Cole beats dust to clinch Carlisle class victory

3:58pm Friday 27th June 2014

LAST Saturday’s hot and dry conditions proved a real challenge for competitors in the DMACK Carlisle Stages Rally but it didn’t prove too problematic for local competitors Simon Cole from Catterick and Eggleston co-driver Joe Hutchinson.

Based in the Cumbrian town, the event used the forests of the Scottish Borders and in the Kershope complex with the usual unforgiving ditches and fast, technical roads of Kielder Forest providing great stages for rallying.

Competing in the Open class event in the venerable BMW 325, the crew started off cautiously on the opening stage with a finish in mind and also allowing them to get used to the gravel roads. However the pace would improve over the next two stages as confidence grew meaning Simon and Joe found themselves in seventh out of the 14 starters after the first loop of three stages.

With a better knowledge of the stages and conditions, the second loop would see an improvement in pace with top five stage times on each of the final three stages and despite a few anxious moments there was very little to worry Simon and Joe. This increase in pace combined with a couple of retirements meant an improvement to fourth overall at the finish and with it, first placed silverware in class as fastest two-wheel drive car by 47 seconds.

The event also hosted a round of the WWRS RAC Rally Championship and saw Ripon Ford Escort driver Matthew Robinson and co-driver Sam Collis claim second place overall with the Willowgreen Homes Mk2 pairing of Thirsk’s Tim Pearcey and co-driver Neil Shanks in fourth overall.

Potto’s Keith Davison and Ripon co-driver Henry Richardson brought their Avenger home in 28th overall taking a class win in the process. It wasn’t such good news for the leaders of the Open class, Kepwick’s Peter Stephenson and Northallerton co-driver Ian Windress who were comfortably leading the event when their Ford Focus WRC ground to a halt on the third stage.

Also in action on the Wolds Rally at Ludford Airfield in Lincolnshire last weekend was Sinderby co-driver Katy Bates who was sat alongside Charlie Stephens from Scunthorpe.

Katy, 20, has only ever navigated for her sister Kari and father Bill previously, and 18-year-old Charlie has never had anyone sat in with him, other than his uncle, so this was their first event together.

Despite their lack of combined experience, the pair achieved an amazing result of sixth overall in their 1300cc Nissan Micra, taking a class win in the process and Katy winning the first lady competitor too.

Making a very rare stage rally appearance at the Rally of the Midlands was Northallerton road rally expert Steve Retchless and co-driver Richard Hage who emerged in a brilliant eight overall and third in class in their Ford Escort Mk2

Picture sent: Simon Cole and Joe Hutchinson in action on the DMACK Carlisle Stages Rally

YORKSHIRE will this weekend become the central hub of speed these next two weekends as firstly the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship roars into the Croft Circuit this weekend, just a week before the county hosts the start of the world’s most famous cycling race with the 101st edition of the Tour de France.

First up, however, it’s the turn of the touring cars, driven by 31 racers, including seven champions. The event will mark the important halfway stage of the BTCC season with rounds 13, 14 and 15 of the championship determining the title picture for the second half of the year.

Croft is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2014 and organisers are expecting a huge summer crowd to descend on the venue in what is sure to be a carnival atmosphere throughout the weekend.

The action gets under way at 9.30am tomorrow with Sunday morning incorporating the popular pit walk from 10am before the action gets underway at 12 noon. More information is available at www.croftcircuit.co.uk

TO coincide with the British Touring Car Championship returns to Croft Circuit this weekend, the North Yorkshire Road Racing Supporters Club (NYRRSC) is making the most of the opportunity to host a special social evening with the stars of the championship in Northallerton tonight.

Amongst the guests will be ex-Ginetta racer Tom Ingram who has had a sensational start to his rookie BTCC season and sits 12th in the championship. Local man Sam Tordoff is also hoping to appear where the Leeds based youngster is in his second season with the KX Academy and the works MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save team. Having taken a win in race two at Donington Park he will be hoping for more glory on home soil at Croft.

Both of the STP Racing with Sopp and Sopp drivers, Dan Welch and Ollie Jackson, will be in attendance too. Having missed the season opener at Brands Hatch, Welch has been battling technical issues and car developments in the early part of this season. His team mate Jackson is yet to break into the top 20 in the race results but improvements to the cars performance at Oulton Park could change that at Croft. The NGTC Proton cars have potential for success and they will be working hard for better results when the BTCC comes to North Yorkshire.

Hunter Abbott has made his return to the BTCC paddock this year joining Rob Austin in the Audi. The rear wheel drive cars have always gone well around Croft which will mean that Hunter will be eyeing up his best results to his debut BTCC season. More drivers were expected to be confirmed during the week.

The event will see a move from the NYRRSC’s regular venue of the Golden Lion to the Troubadour for the event where doors open at 7:30pm for an 8pm start with entry priced at £5 for adults.

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