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Matt and Andy still the team to beat

Matt Warren and Andy Pullan, Ford Escort, won the 8th round of the 2017 HRCR Hagerty Insurance Clubmans Road Rally Championship the Ross Traders Historic & Targa Rally once again organised by Simon Harris and the team from Ross and District Motor Club. Friday’s scrutineering and signing-On was held at the Royal Oak in Much Marcle in what can only be described as tropical down pour where two and half inches of rain fell in the 24 hour period, most of it on us!

Saturday was not too bad as at least it did not rain everywhere all the time.

The event was up to its usual high standard with one expert competitor remarking it is “Probably the toughest HRCR round I’ve done – and really enjoyable”. Some of the later novices found the navigation particularly challenging, not particularly due to complexity just running out of time to get it all on the map, although Simon Harris, Clerk of the Course, always allows them more plotting time than the Experts and Masters.

The competition was very close at the sharp end with third and fourth decided in favour of Howard Warren and Iain Tullie, Porsche 911, as they were furthest cleanest by 2 seconds at ITCA2 although they had identical overall penalties to John Abel and Cath Woodman, Escort RS2000 at the finish. Second place went to non-championship crew of Paul Crosby and Nick Bloxham, Porsche 911. There were penalty ties further down the field with sixth and seventh and 18th and 19th both decided by furthest cleanest so even with 36 ITCs and nine tests that was not enough to cleanly define the outcome which just goes to show how close the competition is throughout the field, great!

A couple of top crews failed to claim a top ten placing, championship leaders James Griffiths and James Howell, 1275GT Mini, and particularly Simon Mellings and Ryan Pickering who were leading the pack until a missed code board cost both crews a ten minute penalty. Just goes to show no-one’s infallible all the time.

Your scribe and his good lady had red faces at the finish as it appeared their street cred had collapsed when the ITC they were manning was scrubbed from the results. We were worried when both the leading navigators, Iain Tullie and Ryan Pickering, muttered “strange” when they received their time, although no-one else passed any remarks. Upon further discussion with Simon Harris at the finish he could not explain why there was an error, as he confirmed we were in the correct location and the clock was correct, so that only left the ideal time to be wrong but he did not understand how. He remarked “I’ve always had a nagging feeling about that control but could not put my finger on why”.

So it’s now Tuesday and I’ve just received an explanation from Simon,

“I have been wracking my brains as to what ‘went wrong’ at ITC G4, and I suddenly recalled something yesterday.  It was the third time that it happened on our control locating, route measuring and photographing day.  Although I knew where I wanted most controls, some had to be done ‘on the hoof’ as we were going round.  We sometimes located a control and then found a better place a few hundred yards further on.  However, although we noted the new distance, took a new photo, marked the map etc, it is human error to not do all three completely correctly – and so the new distance was correct, the map was marked correctly, but the old photo was retained.  I’ll bet that there is a white painted line 150 yds up the road from where you were standing.”

At least Gill and I had not c*cked up so that was a relief!

The Amazon Cars Challenge Cup was one by Peter Engel, VW Golf GTi, for the second time, when he pipped our current leader Les Andrew, MGB GT, by one place.

Richard Isherwood and Ian Canavan nursed “Stan” throughout the day with a suspected cracked cylinder head and feeding the coolant system with “expensive gloop” in the hope it would survive the rally and take them home again, which I think it did, so a fitting recipient the Hagerty Spirit of the Rally award.

The top ten finishers are

1, Matt Warren and Andy Pullan, M2, Ford Escort, 12:57s

2, Paul Crosby and Nick Bloxham, M2, Porsche 911, 13:38s

3, Howard Warren and Iain Tullie, M2, Porsche 911, 13:41s

4, John Abel and Cath Woodman, M2, Escort RS2000, 13:41s

5, John Ruddock and Nick Cooper, M2, Escort Mexico, 14;44s

6, Thomas Bricknell and Roger Bricknell, E4, VW Golf GTi, 15:20s

7, Andrew Buzzard and Robb Lyne, M1, Alfa Rome GTV, 15:20s

8, Gavin Rogers and Carrie Rogers, M2, Reliant Scimitar GTE, 15:58s

9, Richard Isherwood and Ian Canavan, M4, Nissan Stanza, 16:23s

10, Martin Neal and Richard Dix, M2, Escort Mexico, 16:24s

James Griffiths and James Howell still lead the 2017 HRCR Hagerty Insurance Clubmans Road Rally Championship although Richard Dix is tying with James Howell for the navigators.

Here are a selection of photographs by