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The MSA Apshalt Rally Championship got underway with the traditional visit to the Epynt military ranges for the Tour of Epynt. Whilst the route may have alarmed spectators it proved to be really good for the competitors as they got their teeth into 6 decent length stages without any short sprints. Peter Lloyd & Graham Handley (Impreza WRC S12) were out of the blocks faster than anyone else and took a 7 second lead on stage 1 and then gradually built that margin through to the lunch break. On stage 4 John Dalton & Gwynfor Jones (Darrian T90 GTR) retired wth clutch issues, leaving Lloyd with a half minute advantage over Steve Simpson & Mark Booth (Impreza WRC S12).

Simpson also got a 10 second time penalty on stage 4, so even with fastest times on the final two tests, it left him 37 seconds behind Lloyd who took another well deserved victory on Epynt. The gap to 3rd place overall was almost another two minutes, although Simon Mauger & Chris Butcher had picked up a 30 second time penalty mid event on their way to a stunning podium finish in their Escort MkII. David Kynaston & Andy Russell (A3 Quattro) had a torrid event with gearbox issues on stage 4 seeing them drop almost 11 minutes and then a spin on stage 5 finished their day. Damian Cole & Craig Drew (Focus WRC) were also fancied to go well but a steering pump failure after lunch saw them retire from 5th overall.

Video to follow later…

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