Skip navigation

manxnat13 (9)The 2013 Manx National started in windy but dry conditions and with just 23 miles on the opening night, the first 8 stages would not see anyone win the rally but they could lose it. Melvyn Evans & Mark Glennerster (Impreza WRC) seized the initiative over the first pair of stages before Damian Cole & Darren Garrod (Focus WRC) took three fastest stage times through the 2 special stages in Ramsey and the following stage out of Ramsey through the Gooseneck. Paul Bird & Aled Davies (Focus WRC) was second overall however as he was 2nd fastest through the first 4 stages and then 3rd fastest on the fifth stage. Evans led Bird by 1.8s with Cole a further 6.1s back in 3rd overall. Trouble then struck Evans through the 2nd Glen Roy stage as Bird snatched the lead with his 1st fastest stage time. Evans went fastest through stage 7 to close the gap to 1 second and that is where the crews finished the opening leg after stage 8 was scrubbed.

Saturday morning started with a wet Druidale and Nigel & Michaela Cannell set fastest time in their group N Evo IX from Bird with Jason Pritchard & Phil Clarke (Focus WRC) 3rd fastest, (now settling into his first tarmac event in the car). Evans dropped over 20 seconds and slipped back behind Cole. Pritchard then brought himself into play with fastest time through the first Curraghs run, setting a time almost 20 seconds faster than anyone else. The gaps had all shrunk again as Bird led Cole by 9.5s with Evans 4.3s further back and Pritchard now 11.7s off 3rd place overall. Evans then went fastest through Tholt-y-Will 1 from Bird to leapfrog Cole with Pritchard closing in. Evans followed this up on stage 12 closing the gap to Bird down to 11 seconds. Cole dropped a minute on this stage so Pritchard moved into a comfortable 3rd overall.

Loop 3 was a repeat of loop 2 but it started in drier conditions as the main band of precipitation passed through and the rest of the day would be hit by isolated showers, making tyre choice a complete lottery. Bird was fastest through Druidale 2 from Pritchard then Evans to more than double his lead. Pritchard then took the 2nd Curraghs stage, a massive half a minute faster than his first run to close the gap to Bird down to 40 seconds. Bird was second fastest ahead of Cole who was back up to speed with Evans losing best part of 10 seconds to Bird. Disaster then struck Bird, (following a duck strike earlier in the day), as he lost the left rear tyre midway on Tholt-y-Will 2. By the time he got to our position the tyre was almost a flailing carcass which would rip most of the rear quarter panel off the car. He dropped best part of 50 seconds to Evans and the lead with Pritchard jumping into 2nd overall too. The short Creg-Na-Baa 2 stage saw Bird go fastest and get 2nd place back from Pritchard.

There were two more loops to go, each being a run of Braaid and the Baldwins, the two longest stages on the event. The rally would swing again as Evans dropped the best part of 40 seconds to Bird as he suffered drive issues. He would retire before stage 18 so Bird now led Pritchard by 15.5s with Cole a minute further back. Pritchard took almost 5 seconds out of Bird through the Baldwins and with two to go he had a chance of victory. With a deluge hitting Braaid 2 Bird did well to go faster than his first stage time by 0.9s but Pritchard matched his time, an improvement of over 12s on his first run.

It all came down to the Baldwins 2. Bird was first on the road and went just over 30 seconds quicker than his first run, Pritchard however was faster but only by 7.5s. Bird had taken a hard earned victory by just 3.4s from Pritchard after various trials and tribulations, dicing all day with not just one but three Welshmen throughout the rally. Pritchard could be rightly proud of 2nd overall after putting in the drive of the day after coming back from almost 50 seconds down overnight. Cole ended up over three minutes back in 3rd overall as he suffered two punctures on the final stage, in opposite corners of the car. Cannell was a minute further back to take top group N finisher and top Manx championship crew too. And in the 2WD battle John Indri & Pete Johnson (Darrian T90 GTR) took top honours by 50s from Ashley Field & Josh Davison (Darrian T90), 8th and 11th overall respectively.

There was the small matter of the National B rally too which ran with the main rally through all the stages. Darren Atkinson & Philip Sandham (Escort MkII) was fastest through all 7 of the stages that ran on Friday night to hold over a minutes lead overnight. John & Martin Cressey (Mini Cooper S) were 2nd 25s ahead of Ian Kenvin & Ian Meakin (Escort MkI). Atkinson then set fastest times through all 4 stages of the first loop on Saturday and then fastest on the stage immediately afterwards too, to lead by almost two and a half minutes. Cressey held on to 2nd place and had extended it as Kenvin dropped back behind Andrew Dudgeon & Adam Yates (Nova) and Mark Borthwick & Phil Boyle (Evo VI).

Borthwick went fastest through the Curraghs 2 before Cressey was fastest on Tholt-y-Will 2, as Borthwick climbed 3rd place. Atkinson went fastest on stage 16 as only 4 more stages lay ahead for the crews. Cressey was fastest through SS17 from Atkinson but the real battle was for 3rd as Dudgeon closed the gap to Borthwick down to just 10 seconds before disaster struck on the next stage. Borthwick hit the concrete side of a cattle grid and retired from the rally on the spot. Dudgeon set fastest time through that stage with Atkinson fastest on SS19 before Dudgeon took fastest time on the final stage. Atkinson won by just under two minutes from Cressey with Dudgeon another minute further back in 3rd place.

A superb weekend of rallying in my favourite venue, full stop, and here are a selection of the images…

%d bloggers like this: