It was business as usual in a damp Kielder Forest on round three of the Kololi Beach Club MSA British Historic Rally Championship, the Pirelli Historic Rally on Saturday (28 April).
Nick Elliott/Dave Price (Ford Escort Mk2), Julian Reynolds/Patrick Walsh (Ford Escort Mk1) and Rikki Proffitt/Phil Harrison (Porsche 911) all repeated their successes from the Bulldog Rally as Elliott and Reynolds remained level at the head of the title race.
All three crews took control from the start and built on their leads during the day. Unlike the previous two years dust was not an issue, but grip was certainly at a premium. “The first half was tricky but the second much more driveable,” said Elliott. The annual opportunity to take on the infamous Kielder stages, proved a definite hit with all the BHRC crews.
Eight Category One crews set out from a cool and damp Kielder Castle to face 21 miles of stages before returning to Carlisle for the main service. All eight crews made it safely through the opener in Bewshaugh, put some found it easier than others. Proffitt took an immediate 11s lead over the Dessie Nutt/Geraldine McBride Porsche, with another 18s back to Terry Brown and John Stanger-Leathes in their similar 911. “It was definitely fun being first on the road,” Proffitt admitted. “We managed to spin at the very first chicane,” Brown added.
Proffitt’s advantage grew to over 30s through The Forks and The Shanks and although struggling for grip, Nutt still managed to consolidate second place over Brown. “Very tough, slippy on the re-graded bits and through the surface changes,” said Proffitt. “We were near the edge everywhere and sideways more than we should have been,” he added.
Although Brown had further problems in stage two when his wipers gave up just as the rain started to fall, he still had four seconds in hand over Derek Boyd/Stephen McAuley (Porsche 911), which arrived in service with a broken starter motor.
Geoff Taylor/Steve Greenhill (Sunbeam Imp Sport) had a slipping clutch and two spins on the opener. “That first stage was one of the hardest I have ever driven,” said Taylor.
Edmund Peel/Janet Craine (Porsche 911) had to have a three-point turn at one of the chicanes and Nigel and Henry Webster (Singer Chamois) found it very challenging. But the only crew not to make it back to service were Pete Stimson/Mark Butler, after the throttle of their Anglia stuck open on the second stage.
The weather improved during the second half of the event and Proffitt made the most of it. His lead just grew and grew to a final winning margin of 57s. “Proper stages, fast flowing and trouble free,” said Proffitt.
Nutt retained a comfortable second, with third-placed Brown just pleased to make it to the finish. “We had something on every stage, including a puncture, and then put it in a ditch after the last stage,” said Brown.
Boyd continued without further problems to take fourth and Taylor was set for fifth until the last stage. Ten corners from the end we lost two minutes perched on the edge of a ditch,” he said. He still won class B1 after Webster found a ditch in Shepherdshield, but fell behind Peel’s Porsche in the overall standings.
BHRC Category One results:
1 Rikki Proffitt/Phil Harrison (Porsche 911) 52m43.5s
2 Dessie Nutt/Geraldine McBride (Porsche 911) 53m40.7s
3 Terry Brown/John Stanger-Leathes (Porsche 911) 54m30.6s
4 Derek Boyd/Stephen McAuley (Porsche 911) 54m51.1s
5 Edmund Peel/Janet Craine (Porsche 911) 57m00.3s
6 Geoff Taylor/Steve Greenhill (Sunbeam Imp Sport) 58m23.7s
The form pattern in Category Two looked familiar when Reynolds set the pace as expected during the opening stages. He headed David Stokes/Guy Weaver (Ford Escort Mk1) by around three seconds on each of the opening two stages, but increased his lead to a massive 28 seconds as he headed for service. “Nice and steady, but it is difficult,” Reynolds admitted.
Although Stokes couldn’t match Reynolds, he was nearly 30s clear of third-placed Rupert Lomax/David Alcock. “We had a good start, but at our own pace, and slotted nicely in between Julian and Rupert,” said Stokes. “We had hard tyres on, better wear but no grip,” Lomax added.
It was considerably closer for fourth, however, where Ernie and Will Graham and Andrew Siddall/Carl Williamson began an early duel. Siddall just had the edge as they returned to service, “We had clutch problems though,” he said. “We are really enjoying it,” Graham added.
