After a day long tussle with never more than a few seconds between the top three cars, Andrew O’Hanlon / Kevin Hogan (Car 51), put in a great effort on the last stage to take top honours in the latest round of the Mini Cup series on the Port Talbot MC, Tour of Epynt (Sun 30th July).
Using roads to the northern end of the ranges utilising the ‘New Road’ as well as those around Dixies, gave crews some long and very challenging stages over classic Epynt territory and the early leaders, Clive King / Anton Bird (53) set a blistering pace on the first stage, however, a dropped valve on their eight-port engine on stage 2, sadly bought their day to a premature end.
O’Hanlon/Hogan then took over the lead but were being pressed very hard by Eric Davis/Russell Joseph (59) & Craig King/Chris Phillips (54). The Series Co-ordinator seemingly using his extensive knowledge of the ranges to good effect !
With a misfire on stages 3 & 4 O’Hanlon/Hogan were unable to extend their lead and at service after 4 stages just 16 seconds covered the top 3 cars. King/Phillips had a big sideways moment on a tightening right on Burmah Road, a bend that had caught many, including the Mini of John Nicholson / Kari Bates (58) who also managed to attack one of the chicanes on stage 1 and rearranging the front wing (co-drivers side !!). A big hammer and scissor jack, however, soon had the wing back in some sort of shape !
O’Hanlon/Hogan changed distributor cap, leads and rotor arm and kept fingers crossed in the hope that this may cure their misfire. Shane Gamble (60) had enlisted the help of Kenny Owen after regular Co-Driver, Bob Ward had injured his back on one of the many jumps on the Argyle Rally and was hoping to get to the end after a recent run of non-finishes. Although plagued by clutch problems all day, they were at least still going.
By the time stage 5 was run, the inevitable rain had arrived, adding to the challenge of the longest 3 stages of the rally. Although their misfire had gone, O’Hanlon/Hogan were now being pressed very hard by Davis/Joseph and King/Phillips. Suffering bad visibility problems meant that Davis/Russell were overhauled and at service before the last of the 7 stages, O’Hanlon led by just 2 seconds from King with Davis just 14 seconds in arrears – was another King about to be crowned ??
A change of tyres and a real committed drive over the last stage, finally saw the leaders push on to take the win by some 32 seconds. King/Phillips had suffered with oil on their clutch on the final stage and held on to 2nd place by just 1 second from Davis/Joseph. After their earlier exploits, Nicholson/Bates had survived any further excursions and finished in 4th place and despite the continued clutch issues, Gamble /Owen survived to take 5th place.
Port Talbot Motor Club had put on a great event that was well organised and well received. With many events utilising stages of 5 miles or less, it was challenging but very rewarding to be tackling 13/14 mile stages over such classic roads. The changing weather had gone from dry and fair to drizzle and heavy rain so a big thank you to all of the marshalls, rescue crews and other officials for putting on such a good event.
John & Craig on Burmah Road – JMS Photographic
Andrew at H/P