by Geoff Mayes
Stephen Petch Jr recovered to take a seventh place finish in his Hyundai Accent WRC car on the Coppermine Grizedale Forest Stages last weekend.
With conditions proving to be very tricky, courtesy of snow lined stages and ice in places, the crews were always going to be in for an interesting time and, when thick clouds of fog descended on the stages, drivers had minimal visibility with which to negotiate the forestry tracks.
Despite this Stephen was on fine form, going fifth fastest through the opening stage, despite not being altogether happy with the handling of the car.
An equally strong run on Stage 2 was on the cards until he was caught out on a tightening corner, slid wide and got stuck in a ditch. Due to the icy nature co-driver Michael Wilkinson had to jump out and push the stricken car out of the ditch, and even with the help of spectators the pair dropped well over a minute and a half plummeting them to 23rd overall.
Swift work by the SG Petch mechanics saw the handling issues rectified at first service and Stephan then mounted a spirited fight back, eventually returning to Coniston in seventh position overall. Some consolation was the fact that he came home second in class.
"Well, a typical rally for us really, lots of excitement and plenty of dramas. The car was all over the place in the morning and we just got caught out and ended up in a ditch," he recalled.
"Once we'd sorted the handling out the car was brilliant, and if you remove the 90 seconds we lost on Stage two we would have won our class and finished fourth overall."
Steve Petch Senior meanwhile, who was also contesting the event, unfortunately retired very early on when he suffered a gearbox failure en-route
to the first stage.