PIRELLI PROVES POPULAR FOR ELLIOTT
The opening Historic Section of the Pirelli International Rally saw Nick Elliott/ Dave Price ( Ford Escort ) scrape home to a narrow win, Elliott’s third success on the Carlisle based event and continue their dominance of the Mintex MSA British Historic Rally Championship although they were unable to repeat their feat of the previous round when they were quickest on every stage as Jason Pritchard/ Phil Clarke ( Ford Escort ) narrowly headed them on the final stage to narrow Elliott’s winning margin to just 6 seconds. The rally was a bit of a benefit for Ford Escorts with Steve Bannister/ Callum Atkinson taking the final podium position ahead of Simon Webster, Steve Bennet, who drove the final stage with no clutch, and Ben Friend, indeed the first non Ford was the Class C1 winning Hillman Avenger of Eliott Retallick down in 13thposition.
The fast flowing special stages of the rally located in the vast Kielder Forest complex were extremely dry and dusty making for some , extremely slippy for the front runners with the surface seeming covered in loose gravel and, as always, the blind brows and deep ditches that abound in Kielder were waiting to catch out the unwary with leading championship contenders Rudi Lancaster/ Guy Weaver sliding off the road on the Clintburn stage, Simon Pickering/ Paul Barber rolled their Escort on the rally’s opening stage, Keith Davison/ Henry Richardson (Hillman Avenger) went off on the next stage as did the Escort of David Hayton/ Helen Brown. Kim Gray/ Tom Murphy slid off for 5 minutes but managed to extricate themselves and get going again, this stage also claimed Rex Ireland/ Adrian Scadding’s Escort, they got going again but retired on the next road section.
Amongst the various classes, Retallick took C1 ahead of Stuart Cariss and Aziz Tejpar despite a puncture on the final stage, Josh Carr inherited class C3 when Terry Cree’s BMW snapped a driveshaft on Clintburn then rolled on the next stage , Phil Jobson took class C4 by a wide margin, assisted by Bob Bean having a 8 minute “Off” in Clintburn, Ben Friend took D3 by a similarly wide margin and Phil Harris was the only finisher in B1.
1. Nick Elliott / Dave Price Ford Escort 47:16.4
2. Jason Pritchard/ Phil Clarke Ford Escort 47:22.9
3. Steve Bannister/ Callum Atkinson Ford Escort 48:09.6
4. Simon Webster / Jez Rogers Ford Escort 48:26.2
5. Steve Bennett/ Osian Owen Ford Escort 49:26.3
6. Ben Friend / Cliffy Simmons Ford Escort 49:29.6
7. Barry Stevenson-Wheeler/ John Pickavance 49:30.8
8. Phil Jobson/ Arwel Jenkins Ford Escort 49:48.3
9. James Potter / Bob Duck Ford Escort 49:49.9
10. Tom Hewick/ Mick Johnson Ford Escort 49:51.5 PIRPR13