his way back up the results and ended up in 9th place overall in his Bathams Brewery, G I Sykes Ltd, Silverstone Tyres and Boroughbridge Marina-supported Citroën C2 R2 Max.

“The Scottish is a really important event for us,” said Sykes. “The Jim Clark result meant we dropped to third in the championship so we really need a very strong performance on the Scottish to maintain our hopes of retaining the BRC Challenge crown.”

“I pushed too hard on the Jim Clark trying to beat local driver Ross Hunter and that resulted in us going through a hedge at 70mph as can be seen on You Tube. Experience has taught me that after an accident like that it’s best to try and repair the car rather than just drive off as quickly as possible so that’s what we did. We got a stage maximum but we were still in the event and salvaged 9th and second in class.”

“I think I’m probably the only championship driver to have done the Scottish before as it has not been a BRC Challenge round previously. I did it in 2003 though so I don’t think it will give me any advantage. My co-driver Simon Taylor also has some experience of the event.”

“I’m looking forward to being back on the gravel stages again and will set off confident that we can do well. Our times this year have proved we still have the pace to win events but we’ll have to drive to preserve the car also as the Scottish stages can be rough.”

The rally is based in Dumfries and the crews will tackle around 60 miles of stages in the local forests as well as the very popular Heathhall spectator stage.

Monday 10 June 2013

Snapped shaft ends Dukeries victory hopes for Wright

Bentham’s David Wright was robbed of the chance to push for a victory on last weekend’s Dukeries rally when a driveshaft snapped dropping him down the leaderboard.

Wright got off to a great start in his Kumho Tyres, Proflex, Drenth, York Brewery, Millers Oils, Owen Developments and Grove Hill Garage-supported Mitsubishi Evo 9  and, after setting the fastest time in stage 5 he was up to second overall, just 11 seconds off the leader. With another five stages still to go Wright was confident of making up the time to take the win but disaster struck on the start line of stage 8 when the driveshaft broke.

With no service halt after stage 8 Wright was forced to do two stages with the damaged shaft which dropped him to 13th on the leaderboard. The problem was fixed for the last stage and Wright made it to 12th place and 4th in class.

“The first few stages went really well,” said Wright. “I was very happy to be beating all but one of the World Rally class cars, the Dukeries stages have a lot of long straights which are a major disadvantage for our car.”

“I think we had a great chance of winning the event but the snapped shaft put paid to that. It was a very disappointing way to end what could’ve been a fantastic rally for us.”

Wright’s next event will be the Nicky Grist Stages in July although he will also be appearing at the Goodwood Festival of Speed as part of the International Rally Drivers Club display.

Image courtesy Simon Clarke

Thursday 6 June 2013

Disappointing Jim Clark Challenge rally for Sykes

Stourbridge’s Richard Sykes had a disappointing Jim Clark Challenge rally last weekend when an accident while leading the event dropped him down the leaderboard.

The event started on Friday night with three stages including the 16 mile Abbey St Bathans stage. Sykes made a brilliant start in his Bathams Brewery, G I Sykes Ltd, Silverstone Tyres and Boroughbridge Marina-supported Citroën C2 R2 Max, storming to an eight second lead over local driver Ross Hunter.

“I love the Abbey St Bathans stage,” said Sykes. “My car suits the roads perfectly and it’s probably my favourite tarmac stage. We had a fantastic run through there to take a 15 second lead. We lost some time in the Tweedside stage that followed but we were only beaten by a guy who lives nearby so I was happy with that.”

Saturday was due to start with the Eccles stage but the event organisers cancelled it. Instead Swinton was the first stage and it was here Sykes’ rally took a turn for the worse. The route was tight and twisty and Sykes had targeted it as one where he could get a good advantage over the other crews. However, after a flat out section at over 100mph the car put two wheels on the grass which meant Sykes could not slow down sufficiently for the following tight corner.

