2024 MINI RALLY CHALLENGE
2024 MINI RALLY CHALLENGE                                                 

2023 R53 CHAMPIONS TIM & JORDAN receiving their awards at Autosport.

 

 

 

 

We are pleased to announce the Mini Rally Challenge 2024 will be exhibiting at the Autosport Int NEC Biringham 11th 14th January

 

Hall 3A - Stand 3441

 

R50 Cooper and the 200+ bhp R53 Cooper S will be on display.

 

Gravel and Asphalt Cups which Combine for the Overall Champions.

 

Fantastic Junior Incentive Scheme.

 

Prize Drives and even a R53 to be won.

 

Hire and Donor Cars available.

 

We are looking for car builders and teams to run cars.

 

So come and chat to discuss any combinations of the Challenge.

 

2024 registrations can claim a 25% discount at the show.

 

 


 

                                   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mini Rally Challenge chosen charity of 2023 will be:

 

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurological condition - that means it affects your nerves. You get it when your immune system isn’t working properly.

Your immune system normally protects you by fighting off infection, but in MS it attacks your nerves by mistake. Your nerves control lots of different parts of your body. That’s why you can get MS symptoms in many parts of your body. It’s also why everyone’s MS is different. Once diagnosed, MS stays with you for life.

MS Society offers so much support to so many, so if we can help in a small way by raising the much needed funds many more individuals and their families will benefit.

Total raised to date 1st Oct £1300

We will continue raising funds in many ways on and between all the events so if you have any idea's please let us know JG.

 

 

1 Sept 2023 - 4.30pm Mini Rally Challenge Official Statement.
Re Heroes Weeton
As we are now on the 1st September which was the working deadline given to the club, the decision has been made even should the event go ahead it won't be a round of the Mini's. Hence now all rounds will count going forward.
JG

Cambrian Round 10 

Nine crews turned up in LLandudno for our final Gravel round with lots of things to be decided and crews being very cagey as to their intentions. Just 3 stages which had been reduced from the original four due to what the organisers called pr issues. 

John and Russel lead the field away from the start ramp at 8,01am in front of a good turn out of spectators. 

Stage1 as expected soon took its victims, with Mr consistent, Guy falling off the road with enough damage to halt his and Flo’s day. The Jones also slid a little wide right at the end of the stage and got stuck, but after a little muscle the car was retrieved and off they went to SS2 but were OTL on arrival.

Back at Llandudno after the three tough stages John and Russel had, had no issues and John was chuffed to have broken his duck gained on his previous two forest outings and rewarded with.P3 in R50.

New driver Gareth paired up with regular R50 nav Adam had a good steady run but also entered the main event, for Gareth to gain experience on the afternoon stages. However it seems to have been a visit into the scenery on stage 5 that halted their day. They did however claim P2 in R50 by virtue of the morning's stage times, so a good start.

Wes and Julia again showing consistency having the good steady run we have come to expect picking up P1 in R50 and a bottle of Champagne to celebrate their win. 

George with yet another new co-driver Roger had a puncture which lost them time, but were then lucky to make it back to the finish when the alternator failed before the battery died in the finish control P4 in R53.

Gordon and Jack, Gordon didn’t quite get it, Gordon felt he had gone well and enjoyed the stages but was off the pace of our two front runners. That said, very respectable stage times which gave them P3 in R53. 

Tim and Jordan knew going into the final gravel event the title was going to be decided between them and our eventual winners and as they could only ever gain an extra three points with having to drop their lowest score with the four from five ruling. So after a good strong pace on the stages they settled for an excellent P2 in R53. 

So our winners Mick and Paul, hit the others hard on the very technical first stage, taking it by some twenty one seconds, a lead they would control to the finish Taking P1 R53 and the R53 Gravel Title.

We have various champions in the form of Jacob, Russel, Mick, Paul, Tim and Jordan. However there are still more stages to be done at Cadwell in three weeks time to tie up the final 2023 Trophy placings. JG

 

MINI RALLY CHALLENGE ROUND 9

SERIES LEADERS FALTER, WHILE CLARKE AND BARCLAY REIGN IN THE SUN AT HARLECH

George Clarke / Lewis Griffiths and Cameron Barclay / Richard Farrell took their first wins of the season in the R53 and R50 categories, as the Mini Challenge had an incident-packed day at the Toyota Harlech Stages.

