Manx Rally 2022
A visit to the Isle of Man for a double header was a great opportunity to open up a points advantage in the HRCR Stagemasters Championship and a number of new crews signed up in anticipation. The rally started on the Friday evening from the grandstand in Douglas with just Guy Woodcock taking advantage of the shakedown stage held earlier in the day. A recently fitted ZF gearbox was proving difficult to get used to so the practice was much appreciated. The first stage of the rally was cancelled when the stage intended for use became part of a diversion after a traffic accident, unrelated to the rally, on the main road. Will Rowlands was first to lay down the gauntlet with a time 12 seconds faster than Woodcock, his immaculate Ford Escort RS1800 looking well set up for the Manx roads. On the next test Rowlands extended his lead but Woodcock was nowhere to be seen, eventually making it out of the stage having climbed a bank and become inextricably attached to a stock fence! Much hard work by the spectators eventually saw him released but with a loss of 3 minutes. At the overnight halt Rowlands held a healthy advantage but the car had picked up a misfire on the last stage of the night and meant retirement as a solution could not be found. Meanwhile Mike Simpson and Dale Gibbons in their Warrior powered Mk1 Ford Escort were quietly doing quite nicely, 15th overall at the end of the leg was impressive for Manx debutant Mike. Woodcock had a mountain to climb but still scored good championship points even if his overall position wasn’t looking great.
David and Grace Pedley were out in a Group 4 Escort for the first time, a steady run over the evening stages with no real troubles scored them useful championship points and they were in good shape for the second leg. Unfortunately Graham Muter and Mark Mason retired their immaculate Mk2 Escort early on with mechanical issues and were not able to repair it to contest the second day, the event ran with an international permit which despite having no international entries meant that Parc Ferme restricted the chances of getting cars repaired. Bob Gibbons and Jon Harris had been having a steady run in their lovely Mk2 Ford Lotus Cortina but alternator failure prevented them from finishing the first leg. Owen Turner and Rachel Vestey were out in a Colt Lancer which they had used on the Classic Outback Trial in Australia. As usual Owen was super laid back before the start but once behind the wheel drove like a demon! The car was not ideal for the job but they scored good points on the Friday to assist their challenge. Peter Horsburgh and Bob Ward were close behind in their Mini despite a broken throttle cable and certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves. Rounding of the HRCR crews were Doug and Mike Harrison who were not the fastest but were at Parc Ferme to claim a useful points haul in their tidy Vauxhall Chevette HS.
Day 2 dawned and with it a beautiful wind free sunny day, there was still all to play for and fortunes would be mixed. As alluded to earlier the flying Will Rowlands had to throw the towel in when their misfiring Escort couldn’t be fettled which left Mike Simpson and Dale Gibbons leading the charge but that all came to nothing when a compression in the road caused a tank slapping accident and retirement as the exhaust came off and the car sustained 2 punctures, the damage surprisingly little considering the magnitude of the incident. This left the way open for Guy Woodcock to finish as top championship contender claiming another load of points, a lesson in perseverance if ever there was one! David and Grace Pedley also endured and also collected good points for their challenge, they won two Hankook tyres for their efforts. Owen Turner and Rachel Vestey put a number of crews to shame with their performance in the little Colt and it would be good to see them out on other rounds during the year. Bob Gibbons and Jon Harris started the second day under Super Rally rules and despite an altercation with a fire hydrant recorded a valuable finish. Doug and Mike Harrison quietly plugged on and their reward will be points for the two days, the Chevette looking as good at the finish as it did at the start, the crew also picking up the Penrite Oil award. The only downside was the loss of Peter Horsburgh and Dave Ward from the results, Peter reportedly injuring his foot.
The championship now takes a short break due to the loss of the Red Kite Stages but will return for the Brawdy stages on Saturday July 9th.
photo by Ben Lawrence