“There was a crest in the road but hitting it at over 100mph turned it into a jump which threw the car to the left and partially onto the verge. It was only 60 metres to the corner, if we’d had all four wheels on the road we could’ve slowed but we had no chance with two wheels on the grass.”

 “We went straight on at the corner and ploughed through a hedge, damaging the front of the car and tearing a tyre off the rim. We made repairs at the scene and got the car going again but we’d dropped to 10th place.”

With plenty of mileage still to go Sykes hoped to be able to work his way back up to 5th place but events conspired against him with three of the remaining six stages cancelled by the organisers.

“After the disaster on Swinton we were confident that we had the pace to get back to 5th as there should’ve been six stages for us to make up time. Sadly the event organisers cancelled three of those and of the remaining three two were very short so our opportunity was gone, especially as the car steering had been damaged in the accident and there was no time to fix it in the frantic 20 minute service halt.”

“It was an extremely disappointing event for us, we lost the opportunity of getting the win and we also lost over half of the mileage that we should’ve done. We still managed to score some points for being second in class so that’s a positive we can take to the next event. We’ve dropped to third in the BRC Challenge championship now though to it’s vital we get a great result next time out.”

Sykes’ next BRC Challenge round will be the Scottish rally at the end of June.

Monday 3 June 2013

Wright to continue championship challenge on Dukeries rally


Bentham’s David Wright will continue his 2013 BTRDA rally championship campaign next weekend when he contests the Dukeries rally in Nottinghamshire.
After an excellent result on the Plains rally last month when he finished first in class and fourth overall Wright is hoping for another good performance in his Kumho Tyres, Proflex, Drenth, York Brewery, Millers Oils, Owen Developments and Grove Hill Garage-supported Mitsubishi Evo 9. The car ran faultlessly on the Plains so there have been no changes made ahead of the Dukeries.
“The Plains went really well,” said Wright. “I was happy with the car and we led the class all day. It will be tough to get a good overall result on the Dukeries as there are a lot of very long straights in the stages which give a big advantage to the more powerful World Rally class cars but I’ll be flat out to try and get near the top three.”
“After the car problems we had before the Plains it was great to have a troublefree run so we’ve left the car in the same specification which will hopefully give us another clear run.”
“We won our class on the 2011 Dukeries so we’ll be aiming to repeat that this year.”
The rally will be fought over 44 miles of gravel forest stages in the Sherwood Forest area.

Image courtesy Simon Clarke

Class podium for Brown on Jim Clark National rally

Rochdale rally driver Steve Brown enjoyed a very successful Jim Clark National rally event last weekend when he finished second in class in the MSA Asphalt Championship.

It was the first time Brown had contested the popular Kelso-based event which runs on closed public roads in the Scottish Borders.

The rally started with three stages on Friday evening. The first was a short stage in Duns town centre in front of a huge crowd of spectators. Brown took his Mintex Racing, Fuchs Titan Race, 710 Oil's, PIAA and Sabelt UK-backed Nissan Micra 1300 to second in the championship class battle. The very challenging Abbey St Bathans stage was next up, 16 miles of twisty and bumpy lanes which always causes problems for a lot of crews. Brown and co-driver Paul Stringer had a clear run though and they rounded off Friday evening with the Tweedside stage which included a huge jump where the Micra flew through the air.

“The Friday stages went well,” said Brown. “The Abbey stage was a big test, the roads are so tricky there and it would be very easy to crash out of the event. We had a decent run through though. The jump on the Tweedside stage was good fun!”

Day two of the rally had eight stages including two runs of the Swinton stage which featured the famous Swinton Mill crossroads where many a car has come to grief. Brown negotiated the crossroads with no problems but was caught out in another part of the stage when his car hit a patch of gravel and slid head on into a tree. Although the bodywork was damaged the radiator, steering and handling of the car were fine so Brown was able to continue.

With a finish vital for his championship hopes Brown did not push too hard in the remaining stages but he was quick enough to hold his second in the championship class position.

