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Mini Cup – The Mike Sones Memorial rally

The first round of the 2023 Mini Sport Cup run by the Historic rally car register got off to a flying start. With ten crews entered, but only eight started due to two of the cars not ready in time.

Weston Park had been covered in snow up until just before the event ran, causing the roads though the park to be extremely slippy.

Clive King and Anton Bird were the first away at car 35 in their Mini Sport backed car.

Thanks to Ian Francis for Photo

They were followed by Trevor Hancock with his son James in the silly seat at car 44. Andrew OHanlon and Kevin Hogan running one place behind at car number 45. They were pleased with their new engine fitted towards the end of last season and were hoping to explore the extra power gained.

Shane Gamble had brought a new mark one mini rally car to run in the pre 1968 cat 1 class, and was hopeful of better luck than last season.

The remaining cars were spread through out the rest of the entries.

All of the minis were servicing together this would be helpful as the crews helped out when some had problems.

We were delighted that some of our supporters made the trip to see the first round of the championship, with Rob from Mini Sport, Ronny from Yokohama, Alan from Questmead and Andrew from Snap on.

The first stage Clive managed to stop the clocks 3 seconds quicker than Andrew who was 4 seconds in front of Trevor Hancock, the rest of the field were all very close behind.

Shane’s run of bad luck continued with his new car, when it stopped on the road section after the stage.

He managed to retrieve the mini and make it back into service, all crews jumped to help find the problem, later diagnosed as a fuel problem.

Shane and Bob Ward managed to make it onto the next stage only for the same problem to happen again, and put them into retirement.

The next few stages remained very slippy with the grip levels changing on each run, making braking points difficult to judge.

Clive and Anton just managed to extend their lead by a few seconds on each of the next few stages, but Andrew was trying as hard as he could to close the gap.

John Nicholson had an off on one of the fast bends, damaging the co drivers side, thankfully without any damage to Kari Bates co driving. He was also complaining that the back brakes were locking.

Harvey Steven’s with nephew Lawrence navigating managed to hit one of the large straw bails that made up the chicanes on the long straights. This damaged his front panel and broke his distributor cap, but he managed to continue. Then made repairs when back in service.

Photo Ian Francis

The car continued to misfire over the next couple of stages until they discovered that a relay was causing the misfire, they then set about setting some quick times over the last few stages.

Craig King who had Peter Ellerby sitting next to him managed to clip a bail and damage the co drivers wing.

Stewart Hart had the fly wheel work loose but managed to repair it only for to work itself loose again and caused them to retire.

With the last couple of stages to go it was Clive and Anton closely followed by Andrew and Kevin.

Craig King was third but Trevor Hancock was within striking distance of moving up.

Photo Ian Francis

As the final flag came down Clive had extended his lead by a few seconds from Andrew,  but Trevor had managed to over take Craig to finish third Mini home.

With no last minute retirements all of the remaining minis made the finish.

The prize draws were held at the finish Andrew OHanlon won the Exol oil.

Trevor won the snap on prize donated by Andrew OHanlon.

Harvey Stevens won a set of brake pads from Questmead for best improvement in seeding.

Yokohama donated two tyres which Andrew won.

There was a cake presented to Craig as his birthday which was the following day, where he all of a sudden made lots of friends who wanted a slice.

The first round of 2023 had been a tough event and close times set through out