I’m not sure what you call a large gathering of Rally Masters but the term would certainly have applied to the 7th round of the HRCR Clubmans Championship, the St Wilfrids Classic Rally in North Yorkshire. 27 of them to be precise with 12 Experts and a very healthy contingent of 24 Novices comprised the field of cars that departed Masham Market Square for a transit to the first of three special tests.
Grass or wet grass to be precise, which of course quickly turns to mud but that didn’t seem to trouble the minis as they were in their element. First blood went to James Griffiths and James Howell in an Austin 1275 GT then Darell and Nicky Staniforth, back into the fray, registered joint fastest times on the next two tests.
It was over far too soon so it was then back to some real work with the first of 6 regularities. The first one being handed out 1 hour before departure. Paul Hernaman with “the Crow” alongside produced the best time on reg 1 with just one 3 second penalty over the entire reg.
Matt Warren with Ali Procter alongside winning the St Wilfrids for the 4th time in 7 years. Picture by Tony North.
Straight on then to reg 2 issued at MTC1 that was a London Map with pre-plotted points. Matt Warren and Ali Proctor in a Ford Escort produced the goods on this reg with just 6 seconds of penalties. No rest or coffee break though and as the weather started to deteriorate it was on to reg 3 that was a herring bone that had been given out with the road book. Myself with Sarah alongside somehow managed to achieve the lowest penalty on this one with just 2 seconds accrued.
There was then the feeling that a lunchbreak was due but not before our first visit into the forest tests that managed to raise the adrenalin levels. The recent rain and challenging test layouts provided the entertainment both inside and outside the car with stop astride and stop boxes proving difficult in the slippery conditions. Matt Warren and Ali Procter posted fastest on the first Boltby test in 2 minutes 47 secs. Tom and Roger Bricknell in a VW Gold GTI were joint fastest on Boltby 2 with John Ruddock with Cath Woodman in a Ford Escort and Dan Willan and Martyn Taylor in a Volvo PV544. Boltby 3 was won by Griffiths and Howell by just 1 second.
Lunch stop was the familiar High Paradise Farm Café where results had a familiar look to them with Warren and Procter on 16mins and 12 seconds, 14 seconds ahead of Ruddock/Woodman and in third the Staniforth’s on 16 minutes 34 seconds.
It was a soggy start after lunch with a series of grid squares for reg 4 issued at lunch in. 9 speed changes and 4 IRTCs provided the challenge which Paul Crosby and Andy Pullan were more than up to with just a 3 second penalty.
It was then onto our first visit to the Pry Rigg plantation for more fun and games in the woods. The recent rain had ensured the slippery conditions persisted and the right tyres certainly made the difference on these surfaces. However, the green mini of Griffiths and Howell made light of the conditions and notched up another test win.
Reg 5 was issued at the end of Pry Rigg but a straightforward transit section gave the navs some time to get the route plotted. Just 26 miles, 7 IRTCs and 15 speed changes to contend with. Car 9 of Gavin and Carrie Rogers in a Reliant Scimitar pipped everyone here with an impressive 13 seconds of penalties.
Then back to Pry Rigg for another go and to try and better the previous time. However no matter how hard we tried it was car 12, that green mini, which did it again just 1 second ahead of the Staniforth’s mini.
The final reg was once more issued on exiting Pry Rigg but with the start just 200 yards away, the road around the self – start point looked like a classic car meet with cars scattered everywhere as the navs feverishly plotted away. 17 tulips needed to be plotted to make it work and another plethora of speed changes to keep everyone on their toes. Paul Crosby and Andy Pullan in their Porsche 356 nearly cleaned the reg but it wasn’t enough to put them in contention with the leaders.
Just the last three tests then and we could all go for supper. Back to Boltby Forest where the conditions had not improved and we were warned that things were very slippery in places. This knocked the times down a bit but didn’t seem to slow the top guys with Ruddock/Woodman taking honours on the first test and three cars taking the bogey on test 2. Just for completeness it was of course the green mini car 12, that took the final test.
The winners in the end were Matt Warren and Ali Procter on 28.11 with John Ruddock and Cath Woodman who had been chasing hard all day in second 32 seconds behind and the Staniforth’s in third. First Experts were myself and the wife in 17th overall and first Novices were Martin Oglesby and John Parker in a Opel Kadett C GT/E.
With well organised regs and superb forest tests it has to be one of the best rally’s of the year being challenging for both sides of the car. Congratulations to Clerk of the Course Sam Wainwright and his team for once again putting on such a great event, it was worth the long drive up.
A full list of results for the event can be found on the Ripon Motor Sport Club website and MTC1.org.