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So here we go for the start of the 2018 Clubmans Championship

The first round of the 2018 HRCR Hagerty Insurance Clubmans Road Rally Championship, the Tour of Cheshire, looks like having a very snowy start to the year. Mike Harrison and the team from Knutsford and District Motor Club have experienced an unprecedented amount of disruption to their plans over the last couple of weeks with all the utility companies and the local council having a go at digging up parts of the route, so the last thing they need now is for a foot of snow to fall. If it does I think the event may turn into a mini LeJog with lots of route juggling!

Last year’s winners Howard Warren and Iain Tullie will lead the field away from the traditional Bickerton Poacher start followed by Jon Wright and Andy Pullan. Jon generously donated £1000 to the Henry Surtees Foundation for the experience. Martin Phaff has arranged for Andy Pullan to navigate for him and also loaned his Lancia Fulvia for the event. It will be Jon’s first regularity rally, but he does have experience on hill climbs and sprints, so should be ok on the tests. It will be interesting to see if Andy can tame Jon’s right foot on the regularity sections. Andy has agreed to write an article about the event for the next issue of Old Stager so we all find out how they got on.

Next in line will be Neil Wilson and Matthew Vokes who finished an unofficial 3rd overall on the 2017 Rally of the Tests will be keeping everyone on their toes during the day. Matthew has agreed to host the post event Q and A session so be sure to seek him out at the finish.

There are quite a few new pairings in the top 10 John Abel enlisting Niall Frost to stand in for Martyn Taylor who has become dad to Aiden born on 19th Feb 2018 weighing in at 8lb 14oz. apparently he arrived at due time without any early or lateness penalties. Our best wishes to him and his family. With Keith Davis still recuperating from his hospital stay before Christmas, Henry Carr has partnered up with Simon Mellings as Ryan Pickering is concentrating on family and business.

So I’m left wondering what Matt Warren will be up to this year! I’m hoping he will sneak up on the rails again later, but we must wait and see.

The Amazon Cars HRCR Challenge Cup has 18 entrants so far and is looking healthy with Rob and Amy Henchoz hoping to collect one of “their” mugs, but with Simon Mellings now signed up they are going to have to pull out all the stops.

Here are the top ten

1, Howard Warren & Iain Tullie, Porsche 911

2, Jon Wright & Andy Pullan, Lancia Fulvia

3, Neil Wilson & Matthew Vokes, Porsche 924

4, Dave Leadbetter & Cath Woodman, BMW 2002

5, John Abel & Niall Frost, Ford Escort RS2000

6, Simon Mellings & Henry Carr, Nissan Cherry

7, Paul Crosby & Guy Woodcock, Porsche 911

8, Richard Isherwood & Ian Canavan, Nissan Stanza Jubilee

9, Nick Bloxham & Richard Crozier, Ford Escort Mexico

10, Stephen Johnson & Les McGuffog, Ford Escort RS2000

Below are a selection of pictures from last year’s event by Tony North

and one of yours truly over here in snowy Norfolk in training for marshaling duties on Saturday.

See you in sunny, I hope, Cheshire