AFTER an absence of two years, and on only its second running in the past five, Ripon Motor Sports Club’s flagship event – The Riponian Rally – returned in style on Sunday as a capacity entry overcame the difficult conditions.

With the forests of Wass, Cropton and Gale Rigg dry in the morning but becoming slippery as sleet and snow fell during the day, taking victory overall was the Proton Iziz R5 of Ollie Mellors and Max Freeman, who emerged half a minute clear of Ripon teenager Elliot Payne and co-driver Patrick Walsh in their Ford Fiesta R5.

Part-time circuit racer David Henderson from Durham emerged third overall in his recently-acquired Ford Fiesta R5 he was sharing with Chris Lees whilst multiple Riponian winner Charlie Payne - Elliot’s dad – and Welsh co-driver Jamie Edwards finished fourth overall in their Ford Fiesta.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

Scorton’s Steve Petch and Exelby co-driver John ‘JR’ Richardson struggled like many in the tricky conditions but claimed 12th overall and ninth in class in their SGP Motorsport Ford Fiesta, one place ahead of the Ford Escort Mk2 of Ripon driver Tom Hewick and Pickhill co-driver Mick Johnson, who also ended up second in class. Thirlby driver Ben Cree had to call up near neighbour Mat Smith from Sutton Bank for co-driving duties at the last minute, but impressed to claim 14th overall and a class win in their Opel Corsa.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

South Kilvington publican Nick Kitching and co-driver Andrew Trollope brought their Ford Escort RS2000 home in 26th overall and fourth in class, just ahead of Boroughbridge driver Graham Haigh and Pickhill co-driver Kari Bates, who finished 30th overall and seventh in class in their Ford Escort Mk2. Fellow Pickhill co-driver Bruce Lindsay guided Jan Budge’s Subaru Impreza to 21st overall and tenth in class also.

Bedale pair Shaun Wilson and Errol Bairstow clinched 33rd overall and 12th in class in their Subaru with the Thirsk pairing of Rob Herrington and Charlotte Wainwright, who were having a rare venture out in their Subaru and finished one place behind their rivals.

Likewise, Chris and Tracey Wise were back in action in their Ford Fiesta for the first time in a number of years and the Carlton Miniott duo brought it safely home to 43rd overall and 16th in class. In the Historic section of the event, Ripon’s Matthew Robinson and co-driver Sam Collis emerged victorious in their Ford Escort Mk2 to take first blood in the opening round of the British Historic Rally Championship. Thirlby driver Terry Cree and Boltby co-driver Richard Shores brought their BMW 2002 home in 31st overall and fourth in class in the Historic event too.

Sadly, for a number of local crews, they didn’t see the finish at Thirsk Auction Mart including former double winner Kevin Procter. The Leeming driver, along with Bedale co-driver Josh Beer went out on the opening stage on Wass Moor after a minor roll in their Temsa Coaches-backed Ford Fiesta. The same stage claimed Ripon’s Gary Beckwith and Colin Stockil, who retired their Ford Escort, whilst SS3 in Gale Rigg accounted for 2017 winners Stephen Petch from Hamsterley and Crook co-driver Michael Wilkinson, whose debut in their new Ford Fiesta ended with a technical problem.

Gale Rigg also saw the demise of Lealholm driver Nick Cook and co-driver Dave Raw, who were going well in their Ford Escort Mk2 whilst Swainby’s Alun Pearson and co-driver Liam Whiteley went out of the event on SS2 in Cropton with fuelling issues in their Peugeot 205.