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BHRC16 SVS BPaul Barrett and Dai Roberts took a dramatic overall historic victory on the Severn Valley Stages (Saturday 4 June), the fourth round of the 2016 Mintex MSA British Historic Rally Championship.

On a day of ever-changing fortunes in dry and dusty stages in the Epynt region, Barrett and Roberts swept ahead on the final stage of the rally to win in their Pinto-powered Ford Escort Mk2. Rarely has a Pinto-powered car won overall in the BHRC and it was a fantastic performance from both crew members in the RSR Historic Engineering Category 3.

However, for much of the day it was round three winners Joe Price and Chris Brooks who led the field with a mighty charge in their Escort Mk2 as they underlined their arrival among the BHRC elite. They were 26s up after four stages but it all went wrong for them in the penultimate stage when a clutch problem left their Escort Mk2 stuck in gear and they lost over three and a half minutes.

Instead, Nick Elliott and Dave Price took the lead by just five seconds going into the final Cefn stage but as Elliott finished the stage with a puncture Barrett set a searing pace to go five seconds faster than any other historic crew and win by five seconds. Only 23s back in third were Rudi Lancaster and George Gwynn. Despite aggravating a hand injury when the steering wheel kicked back, Lancaster had one of his best BHRC performances to date.

Fourth overall showed that Steve Bennett and Iain Tullie are close to joining the very top historic crews even though they battled brake problems all day and struggled through Radnor with only front brakes on their Escort Mk2.

The battle for the Capital Construction Category 2 was just as intense as the overall contest and finally resulted in a hard-earned victory for Simon Tysoe and Paul Morris (Ford Escort Mk1) after Stanley Orr and Guy Weaver had a torrid day in their Pinto-engined car and suffered three punctures and drove around 12 miles on flat tyres in total.

Ben Friend/Cliffy Simmons, James Potter/Bob Duck and Shawn Rayner/Declan Dear all had strong rallies to take top 10 overall finishes, while the late retirement of Milner left the way open for Chris Skill and Tom Jordan to finish best of the 1600 crews in their Escort Mk2.

Among the other category winners were Bob Bean and Captain Thompson (Lotus Cortina) in the Vintage Car Radiator Company Category 1 as father and son Bob and Dale Gibbons had a catalogue of dramas, notably over a very poorly gearbox. Terry Cree and Richard Shores made a late change of car to their Mini Cooper and won class B2 with second in the category.

Tom Coughtrie and Michael Gilbey won the Holton Homes Category K in their Ford Escort Mk2 to seal the co-driver’s birthday weekend celebrations. However, there was no time for celebration as he headed straight from the finish of the Severn Valley to contest a road rally that night.

Some fine performances went unrewarded on a day when the dust was a major factor. Adam Milner and Roy Jarvis set a stunning pace in their 1600cc cross-flow Escort Mk1 and set overall fastest time on the Gwibedog opener. Sadly, a probable top five finish went awry when the Escort slid off the road on the final stage when they were unsighted in dust.

Jason Pritchard and Phil Clarke, meanwhile, suffered their second character-building rally on the trot. The defending champion went out at the end of the Radnor stage where a notorious downhill right caught them out and the Escort was beached and out of the rally. Already out was the Fiat 131 of Matt Robinson/Sam Collis, which dropped off the road in the dust of Crychan.

The Severn Valley Stages was organised by the Midland Manor Motor Club.

More details about the Mintex MSA British Historic Rally Championship can be found at http://www.historicrallying.org
Follow the championship on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/MSABHRC and on Twitter: @MSABHRC2015

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