“What an event it was, a real challenge and I’m delighted to get a finish on my Jim Clark debut. We couldn’t afford a retirement so we were lucky the incident with the tree didn’t force us out. The stages were brilliant and we had a great time. Thank you to the team and all our sponsors for the support which allowed us to contest the event.”

Brown’s next event is scheduled to be the Tyneside Stages in August.

Engine failure ends fine performance from Monaghan

Rally driver Kev Monaghan had a miserable end to the Jim Clark National rally last weekend when the engine on his Vauxhall Corsa S1600 failed while he was challenging for a class win.

The Kelso-based event started on Friday evening with three stages and Monaghan’s plan was to push hard immediately in his Pirtek Tyne & Wear, Stauff, GB Lubricants, F & R Belbin and Bill Falconer-supported car. His plan worked as he led the event at the overnight halt although he was only 0.1 seconds ahead of the second-placed crew.

Saturday’s stages started off with damp roads but Monaghan was still on the pace, swapping fastest stage times with Carl & Rob Tuer in their MG ZR S1600. The class battle continued throughout the day and going into the long last stage Monaghan was 14 seconds off the lead. As the roads had dried out Monaghan fitted harder compound tyres with the intention of a flat out attack to try and get the win. Unfortunately a rain shower meant the new tyres were not as effective as they would’ve been in the dry but worse was to come when, with 8 miles of the stage remaining, the engine failed.

“I was delighted with our performance on Friday, to be leading was very satisfying,” said Monaghan. “We were having a great battle with the Tuers on Saturday and I hoped that switching to the harder tyres for the last 14 miles would give us a chance of taking the class win. The rain ended our hopes but we were still on for second place until the engine failed.”

“They say lightning doesn’t strike twice but we’ve had engine failures on consecutive events which is hugely disappointing. I’m happy that we’ve got the pace to compete at the sharp end and that we’re mixing times with works-built S1600 cars though. We’ve set up a great team around us, we just need that one final link in the chain to nail down our engine issues.”

“For now the budget is gone but I hope to be out later in the year and be ready to give it our all in 2014. Thank you to Pirtek Tyne& Wear, Stauff, GB Lubricants, F & R Belbin and Bill Falconer, without their support we would not have been in the position to challenge for class wins. I would like to say a big thank you to Chris Purvis who gives it 100% in the co-driver's seat which allows me to take it flat out most of the time.”

“Hopefully we can resolve the engine issues and have a real push for the class championship next year.”

Successful rally return for Rodgers

Tim Rodgers contested his first rally for three years and his first ever tarmac event last weekend on the Jim Clark Challenge rally and a strong performance saw him take 7th overall and 5th in class.

Driving a Ford Fiesta ST Rodgers, from Burton upon Stather, and co-driver Stefan Arndt had a good start to the event on the first of Friday evening’s three stages, powering the car around Duns town centre in front of a huge crowd of spectators. The long 16 miles Abbey St Bathans test followed and for most of the stage Rodgers had to rely on his memory of the route from the recce as the intercom failed meaning he couldn’t hear the Arndt’s instructions. Despite this Rodgers managed to catch three cars in the stage. With the intercom working again the crew had a clean run through the final Friday stage to lie in 9th place overall at the overnight halt.

Eight stages were scheduled for the Challenge crews on Saturday but various issues meant that 46 miles of stages were cancelled by the rally organisers which dented Rodgers’ hopes of pushing for a top five finish. He got up to 7th overall, missing out on being the first Fiesta ST crew by just three seconds.

“I’m pleased to get a decent finish and our times compared very well against the other Fiesta ST drivers which, considering I’ve never done a tarmac event before, is a good achievement.”

“It’s very disappointing that we lost so much mileage on Saturday, I had hoped that we could make up enough time to get into the top five. We gained three seconds on the sixth-placed crew in the two miles of the final Langton stage so without the stage cancellations I am confident we would’ve finished higher up.”

“Thanks to Stefan for an excellent job in the co-driver’s seat, Charlie Stephens for servicing and Becky Kirvan for the loan of her car.”