3:08pm Friday 29th November 2013
DARLINGTON driver Paul Swift overcame not only the tricky conditions but also some of the best rallycross drivers in the country to take outright victory in the BTRDA 75th Anniversary Rallycross meeting at Croft Circuit, near Darlington, last Sunday.
In only his second rallycross meeting in Smith and Allan Oils-sponsored 2.4 litre Millington Ford Escort Mk2, the seven times British Autotest champion set his stall out by setting fastest time in both of his qualifying heats at the Darlington and District Motor Club organised event.
That meant a pole position start as the ten fastest drivers lined up for the all-important A Final over six laps of the three-quarter mile fast half sealed, half loose North Yorkshire track.
Despite his lack of experience in the sport, Swift got a great start and trailed the Peugeot 206 Turbo of Kent driver Stuart Emery in the opening laps, while the Audi TT of Jarrow’s Michael Boak was pressing Swift hard from behind.
After a concerted effort on lap two, Swift made his decisive move around the outside at Hawthorn on lap three as he edged past Emery and was never headed and drove a calculated race to emerge victorious at the end of the six lap final.
While Swift gained the glory, the dramatic A Final also saw two other local drivers climb the podium in a race of attrition.
Both Emery’s and Boak’s challenges ended with mechanical problems late in the race which allowed the BL Mini of Houghton-le-Spring’s Lance Foster to charge through into second place and claim runner-up spot, but it was Chop Gate’s John Gaskin who was the revelation of the meeting as he took his Citroen Saxo to an amazing third position.
While the experienced Foster has shown good pace in the heats with a third and second place, it was Gaskin on his rallycross debut in the Hot Hatch specification Citroen Saxo who nearly stole the show. After comfortably winning his opening heat, Gaskin was fastest overall going into the second round but failed to finish heat two but had done enough to qualify alongside Britain’s rallycross elite and didn’ disappoint in the final.
Also making it into the A Final was Ingleby Barwick’s Martin Peters following a victory and second place in his heats. However, with a couple of laps to go, a collision with the BMW of York’s Gary Simpson, who took victory in the B Final, left the Citroen Saxo with substantial front end damage.
Ripon brothers Keifer and Kris Hudson were also well to the fore throughout the meeting in their respective BMW Minis which saw Keifer placed second in the B Final and Kris in fourth, With the top two in each final progressing to the next, it meant Keifer took his place in the A Final and went on to take fourth placeg.
The C Final contained the Northallerton pair of Larry Carter (Peugeot 206) and Darren Grimston (Suzuki Swift) alongside the BMW Mini of Ferryhill’s David Bell, while both Carter and Grimston had scored a second place in their respective heats with Bell claiming a best result of fourth. Carter held second place early on in the final before spinning out and rejoining which allowed Bell to finish third. Grimston got the better of Carter for seventh on the very last lap and in doing so, took second in the Super 1600 class with Carter third.
Barnard Castle’s Mark Watson was in action in an unfamiliar Toyota MR2 and after battling through the heats with a best result of third, and he fellow County Durham driver Brian Jukes (Audi TT) finished first and second respectively in the D Final to progress to the C Final, while Watson finished a battling fifth but sadly Jukes retired. Also in the D Final was Newton Aycliff’s Chris Harper who claimed sixth in his Citroen Saxo with the battle-scarred Vauxhall Nova of Stokesley driver Ian Horn finishing seventh in the same race.
The E Final contained Northallerton’s Colin Ramsey in his Peugeot 205 whereby he followed up third in his heat with a similar result in the final whereas Stanley driver Trevor Brown (Citroen Saxo) finished third in the F Final, three places ahead of Stokesley precision driver Kelly Bird who was making a return to the sport after three years away, in her Mini.
Sadly, the much-awaited return to the sport of Hartlepool’s Des Wheatley after a nine-year sabbatical ended when he suffered a problem with the Judd-powered Metro in the opening heat and sidelined him for the day.
IT was a successful weekend for a number of the region’s rally crews who were in action on both the Hall Trophy Rally at Blyton, in Lincolnshire, and the Dukeriesbased SA Gas Premier Rally.
At Blyton, the Northallerton pair of Graeme Bell and Russ Radford brought their Ford Escort Mk 2 home in sixth place overall and took a class win on the way, while Guisborough’s Dave Hornbrook and co-driver Ann Forster finished eighth overall and second in class in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6. Whitby driver Kev Hullah and co-driver Chris Harding also saw the finish in their VW Golf when they took 33rd overall.
In Sherwood Forest, Kirkby Fleetham driver Errol Bairstow took fourth place overall in the modern class in the Mitsubishi Lancer he was sharing with Bedale’s Shaun Wilson while Tom Hewick from Boroughbridge and Pickhill co-driver Mick Johnson claimed second place in the historic section in their Ford Escort.
Ripon’s Andrew Robinson and Kevin Wilson claimed fifth overall and fourth in class with the Datsun 240Z of Topcliffe driver Duncan Pearcey and co-driver Dave Boyes in seventh overall and second in class.
Sadly, for the Ripon pairing of Stewart Scott and Mark Casey, they retired their Ford Escort.
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