Exciting finish sees Asher crowned Ironman champion

First published in Sport

AFTER a long, hard-fought season, the championships in both classes in Stockton and District Motor Club’s Ironman series came down to the last race of the year at Teesside Autodrome last weekend.

Reigning Class A champion Colin Peacock, from Ingleby Barwick, was under no illusions that nothing less than a victory would be needed to cut a 12-point deficit from Wakefield’s Mark Asher.

Asher had to finish third or better if Peacock won, while Class B leader Richard Jackson only had to finish ahead of second-placed David Carlton to clinch the title.

In qualifying, Asher had secured pole with Peacock back in eighth on the grid with some seriously quick racers including previous race winners Warren Clough, from Norton, Redcar’s Chris Roe and Giles Potter, from Thirsk, between them. It should have been easy for Asher but as the karts left the grid, Asher bogged down slightly allowing Chop Gate driver John Gaskin to storm through from fourth place to lead for the first three laps.

Positions kept changing at a rapid pace and the race was led at some point by Asher, Roe, Potter, Peacock and Clough. Gaskin was tagged in an otherwise clean race and the resulting spin dropped him to ninth overall but with the consolation of fastest lap. Roe was pragmatic after twice leading but suffering from an engine that faltered when it mattered most, his eventual sixth placed finish ahead of East Cleveland rival Bob McKenzie moved him in to third in the championship displacing McKenzie in the process.

Only Peacock managed to make any noticeable break out front but was reeled in by Clough and the chasing train of karts just holding on to the lead and admitting after the race that one more lap and he couldn’t have held the hard charging Clough back. The margin of victory after 26 laps was so close that the top four finished within one second and the top ten within ten seconds of each other.

Asher finally avenged his defeat by a single point in last year’s series with a third place finish. Mark had his championship lead trimmed down to just four points by his nemesis and last year’s Class A victor Colin Peacock but is a very worthy and respected champion with three wins from seven races. In Class B Hartlepool’s Richard Jackson celebrated his birthday in style by taking pole, winning his class and taking the championship all in one day.

The 2013 series starts on Sunday, February 3 and new registrations are welcome; details at stocktonmotorclub.

co.uk THIS weekend’s annual Roger Albert Clark Rally roars into the region with local fans set for a feast of action starting this evening and with the best entry assembled in recent years including many local crews, the threeday event is sure to be a hit once again.

Starting from Pickering at 17.31, nearly 100 cars are entered and will start by tackling four tricky stages in darkness in the Dalby forest complex before the overnight halt. Tomorrow sees two loops through Gale Rigg (08.44 and 11.22) via the stately home of Duncombe Park near Helmsley (09.40 and 12.18) before arriving at Croft Circuit, near Darlington.

The leading cars are scheduled to arrive at Croft at 13.55 where they will head into a major service area where waiting crews will set about working on the cars prior to Croft’s two revised and improved stages at 14.28 and 14.44. Croft’s gates will open to the public at midday and commentary will be provided. Admission at Croft is free for accompanied children aged 15 and under and £10 per adult.

From Croft, crews head out in fading light to tackle the Hamsterley stage at 15:50 before two difficult stages in Pundershaw in Kielder Forest (17.48 and 18.09) prior to the overnight halt in Carlisle at 19.27. Sunday sees the remaining crews converge on the forests of North West Kielder and Southern Scotland before the finish in Carlisle at 17.00.

This year’s event has attracted its most competitive field ever with Le Mans 24 Hours winner Guy Smith from Hull, Belgian drivers Stefaan Stouf, who won the 2010 event, and former World Rally Championship ace Gregoire de Mevius as well as newly-crowned British Historic Rally Champion Julian Reynolds.

Among the other favourites are a number of top Yorkshire names including Thirsk driver Tim Pearcey, Northallerton’s Charlie Taylor and Ripon’s Matthew Robinson each seeded in the top 20.

The event also sees the final round of the 2012 Motoscope Northern Historic Rally Championship and will see no less than 30 registered MNHRC competitors converge on Pickering today for the De Lacy Motor Club annual event, and although a few titles have already been decided, there is still a lot to play for in the testing Yorkshire stages.

Motoscope Northern Historic Rally champion Steve Bannister, who clinched the title on the Malton Forest Rally earlier this month, has been labelled pre-event favourite and is seeded number two in his Ford Escort Mk2, with Kevin Rae alongside, as the Malton driver bids to add to his 2007 victory.

Further information is available on the Roger Albert Clark Rally website roger albertclarkrally.org. For details on the Motoscope Northern Historic Rally Championship, visit moto scope.co.uk/nhrc.htm Competitors are reminded that the date for the championship presentation and dinner is Saturday, January 26, at the Golden Lion Hotel, Northallerton.

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