MEE ON TOP BUT MORGAN STEALS THE SHOW
24 Heart of England Rally Championship contenders were in action Down Ampney last Saturday and were rewarded with three class wins and four of the top 10 overall.
Nigel Mee/John Fellowes’ Subaru Impreza were the only starters in Class E. but had to battle hard to establish their winning lead from stage six.
It was the 2-litre Honda Civic of Paul Morgan and Sam Stafford that stole the show though. They led the class C HOE crews all day, running in the top 10 overall. Reaching halfway in seventh overall it just got better, starting the final stage in fourth overall.
“We had spin on stages two and three and it was overheating, so we had to keep topping up,” Morgan explained.
Not only it did they take an overall class win on the way to maximum HOE points, but grabbed a magnificent third overall on the last run too. “It was brilliant and we got held up when a car pulled out in front of us on the last, so it could have been even better,” he added.
Aled Wyn Morgans/Rhys Jones were also HOE Class winners, taking the Class D spoils in their Escort. They started well and were in 10th overall until they hit a barrel on SS2. “It wouldn’t turn in, so after that we softened the suspension a bit,” said Morgans.
Ian/Oliver Hucklebridge had got ahead in their Escort, but as Morgans got back on frontrunning pace, Hucklebridge retired after an off on SS4.
“Stage one was horrendous for us, with no grip and understeer on the second. It was magic on the one though, but then I misjudged the watersplash and went off into the undergrowth, before retiring with severe vibration,” said Ian.
There were more dramas for Morgans though when his wipers packed up on the last two stages. “We were following a car too so driving blind,” he added, after coming home seventh overall.
Mark and Claire Lennox also made the top 10 overall and ran strongly all day, they were eighth overall and second behind Morgan in Class C.
In Class A Matt/Adrian Walk’s Fiesta set the pace on the opening stage, eight seconds up on Stephen Pritchard/Jemma Taylor’s Nova. But as conditions improved Pritchard took charge was ahead after SS4.
“I wasn’t taking any risks on the wet opener, but apart from a hole in the radiator and jumping out of second gear, it was a good day,” said Pritchard.
Toby/Mark Burton’s Micra were third in class, from Lucy Pitch/Pete Bowles’ Rover 200, Glyn/Owain Thomas’ Peugeot 106 Rallye and Karen Phelps/Ian Sutton’s Micra.
In Class B Joe Piggott/Ben Williams’ Citroen Saxo VTR was out in front until dramas’s on SS7. They were running 10th overall too, despite an earlier excursion. “I crashed at the same corner I had been off at earlier and damaged the car underneath. I was OK in the wet and then it dried,” said Piggott.
Chris Gravestock/Mark Harmer’s Citroen C2R2 took the class win after usurping John Petrie/Heather Phelps Peugeot 106 Gti from stage four.
Tim/Seth Cains had started well in Class C and were ninth overall in their Peugeot 309, “I then followed a car at the split the wrong way,” Tim explained.
Brian Stevens/Derek Adams’ Honda Civic had been fourth best in class on the opener. “Then we hot a pothole and it killed the electrics,” said Stevens, who then hit a tree on the final stage after picking up a puncture.
So Matt Turner/Tom Bishop’s Escort was third, from Dean/Cameron Davies’ Escort, Ian/Will Barclay’s Darrian, Cains and Stevens.
Behind Morgans in Class D came Roger Titley/Dan Petrie’s BMW 328, from Graham Davies/Gary Powell’s Talbot Sunbeam, Michael Bowle/Jordan Curnow’s Renault Clio and the Skoda Fabia VRS of Anthony/Kirun Deignan.