Although wary of a threat from Mark Holmes/Tony Lindsay, Dick Slaughter/Tim Sayer settled in sixth and headed Class C3 in their Escort Mk1. “I found it difficult and couldn’t get in the groove,” said Slaughter. “I’m just trying to keep it tidy,” added Holmes.
Reynolds upped his pace still further during the second leg to take his winning margin out to 1m48s. “We broke the steering at the end of Pundershaw and on the last stage it changed direction on its own,” said Reynolds.
But it was Lomax who came home second after Stokes suffered an engine failure in Pundershaw on the penultimate stage of the day. Having inherited second, Lomax had problems too. “The brake bias bar slid over and we went into a few corners backwards,” said Lomax.
Siddall and Graham continued to trade third place until it went back in Siddall’s favour on the final stage. “We had a couple of overshoots on the last one,” Graham admitted. “My car cut out mid stage with an alternator problem.” Siddall added.
Slaughter kept Holmes at bay for class C3 and fifth in category. “Three good stages and so I got stuck in,” said Slaughter. “I was on it but not quite enough,” Holmes replied.
With Tim Mason/Graham Wild retiring their Porsche before the first stage with intercom dramas, the 911 of Peter McDowell/Derrick Davies was the sole survivor in Class C4.
BHRC Category Two results:
1 Julian Reynolds/Patrick Walsh (Ford Escort Mk1) 47m33.5s
2 Rupert Lomax/David Alcock (Ford Escort Mk1) 49m22.1s
3 Andrew Siddall/Carl Williamson (Ford Escort Mk1) 49m34.7s
4 Ernie Graham/Will Graham (Ford Escort Mk1) 49m46.4s
5 Dick Slaughter/Tim Sayer (Ford Escort Mk1) 50m15.2s
6 Mark Holmes/Tony Lindsay (Ford Escort Mk1) 50m36.7s
Elliott admitted that his risk taking was mainly confined to the opening stage, which resulted in a 12s lead over Tomas and Eurig Davies. “It was tricky and we attacked everywhere. We had a few moments and went up a bank but got away with it,” said Elliott.
Davies admitted to just staying out of a ditch too when his Escort stepped out of line. But it was Matthew Robinson and Nigel Hutchinson who came through to head the chase from stage two and were just over 14s off the lead after a mighty performance through the first leg. “Much better than expected,” reported the Yorkshireman.
Davies arrived at service in third place, with Tim Freeman/Paul Barden fourth, after they battled ahead of Kevin Davies/Dale Furniss on stage three. “We came out of a bend too fast on that stage and rode through a ditch,” said Freeman. “Our braking was unpredictable and we had two spins, including backwards into some pallets,” said Davies.
After three more flowing stages in the main Kielder complex, Elliott completed back-to-back wins on the event. “The later stages were far more driveable after a treacherous morning. We did have two scary moments on the last stage and a half spin though,” said Elliott.
Robinson’s hopes were dashed on the penultimate stage after a tremendous run. “We bent a strut in Pundershaw, and I didn’t hit anything this time,” he said. Tomas Davies therefore reclaimed second, “it was a great battle with Kevin,” he said, as his namesake finished only a second behind. “We woke up in the second half, but the aim was to finish,” said Kevin D on his first visit Kielder outing for six years.
Freeman dropped off the leader board too. “We went into a ditch on Pundershaw, got stuck and there was no one to help. We jacked it up and got out but it took 36 minutes,” he explained.
Warren Philliskirk/Matt Whattam moved into fourth on the drivers’ first Kielder visit for nearly 20 years. Chris Shooter/Bev LeGood surviving unopposed in class D3, while D4 had two starters but no finishers. James Stait/Marcus Cartwright put the Talbot Sunbeam Lotus in a ditch in Shepherdshield and Steve Magson/Geoff Atkinson cured the Vauxhall Chevette’s lack of revs only to melt two spark plugs.
BHRC Category Three results:
1 Nick Elliott/Dave Price (Ford Escort Mk2) 46m34.8s
2 Tomas Davies/Eurig Davies (Ford Escort Mk2) 47m48.0s
3 Kevin Davies/Dale Furniss (Ford Escort Mk2) 47m49.1s
4 Warren Philliskirk/Matt Whattam (Ford Escort Mk2) 48m18.2s
5 Richard Lane/Frank Richer (Ford Escort Mk2) 49m12.3s
6 Phil Squires/Mick Squires (Ford Escort Mk2) 49m49.5s