Round one of the 2019 HRCR Mini Sport Cup, Jasper’s Bakeries AGBO historic stages run by Owen Motor club got off to an electric start.
With 22 minis starting making up half of the 44 starters, with four fathers competing against their sons, and 6 crews new to the championship, making this the most anticipated rally for years.
Ages ranged from 16 years old to well past 70 years young, this is the appeal of the iconic mini. Four previous championship winners were on the entry, with three of those competing in the Mini Sport Cup.
With classes based on the age of the car, and built to the specification that the cars ran in the day, with a class for open class cars where they run outside the period historic modifications, there was a place for all classic minis.
The event included ten stages across the Weston Park estate in Staffordshire. John Cressey started first mini at number 11, in his open class car, followed by Clive King at 12 right behind, in the first of the historic class cars, then followed by Andrew O’Hanlon, Shane Gamble and Peter Ellerby.
Peter had damaged his car, whilst competing on Epynt the weekend before, after skidding on ice into a rock, many late nights and a new front subframe, front panel and repaired gearbox saw him make the start.
The weather forecast was for rain and high winds all day but fortunately the rain held off until the finish. The famous water splash had been included for four of the stages, and crews were frantically applying waterproofing before the start.
Championship Newcomers Harvey Stevens and Lawrence Selly we in trouble on the first stage, whilst trying to overtake, their car went onto the grass and spun out into a sturdy tree, The car was badly damaged but both crew members were unhurt and by late afternoon were on facebook looking for a new shell.
In Category 1 Clive King and Anton Bird took the lead from the first stage. Ken Pryce and Don James had upgraded from their usual 1 litre to 1300cc and had a steady run to take second only 7 seconds ahead of Peter Ellerby with Colin Tombs.
Rounding up the finishers was Shane Gamble and Bob Ward who had the misfortune to take a stage maximum on stage 5 when a wire became detached for behind the dashboard and it took a time to repair. Paul Price and Owain Thomas retired on stage 7 with a broken drive shaft.
Category 2 saw two father son battles with overall honours going to Mathew Davis and Abi Haycock ahead of father Eric Davis and Russell Joseph, but Andrew O’Hanlon with Bill Douglas were second and challenging hard by the end of the day, Andrew getting used to the car again after an eighteen month layoff. Eric had developed a new start line technique for this event which involved great clouds of smoke from tyres, engine and anything else that could smoke! Apparently it paid off and the clutch and drive shafts survived for them to finish third. Next up was 1275GT of Dave Evans and Tom Aleksandrowicz who finish just 9 seconds.
Craig King with his new co driver Adrian Lloyd and his new car that had been acquired over the winter finishing fourth in class just ahead of Stuart Hart and Catherine Farrell who also manage to beat father Nigel Hart and Shaun Lovegrove after their throttle cable snapped on stage 3 losing them nearly three minutes.
These crews were split by Championship newcomer Julian Gore who had the experienced John Cadwallader sat alongside for this event. John Brooks and Phil Harvey were using their newly built 1275 GT replica of Tony Ponds car and fitted with 13-inch wheels to finish 10th.
Andrew Jarman and Paul Davies were unfortunately hampered by damp electrics but managed maintain their 100% finishing record.
After Harvey Steven’s unfortunate accident on stage 1 for Young Jack Hartley was left to take overall honours in Category 3
The final father son battle was in the open class, the class dominated by father and son team John and Martin Cressey with the quick Ryan Taylor and Hollie Churchill next ahead of father Paul Taylor and Jemma Taylor. After a hard day’s rallying Ryan finished the event on exactly the same time as Mathew Davis and the result was decided on times for the first stage giving the advantage to Ryan
The final results showed that three Sons had managed to beat their fathers with only Clive King finishing ahead of son Craig!
Crews will now be getting ready for the next round, the Dixies Challenge on challenging Epynt Ranges on the 5th May.
1st Category 1 Clive King / Anton Bird
1st Category 2 Mathew Davis / Abi Haycock
1st Category 3 Jack Hartley / Gary Dawes
1st Open class John Cressey / Martin Cressey