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After missing out 2010 we were back up in Kielder for the 2011 Pirelli Rally where David Bogie & Kevin Rae (Evo IX) made it 2 wins out of 3 in the BRC. Bulldog winners Elfyn Evans & Andrew Edwards were in close attendance until the end of stage 5 but then they had a character building drive to get to the finish. In the end it was the Fabia S2000’s which completed the podium with Robert Barrable & Damien Connolly a fine second, just over a minute back, with Jonny Greer & Dai Roberts a minute and a half further back in 3rd. In the 2WD section a late check in cost the Clio R3 pairing of Mark Donnelly & Barry McNulty dear. They would have won the category comfortably but instead were fourth. Martin McCormack & David Moynihan (DS3 R3) took the win by almost 20 seconds from the Finnish pairing of Jukka Korhonen & Marko Salminen (Fiesta R2). Craig Breen & Gareth Roberts (Fiesta R2) completed the podium a further 10 seconds back.

In the BRC Challenge Simon Moore & Emma Morrison (Clio) took a long overdue win after so much bad luck in the past year. Jack Rowe & Alex Lee (Fiesta R2) were second with Damien Smith & Frazer Hutchinson (Fiesta ST) third. In the Tour of Cumbria with only 8 starters a podium finish was there to be had by almost anyone. In the end it was David Newall & Peter McLean (Evo VIII) who took victory on what was a test session for them. Close behind in 2nd were Mark I’Anson & Ron Roughead (Evo VIII) but third place was a bit further back as Darren Martin & Martin Steele brought home their Puma ahead of the two other finishers.

Lastly and into the Historics. In category 1 the pattern of dominance is a long way from being set as we had our third different winners of 2011 in a third different car manufacturer and model. Graham Waite & Gill Cotton (Amazon) were victorious by just over 15 seconds, a margin which would have been closer had it not been for a 10 second road penalty for Rikki Proffitt & John Stanger-Leathes (911). Completing the podium were round 1 winners Simon Wallis & Graham Wride (Lotus Cortina).

In category 2 it was heartbreak for Rupert Lomax & Phill Harrison as their Escort MkI gearbox broke early on the final stage. hey only held a lead of just under 4 seconds going into the final stage so they had to push and it was Stefaan Stouf & Joris Erard (Escort MkI) who took the victory. Back in second and looking consolidating a good start to the season were David Stokes & Guy Weaver (Escort MkI) with Peter Smith & Russ Langthorne completing the podium in their Escort MkI.

Category 3 saw an intense battle as always but the biggest shock was that Steve Bannister & Louise Sutherland (Escort MkII) were not at the sharp end of it. Instead it was Julian Reynolds & Ian Oakey (Escort MkII) who dominated going fastest on the first four stages to lead by almost half a minute. The penultimate stage saw the demise of Reynolds as the car retired with mechanical failure. This let Nick Elliott & Chris Brooks (Escort MkII) in and they held the lead by just under 10 seconds from Will Onions & Dave Williams (Escort MkII) going into the final stage. Onions pushed hard and reduced the gap on the final stage but Elliott had enough in hand to win. Bannister took thrid on the final stage after being 5th going into it. He passed Tim Pearcey & Neil Shanks (Escort MkII) who were just over a second ahead and he then benefitted from the misfortune of Alan Walker & Jez Rogers (Escort MkII) who went off and took a maximum on the final stage, less than two miles from the finish.

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