HRCR Mini Sport Cup Round 1 : Jasper’s Bakeries David Owen Historic Stages
Round one of the 2020 HRCR Mini Sport Cup, Jasper’s Bakeries David Owen Historic Stages run by Owen Motor Club got the season off to a thrilling start on Saturday 14th March with 20 Minis entered, but on the day due to the current health guidelines surrounding the Covid-19 outbreak, 2 of the crews elected to self-isolate.
The day started with light drizzle after heavy overnight downpours, making the roads in Weston Park incredibly slippery.
1st Mini away was John & Martin Cressey in Mini Sport Open Class Mini at car 9, followed by the first of the Historic Minis Clive King & Anton Bird at car 10. Shane Gamble & Bob Ward at 11, Ryan Taylor & Hollie Churchill, Andrew O’Hanlon & Kevin Hogan, Matt Davies & Shaun Layland & Jack Hartley & Andrew Lodge all followed close behind.
Stage 1 saw John take a 3 second lead from Clive who was 1 second quicker than both Ryan & Matt over the slippery roads – the other Minis were mere seconds off the pace.
The 2nd Stage saw John, Clive & Matt all set a time of 3.21 with Ryan dropping a couple of seconds, at the end of this stage John was 7th overall with Clive 1 place behind. The pace of the Minis was exceeding that of many of the larger-engined cars, which were struggling to find traction.
The 3rd Stage saw Clive & John red flagged due to an accident, they were stopped in the stage, whilst all the other crews were delayed at the start but managed to run through the stage. Clive & John were then given a time based on the cars that had completed the stage.
The other crews were not far behind. Adrian Kermode & Jared Gill (using Ray Cunningham’s 2017 Championship winning Mini) had started to settle into it, setting some very quick times.
Over the next couple of stages the front-runners all set times within a few seconds of each other, showing just how close the Minis are!
Leading from the start, John & Martin Cressey were doing well until Stage 5, turning in just a little early – realising & turning out again, it was just too slippy! The father & son crew ended up in a field, with bog up to the sump guard…
John’s little ‘field trip’ resulted in a Stage maximum of 30 minutes, giving Clive the lead of the Minis. Despite being fastest Mini every Stage after, it was just too much to pull back, with John saying that, “to finish 1st you have to finish all the Stages!”
Matt out braked himself & dropped time hitting a straw bale, but on the next stage Clive spun & stalled the car, by the time he re-started the engine & turned the car around the lead had gone – he had dropped to 4th Mini, such was the pace.
After a good run on their last event, November’s Wyedean Rally, Andrew O’Hanlon & Kevin Hogan were looking forward to making a bright start on the first round of the 2020 Mini Sport Cup despite starting at number 13! – Unfortunately the Rally Gods were not smiling on them so favorably and pulling away from the start on the very 1st stage, they were immediately in trouble with a persistent misfire that saw them drop considerable time to their fellow competitors. Back at service and a check of the plugs showed one plug to be fouling badly. Plugs were changed along with leads and distributor cap and the crew headed off for the 2nd Stage, however, the problem remained and they had little option but to complete the stage before investigating further. A thorough check of the ignition and a further change of distributor cap seemed to partly solve the problem although the car never really performed to its best for the remainder of the day. Nevertheless, Andrew tried hard and managed to reduce the deficit, recovering well to bring the car home as 7th Mini and 2nd in Category 2.
The end of the rally didn’t mark the end of the trouble for Andrew & Kevin as the crew were entering the service area immediately after the final stage and as they were turning the car around, there was a bang from underneath the car and the steering had broken – steering wheel spinning merrily around but having no direct connection with the front wheels – with Kevin adding, “perhaps no 13 wasn’t so unlucky after all as one shudders to think about what might have been had that happened 30 secs earlier on the stage!”
Craig King & Clare Jennings had been enjoying a new engine & trying to get to grips with the higher set differential, sadly this ended with a big collision against a tree, Craig added, “having built a new engine and changed a lot to the car, I was cautious starting in the very slippy conditions. We were gradually building up confidence and starting to learn how to drive with the new engine/handling characteristics. The car didn’t miss a beat and the new engine is fantastic. Clare and myself were really enjoying ourselves when on Stage 6, we got caught out by the conditions at the flying finish and ended up going nose first into a pretty substantial tree! End of rally for us, and lots of damage to repair I’m afraid… Not sure when I will next be out, but the full damage will be assessed in the week.” Thankfully Craig & Clare have both been checked over by a doctor and are doing fine!
Newcomer to the Championship, John Nicholson was enjoying his car with a couple of spins as he is used to driving his rear wheel drive Escort, but his times were improving. Paul & Jemma Taylor had been swapping times with John & finished just one place behind in 26th, whilst Paul & Vicky Price had a front brake hose fail, sending them into a straw bale, later a gearbox noise & then finally failed destroying their engine.
