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tyneside16 (176)MG ZR rally driver George Morrison banished the memories of a last minute non-finish at the Nicky Grist Stages, by securing a solid result on the Tyneside Stages last weekend.  Based at the all-asphalt Otterburn Military Ranges in Northumberland, Morrison would tackle the tricky venue for the very first time but secured a confidence boosting finish to help his BTRDA Rally Challenge campaign.

Heading to the fifth round of the series, Morrison was sitting comfortably in third overall but with powerful four wheel drive machinery out in front, it would be a tall order to remain in a podium spot after the tough 60 mile event.  Hoping to right the wrongs of his retirement on the last round of the championship in Wales, Morrison with regular co-driver Jon Quintrell would be looking for a decent points haul to keep his season hope alive.

Having only ever been to the bleak Military Ranges during his HM Forces training many years ago, Cottesmore based Morrison had his first taste of the roads during the pre-event recce and would look to opt for a finish rather than heroics over the weekend.  The 12 stage event would provide a challenge for every one of the crews and its reputation for its unforgiving roads can catch out even the most experienced of drivers.

Stage one would get underway with the longest test of the day at just over 12 miles long and it wouldn’t pass trouble free for Morrison. A brush with a chicane would re-arrange the MG bodywork and this early wakeup call focused the mind for the remaining loop during the morning.  That focus, lasted just one stage however when a high speed spin on stage three meant Morrison dropped more time to his rivals.

The MG struggled to cope with the high speed nature of the ranges and would spend more than enough time at maximum speed, Morrison unable to wring any more from the 1400cc power plant. Deciding not to take too many risks Morrison looked to consolidate his position for the remainder of the day and despite an over exuberant spin on a hairpin on the penultimate stage, recovered to take 62nd overall from 87 starters.

“The aim today was certainly just to get round and I’m really pleased we managed to do that without too many drama’s” said Morrison.  “It’s a really amazing place but you do have to treat it with a lot of respect so we didn’t push our luck too much today.  We spent too much time on the rev limiter which would have held us back against the more powerful cars in our class, but we simply did our own thing and grabbing some more points was the only aim this weekend.  It’s given us a good insight into driving on the ranges and with the next round on Epynt in Wales at the end of the month, we are hoping for more of the same there too”.

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

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