Bulletin 17 - 10th August 2017

Mark Jasper / Don Whyatt, Ford Escort MkII © Eddie Kelly Motorsport Photography
Mark Jasper / Don Whyatt, Ford Escort MkII © Eddie Kelly Motorsport Photography
Lee Hastings in his Subaru Impreza © Eddie Kelly Motorsport Photography Rob Snowden / Andy Brown, Ford Escort MkII © Eddie Kelly Motorsport PhotographyKevin and Jimmy Knox, BMW M3 © Eddie Kelly Motorsport Photography Graham and David Malthouse, Mitsubishi Evo6 © Eddie Kelly Motorsport PhotographyGareth White / Harry Marchbank, Peugeot 208 © Eddie Kelly Motorsport Photography

Lee Hastings in his Subaru Impreza © Eddie Kelly Motorsport Photography Rob Snowden / Andy Brown, Ford Escort MkII © Eddie Kelly Motorsport PhotographyKevin and Jimmy Knox, BMW M3 © Eddie Kelly Motorsport Photography Graham and David Malthouse, Mitsubishi Evo6 © Eddie Kelly Motorsport PhotographyGareth White / Harry Marchbank, Peugeot 208 © Eddie Kelly Motorsport Photography

                                                  

Joker Jasper takes top points.

 

With continued ‘issues’ around the Army, Landmarc and tenant farmers restricting the use of certain sections of roads over the Otterburn military ranges, the efforts of the organising team from Alnwick and Berwick Motor Clubs still managed a compact route of 60 competitive miles run over 12 stages.  For competitors that contested this event last year the event would look very familiar.  And also quite similar to last year, the 2017 version of the Tyneside Stages, sponsored by this time by Complete Group, wasn’t blessed with much better weather for the first Sunday of August.  On the plus side the wind wasn’t as bad but we still suffered with Otterburn’s micro climate and were served up with rain and sun but quite a bit more showers of rain rather than summer sunshine. 

 

Wheeling out his pristine black Ford Escort MkII was the Stafford baker Mark Jasper.  He hasn’t made it out on a championship round since January and didn’t make it out in time for the route recce on the Saturday before the rally either but that was no worry as he had Don Whyatt sitting alongside him.  Don has won quite a few events over many years ago at Otterburn so was quickly at home with the venue and able to use his extensive knowledge of the roads.  A steady run that was only hampered by some gear selection issues in the morning was their only complaint.

 

Although Jasper would take a maximum score for drivers, the victor in the co-driver’s section was Andrew Roughead.  Andrew was sitting alongside the non-registered Peter Taylor in his Ford Fiesta WRC and the pair managed fastest time on nine out of the twelve stages run.  A pretty comprehensive rally victory that left the hot competition trailing behind. 

 

Our second driver home was Lee Hastings in his Subaru Impreza.  Lee had the non registered Irishman Alistair Wylie sitting in with him for their second rally in two days as they skipped the Tyneside recce to compete, and finish fifth, in Lee’s local rally - the Solway Coast.  Lee was as high as ninth overall after stage 9 before his gearbox started playing up.  He slipped down a couple of places over the final three tests but was still happy to end up with a good result.

 

Next up in 14th place was Rob Snowden in his Ford Escort MkII.  Rob was looking to bounce back from his mechanical woes, and retirement, on the last rally in the Kingdom of Fife and he was reunited was Durham’s Andy ‘Scratman’ Brown for his first ever drive on these ranges.  The pair tiptoed through the first pair of tests to find themselves way down in 25th place by the time they reached the hamlet of Quickening Cote.  Steady improvements through the remaining ten stages pushed them back into a more respectable finish.  Rob’s felt that he’d traced and rectified the problem from his last run out and the Malton man drove with the aim of taking no chances in the slippy conditions.  With one eye on getting some good championship points, he considered his day a success.

 

Richard Stewart scored a good set of points in the co-driver’s section after a difficult 2 days.  He was another who had competed the day before but his driver caused quite a bit of body damage to his car on the final test of the Solway.  Some midnight oil was burnt in Lee Hasting’s garage getting the car refettled and finishing 15th on the Tyneside was a fine reward for their efforts.

 

The Knox bothers were next up just 6 seconds adrift.  Kevin was getting more used his BMW, the E36 model that Andy Davison used to good effect a few years ago, and continues to tweak the car to his liking.  A steady start found them in 22nd position at the lunch halt before the lads pushed on a bit in the afternoon to gain half a dozen positions.  It’s good to see the Whickham crew get a decent finish with a reliable car.

 

And a mere one second behind were the son and father pairing of Graham and David Malthouse.  Graham is gaining more confidence with his Mitsubishi Evo6 as he set consistent times despite having a bad vibration with the brakes for most of the day.  Playing their Jokers on this rally enabled them to pick up a good haul of points too.

