01.05.2012: Pirelli Challenge Rally - 28 April 2012
NGK Spark Plugs BRC Challenge round three
Simon Moore and Emma Morrison tasted their first victory of the
Pirelli Challenge Rally - 28 April 2012 NGK Spark Plugs BRC Challenge round three
Simon Moore and Emma Morrison tasted their first victory of the season in the 2012 NGK Spark Plugs BRC Challenge and in doing so took to the top step of the podium for the second year in a row in Carlisle.
The Renault Clio crew led the Pirelli Challenge Rally from start to finish, setting fastest times on all but one of the six stages.
“I spent a lot of time preparing for this event, watching the DVDs and going through the notes. After two non-scoring rounds we needed this win and to be fair I had a little bit more left in the tank, but a finish was the priority.” explained a tired but ecstatic Moore.
Second place went to another Clio crew of Russ Thompson and Andy Murphy, who managed a last minute dash to prepare the car after rolling it last time out in Wales. This podium finish making up for the team’s non-scoring outings on both rounds one and two.
A great third place overall went to Dick Archer and John Connor in the ex-Kris Meeke Opel Corsa, also their first finish of the season. The self-confessed asphalt rally fan improved as the event progressed, climbing from eighth after the first stage.
James Watts and Steve Hartley made it to the finish line in a very credible fourth, despite breaking a gearbox mount early in the day. “I’m surprised to be here to be honest.” said James, “We’ve used a ratchet strap to keep the gearbox in, but it seems to have worked quite well.”
The pair now leads the NGK Spark Plugs BRC Challenge by virtue of consistently good overall finishes and bonus points in their RC2 class. However they will need more good results as the season progresses to maintain their ten point cushion at the top, as the best five scores from seven count towards the championship.
The Pirelli Challenge Rally had started brightly for Moore and championship leader Richard Sykes in his Citroën C2R2 Max, with the two sitting on top of the timing charts after the first stage. Two drivers not to survive the opening stage of the day however, were Damien Smith and Mark McCulloch, who suffered mechanical problems with their Honda Civic Type R and Proton Satria respectively.
But it wasn’t to be a repeat of the win in Wales for Sykes and co-driver Simon Taylor, who retired on the Shanks stage with an electrical problem.
The Shanks also spelt disaster for the Peugeot 206 RC pairing of Steven Smith and Daniel Johnstone who rolled out of what was looking to be a good finish for the duo.
Gareth White was now making a push for the podium after strong runs on the next couple of stages, but a mechanical problem put both he and co-driver Mick Dickson out.
Another unfortunate crew were that of Luke Pinder and Martyn Taylor, who were looking at a possible podium on their first rally in two years. The Ford Fiesta pairing had an entertaining day, managing visits to the Kielder ditches and punctures caused by large rocks. Sadly for the duo they suffered a blown engine just one stage from home on Pundershaw.
Tony Simpson and new co-driver Robin Hernaman finished fifth, even after Simpson claiming it “Wasn’t a classic for us.” Simpson’s fifth place also made him first in the Fiesta SportChallenge, an accolade which has been the Liverpudlian’s aim all season.
Just one place behind Simpson in sixth was round one winner James Ford and Neil Colman in the third Citroën C2R2 Max, this one being the former vehicle of BRC front runner, Desi Henry. “I’m still getting to grips with the French car.” remarked Ford after switching from the rear-wheel drive Escort.
Manxman Kevin Vondy arrived back at Carlisle Racecource in seventh position after good run in his Vauxhall Corsa, but it wasn’t without its problems. “The car’s terrible on the straights, I just couldn’t keep it in a straight line, maybe the rear tracking’s out and there are some big ruts in there.”
The final crew to survive the car killing forestry roads of Kielder was that of Oxford University students Adam Taylor and Loic Ditchburn. They lost plenty of time of the final stage after sliding into a ditch that was described by them as “One of the most pathetic crashes you have ever seen.”
But thankfully the ever present spectators helped push the car out. “We were miles off the pace on round one.” said the novice pairing, “But we’re starting to match the times of some of the other competitors now, so we have to be happy with that. We really enjoyed the stages too.”
Alongside his second win in two years on the Carlisle based event, Simon Moore also took the RC4 class honours just ahead of Russ Thompson. Dick Archer’s second place gave him the well deserved maximum points in RC5 while James Watts won the battle in RC2.
The next round of the British Rally Championship's support series sees the cars and crews visit the asphalt of Scotland for the Jim Clark Challenge Rally. The Borders roads at the start of June will be the first time the NGK BRCC will have run on the black stuff this season, and could see the fourth different winner in as many rounds. The fast and flowing stages always provide stunning action for the visiting fans of the sport and prove to be a test for even the quickest of drivers.
To stay updated with all the latest action from round four of the NGK Spark Plugs BRC Challenge, download the free British Rally Championship App and follow the trials and tribulations on our official Twitter feed @britishrally.
For more information on the NGK Spark Plugs BRC Challenge visit www.rallybrcchallenge.co.uk
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