Julian Reynolds and Ian Oakey took maximum points on round six of the 2009 Dunlop/Gambia MSA British Historic Rally Championship, the Harry Flatters Historic Rally last weekend.

While Epynt ace Mark Solloway (non-BHRC registered) won the historic rally, title contender Gwyndaf Evans retired on the penultimate stage on his first rally over the ranges for 24 years.

In category two, David Stokes and Guy Weaver proved unbeatable in their Escort Mk1, while Dessie Nutt and Geraldine McBride (Porsche 911) performed a similar feat in category one.

Category 1

With only four starters in category one Nutt/McBride were expected to cruise to another win. "We had problems - mainly with sheep, on the first stage we braked and then braked again as I was sure I was going to hit one. Then it moved to the right and we just missed it," said Nutt. "We then had three more near misses with them on stage five too!" he added.

The winning margin was almost two minutes, as Paul Mankin/Desmond Bell (Lotus Cortina) took a clear second as the only starter in class B4. "Apart from a near off on stage three on cold tyres, we didn't have any problems," said Mankin.

Rikki Proffitt and Phil Harrison were still getting used to their Porsche 911, but also had a trouble free run to third overall and second place in B5.

Mike Bartlett/David Leslie (Austin Mini Cooper S) made it home fourth, running solo in class B2.

Category 2

Stokes and Weaver started off in determined fashion, pulling out a 16-second lead over their rivals on the opening stage. Non-BHRC registered Toby Adam and Neil Cook (Escort Mk1) were eight seconds up on Ernie Graham/Andy Morgan after the two Saturday evening stages, but on Sunday morning Graham immediately closed the gap again to four second. Graham was poised to ease ahead when the gap became one second on stage four, only for Adam to respond and consolidate his place once more. But Graham kept up his challenge and only lost out by three seconds in the end.

It wasn't all plain sailing for Stokes however. "We were in fifth at the end of the New Road, started to brake but kept going as the throttle had stuck wide open. It had gone beyond the stop and I lost 17 seconds," he explained.

Peter Smith/Russ Langthorne (Porsche 911) ran a strong fourth for the first six stages, before Neal James and Kevin Jones came charging through to claim the place from stage eight, on their debut run in the ex-Jeff Churchill Escort Mk1 BDA. "We were struggling to get used to our new car and a ZF gearbox, so there were quite a few screams and crunches. It started to get better, so we were pleased as the first stage was really the shakedown for the car," said James.

Smith eventually fell to seventh on the final stage, as Drew Wylie/Howard Pridmore (Escort Mk1) and Derek Boyd/Simon Hunter (Porsche 911) both moved ahead. "It was a very steep learning curve and far too many Welsh and English crews with local knowledge," said class Wylie after taking maximum C3 points.

Graham and James followed Stokes in class C5, with Wylie having to keep pushing after a big challenge from Ken Forster/John Stanger-Leathes. Andrew Siddall/Captain Thompson had a plug lead come off on the first stage, but came back to fourth in class C3 in their Escort Mk1. Jeremy Wells/Martin Saunders also survived in their Escort Mk1, but Ian Drummond/Yvonne Coppin's Escort expired on the final run with electrical gremlins.

In class C4 former BL and Ford works driver Boyd celebrated victory on his first visit to Epynt with his Porsche 911, showing a clean pair of heels to fellow Porsche crews Smith/Langthorne and Peter Lythell/Gill Cotton. Matt Fowle/Robert Cook (Escort Mk1) had a solo run to take top spot in class C2.

Category 3

Among the BHRC registered crews, it was Gwyndaf Evans and Huw Lewis, taking the lead overnight from Julian Reynolds and Ian Oakey, but it had taken a rapid gearbox change to keep the Viking Motorsport Escort of Evans running strongly.

Behind non-registered Mark Solloway/Den Golding, Evans/Lewis led the championship contenders until the penultimate stage when the alternator fan sheared and broke an oil pipe. Eventually that cost them a finish and another maximum points' score.

Reynolds/Oakey therefore took maximum points but was a little disappointed with his pace. "We had a whining sound from the gearbox on Saturday night so changed it overnight. On Sunday mornings first leg though it must have jumped out of gear 20 times though," he said.
Darren Moon and Chris Parsons were next in their Escort Mk2, after being loaned a spare gearbox by Ernie Graham. "We were stuck in fifth on Saturday night and Ernie just came over and offered us his spare box, then Rikki Proffitt did the same," said Moon. Will Onions and Tim Hobbs Escort has a good run in unfamiliar surroundings to take third in the points' scorers. "We were like the championship winners with the top guys in the Premiership," said Onions.

Simon Tysoe/Cliff Simons were also in the wars but survived to take sixth place. "At the chicane at Fourways on stage five we got sideways and hit a big stone," they explained. Phil and Mick Squires were the final D5 finishers, "It took a while for us to remember what to do," said Squires after a break from competing. Gareth Lloyd/Ryland James retired when they got stuck in second gear at the start of stage six, Rob Smith/Shaun O'Gorman broke their Vauxhall Chevette and both Conor Corkill/Howard Allison and James Potter/Arwel Jenkins had offs in their Escorts.

In D3 Guy Woodcock/Hu Kent (Escort Mk2) the legs of Chris Shooter/Bev Le Good and with Wayne Bonser/Richard Aston retiring their Escort on the second stage, there were no other finishers in D4.

The BHRC action now continues with round seven, the Historic Tour of Flanders, on 12/13 September.


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