02.05.2012: Twingo Renaultsport Trophy UK Pirelli International Rally – 27/28 April 2012
Chris Ingram & Joe Cruttenden survived an early off to finish the Pirelli International
Twingo Renaultsport Trophy UK Pirelli International Rally – 27/28 April 2012
Chris Ingram & Joe Cruttenden survived an early off to finish the Pirelli International Rally
Chris Ingram and Joe Cruttenden emerged as winners in the Twingo Renaultsport R2 Trophy UK on last weekend’s Pirelli International Rally, the MSA British Rally Championship event also adding maximum points to Garry Pearson and Craig Wallace’s R1 Trophy campaign.
The 95 stage mile rally started in Carlisle City Centre on Friday evening, using two runs in Kershope Forest to get the crews in the mood for action. Split by a 45 minute break to ensure that everyone drove the second test in the dark, it was American R2 Twingo pilot who set the pace first time through the six mile stage.
Ingram was not slow, far from it. Sadly the slippery conditions had caught out the seventeen year-old mid stage and he spent around a minute in one of the event’s infamous ditches. Spectators managed to get him going again, but it seemed that the fight was over before it had really started.
Allan and English co-driver Andy Bull had their own problems on the second run. Suspecting a failing driveshaft joint, they dropped half a minute in the second six mile stage, but managed to return to Carlisle for the overnight halt, with the reassurance of a 45 minute service halt on Saturday morning.
Meanwhile the Twingo R1 Trophy crew of Garry Pearson and Craig Wallace had their own battle for MSA British Junior Rally Championship points to consider. Their opening stage time was just five seconds adrift of Steve Røkland, having beaten the Norwegian a month earlier in Wales. But the curse of the ditches caught Pearson unaware in the dark, swallowing the Twingo for nearly forty seconds and covering his spotlights in mud.
By the end of the Saturday morning service two things had become clear, Pearson had a mountain to climb and Allen’s problem was not with his driveshaft. With advice from Renault Sport Technologies’ engineer, the fault had been traced to inside the gearbox, but the crew decided to soldier on. They would not emerge from the day’s opening stage though, the Twingo reportedly parked at one of the artificial chicanes – game over.
By stage four it seemed inevitable that Pearson’s ditch excursion, coupled with a desire to make the finish line, would leave him second in the Junior battle. But an exhaust problem for Røkland gave the Scot a glimmer of hope, managing to take back a quarter of the time deficit in the next three stages.
Sadly a puncture put paid to any thoughts of a second-half fight-back, the crew making a sensible decision to stop and change the flat front tyre. With over four minutes gone and no more spares in the car, they opted to preserve the car and cruise to the finish, still with maximum Twingo R1 Trophy points, but second in the BRC Juniors.
The remainder of Ingram’s event was a learning experience too, having some high speed instability issues that were put down to fine-tuning of the car’s setup. But despite a final stage scare with an accelerator flat spot, he and Cruttenden joined Pearson on the Twingo Renaultsport Trophy podium to spray some well earned champagne at the Carlisle racecourse finish.
Garry Pearson & Craig Wallace maintain their lead in the British Junor Rally Championship
Both crews took £750 in prize vouchers towards parts and services from MSE, the Twingo Trophy’s technical supplier; with Ingram moving into the lead of the R2 Troph,y while Pearson leads the R1 Trophy and is still ahead in the battle for BRC Junior honours.
The next round of the Twingo Renaultsport Trophy UK is the Jim Clark International Rally from the 1st to the 3rd of June. The switch to asphalt takes crews onto the lanes around Kelso and Duns in the Scottish Borders, not only the event namesake’s home town, but Garry Pearson’s too – watch this space.
Coverage of the Twingo Renaultsport Trophy UK is broadcast on Sky Sports’ British Rallyzone programme which will be shown at 18:30hrs on Wednesday 30th May on Sky Sports 4 & 4HD.
For more information on the Twingo Renaultsport Trophy UK visit www.renaultsport.co.uk or www.twingotrophy.co.uk
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