Thomas takes second FST UK win and title lead.

09.09.2006: Thomas takes second FST UK win and title lead.

George Thomas scored an emphatic Fiesta ST victory on the Park Systems National Rally, the seventh round of the VK Vodka Kick supported Fiesta SportingTrophy UK (FST UK).

Thomas set the fastest Fiesta ST time on three of the four stages including the mammoth 19 mile Arroch Hill which ended the event. He was classified in sixth position on the overall standings and also took victory in the C3 class. He was first Fiesta ST home by almost a minute and took the Castrol Hard Charger Award.

The win, taken with co-driver Graham Hopewell, is the second this season for the duo after winning the Pirelli Trophy Rally back in May. It moves them into the championship points lead with one round remaining and he also leads the ANCRO Clubman Driver Championship.

The rally may only have had four stages but it certainly provided a short, sharp, shock to more than one Fiesta ST competitor. The day started with blue skies and sunshine but cloud cover and increasing winds soon joined the party. The major concern, however, was staying on the road.

The first stage, the 7.55 mile Thorney Hill, saw Thomas open up with a time four seconds faster than his next Fiesta ST rival, Mike Faulkner. Faulkner, Fiesta ST winner of the Eventsigns Mewla National Rally two weeks ago, saw his run cut short on the next stage with contact with two rocks meaning he had to drive through with a broken wheel and into retirement.

The second stage, Cairn Edward, saw Jonathan Greer go fastest with two-time winner Chris Moore next. Greer was credited with a time almost thirty seconds faster than any other Fiesta ST with many runners being held up by crashed cars and the Belfast driver catapulted into the lead.

The third stage, Barney Water at 7.27 miles in length, saw Thomas back to the fore, going three seconds faster than Tom Walster and back into the Fiesta ST lead from Walster and then Greer.

The fourth stage was the big one. At 18.98 miles Arroch Hill would always be a challenge, but with so many cars having fallen off the road earlier it was a case of conservation mode for those remaining. Despite this approach Thomas still went almost three quarters of a minute faster than Tom Walster and his local co-driver Kirsty Riddick to take the win from his rival with Greer taking third.

Previous championship leader Chris Moore had looked set for a third place finish until a driveshaft failure with 16 miles remaining of the final stage. The winner of the Severn Valley and Swansea Bay rallies nursed his car home to finish in sixth.

Fourth spot went to Fraser Jones who drove a canny rally to avoid the incidents of so many competitors. He was frustrated to be stuck behind the ailing Chris Moore on the final stage. Fifth spot went to an enthused Richard Moore, with his seasonís best result.

Many competitors fell foul of the tricky conditions. The tally of rolled cars included Owen Murphy, Ean Lewin, Richard Parry-Jones and Colin Greer whilst contact with immoveable rocks befell Simon Hughes and Mike Faulkner causing terminal damage. Kevin Davies retired with clutch failure.

The final round of the Fiesta SportingTrophy UK takes place on the Bulldog Rally based out of Oswestry on October 21st.

Quotes

#117 George Thomas Iím chuffed to bits to take the win. Thereís one round left and itís going right down the wire. Itís been a bit different driving around all the rocks, I was absolutely knackered after 19 miles, but I thought I took it quite steadily. I had some moments on the first stages. I was totally off the road at one point, on a six right that tightened, but it tightened into a square right. On the first stage we were flying, we went off in the second one then the third was rough but we were going well. Iíve altered my driving style to keep the car rolling and pace up and it certainly seems to have worked.

#126 Tom Walster It wasnít a bad day. We caught a car in the last stage and had to give it a nudge to let them know we were there. After we got past there was a problem with the car cutting out, then we tipped onto our side on the very last corner which cost us about 20 seconds. It was a shame as weíd taken the first three stages steadily to conserve the tyres for the final one as that was crucial. Iím still happy to have taken second.

#127 Jonathan Greer It was very rough, quite tricky but a good event. The last stage was hard to get through. Iíve done 15 miles before but never 19. We drove to our pace, if weíd gone harder we would have been in a ditch somewhere.

#139 Fraser Jones It was not a bad day for us but it was carnage in the stages. The first one was slippery and we had to slow down for two or three accidents so we decided to be cautious from there. The second one was even worse, there were cars everywhere, so we just kept on going. The last stage was really frustrating as we got stuck behind Chris Moore and lost bags of time there, but he couldnít see us because of the dust.

#140 Richard Moore Iíve got points! Iíve got points! I really enjoyed it. We didnít have a clean run on any of the stages, we had a puncture on the first and the last one, but the stages were fantastic. It was a lot of hard work out there. The stages seemed very slippery, although that could be because of coming from the grip of the Mewla two weeks ago.

 

- Andy Stobart -

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09.09.2006 / MaP

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