 

Driving the Peugeot 208, Gareth White and Harry Marchbank were next in 21st place.  The man from St Boswells was another squeezing two rallies into two days and the Tyneside was all about getting a job done and picking up more decent points.  The plan worked, as they recorded no problems on their way to 19th overall.  And finally finishing a rally in a Ford Focus was Bruce Lindsay.  The non-registered driver Mike Farmer was joyful to eventually have nothing to report other than good things about his car and the pairing went home with a smile on their faces for a change.

 

Another happy man at MTC7 was Neil Prior.  A couple of decent finishes at Croft at the start of this year have been let down with some failures since January.  Much toil and money has been spent on the Subaru’s engine and gearbox recently and it’s proved worthwhile.  Neil, along with co-driver Peter Littlefield, were delighted to announce that everything works great again as they managed to get to the end of a rally.  This result also means that Neil keeps his slim championship hopes alive too.

 

Our next finisher was current leading driver, Stevie Irwin.  After rolling his Vauxhall Nova on the last event, the Kingdom Stages, the man from Berwick was looking forward to putting this behind him and yet only a few metres into SS2 he went off over a crest.  The car ended up on it’s side and with only 2 ‘spectators around to help the crew back on their way.  The Riverside stage is the shortest and most twisty one of the whole event so although he was awarded a stage maximum, Irwin probably only lost a couple of minutes.  The rest of the day was spent running lower down the running order but the car was going okay and some good times were recorded.  It looks like he’s used up his ‘Get Out of Jail’ card well …

 

Stephen Bethwaite and Ann Forster finished in 27th overall and took the up to 1400cc class win as well.  No dramas to record as another solid performance reaped rewards at a power venue where they can never expect to be too high up the leaderboard.

 

Local farmer Chris Singer returned to action with Johnny Gilbertson again some four months after their initial outing in the Citroen C2R2.  The engine mount problem that caused their retirement at Ingliston was fixed and the Alnwick crew were looking for a reliable finish this time.  A cautious start found them in a lowly 41st place after the opening loop of three tests before steady progress for the rest of the day pushed them up to 29th at the end of the day as the driver learnt how to drive again.

 

A crew so glad to see the final control were John Nicholson and Kari Bates in the historic specification Ford Escort MkII RS2000.  Things started brightly with a time that was 29th fastest on the opening test before a catalogue of problems dropped them down to 34th at the finish.  They managed to go off the road a couple of times damaging the front panel and driver’s side door; hitting chicane bales; damaged the exhaust; losing the use of the wipers when it was raining; the lack of intercom for a while and the co-driver suffered a bout of ‘mal de navigator’ too.  And that’s enough disasters for one rally …

 

Ken Bills managed to hitch a ride with a lad from York looking for some local knowledge to guide him and his Nissan Micra around the Otterburn stages and as ever Ken was up for it and steering them to 38th overall.  Our final finishers were the other half of the Malthouse team, Jeff and Owen in their very standard Peugeot 205.  The cheery lads from Berwick Motor Club were still smiling at the end of the day despite using the same four tyres whether the stages were dry or wet and not having any major issues to talk about.

 

Our list of retirements is the shortest one that I’ve ever had to report with only John Stone’s name on it.  John and The Jack Morton got as far as the start line of the opening Dudlees stage when the water temperature gauge on their Ford Fiesta soared and they had to be pushed out of the way.  They eventually made it back to service after several stops to cool down and discovered an air lock being the culprit but by now they were out of the rally.

 

Once more we must thank Ed Barber and the team from both Alnwick and Berwick Motor Clubs for their efforts in coming up with an event in continuing challenging times and yet they managed to stick with a tight time schedule.  It was good to hear plenty of positive noises about the rally as competitors still managed to enjoy the roads. 

 

The updated results table show us that only 2 points separate the top 2 drivers and it’s getting even closer in the co-driver’s section as only 1 point splits the top 3 contenders.  There’s still plenty to play for as we head into round 9 on the Bank Holiday weekend. 

 

And the penultimate round of our championship will once again be the Pendragon Stages.  This is planned to run on Sunday 27th August, which is just over 2 weeks away.  Entries opened for this popular event in the middle of July and in that three weeks the organisers have received the 80 guaranteed entries and anyone still thinking of doing the rally has until the 16th August to get their entry in.  The final 10 runners and riders are chosen at the organiser’s discretion.  Just a reminder that there’s 70 competitive miles on good macadam and concrete roads taking place over 8 special stages on Warcop Army Ranges.  For more information on the event, go to the official website of http://www.pendragonstages.co.uk/index.html 

 

 

All images courtesy of Eddie Kelly Motorsport Photography ©