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Stage Masters Manx review

Manx National 2023

The 2023 Manx National Rally was an epic event for everyone who took part, there was great competition but it was also a tough rally that produced a high retirement rate. Eight crews from the West Wales Rally Spares HRCR Stage Masters Challenge made the trip across the water for this double points scoring opportunity and it was Baz Wheeler and John Pickavance who were quickest out of the blocks. After their Dixies Challenge disappointment the intrepid duo changed the suspension on their forest car and chanced their arm with a relatively unknown package. Crew and car gelled straight away and over the two days they scored maximum points and finished 15th overall which was an outstanding result.

‘I‘m so thankful and proud of our little team, to enter and finish one of the toughest and most iconic tarmac rallies is amazing. Competing on the Isle of Man is truly special andthanks must go to the organisers, residents, marshals, rescue crews and everyone else involved.

Two retirements on the first day put a damper on things, Toby Adam and Ian Meakin had been spectacular in their BDG powered Mk1 Escort but a small off-road excursion and engine issues put an end to the fun and games. Eric Davies and Russell Joseph were also going well, Russell commenting that Eric was ‘on it’ from the word go. Sadly the water pump failed and that was that.

Father and son crew Ben and Steven Smith have performed admirably so far this season and once again they were flying and scored maximum class points on Friday, unfortunately suspension failure put them out of the rally on Saturday, at least they salvaged something from the weekend. Geoff Roberts and Ian Jones were new to the series and had a good weekend as runner up in class to Wheeler on both days in their Escort. Also signing up were Graham Muter and Steve Hallmark in their very tidy class D3 Escort and they also collected double points and finished just adrift of Roberts.

Two other Minis made the trip, Andrew O’Hanlon and Kevin Hogan were keen to make amends after mechanical failure on Epynt and they did that in spades taking the Challenge class honours both days with a spirited drive. Peter Horsburgh also took maximum Challenge points and thankfully finished in one piece which is just as well as the car is now up for sale, a great car for anyone considering rallying a Mini. A short break now gives crews a chance to regroup before the Brawdy Stages and the Nicky Grist Stages in July.

Photo supplied by Martin Leonard and Ben Lawrence