The 2012 BTRDA season kicked off in Chepstow with the Wyedean Forest Rally. The threat of snow hung over the event and in the end there was very little but the overnight low temperatures turned all the stages into sheets of ice, with running early on the road a distinct advantage. In the main field Steve Perez & Paul Spooner (Focus WRC) had an early excursion and ultimately retired due to running out of spare tyres. This issue decided the fate of the event for Hugh Hunter & Andy Marchbank (Focus WRC) as they had been leading going into the penultimate stage but a total of 3 punctures and only 2 spares saw them retire from the event.
Charlie Payne & Craig Thorley (Focus WRC) had been closing in after service and taken the lead on stage 6. At the end of the final stage they had a victory margin of over 3 minutes. Shaun Gardener & Ben Innes (Evo 5.9) were second after having their fair share of puncture/tyre drama’s. A stunning 3rd overall were Julian Wilkes & Will Rutherford-Child who took full advantage of running early in their 1.4 Nova.
Looking at the various categories the Gold Star podium was completed by Nigel Griffiths & Jon Scott (Impreza) in fourth overall. The WR cars really suffered in the conditions and finishing really was paramount, so fifth place for Roger Chilman & Bryan Thomas (Impreza WRC) netted valuable points on a day blighted by unusual stage conditions. Group N was won by Paul Davy & Roger Allan (Impreza) who had been fast from stage 1 on.
In the Silver Star it was a dominant victory for Dave Brick & Chris Butcher (Escort MkII) who won by over 3 minutes. Brick didn’t change his driving style for the conditions which seemed the crazy thing to do but it worked for him. 2nd place went to Neil Matthews & Ian Harden in their 1600cc Nova, who made an excellent return to the series. Completing the podium were Toni Carannante & Mike Scrimgour (BMW 316 Evo) a further two and half minutes back.
In the Historics the field was blighted by arguable the worst stage conditions as the 1400’s had polished up the stages for them. Taking the honours were Pete Smith & Paul Wakely (Escort MkII) finishing over 18 minutes behind the overall winners. A superb 2nd went to Bob Gibbons & Stuart Carddell (Cortina MkII) who had plenty of spins on their way to finishing just over half a minute behind Smith. Completing the Historic podium were Roger Matthews & Mike Jode (Escort MkI) 40 seconds further back.
But perhaps the battle of the rally was the fight for 1400 honours. Wilkes took the category and a stunning third overall but coming into the final stage Justin Lawson & Paul Hargreaves (Nova) were only 16 seconds behind having closed the gap since service. In the end they dropped several minutes with an excursion but they had taken the battle down to the wire. 2nd place went to David Bennett & Alistair McNeil (Corsa) just over a minute back with local crew Nigel Jenkins & Jack Walby (Nova) in third place, benefiting from the excursion of Lawson.