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East Anglian Classic 2023

The fifth round of the HRCR MotorSport News Clubmans championship was the well established East Anglian Classic organised by Chelmsford Motor Club. Clerk of the Course Paul Brewerton had promised a number of test venues not used on the event before and regularity sections visiting parts of Suffolk and Cambridgeshire that had not seen an event for several years even though the rally started and finished at the usual venue for the past few running’s of the event at Bury St Edmonds.

As in previous years there was no plotting to do after documentation as this was to be issued one hour before your start time but the issued schedule showed there were eight tests at four venues and seven regularities with the last regularity including a bit of plot and bash.

You were soon in action as the first regularity started at the exit of the hotel, a fifteen mile section with three timing points defined by spot heights and map features and went south to Rougham then west to Siclesmere and Hawstead before heading north and finished at the A14. The best crews on the opening regularity were John King Oli Waldock Toyota MR2, Ed Abbott Cath Woodman Jaguar XJ-S, James Griffiths James Howell Austin Mini 1275 GT and Hugh Garnish David Bell Peugeot 205 GT all on three seconds. A short trip down the A14 led to the next regularity, a short two and a half mile section that started on farm tracks before joining the public road briefly to end on the access road to Health Farm. With two timing points and a sensible average speed for the condition of the farm tracks it did not cause issues for the majority of crews with the best on one second being Pete Dalton Mick Smith Ford Lotus Cortina Mk11. The end of the regularity led to the first test on the farm tracks of Robins Hall but the bogey was beaten by fourteen crews. The third regularity led to the morning halt a nineteen mile section defined by grid lines. Dropping just a second over the three timing points were Ken Binstead Sarah Binstead MG B who were closely followed on two seconds by Leigh Powley Brian Goff Toyota Corolla and Dan Darkin Nick Darkin Mazda MX5. So, at the halt leading were Leigh Powley Brian Goff just a second in front of Ed Abbott Cath Woodman and James Griffiths James Howell.

From the halt, three tests followed all in a similar format to the first one on farm tracks and saw an instant change to the leaderboard as on the first test at Primrose Hill the engine expired on the Toyota Corolla of Leigh Powley Brian Goff. Nobody managed to beat the bogey on this test or the ones that followed at Park farm and Bay farm and with being fastest on all three, John Haygarth Martyn Taylor Opel Kadett Rallye now led the event but as they left the Bay farm test venue the clutch failed on the Kadett so they were left with no drive and retirement.

John Haygarth and Martyn Taylor (Opel Kadett Rallye) were going well until clutch problems ended their rally.  Photo by M&H Photography

Two regularities led to the lunch halt the first, a nine mile section from Worlington heading south west to Snailwell defined by junction departures.  Best over the two timing points on one second were Gavin Rogers Suze Endean, Reliant Scimitar, Philip Wood Kelvin Phipps, Porsche 924S, and the leading Run crew of Paul Hernaman and the Crow, Porsche 911, who had to retire on the following regularity as they punctured a rear tyre but only were carrying a spare for the front.

The regularity to the lunch halt was another nine mile section with two timing points from Balsam via Weston Green to finish at the lunch halt in Wethersfield. Angus McQueen and Mike Cochrane BMW 323I, topped the sheets on this one with zero penalties. At lunch the leaders were now Owen Turner Ryan Pickering, Mitsubishi Lancer, eleven seconds ahead of Darell Staniforth Henry Carr, Toyota Corolla, with Ed Abbott Cath Woodman third another six seconds behind.

Darell Staniforth and Henry (The navigator) Carr (Toyota Corolla) running second at lunch.  Photo by M&H Photography

The afternoon leg was another four tests which were the morning ones run in reverse and two more regularities.  One starting from the lunch halt and the final reg after the four tests to the finish venue with the plotting for the last few miles of G handed out at the regularity start.

Regularity F was the penultimate and was twenty six miles long going from Withersfield in a meandering northerly direction to end south of Moulton, the navigation being 29 tulip diagrams with no ball on the tulip but the tulip aligned to the map. Ken Binstead Sarah Binstead, Hugh Garnish David Bell and Mark Goodwin Anthony Davies Triumph TR7 all dropped just two seconds over the four controls on this one.

There now followed the four tests and with some more `stop and go` marshals at Robins Hall nobody beat the bogey this time. Owen Turner Ryan Pickering were quickest at Primrose Hill, but took out a cone on the next test at Bay farm so Darell Staniforth Henry Carr and Dan Darkin Nick Darkin Mazda MX5 took the honours there. At Park Farm it was another best time for Staniforth and Carr a second quicker than Owen Turner Ryan Pickering. The final test at Robins Hall was a tie between Turner and Pickering and John King with Oli Waldock and this time it was  Staniforth/Carr who were a second behind.

All that remained was the final regularity which became the section that had the most effect on the results. The first fourteen miles had already been plotted and from where that ended at Pakenham the plot and bash started.  The finish was only a couple of miles away but when the handout of map features was given to you it took you away from the finish location by going south east to the maze of roads between Thurston and Tostook adding another eight miles of regularity and with a direction of approach given for the regularity finish you then headed north back to near Pakenham and then south to the regularity finish. This direction of approach was missed by a few crews but it was the two code boards on the plot and bash section that was the biggest factor as half the crews currently in the top ten managed to miss either one or both of them. Well clear from the rest of the field on this section over the five timing points was Philip Wood Kelvin Phipps on three seconds followed by Owen Turner Ryan Pickering and Angus McQueen Mike Cochrane on eleven.

Phil B-Wood and Kelvin Phipps (Porsche 924S) nailed reg G to take them to 4th Overall.  Photo by M&H Photography

The results were soon finalised and announced with overall honours after a trouble-free run were Owen Turner and Ryan Pickering who were also quickest on the tests. Second overall were John King and Oli Waldock who tied with the first Experts Philip Wood and Kelvin Phipps as the crew best on the regularities. First Novices were David Smith and Norden Lester VW Golf GTI. In the Run event, first home were Graham Banks and Dick Athow, Volvo Amazon. As always, many thanks were given to the marshals and to Paul Brewerton and his team from Chelmsford Motor Club for another well received event.

Results: 1 Owen Turner Ryan Pickering (Mitsubishi Lancer) 21:21 2 John King Oli Waldock (Toyota MR2) 22:15 3 Darell Staniforth Henry Carr (Toyota Corolla) 22:30 4 Philip Wood Kelvin Phipps (Porsche 924S) 22:33 5 Angus McQueenMike Cochrane (BMW 323I) 22:44 6 Hugh Garnish David Bell (Peugeot 205 GT) 23:18 7 Andy Lane Iain Tullie (BMW 2002Tii) 23:30 8 James Griffiths James Howell (Austin Mini 1275 GT) 23:49 9 Gavin Rogers Suze Endean (Reliant Scimitar) 23:59 10 Ken Banstead Sarah Banstead (MG B) 24:20

All Photos by kind permission of M&H Photography.