19 crews lined up for the first round of the old Stager Championship supported by Mintex Classic, Millers Oils and Mini Sport Ltd, including 15 Minis hoping to open their accounts in the Mini Sport Mini Cup.
Being on home ground, Clive King set the pace from the very first stage opening up a gap to Peter Ellerby and the chasing pack.
Stage 2 saw the first retirements of the day with Barry Stenhouse/Steve Coles encountering engine problems and Ian Clare stopping just after the water-splash with terminal gearbox problems.
Most crews were being cautious at the water-splash – in 1987 the famous ford accounted for the GM Vauxhall works teams and three of their Astra GTEs, but Steven Powell in his Avenger and Geoff Taylor in his Imp both managed to spin on the slippery exit.
At lunch Trevor Hancock/Andy Hall and Andrew O’Hanlon/Ryan Taylor were only one second apart and chasing down Clive King who was now 20 seconds ahead of the field.
Leading the non-minis in their Sunbeam Imp Sport were Geoff Taylor/Stephen Greenhill who were playing themselves in gently during the morning eventually finishing second in Category 1.
Having played his Joker, Clive King/Anton Bird are now leading both the overall championship and Mini Sport Mini Cup.
In Category 1 Peter Ellerby was trading identical times with Geoff Taylor on stages 7 & 8 and 10 with Peter eventually taking the category win by 31 seconds from Geoff.
Nigel Hart led the Mini Open class all day with Richard Ford/Neil MacDonald bringing their Mini home second and Martin Melling/Carmel Venables third.
For the next round of the championship we move to Wales for the BG LandRovers Dixies Challenge Rally on the 30th April.
With 28 registered competitors on the provisional entry list it has all the hallmarks of being a classic battle over the demanding roads of the Epynt Ranges.