Devonian Rudi Lancaster reigned supreme and took overall victory in the stage masters on Rally North Wales at the weekend.
With Guy Weaver sitting alongside him, the new pairing for 2017 finished 27 seconds ahead of category 2 winners Stanley Orr and Stephen McAuley who are still getting used to the power of their new BDA engine installed over the winter.
Nearly a minute behind was Tim Freeman, the man from Gloucestershire was hoping to put in a big charge but was hampered by ‘spongy brakes’ in the afternoon loop of stages.
Lancaster and Weaver would remain unbeaten after stopping the clocks on stage one at 11 mins 30 seconds some five seconds ahead of Stanley Orr. Orr admitted to still finding his way and making improvements throughout the day and found it difficult to get up to speed with the 4-speed gearbox.
Ben Friend / Cliffy Simmons: Had a good day and in the morning stages were battling with Tim Freeman the six seconds gained on stage one was lost on stage 2 where both crews were equal.
Ben in the All Glass backed Escort is still getting used to the car and its capabilities would finish in fourth 20 seconds down on Freeman.
Mike Simpson / Dale Gibbons: Gaining in confidence with hardly anything to report but they did well to make the finish with the car okay on the stages but struggling on the approach and to get away on some stage starts – Stage 4 it took at least 100-yards before the car burst into life after having at least 3 bites at pulling away properly. Involved in a good battle with Andrew Stokes and Stuart Cariss until the diff exploded on Stuart’s car in SS4.
Andrew Stokes / Adrian McNally: Both know where they can improve to become the best of the Avengers and admitted to being to ‘wild’ in the morning and while it would be entertaining to the huge crowds that lined the stages it would be costing time. In the afternoon, he was determined to keep the car working in a straight line and going quicker. It worked but by his own admission knows more work is needed on the car set-up.
Ian Barnes / Rob Gilham: Worried about his high seeding he was allowed to ‘park-up’ at the start of the first stage by the organisers as he was worried about being caught. It proved a good move as the duo could then concentrate on running their own race without looking in their mirrors.
More of a concern was the noisy differential which they were worried could go bang at any stage. Under load on the stages it was okay but on the road, section the distinctive ‘clunking’ sound was enough to set alarm bells ringing. But, delighted to say that they finished and thoroughly enjoyed their time in the Major Motorsport prepared car.
Rikki Proffitt / Graham Wild: The roar of the crowd-pleasing Datsun 240z finally made it to the finish of the event with Graham sitting in the car, in 2016, it was three rallies and three retirements. But, the crew admitted to being very lucky to cross the finish line after the ‘mother’ of all moments on Big Ray 2 with the Datsun broad-side across the stage stopping just before the edge of a big drop. Laughing and talking about it at the end but everyone realised just how close a moment it had been.
Stuart Anderson / Dan Nieroda: It was great to see a Group 4 Vauxhall Chevette back in the forests and it was only the third foray into the woods for Stuart in his career. The idea was to improve on the second running and get used to the handling of the car. Stuart knows where he can gain time with a tighter line in some of the faster corners. He enjoyed the experience reported no mechanical problems during the course of the event in the Geoff Jones backed car.
Fred Camp / Roger Gillard: Now, the duo in the Peugeot 205 won high praise for their non-route note approach to the rally. Yes, that’s right Roger told Fred where to go from the maps not wanting to be confused by instructions they didn’t understand.
A trouble free but highly enjoyable day followed – Fred’s first time on the gravel since the mid-1980s and he’ll admit it took time to get used to grip levels and the handling of the Peugeot as his only other rally in the car was the TSH Stages last year.
The smiles were very broad at the end as the duo picked up a first in class award for their endeavours.
Mike Barrett: A good start with the stages in perfect conditions for the category one Cortina and Mike was making the best of it. Apart from the fuel pump being knocked off on stage one the car ran perfectly. They had a good clean run and enjoyed the day.
Mike takes the lead of the category one section.
1.) Rudi Lancaster Guy Weaver 0:47:06
2.) Stanley Orr Rallying Stanley Orr Stephen McAuley 0:47:33
3.) Tim Freeman 0:48:27
4.) Ben Friend Cliffy Simmons 0:48:47
5.) Mike Simpson Dale Gibbons 0:53:17
6.) Andrew Stokes Adrian McNally 0:53:27
7.) Rikki Proffitt Graham Wild 0:53:45
8.) Ian Barnes Rob Gilham 0:54:47
9.) Fred Camp Roger Gillard 1:00:24
10.) Mike Barratt 1:04:24
11.) Stuart Anderson Dan Nieroda 1:05:53
DNF Stuart / Linda Cariss Diff SS4
DNF Steve Ward / Alan Jones Fuel / would not start end of SS1