Darren Moon and Chris Parsons were the big winners on round two of the 2009 Dunlop/Gambia MSA British Historic Rally Championship, the Pirelli Historic Rally.
In a repeat of Moon's 2008 victory, they took their Ford Escort Mk2 to victory in category three after a tremendous performance. Other category victories went to the Porsches of Dessie Nutt/Geraldine McBride and Tim Mason/Graham Wild after six challenging stages in the Kershope and Kielder forest complexes.
Running first on the road was a tough start for Jonathan and Graham Gale (Sunbeam Tiger) as the opening Glen Dhu stage was covered in loose gravel. They battled on, but were caught out towards the end of the stage and the Tiger slid off. It was undamaged, but could not be recovered before they went OTL. They restarted under super rally rules on Saturday to get some more time in the car.
Instead, Nutt/McBride headed the category one cars by nearly a minute overnight despite finding conditions very tough in the Kershope stages. "There was no grip anywhere; I'm really glad to have survived those two stages," said Nutt.
The Porsche 911 crew took that advantage into Saturday's leg of four stages in the main Kielder complex and were able to control their pace to ensure a clear victory.
Into a fine second place in the category, class B4 victory and the overall championship lead, went the Lotus Cortina of Paul Mankin/Desmond Bell. They had a clear run as Mankin arrived hot foot from a return holiday flight from Hong Kong, and finished a minute and a half down on Nutt.
Equally impressive was third overall in category one and B1 victory for the Sunbeam Imp Sport of Geoff Taylor/Steve Greenhill. They lost class rivals Gary and Jen Edgington when the Singer Chamois fell victim to a particularly rough section of stage two, The Valley. A rock damaged the engine bay and wrecked the carburettors and, despite a mighty effort, they were out of the rally.
Class B2 went to Mike Barratt/Jody Watson, another crew to suffer on the rough section of SS2 in the Mini Cooper, while Nick Pinkett/Jonathan Lodge claimed B3 in their V4-powered Saab 96.
Rupert Lomax/David Alcock set the category two pace throughout much of the rally in their Escort Mk1, but were denied victory by a rotor arm failure on the Pundershaw stage that opened Saturday's competition. They dropped 90 seconds changing the arm, but still clawed their way back to third at the finish.