by Gary Simpson / Songasport

Andrew Burton and Shelley Rogerson got their Pirelli MSA Gravel Rally championship hopes back on track on Saturday, when they took victory on the Severn Valley Stages in their Peugeot Cosworth.

Following crankshaft failure on the pairings previous event in April the car had to have an engine rebuild which was only completed on the Wednesday before the event so it was a case of fingers-crossed as Burton and Rogerson took to the start-line.

The rebuilt engine performed well on the opening stage of the rally, Esgair Dafydd, the Peugeot crew covering the 5.6 stage miles over 13 seconds quicker than anyone else. The storming pace continued on the second stage, Burton and Rogerson taking fastest time again and moving into a 34 second lead over second placed Marcus Dodd in his Hyundai Accent WRC.

The third stage was the longest of the event, 18 miles in Radnor forest. It was also the fastest stage with Burton and Rogerson averaging 65mph to take a third stage win and maintain their overall lead.

"The pace in Radnor was amazing, really, really fast. There were a couple of moments where I think we were a little too quick but fortunately Andrew kept the car on the road," said Rogerson.

"We were pleased with our times on the first three stages, there was a bit of doubt in our minds before the start with the rush to get the car ready but it was great that we were on the pace and ahead of our championship rivals."

The Gwibedog and Halfway stages followed, with Burton and Rogerson taking first and fourth fastest times respectively to take a lead of 32 seconds over Jon Ingram's Subaru Impreza WRC into the final two stages of the event.

Stage 6 was a re-run of the Esgair Daffyd stage and there was a bit of a panic on the start-line of the stage when the car was engulfed in smoke from the engine. Unsure if the engine was going to last the crew carried on regardless managing eighth fastest time.

With the engine still smoking Burton and Rogerson headed for the final Crychan stage, they got through the stage and set second fastest time, arriving at the event finish 25 seconds ahead of Ingram.

"We thought our event was going to be over in Esgair Daffyd, the engine was smoking really badly and it looked like it wouldn't last the stage. We were relieved to get through both that stage and the last one," Rogerson admitted.

"After our retirement on the last event it is great to get a good result. Andrew drove brilliantly as usual and the stages were fantastic."

 

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