Association of West Midlands Motor Clubs

 Association of West Midlands Motor Clubs 

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Oliver Davies/Jack Bowen’s Ford Escort topped the times on all nine stages at Weston Park, to open their Heart of England season with a 1m44 secs victory.

Davies managed to pull out a 13 second lead on a very wet opener, with Roger Taylor/Paul Bevan’s Escort in second. But Tony Davies/Kath Curzon’s Darrian was just a second off Taylor, as Stephen Pritchard/Emma Clarke’s Vauxhall Nova, Anthony North/James Hood’s Subaru Impreza and Ryan Lloyd/James Wardle’s Citroen Saxo formed the initial top six.

Although Taylor started to consolidate second place, the gap to Davies’ lead was up to 28 secs by the end of stage two. But Taylor’s challenge was over a stage later, “at the end of a long straight we hit the brakes, locked up and the back kicked out. We nearly t-boned a gatepost, but caught the post and took a tyre off,” he explained.

So it became a Davies duel at the head of the field, with Tony heading the pursuit.

“Traction was a problem on the early stages, too much power for the grip. We changed from wets to slicks for SS5, but we got a bit wet on the last two stages, pushing on through the watersplash,” said Tony.

Pritchard’s Class B Nova moved into third after Taylor’s retirement. “It was first time out for 18 months. We had an off through the bales onto the grass on stage three when we couldn’t stop for a hairpin. We only changed to slicks for the last two stages, but maybe should have done it earlier,” he explained.

From sixth on the opening stage, Lloyd topped Class B and by the end of stage four was into fourth, which he retained to the end.

“The clutch cable was sticking on the first stage, but it got better and freed itself. “We stayed on wets all day and the conditions favoured us, brave but neat,” he said.

North was the only starter in Class E. He lost his early fifth on stage three when Lloyd and Matt/Ade Walk’s Fiesta got by. “Fantastic and with a new navigator too. We started on wets and stayed on them, as they were just going off at the end. I made a couple of mistakes, especially at the watersplash. I hit a bale and was on the grass, but loved the rain,” he added after reclaiming fifth place.

Sixth went down the wire both overall and for second place in Class B. Walk had been going well until SS6, chasing Lloyd for fifth place. “It was a good run until the throttle stuck open approaching the watersplash. We were into the mud and lost about 50 secs, being pulled out by the marshals,” Matt explained.

Prior to Walk’s demise, Ryan/Lucy Wilding’s Nova had been seventh, behind North and Andrew Brinkley/Helena Mayall’s BMW. “We started on wets, changed on SS3 and then went back to them for the rest of the day. Apart from a misfire after the watersplash on SS3 it was great,” said Ryan, who clinched the place by fastest first, after being a second quicker than Walk on stage one.

Brinkley finished eighth and second having kept Class rivals Terry Brown/Angharad Williams’ Escort at bay. “We didn’t break anything, but stayed on wets all day. I stalled it the first time through the water, driver error,” Brinkley admitted.

Rounding off the top 10 were Jason/Ceri Evans, whose Peugeot 205 GTI went solo in the Club Classic’s, having eased clear of Owain/Glyn Thomas’ Peugeot 106 Rallye during the second half.

Thomas was fourth in Class A, with Arjun/Raj Kainth’s 205 Gti following both overall and in Class A.

Jamie Hales/Reg Davies’ Class B Fiesta and Graham/Jennifer Bartl’s Class A Peugeot 206 completed the finishers.

“It was the wrong car really, it was a customers and had zero power and the wrong gearing. I had been out 15 months so disappointed, and I tried wets on the first two stages and then changed, but ended up in a field three or four times,” Hales explained.

Apart from the Taylor/Bevan Escort, Thomas/Paul Alderton’s Class A MG ZR was a late retirement and Liam Farr/Kyle Marking’s Saxo drowned out in the water. “We went in and didn’t get out the other side on stage five. The car had been mint and running smoothly, but it wouldn’t restart and the engine had gone,” he confirmed.


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