by Geoff Mayes
Mitsubishi works pilot Guy Wilks has been controversially excluded from the International Rally of Yorkshire after technical examinations were made to his Evo 9. Should the results stand then Mark Higgins will take his fourth successive victory of the year.
Regardless of what the stewards decided, Wilks was on fine form throughout the Pickering-based event, taking stage wins on all ten tests as he powered away from his championship rivals.
Mark Higgins chased hard, but such was the performance deficit between his three generation old Subaru Impreza and Wilks state of the art Mitsubishi that by the remote service after stage three he was already some twenty seconds adrift.
Mark's brother David was in trouble, having broken a front driveshaft, and would have to limp through the next set of stages before the offending item could be replaced at the mid-day service.
Gwyndaf Evans, in the second works Mitsubishi, also had dramas with a broken drive shaft of his own, but the Welshman was able to make repairs at the remote service ahead of stage four.
Behind the leading quartet was Darren Gass, the young Pirelli star driver putting in his strongest showing of the season. Darren was being chased hard by Johnnie Greer and Rob Swann, whilst James Wozencroft was playing catch up after a very cautious opening stage cost him a lot of time.
Stages four to six were typical Yorkshire forest stages, lots of high speed sections, blind crests and 90 degree corners. Wilks really stretched his legs on this loop and returned to mid-day service having extended his lead to 1 minute 21 seconds. However, it was not Mark Higgins in second place.
Higgins had broken a gear selector and had been overhauled by non-registered BRC driver Keith Cronin and had dropped back to third overall, albeit less than a second behind Cronin.
Gass had benefitted from both Evans and David Higgins' problems and was now lying third amongst the BRC registered crews, whilst Wozencroft had set some stunning times to move ahead of both Swann and Greer.