Dave Evan’s was running last year’s engine, as his new 8 Port wasn’t finished in time, his times were not far off the pace when he lost it on a bend & made a mess of the front of his Mini Clubman against a fence.
For the opening round of the Championship this year, Jack Hartley was seeded 7th Mini, car number 15, pairing up with Andy Lodge for the 1st time! The 1st Stage went well however on the start line for the 2nd Stage with 2 seconds on the clock, the clutch stopped working and the car set off. Therefore the crew had to do Stages 2 and 3 without any clutch at all as it had stopped clearing, which cost them about a minute. Returning to Service, Daniel Harper Mini Sport’s Engineering Director took the clutch out and sorted the problem in the short Service slot, meaning luckily, Jack & Andy didn’t miss any stages and got to carry on with the rest of the rally.
Through the remaining 7 Stages, their Mini ran well & they set some competitive times. The conditions were quite greasy earlier on however there was more grip as the day progressed and the Stages dried out. Starting to get some time back through the rest of the day and enjoying a good rally, finishing 5th in the Mini Sport Cup and 14th overall, with Jack adding, “we were lucky to get to the finish considering we were having problems earlier in the day. “
Last year Championship Newcomer Harvey Stevens saw a last minute Navigator change to Lawrence’s dad & Harvey’s Brother-in-law – Andy Selly, taking charge of the notes in only his 2nd ever rally. Desperate not to repeat last year’s tree hugging episode the team set off with the Mini wearing its 12inch wheels & Yokohama A048 tyres which only come in medium compound! Struggling to find any meaningful grip, the crew opted to play it safe & wind in the pace to get the car back to service where a wheel change would see the car fitted with Yokohama A539 road tyres. Grip levels were instantly better and the crew got to the task of learning the Stages. Confidence started to grow and the team pushed for faster times. Midway through the rally the team contemplated switching back onto the race tyres as the surface began to dry out but thought better of it, a decision that proved the right one as the stage claimed at least 3 of the fellow Minis. Having witnessed Craig King “doing a Harv” and hitting a tree the team opted to simply race against fellow novice Andy Jarman a joust that would see each crew trade quicker times throughout the day, testament to the Championship whereby a competition can be had from car 1 to car 20! Fantastic result for Harvey & Andy, finishing 30th place!
A new pairing for the season, Andy Jarman & Adrian Lloyd had a good run to finish in 31st, whilst Andy Walkingshaw & Megan McCarron where unfortunate to have to miss a stage when a fuel union began to leak as they approached the start of stage 3. Taking a penalty of 30 minutes dropped them down to 33rd
Both Jeff Robinson & Eric Davis where unfortunate to have to drop out with transmission problems.
In the final few stages Adrian Kermode was the leading Mini with Ryan & Matt close behind, Clive was trying to play catch up, but the oil pump gasket let go & he was suffering low oil pressure which was giving concern.
Going into the last stage it was all to play for, Adrian & Jared won – taking maximum points with only a 7 second lead from Clive & Anton, with Ryan & Hollie just 1 second behind & Matt & Shaun a further 1 second. With Ryan going on to say that, “It was a brilliant day – I started off steady and by the end of the day was well on the pace! Really enjoyed it & my Mini was spot on. My dad (fellow competitor Paul Taylor) has done a brilliant job with the engine.”
Thanks must go to Owen Motor Club for putting the rally on under truly difficult circumstances – at the finish there were five Minis in the top fifteen overall & just 10 seconds between the top four cars! It doesn’t get any closer than that on any rally, & shows what to expect for the rest of the year…
The first round winners of the 2 Yokohama tyres were Andy Jarman, 5 litres of Classic Mini Oil to Eric Davis, the Tetra Boost went to Harvey Stevens and the Snap On tools award to Jeff Robinson. For the ‘Best Improvement on Seeding’ a set of Mintex Competition brake pads generously donated by Questmead went to Adrian Kermode up from 25th to 7th overall!
1st Category 1, Adrian Kermode / Jared Gill
1st Category 2, Mathew Davis / Shaun Layland
1st Open class, Ryan Taylor / Hollie Churchill
For more details please contact John Hunt, firstname.lastname@example.org or if you are at an event come and talk to us.
Due to the challenging times that we are all currently facing and Motorsport UK’s announcement that they are suspending all organising permits and Certificates of Exemption until at least 30th April 2020, Forresters Car Club has made the following statement regarding the cancellation of our 2nd round – Dixies Challenge:
“Following yesterday’s news about the Tour of Caerwent, in conjunction with Forest of Dean Motor Club, we have also decided that we should cancel the Dixies Challenge, planned for 3rd May 2020.”
Updates on all future events will be given as soon as we know via our social media platforms.
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