Championship battle set for the Park

03.09.2006: Championship battle set for the Park

The VK Vodka Kick backed Fiesta SportingTrophy UK heads north to the Park Systems Furniture Stages Rally in Newton Stewart, South West Scotland for the penultimate round of the inaugural season and with two drivers tied on points at the head of the field, it couldn’t be any closer

Taking place just two weeks after the Eventsigns Mewla National Rally where Mike Faulkner fought off his rivals, a rave and an unexploded bomb to take his first win, the Park Systems sees the championship return to the gravel surface that makes up six of the eight rounds.

At the head of the table, Chris Moore took second on the Mewla and is the only driver to have won two events this season.

"I’ve never done the Park Systems before, but I have driven similar stages in Scotland and have never had a good run there," says the Innovation Motorsports driver. "The last time I was there was in 2003 when my car caught fire early on and was destroyed! I never thought I would rally again after that as the car wasn’t insured, so who would believe I’m going back to the same stages this year with the possibility of winning the championship."

Equal on points but second in the standings to Moore, George Thomas is hoping for a strong run. "We had some problems on the Mewla but we are hoping to put them behind us on the Park," says Thomas. "However, I have heard the stages can be bad for punctures and with a 19-mile stage to tackle, a puncture is the last thing we want!

"With the times on the Fiesta championship being so close, if you get a puncture and you have to stop and change it your rally is over. We just hope to find the right lines and keep it clean."

Welshman Kevin Davies sits in third position in the standings with 25 points, a win for him with poor results from his rivals could see Davies take the lead.

"Things are going really well in preparation for the event," says Davies. "We have dropped to third since the last round, the Mewla, so we really need to up the pace.

"We were leading the Mewla at one point by 15 seconds but then we got a puncture, which dropped us down the order. I have never done the Park Systems rally before, but I am looking forward to it."

Simon Hughes in fourth spot on 24 points is the final driver who could mathematically take the lead. Punctures also affected his run on the Mewla and despite the Park Systems’ reputation for punishing tyres, Hughes his hoping for better luck this time.

"We had a really good run on the Mewla but we were a little bit disappointed to finish third after we got a puncture and we are hoping we can escape them on the Park," says Hughes.

"We have been fairly lucky with the car this season and we hope that continues. We are now in a position where we need to win both remaining rounds to be in with a chance of winning the championship – so it will be flat out from the word go!

Hughes can count on past Park performances. "We have done some of the stages before on other events and hopefully that will be enough to seal the win," he explains. "We are not in the strongest of positions championship wise, but I have won a rally outright on the stages being used on the Park Systems Rally, so I'm going there with confidence. Having my co-driver, Claire Mole, will be a great help as always, and we will be going flat out for the win and nothing else will do."

Yet to score in the championship, but enjoying his rallying all the way is Ean Lewin. "I’ve not done the Park before, but hopefully the car will be back up and running with a new power steering pump," he says. "I could do with a little less action than trying to do hairpins round bales with both hands on the wheel and c-driver ‘Orry ‘on the handbrake!"

One competitor who will be contesting the event, but in a different car, is Colin Greer. An accident in the Mewla meant his usual Fiesta ST was very badly damaged and is not due to be back in action until the Bulldog Rally in late October. However, Innovation Motorsports who run Greer have sourced another car and he will be in action. A first and second fastest stage time on the Mewla show the improved pace he has displayed this year so he could well be one to watch.

The Park Systems Furniture Stages Rally takes place on Saturday 9th September and covers seven stages with 68 competitive miles. It is the penultimate round of the Fiesta SportingTrophy UK which finishes on October 21st with the Bulldog Rally based around Oswestry in Shropshire.


- Andy Stobart-


03.09.2006 / MaP

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