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George_Morrison_inactionIn only his first gravel event since July last year, rally driver George Morrison netted a solid finish at last weekend’s Somerset Stages Rally to kick start his BTRDA Rally Challenge assault. The Cottesmore based HM Forces Mechanic took his MG ZR to twelfth in class at the Minehead event which was held in tricky conditions across the Exmoor forests.

Joined by first-time co-driver and fellow Corp Engineer Jon Quintrell, the newly formed duo headed to the South West to contest the opening round of the mixed surface BTRDA series.  Having had some asphalt outings earlier in the year, Morrison was keen to return to the gravel in his MG ZR and sited the Rally Challenge as a fantastic opportunity to gain experience of a wider range of events.  The Somerset Stages provided an additional challenge this year thanks to heavy rain in the preceding week which could make the stages treacherous and extremely slippery for the some 130 crews.

Morrison felt right at home in the MG from the very first stage and despite getting a little out of sorts with the notes; the duo would complete the first loop of stages without any major dramas.  With the event using 13 stages to provide 37 miles of competition, there was no room for error and Morrison would have his sights firmly affixed on a finish at the seaside resort. But as the rally progressed, Morrison settled back into his gravel rhythm and picked up the pace as the stages dried in the afternoon sunshine.

Despite a timing penalty setback, Morrison was pleased with how the day had gone. “The car has been faultless and Jon really learned fast in the co-driver’s seat today so by the closing stages we were starting to push on” he said. “Sadly he made a booking in error on one stage which meant we developed a five minute penalty. This dropped us down the order and without that we would have been knocking on the door of the MG ZR Challenge podium. But he is still learning so it’s all part of the process”.

“It’s been a really satisfying end to the day and I’m so pleased to have made it round” he said. We did have a few moments this morning in the mud, but I’m pretty sure everyone did out there today.  Tackling the asphalt Porlock Toll Road on gravel tyres was a new experience though and a little hairy, but I guess it’s all good experience for the next round on the Isle of Man!”

Round two of the BTRDA Rally Challenge takes crews to the Manx National Rally in May which takes place across the closed public roads on the Isle of Man.

Morrison is backed this year by SMR Detailing and AB Motorsport.

Image courtesy of MJ Brinkman Photography.

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