In the R53s, the expected battle between title contenders Tim Green / Jordan Joines and Gordon Davies / Jack Morris never materialised as both struck troubles early on. Meanwhile, George took full advantage of getting a last-minute call-up from the reserve list to become a pacesetter from the start. “It’s the first time this year I’ve had a good first stage, and I’ve not been playing catch up” he announced breezily. George’s Spark Developments-prepared machine ran faultlessly to shake off the early attentions of Tim / Jordan, going on to win by 1m 6s from Guy Butler / Julia Perry.

Runners-up Guy and Julia reprised their pairing from the (non-championship) Manx National Rally earlier this year and set solid, reliable times in the Glenbrook Hollins / Rallyme-backed machine. In contrast to the R53s high problem rate, Guy’s car remained trouble free on the way to scoring valuable championship points.

While the winners kept out of trouble, their rivals suffered. First to take the proverbial early bath was Gordon / Jack. Their alternator failed on SS2, stranding them stage-side. After being recovered the team decided to not fit a new one and they were out. Tim / Jordan used a combination of guile, rules knowledge and luck to record a finish, albeit right down the field. Having kept George honest over the first two stages, Tim’s CS Developments-prepared car unexpectedly went into limp mode on SS3. The fault was traced to a crank pulley trying to throw the belt off. With no spare, the pairing elected to change the belt and drive one lap on the last two stages, taking stage maximums but gaining essential points.

Mark Norwood and Adam Fern had a problem-filled day, beginning on SS1 when the accelerator pedal came off its clips forcing them to stop and repair it. Then a misfire caused the exhaust to run too hot, in turn melting the gearshift body which made gear selection difficult. And so, it continued – a tailgate that flew open, being held up by slower cars and a strange smell of burning plastic all contributed to their decision to limp the car home, equal third with Tim / Jordan.

The R50s saw a new crew and a new winner; Cameron and Richard made their Mini Challenge debut and promptly took class honours by six seconds from a resurgent Wesley Gilford / Adam Burkill. Cameron began steadily but grew in confidence with every stage, setting three fastest R50 times to clinch victory.

Wesley’s season finally came good after a long-standing problem came to light. The dampers on his The Gallery-backed car were found to have been set to zero, apparently for the last two seasons. Adjusting them immediately transformed the car and Wesley’s speed and confidence increased markedly, running Cameron incredibly close. Third placed Jacob Neal / Russell Thompson, so often the R50 winners this year, finally gave best to their rivals as a first stage front puncture scuppered their chances.

Challenge stalwarts Matthew and Gary Jones took a fine fourth place, their early season gearbox woes seemingly behind them as they set a strong pace on every stage. Gary slightly sheepishly admitted to losing his place on the route maps several times, but it did not spoil the pairing’s enjoyment as they confidently brought the immaculate Highgate Garages-backed machine home 22 seconds behind Jacob.

Unfortunately, neither Mark Livesey / Graham Brown nor Nikhil / Ellie Evans made it to the finish. Graham was taken ill with stomach problems on SS1 and was unable to continue and Nikhil / Ellie were going well until their engine refused to restart after SS4. The problem seemed to involve the ECU, but Nikhil said it would be checked before the next round.

The Mini Challenge’s various titles will be decided on 28th October at the Cambrian Rally, the last gravel round of the year.

As always, the Mini Rally Challenge would like to thank our loyal partners Glenbrook Hollins, Demon Tweeks; Euro Motaparts; Questmead; Mintex; Gellatly Stratford; J.C. Mills & Son; Fuchs Lubricants and Protyre for kindly supporting the series.

Writer: Ian Harden

Round 8 Yorkshire Rally
Another 1st for the twelve Mini Challenge crews who travelled to Filey for round 8, Stage 1 Friday evening 12 miles in the world famous Dalby complex.
An early start Saturday for three more of Yorkshire’s finest Gale Rigg, Cropton and Staindale before finishing back in Filey Saturday lunchtime.
So how did they all do?
John and Ian hit trouble before even reaching MC1 when Ian got caught in traffic and a replacement nav had to be found i.e. enter Dave Boyes. Unfortunately John had used all his luck up by then and rolled big style on SS1 in the woodyard on what is known as Miklola bend.
Andy and Adam a new pairing found the dark tricky, they regrouped Saturday to secure valuable points and P11.
Father and son team Highgate Garry and Mathew gelled well while continuing to improve and were rewarded by 3rd R50 and P10.
Wes and Julia. Their event was again about points to stay in touch for overall honours in R50, few issues and were rewarded by 2nd R50 and P9
Jacob and Russell opted for the full event and picked up a two minute penalty booking into Mtc3 early and collecting a two minute penalty, which however was not enough to rob them of yet another 1st R50 and P8.
JC and Christian back out in their Plains damaged R50 but now running as a R53, they had to replace a clutch late Friday evening before having a trouble free morning securing P7 overall and a special thanks to John for sorting NY500 out for us.
Mark and Mick, a new crew to the championship, had a trouble free run whilst learning the new car and the pace, finishing with an excellent P6.
George and Stephen enjoyed their run without too many drama’s with George promising to improve next time whilst the front of the car looked like it had undergone major transplant surgery all whilst securing P5.
The K 2.s Keith and Kevin had their now normal consistent run with just stage one in the dark being tricky, probably need more carrots and go to spec savers Kieth. P4.
Guy and Flo, another family crew and our major championship sponsor did their normal solid performance, with the “we're here for the craig and have a good day's sport” attitude was rewarded with P3.
Tim and Jordan, feeling the finish line in sight, where points and a finish were a must and yet again they delivered with a faultless performance taking two fastest and two second fastest times concluding in P2.
Our winners again were the formidable crew of Smith and Stringer, setting fastest time on stage 1 in the dark and securing a lead they would not give up on the three Saturday stages making them yet again event winners.
Thanks to Rod and his whole team for their hard work for allowing the Mini Challenge to yet again compete on more WRC stages where our heroes have gone before us.
Mark J claimed the newcomer vouchers from our partner Demon Tweeks.
Wes won the Swan Flight Case in the MS Society charity prize draw.
Yet again the reliability of the cars was paramount with no mechanical issues and one of the reasons the championship is becoming so popular, hence the place to be for affordable rallying.
Finally our thanks to all our partners and backers for giving us the tools to make this happen. and my thanks to Jim, H and Martin.
JG

Round 6 Gareth Hall Stages

Great to be back on the ranges with Bala MC. 49 starters, and an illustrious top ten with 14 Mini’s 9 R50 and 5 R53’s sprinkled in between.

Stage one saw a bad off with a Micra crew being taken to hospital resulting in the loss of the following three stages. Fortunately news back from the hospital confirmed the crew were ok, sore but ok.

Restart with Stage 5 through to 12. The venue renowned for taking no prisoners, did its normal to disrupt the times with Tim and Jordan being the class act of the day, sublime consistency throughout and P1.

George and Tom probably scored their best set of stage times in recent events finishing 27 seconds of P1 securing a very satisfying P2.

Gordon and Jack lost the power steering on one stage and caught an escort on another blowing their hopes of a win and having to settle for P3

Guy and Flo. Mark and Adam both in their 53's were happy with their times but little mishaps created a few snakes and ladder moments. Guy finishing joint P3 on times, but lost out on stage one so awarded P4 . Mark taking P5.

In the R50 category front Livsey and Brown appeared to have re-found past form claiming top spot P1 which will give them a boost going forward.

Jacob and Christian had brake balance problems resulting in a major highspeed moment which destroyed their confidence to attack and had to settle for P2 R50

Nikhi and Jordan were the R50 crew to go consistent rather than go full attack and were rewarded with P3

John and Ian and Andy and Emma get my joint drives of the both with little stage mileage under their belts progressed in a manner which will see them both progress in the series.

Normal pace setters Wesley and Adam to be fair didn't stand a chance with their suspension clearly way off the correct set up and with little or no time to adjust settled for the points gained.

Matt and Gary were again troubled by gear selection causing them to salvage whatever points were on the table.

New crew Owen and Matt ran with the 2024 gearbox option without an LSD and had few problems and finished a fine P4 so another whom I’m sure will figure in future results.

Finally Clive and Lucie in the GC hire car, getting to drive for the first time from the service park straight onto stage 1 and were probably first to experience how easy the venue claims scalps, but after a long break in service after the stage 1 stoppage, proceeded with caution for the rest of the day to finish last of the Mini’s but giving us a 100% finish.

We were able to donate £160 we raised for the Clubs Air Ambulance Appeal.

So a great Mini days fun with lots of skids.

Massive thanks to Bala MC and its army of marshals for yet again a great rally, our partners Glenbrook - Hollins - Questmead - Mintex - JC Mills & Son - Euro Motaparts - Fuchs Oils - Protyre and Gellatly Stafford for without all their help the series would not be the success it is.

JG

 

Round 5 Greystoke Stages

Drama hit before crews even landed in Penrith when Mick and Paul had pulled entry due to Mick doing his back in, that meant nine cars would start the event.

Six stages were the format of the day on the M-Sport test stage in Greystoke Forest . Having had a lot of use on the recent M Wilson Stages it has to be said the stages were not at their best which made it a bigger challenge as regards when to attack or even attack to concentrate on bagging points for the overall championship.

Stage 1 saw Tim and Jordan fastest out the blocks from Guy and Florence and Gordon and Jack with Jacob and Russell being quickest of the R50 cars.

The weather was all over the place with some crews being caught in heavy rain and wet stages whilst others got through the stage in sunshine.

Stage 2 went to Gordon and Jack.

Stage 3 saw Guy stall, losing a few seconds. Garry and Matt also lost a little when an overshoot resulted in a three point turn.

So at the halfway point positions were

Gordon/Jack 22.13 . Tim/Jordan 22.15. Guy/Florence 22.38. Keith/Kevin 23.32. Jacob/Russell 24.32. Wes/Adam 25.23. Andy/Emma 25.40. John/David 26.19. Garry/Matt 26.29.

Stage 4 saw the biggest setback of the day for us when Gordon lost all brakes causing them to leave the road at high speed with a triple loop and out of the rally, luckily the crew walked away but I’m sure they will both be a bit sore today.

Stage 5 was problem for crews but most had their own tales of “if only“

Stage 6 nearly didn’t happen for Wes and Adam as their car refused to crank when asked in service but after a frantic few minutes the fault was traced to a battery lead that had come out of the eyelet on the autolec., emergency repair and off they went.

So the final results were

R53

Tim/ Jordan 41.36

Guy/Florence 42.25

Keith/Kevin 43.35

R50

Jacob/Russell 45.04

Wes/Adam 47.31

Andy Emma 48.17

John/David 48.18

Garry/Matt 48.46

All in all a tough event that the cars stood up to brilliantly. Our thanks to the event for a great day including the marshalls

Tim won the Wheel Gun in the prize draw, which was just part of the support received from J C Mills and Son, aka Paul Stinger.

Our thanks to Glenbrook - Hollins - Questmead - Euro Motaparts - Fuchs Oils - J C Mills & Son - Gellatly Stafford and Demon Tweeks for all their continued support.

Ian will collect reports from you all and do his magic.

JG

 

News 

We have secured another gravel round for the championship The Trackrod Rally Yorkshire 22nd 23rd September with yet another new element, we will be doing the Friday night and Saturday morning legs only to reduce the costs to the crews.

Rod Parkin and the event committee at the Trackrod MC have pulled out all the stops to get us there. Being a round of the BRC they understand the importance of those at the other end of the sport and crews on the early runs of the ladder.

The classic Yorkshire stages where our hero's have gone before will be offer such exciting challenges and for some the first time rallying on night stages.

 

Thank you Trackrod MC

ROUND 4 Plains Rally

 

Twelve crews arrived in Bala Friday afternoon to sunshine for what turned into a very difficult event for some whilst enjoyable for others.

First to go where John and our roaming reporter Ian, rolling the George Clarke hire car in front of the camera’s, having no intercom and using hand signals proved to be their undoing and an early bath.. At the front Mick and Paul started quickly opening up a three second lead.

Stage 2 saw Mick and Gordon setting the pace with Tim and Jordan still in contention twenty two seconds back. Jacob and Russell were pushing hard and had already opened up a near two minute lead in the R50 category. Stage 3 started by claiming Garry and Matt with again loss of drive whilst John and Christian hit a removable object but to add insult to injury were hit by a fellow competitor who failed to slow down causing considerable damage to their car. Finally the two k’s Kieth and Kevin went into limp mode losing lots of time. Whilst all this was going on Gordon and Jack had eased into a two second lead.

Our final stage, Llangower saw Mick and Paul turn the wick up and took the lead again, taking the fastest time by seven seconds.

The R50 final classification saw Jacob and Russell taking comfortable win from Wes and Julia who keep the pressure on with another good result, whilst third spot went to new driver Graham with Matt. Andrew and Emma taking fourth spot gaining valuable seat time.

The 53 category as stated saw Mick and Paul return to winning form from Gordon and Jack with Tim and Jordan third. Guy and Rob stayed in contention with a no drama run taking fourth spot with Kieth and Kevin fifth after their large loss of time on stage three.

The championship tables stay very close with no runaway crews so we will have to see if pressure grows on round five.

In our draw Wes won the Demon Tweeks vouchers and Mick the Fuchs Oil. Our thanks to sponsors Glenbrook and Hollins and partners, EuroMotaparts, Questmead, Demon Tweeks, Mintex, Fuchs, JC Mills & Son and Gellatley Stafford all for their support.

On a final serious note one crew has been reported to the organisers for dangerous driving on a road section. Whilst at this moment no action is being taken the case remains open and should any further information come to light it may well reflect on the above results. So please in the future bear in mind, road section infringements can result in exclusion and prosecution.

JG

Round 3 Leconfield

Tim Green / Jordan Joines and Wesley Gilford / Adam Burkill scored their first wins of the year in the R53 and R50 categories when the Mini Rally Challenge ran its third round of 2023 at the Rainworth Skoda Stages Rally. Tim and Jordan’s CS Developments-prepared car performed faultlessly all day as they headed home the winners of the previous round, Gordon Davies / Jack Morris by 21 seconds. George Clarke / Stephen Moyses placed third, 28 seconds in arrears. In the R50 category, an exciting battle between Wesley / Adam and John Clayton / Christian Brown was decided on the very last stage, Wesley getting the nod by 11 seconds. Third place went to Jacob Neal / Russell Thompson, 18 seconds behind.
The Mini Challenge’s second asphalt outing attracted 13 contenders to Leconfield Barracks in Yorkshire for six stages consisting of long fast corners interspersed with flowing chicanes and a challenging table top double jump. Dry conditions created a high pace from SS1 onwards; in the R53 class, Tim survived locking up his brakes into a chicane to settle into third behind Gordon and leaders, Mick Smith / Paul Stringer. Victory was effectively decided on the following stage; here, Gordon lost over 20 seconds when his brake pads caught fire. WB Motorsport’s mechanics changed the pads at service, where it was later found that they were not the proper Mintex items specified by the Mini Challenge. Battle recommenced on SS3, with Tim and Gordon swapping times and places. The lead changed on SS4 when Mick lost over four minutes after his ECU put the car into safe mode, leaving Tim and Gordon to set one fastest time each on the final two tests.
Third-placed George and Stephen had a relatively untroubled drive in their SPARKS-prepared machine, while fourth spot went to Mark Norwood and Adam Fern. The pair lost a few seconds on SS5 but otherwise turned in another consistent, points-scoring drive. Mick and Paul’s SS4 mishap dropped them to fifth spot. Even so, they scored valuable championship points.
The battle for R50 honours turned out to be clean and very hard-fought. After two stages, Wesley and John were equal on times and victory hung in the balance until the last test. Here, Wesley broke the tow by stopping the clocks 18 seconds faster than his rival. In view of the previous close times – not more than three seconds apart on each stage – John’s co-driver Christian questioned the time. However, the finish clocks were found to be accurate and Wesley took victory. In third, Jacob and Russell survived a troubled day. The pairing started losing the brakes on SS1 and again on SS2. Mechanics Matt and Joe overhauled the system after SS2, finding the front brake callipers jammed on, causing the fluid to boil. Draining and replacing the fluid improved things drastically before a late scare on SS6 when their gearbox began making crunching noises between first and second gears.
John Day made his Mini Challenge debut and finished fourth R50 in the ex-Mark Gellatley / Ian Clapham machine, hired from WB Motorsport. Having not rallied since 1992, John soon got onto a pace both he and co-driver Ian Harden were happy with, even setting fastest R50 stage time by one second on SS3. Ian suffered a minor bout of travel sickness after SS4 but, fully fuelled up by Kwells, returned and the pair pushed on for a good finish. Matthew and Garry Jones continued their seat-swapping season with Matt taking the driver’s position for this asphalt round. The championship stalwarts took things very steadily over each of the stages, scoring valuable points with fifth in the R50 class.
The day claimed its non-finishers, starting on SS1. Rallying newbies Nikhil Evans and Jordan Carabine made an innocent mistake of making additional notes about the stages on a sheet of paper. This was noticed by marshals and reported to Rally control. Unfortunately, Clerk of the Course Steve Ritchie had no option but to exclude them for “unauthorised use of pace notes.” Fellow R50 driver Andrew Watson and new co-driver Alan Edwards had a steady, points scoring drive until their steering rack broke on SS4. Unluckiest Challenge competitors were Guy Butler and co-driving debutant Graham Stott. The pairing got only halfway through SS1 when another competitor, apparently driving aggressively having already had two crashes on the stage, cut across Guy’s bow on the entrance to a hairpin. The resulting collision caused heavy damage to the Glenbrook-backed R53 Mini and Guy and Graham were out on the spot.
The Mini Rally Challenge returns to gravel for the Plains Rally, based in Bala on 20th May.
Thanks to Glenbrook Hollins and partners Demon Tweeks; Euro Motaparts; Questmead; Mintex and Fuchs Lubricants for kindly supporting the Mini Rally Challenge.
Writer: Ian Harden

 

Championship Statement. 2nd May 2023

Following Round 3 at the weekend it has been established, car 55 Gordon and Jack that their car didn't meet the regulations of running Mintex brake pads as per those regulations.

I have therefore decided to remove the points awarded for 2nd R53 being 18 each and replace those with scores of 6, i.e DNF. Hence all R53 finishers move up one place in the event classifcation. (see points table)

We will now be ramping up our checks to enforce regulations.

Revised positions and points will be posted shortly. JG

 

Round 2 SMC

Gordon Davies and Martin Gibson won their respective R53 and R50 classes for the first time this year, as the Mini Rally Challenge switched to asphalt at the SMC Stages at Anglesey. In overcast, often slippery conditions Gordon and co-driver Jack Morris took the R53 lead on SS2 and were not headed thereafter. They beat reigning MRC champions Mick Smith / Paul Stringer by 10 seconds.  In the R50 non-supercharged class, Martin teamed up with co-driver Ellis Hadley and in their first outing of 2023, they overhauled early leaders Jacob Neal / Russell Thompson to claim victory by 1 minute 22 seconds.

16 Minis contested the eight-stage event and from the word go the battle for overall and R53 honours was tight between Gordon and Mick; the two drivers were separated by a single second after SS1. Gordon overhauled Mick on the following stage and was holding an eight-second advantage at the hallway point. The result was effectively decided on SS5 as co-driver, Jack, explained “Gordon decided to give it a big push and we were fastest by nine seconds, giving us a 17s lead with three stages to go.” Dodging slower cars on the later stages made for a tenuous lead, but their WB Mechanical Services-prepared machine ran faultlessly as they took MRC top honours.

Second-placed Mick and Paul’s CS Motorsport -prepared machine proved as fast and reliable on asphalt as it had on gravel on Round 1. They set the pace on SS1, but Mick later admitted to making the error of not scrubbing his tyres in properly before the start, losing both grip and essential seconds. With his tyres working properly in the closing miles, Mick chased hard but could not quite make up the deficit. 

Third-placed Tim Green and Jordan Joines picked up at Anglesey where they left off at Rally North Wales. They put in a strong drive, particularly in the opening pair of tests where they matched Mick and Paul second for second. In the afternoon they came under pressure from Guy and Florence Butler but fended them off in the final two tests.

Guy and Florence threw their R53 machine around the stages in determined style: consequently, the father and daughter pairing had a big moment on SS1, boiled their brakes on SS5 and had to back off on SS6 when the engine developed a timing chain rattle. But they happily admitted to “a great day's motorsport” scooping fourth place in the R53 category.

A scant two seconds behind Guy, Martin Gibson and Ellis Hadley made the ideal start to their campaign, winning the R50s following a virtually faultless drive in their all-black machine, hired from fellow competitor George Clarke. Always in the hunt against rivals Jacob Neal / Russell Thompson, Martin settled the issue by stopping the clocks 17s faster than Jacob on SS4. and never looked back. 

Mark Norwood and co-driver Adam Fern’s first rally together yielded a solid fifth place in the R53 category. Mark admitted to starting carefully in the slippery conditions; even so, they had a couple of spins and moments. Having tested the car the weekend before, they still struggled early on with suspension setup, and had intercom problems all day. However, they found a pace they were happy with, fast enough for a couple of brushes with stage-side bales.

Still on a high from winning the R50 class at the opening round, Jacob Neal and Russell Thompson had another strong drive to second place in class. Continuing to learn about their Whipzspeed Motorsport machine, they survived several moments on their way to 52nd overall.

Wesley Gilford installed new co-driver Jon Shepherd in the hot seat of his R50 machine, backed by The Gallery. The pairing overcame an extinguisher problem at scrutineering and battled with Jacob / Russell in the early stages before taking third spot in the R50s.

George Clarke and Matt Chapman roared off the start of SS1 and seemed destined for a top finish, which was scuppered when they clipped a tyre wall on SS3 and had to take a stage maximum. However, their mechanics sorted the resultant steering problem, leaving them to set good times on their way to 54th overall and sixth R53.

Wes Jacklin / Gareth Edwards were also fast out of the traps, being quickest overall Mini on SS1. Things however went wrong on SS3 when a braking misjudgement saw them leave the road. With a stage maximum to their names they could not recover lost time and had to settle for seventh R53.  

Andy Watson and Bob Wiggins had several worries on the run up to Anglesey, so settled for a steady, points-scoring run to 60th overall and fourth in the R50 class.

Rallying debutant Keeva Stott drove her CS Developments-prepared R50 for the first time on the way to SS1; all of half a mile. Unfazed, the engineering student started steadily, building speed and confidence with every stage. Her beaming smile bore testimony to the fun she was having as, partnered by experienced co-driver Ian Harden – in his first rally for eight years – the pair finished 63rd overall and fifth in the non-supercharged category.

The difficult conditions caused several retirements, and first for the proverbial early bath were son and father pair Matt and Garry Jones. Matt’s driving debut saw an unlucky overshoot onto the grass verge. Helped back onto the stage by marshals, the gearbox then made unhealthy noises which forced them to retire after SS1.

John Clayton and Christian Brown’s rally began well, the R50 crew pushing into third R50 position. Unfortunately, their gearbox sounded increasingly sick on SS5 and they slowed to a crawl, retiring at the end of the test.

Nikhil Evans and Jordan Carabine’s first rally of the season went well initially but they left the road on SS3 and had to be man-handled back onto the stage. Luck eluded them on SS7 when they were sidelined due to clutch failure, the crew surmising that it may be a result of the third stage excursion.

Luck also deserted Mark Livesey / Graham Brown; they broke a driveshaft early on, collecting a stage maximum. Running well through SS3 and SS4, they slid wide on a tightening left hander and hit a solid tyre wall on SS5, retiring on the spot.

In our normal draw John Clayton won a full set of Mintex pads from Questmead and Wes G won the car detailing kit from Euromotaparts.

The Mini Rally Challenge’s next round is on asphalt at Leconfield test track near Beverley, Yorkshire, on 30th April.

The Mini Rally Challenge would like to thank

Glenbrook, Hollins and partners Demon Tweeks; Euro Motaparts; Questmead; Mintex, Fuchs Lubricants, JC MILLS & Son Ltd, Gellatly Stafford.

 

Writer: Ian Harden

 

ROUND 1:

 

SMITH AND NEAL TAKE R50 and R53 HONOURS respectively on NORTH WALES RALLY

 

Mick Smith and Jacob Neal emerged from four treacherously slippery stages to win their respective classes as the Mini Rally Challenge 2023 got under way at the Rally No

rth Wales. 

Mick and co-driver Paul Stringer used all their years’ experience to go overall fastest by 43 seconds; their CS Developments-prepared R53 machine ran faultlessly as they set four consecutive fastest times to beat Gordon Davies / Jack Morris’s similar machine, with Tim Green / Jordan Joines only nine seconds behind , also in an R53. 

Gordon and new-for 2023 co-driver Jack had no mechanical problems as they contested the full eight-stage RNW interclub event, using the extra mileage to gain experience as a pairing. Right on their coat tails, Tim and Jordan sported beaming smiles throughout the day, in their first rally together and their first time driving the CS Developments R53 machine. They set equal time with Gordon through SS1, Dyfnant, and were never more than four seconds slower through Gartheiniog, Big Ray and Dyfi Main. At the finish, Tim happily explained “Jordan and I have met, taken the car off the trailer and gone 5-4-3-2-1. We’ve had a superb day!” 

Drive of the round came from Jacob Neal and co-driver Russell Thompson. In their first-ever forest rally, the youngsters put in a mature, mechanically trouble-free drive to finish fourth overall and win the R50 class. “We knew (the stages) would be slippery but there was more grip than we expected, particularly in SS2 and SS3” said Jacob. “We stuck to understanding what the car would do and making sure we didn’t break it. It’s a great start to the year!”

33 seconds behind, fifth-placed Guy Butler was full of praise for co-driving daughter, Florence. “This is Florence’s first-ever time on route notes; she’s been amazing all day; great timing and delivery.” The pair came close to running out of fuel on the final road section: “The R53 eats a lot more fuel, and we need to keep an eye on that in future rounds” said Guy. 

Sixth-placed Keith Bounds / Kevin Watkins contested last year’s RNW in an R50 Mini. Stepping up to a supercharged R53 they enjoyed their day, joking that they had been bounced around in a rutted area of SS3, Big Ray, where logging had recently taken place. “The car handled (the ruts) really well, and there’s noticeably more power” said Keith.

John Clayton and driver-turned-co-driver Christian Brown felt slightly fortunate to take seventh and second place in the R50s. The first time pairing missed a Passage Control on the final road section, and were initially excluded. However, they questioned the decision and were reinstated.  

John and Christian's good fortune dropped another first time partnership, Wesley Gilford and Julia Perry, to third R50. Their favourite stages were Dyfnant and Dyfi Main, with Wesley admitting to backing off through Gartheiniog and Big Ray to “avoid binning it.” 

The challenging conditions claimed several victims. First to be bitten was father and son pairing, Gary and Matthew Jones. Their R50 entered a corner in Dyfnant too fast and they slid into a ditch. Spectators pulled them out but their radiator was damaged. They made it through SS2 and SS3 but retired in SS4, officially OTL after SS1.

Phil Sawyer and late replacement co-driver Peter Littlefield suffered power loss problems and retired their R50 in SS3, while James Larminie / Rich Jones’s plan to contest the longer Interclub event went awry after SS2, Gartheiniog, due to loss of drive.

The championship moves on to asphalt for the next round, the SMC Stages at Trac Mon in Anglesey on 15th April.

 

Writer: Ian Harden

 

 

 

 

 

 

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