Skip navigation

Scottish crew Dave Weston and Kirsty Riddick took a dominant victory at this weekend’s Somerset Stages Rally, winning all but one of the twelve stages in the Minehead based event.  The Subaru Impreza WRC duo made the long drive from Aberdeen to the third round of the REIS-Ravenol BTRDA Series and emerged clear winners with an exacting 1 minute gap to second placed Jamie Anderson and Jon Scott.  The battle for the runner up spot was a much more uncertain affair, with Mitsubishi WRC pilot Anderson only taking up the position at the half way point of the event from third placed Mitsubishi Lancer crew Luke Francis and John Roberts.

Weston set the pace with a quickest time up the all-asphalt Porlock Toll road but early event favourites Paul Bird and Aled Davies topped the timesheets on the second run up the infamous hill. Bird’s Ford Focus WRC would then succumb to water pump failure on the run back to service forcing him out before he had really even started.  The same misfortune befell Hugh Hunter and Andy Marchbank who pulled up on the second run; his possible hat-trick of Somerset victories gone, along with the Subaru clutch.

Ford Fiesta R5+ pilot Stephen Petch and Ian Windress managed to leapfrog Damian Cole and Jack Morton to fourth on the very last stage. Cole ran as high as third during the day but couldn’t make it stick through the final stage and Petch grabbed the podium runner up spot from under his nose.

Thomas Naughton and Andi Mort bagged a convincing victory in the Hyundai Genpower Production Cup with just over two minutes in hand from Aaron McClure and Elliott Edmondson both in Mitsubishi Evo9’s. McClure overcame a lack of anti-lag in his similar Lancer to record his first finish of the year, beating Pat Naylor and Ian Lawrence by just eight seconds.

In the two wheel drive category, Callum Black and Paul Wakely soon got used to the new MAX kit in their Citroen DS3 R3 to finish a very creditable 11th overall in amongst a myriad of four wheel drive machines.  Matthew Robinson and Kim Baker had a rather “sideways” day in their Ford Escort MK2, finishing just over 30 seconds behind Black in 13th. Richard Sykes and Emma Morrison brought home their DS3 R3 in third; despite Morrison reporting Sykes was “screaming like a girl” on the penultimate stage as the Citroen’s wheels came perilously close to the edge of the forest track.  Robinson also took the Historic honours from Woolacombe’s Rudi Lancaster and Andrew Joll in a similar Escort with Paul Street and Jim Goodman third.

The lower powered classes were not short of entertainment for the thousands of spectators either.  Kick Start BTRDA 1400 challengers David Bennett and Alistair McNeil secured victory by 30 seconds in their Vauxhall Corsa over the returning Julian Wilkes and Will Rutherford in a newly built Vauxhall Nova. Ash Slights and Alex Lee took third in their Yaris after the Tom Walster and Tom Woodburn suffered a final stage off.

The formidable Land Rover Defender Challenge was won by Edd Cobley and John Tomley who pulled out over a minute gap to second place Gareth Curruthers and Wallace McKay. David Johnson and Joseph Monaghan were third in the category.

Conditions were perfect for the Minehead promenade rally base but caused problems for crews out in the stages across Exmoor. A week long dry spell meant the stage surface would become rock hard and dusty; typical Somerset Stages conditions. Tyre wear would of course become a significant factor during the day, Petch even reporting wearing a full set of tyres in just one stage on the Fiesta.  Ironically this left many of the stages in good condition and with the event being the first major rally to undertake the new MSA “fastest first” seeding rules, it meant the later running crews could still enjoy the Somerset forests

2015 saw the event returned to its spiritual seaside home thanks to the hard work of event organisers, The Minehead Vision Trust, The Beach Hotel, Minehead Events Group, West Somerset Council, Exmoor National Park, Avon and Somerset Police, The Forestry Commission and Somerset County Council.  Taking over the seafront promenade, the rally brought “rallying to the people” by hosting the start and finish ceremonies as well as the service areas in the heart of the town.

Joint Clerk of the Course Chris House believes the rally is back where it belongs. “It’s taken a lot of organising but it’s fantastic to see the rally back in Minehead” he said.  “The community have really embraced the event and we thank them for their patience during the weekend. The crowds were fantastic at both the start and finish on the seafront as well as in the stages and we would love to return again next year with some of the best rally drivers in the UK”.

For the final event results, please visit http://www.somersetstagesrally.com

You can keep up to date with all the latest news on the event Facebook and Twitter feeds.

http://www.facebook.com/thesomersetstagesrally & http://www.twitter.com/somersetstages

Images courtesy of TelT Motorsport Photography.

%d bloggers like this: