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Riponian Stages hat-trick for Payne comes at a price
3:02pm Friday 22nd February 2013 in Sport
CHARLIE Payne achieved his ambition of three consecutive victories on the Procters Coaches Riponian Stages Rally when he took another comfortable win last Sunday, but it came at a price as he had to nurse the car to the finish.
Along with Pocklington codriver Craig Thorley, the Ripon driver set a cracking pace on the snow and icebound forest tracks around Helmsley to open up a halfminute lead in the ex-Marcus Gronholm Ford Focus WRC by the half-distance point as his rivals struggled to match his speed.
But going into the second loop of stages on Ripon Motor Sport Club’s flagship event, the seven-times winner hit problems when the head gasket blew, leaving the crew to top the car up with oil and water at the end of every stage.
The subsequent delays caused them to go perilously close to a maximum delay, Thorley calculating they were less than a minute of going out of the event, while Payne admitted he should have parked the car up but wanted that hat-trick as he has never managed it to date, despite his eight wins in total now.
Eventually, Payne’s winning margin was 55 seconds after the dozen classic stages saw conditions at their trickiest following the recent heavy snow.
Teesside-based Peter Stephenson, with Northallerton co-driver Ian Windress, finished third in their Able UKbacked Ford Focus WRC, just pipping Kevin Procter, from Leeming, and Great Langton co-driver Dave Bellerby, who took fourth as the pair endured a couple of time-consuming spins early on in their first outing in the forests for two years in their Subaru.
Richmond’s Reg Smith guided the Proton of Ollie Mellors to fifth, with Ripon driver Matthew Robinson and Helperby co-driver Nigel Hutchinson overcoming a oneminute jump start penalty to bring their Robinson Road Services Ford Escort Millington Mk2 home in sixth overall and first 2WD car.
Former winner Tim Pearcey, from Thirsk, and Scottish co-driver Neil Shanks took seventh overall and victory in the Historic class in their Willowgreen Homes-backed Ford Escort Mk2, just under a minute ahead of the Subaru Impreza driven by Ripon’s Shaun Wilson, along with Kirkby Fleetham co-driver Errol Bairstow.
Former British Junior Champion Chris Birkbeck, from Brotton, made a welcome comeback in the rotaryengined Mazda RX7 he was sharing with York’s Kim Baker and took ninth overall and second in class just four seconds ahead of Northallerton’s Charlie Taylor and co-driver Steve Bielby, from Pickering, who ended up 11th overall and third in class in their Ford Escort, such was the closeness of competition.
Ampleforth’s Gareth Thomas and co-driver Jack Cranage claimed 20th overall and fourth in class in their Ford Escort, three places ahead of Thirlby’s Ben Cree and co-driver Mat Smith, from Thirsk, who won their class in their Peugeot 205.
Boroughbridge driver Graham Haigh seconded Sinderby co-driver Kari Bosworth to replace the injured Mick Johnson and finished 24th overall and sixth in class in his Ford Escort.
Northallerton driver John Tillett drove well to bring the Bedale Motor Factors-sponsored Ford Escort he was sharing with Thirsk co-driver Guy Kirby home in 26th overall and eighth in class, one place ahead of Whitby veterans John Cockerill and Jim Goodman, who claimed seventh in class in their retro ICI Petrol-liveried Ford Escort.
Brompton’s Darren Grimston and West Tanfield co-driver Richie Ross won their class in their Busby Stoop Garagebacked 1600cc Ford Escort Mexico Mk1 en route to 28th overall and despite an excursion into a snow bank. Chris Blake, from West Rounton, and Barnard Castle co-driver Tony Walker finished just ten seconds down in their similar two-litre car.
Whitby pair Alan and Rachel Ward finished 37th overall and second in class in their Vauxhall Nova, one place ahead of Hambleton’s Amanda and Derek Cornforth who were unlucky to suffer a dubious road penalty which went uncorrected and resulted in a 38th place finish, although they did bag third in class in their 1400cc Ford Ka.
Sensibly driving for a finish on his first event in the driver’s seat in those tricky conditions was Leeming Bar youngster Daniel Kennedy, who brought the Buzzard’s Tyres Ford Cosworth he was sharing with Terry Martin home in 45th place and 12th in class.
Included in the dozen retirements were Thirkleby’s Rob Herrington and Ripon co-driver Charlotte Banner, who suffered engine problems with their Ford Escort Mk2 after SS10, while the penultimate stage claimed Topcliffe’s Jonathan Kitchen and codriver Neil Colls, who broke a wheel on their 1600cc Ford Escort in College Moor. Whitby driver Kevin Hullah and his co- driver Chris Harding hit a bridge on the second Roppa stage to retire their VW Polo also.
THE recent Legend Fires North West Stages Rally proved successful for a number of local crews who ventured over to Blackpool.
Mickleton’s Alistair Hutchinson and co-driver Sinje Dykes, from Barnard Castle, did well to finish 13th overall and win their in class in their LPG-powered Renault Clio, with the Peugeot 206 of Eppleby’s Mark Thompson and co-driver Phil Kenny finishing a deserved 19th overall and second in class.
Finishing one place ahead was the Thirkleby husband and wife pairing of Jon and Alison Trenholme who brought their Subaru Impreza home in an impressive 18th overall. Seeded at 72 and with Alison, who only started co-driving at the end of last year, using pace notes for the first time, they set a pair of top-ten stage times and were pretty consistent all day long despite being hampered by low boost pressure.
As a result, they picked up the best novice crew award to round off a successful event.
Sinderby’s Bill Bates, with daughter Kari Bosworth on the notes, finished 44th overall and seventh in class in their Tanfield Engineeringbacked Peugeot 106, but a number of other local crews, ended up not getting to the finish for various reasons.
Darlington crew Paul Swift and David Cox saw their hopes of a good result disappear when mechanical failure saw them retire after just seven stages.
The defending AS Performance North of England Tarmac Rally and Fuchs Titan Race ANCC Stage Rally Tarmac Champion had a spin on the opening stage which saw the car stranded in mud and by the time the marshals had extracted him, Paul was languishing down in 74th place.
Undeterred, the seventimes British champion fought back in the 2.4-litre Millington Ford Escort Mk2 to elevate himself to an impressive 18th overall at the overnight halt.
Saturday saw Swift set about making up for lost time as he set a sensational fastest time on the opening Fleetwood stage to climb to 15th overall, but on the next run through the same stage, a half-shaft broke, meaning he had to limp out of the stage and into retirement.
Defending champion, Scotch Corner’s Tony Bardy, along with Saltburn co-driver Neil Colman, were holding second place for much of the event until being overhauled by Procter until the Nissan Sunny Gti-R broke the power steering after SS18 causing retirement.
Richmond brothers Mark and Andrew Constantine saw their North-West Stages jinx return as they ended up retiring their 1400cc Vauxhall Corsa with gearbox failure on SS11, while the similar car of Stockton’s Paul Dolan and Durham co-driver Chris Purvis only made it as far as the second stage before going out.
Darlington driver Kev Tennick and Hartburn co-driver Ian Jackson got as far as SS23 out of the scheduled 26 when the steering broke on their Peugeot 205, while the Pickhill pairing of Geoff Simpson and Mick Johnson suffered an accident in their Chonka Motor Servicesbacked Mitsubishi Lancer on SS12.
A LITTLE further down the country, a handful of local competitors were contesting the opening round of the BTRDA Rally Series, which started with the Wyedean Rally in the Forest of Dean, and once again they gave a good account of themselves.
Tow Law co-driver Michael Wilkinson guided Lancastrian driver David Wright to second place overall in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 to get their season off to a great start, while last year’s Wyedean winners, Ripon’s Charlie Payne and York codriver Craig Thorley, had to settle for fifth in their justferries.com-backed Ford Focus WRC.
One of the drives of the day came from Thirsk’s Mat Smith, who, with Barnard Castle codriver Giles Dykes, brought his F&D Cornforth-prepared 1400cc Ford Ka home in a remarkable 19th overall and second in class, beating at least a dozen four-wheel-drive cars out of the 85 finishers.
DARLINGTON and District Motor Club is starting a Rally Championship for all DDMC members competing during the season. All competitors need to do is send their results to Terry Wright at chair@darlington motorclub.org.uk.
At the end of the season the top scorer will receive the John Neasham Trophy at the club dinner dance.
The trophy is one of a number with a strong heritage from just after the Second World War.