Author Archives: Howard Wilcock

Half a Crown just isn’t Enough…!

Round 8 (Final): Trackrod Forest Stages

Yorkshireman Charlie Payne travels the relatively short distance to Scampston Hall, near Malton, for the final round of the 2016 RAVENOL BTRDA Rally Series®, the Trackrod Forest Stages, having already been confirmed as the 2016 RAVENOL BTRDA Gold Star® Rally Champion. However, as far as co-driver Carl Williamson is concerned, the situation isn’t quite as clear cut. Yes, he leads his category in the Championship points table – and has done for months – but it’s still possible that he could be pipped at the post!
The pair will lead the field away in their Fiesta but, right behind them, Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson (Fiesta R5+) will be brimming with confidence, having won the Woodpecker outright – and this is where Williamson’s potential problem lies. Whilst a good result for Petch, who is currently 3rd in the Drivers’ table, on the North York Moors could possibly move him up a place, should Payne/Williamson fail to finish, another maximum for Wilkinson would see him tying on points with the current leader, but taking the title with two maximums to Williamson’s one. Phew!…   Also in search of more Gold Star points on the Trackrod will be Paul Benn/Richard Cooke (Focus WRC), while Steve Simpson/Patrick Walsh (Fiesta S2000) & Tom Preston/Jack Morton (Skoda Fabia R5) are all perfectly capable of ‘getting in the way’ of Petch/Wilkinson’s ambition….

The destination of the BTRDA Production Cup is also yet to be settled. Russ Thompson/Andy Murphy (Lancer EVO9) currently lead the race for the title but, should something go wrong on the last outing of the season, Andy Davies/Max Freeman (Impreza) & Sacha Kakad/James Aldridge (Lancer EVOX) are far too close for comfort! Fiesta ST Trophy winners Cameron Davies/Lee Taylor are still in with a mathematical chance of taking the title, although that does rely on none of the aforementioned 4WD crews lasting the distance. Then, of course, Richard Hill (Lancer EVO9), who trumped the lot of them on the Woodpecker, is also back for more! Place your bets, ladies & gentlemen, please…
On the subject of Fiestas, Sam Bilham, George Lepley & Jon Ambler are still in a position to dispute runner-up spot in the inaugural Fiesta ST Trophy and from experience so far, the car’s proven reliability is such that banking on someone else not finishing in order to gain ground is a forlorn hope!

In terms of the RAVENOL BTRDA Silver Star® Championship, Gavin Edwards/Caron Tomlinson (Escort Mk2) have been the dominant force, especially recently with maximums on the last two events. They arrive on the Trackrod as leaders but, should they register a DNF on the last outing of the season and Boyd Kershaw/Bryan Hull emerge from Yorkshire as top dogs, the look of the table, especially at the top, would significantly alter!
Phill Burton/Mal Capstick’s 2.4 litre Escort has taken 3rd place points no less than five times this season and, if everything fell into place on the Trackrod, they could conceivably wrest 2nd place in the Championship from current occupants, Cameron Davies/Lee Taylor. It’s, perhaps also worth mentioning that former triple Silver Star Champion Matthew Robinson has entered the Trackrod in his Fiat 131S. Although he and co-driver Sam Collis haven’t done enough BTRDA Series events this year to be troubling the leaders, they can never be ignored!

The Thomas Panels BTRDA 1400 Championship is going down to the wire as well! Consistency – six starts, six finishes – has pushed Neil Andrew/Dom Adams’ Nissan Micra to the top of the pile, but Jordan & Paul Hone will be hoping that their Proton Satria will give them a sixth result and, in so doing, elevate them to the rank of Champions! Keith & Mairi Riddick (MG ZR) start just behind the Hones, with Joe Evett/Phil Hall’s similar car and Charlie Barlow/Dale Furniss (Micra) also running together a little further down the field.

Dominic Hodge/Stefan Arndt (Micra) will lead the Vital Equipment BTRDA Rally First Championship contenders into battle for the final time, obviously with the express intention of being in the same situation at the end of the day! However, that would be to deny the presence of current series leaders Emily & Eliot Retallick (Peugeot 205XS) and Richard Wells/Calvin Houldsworth (VW Polo). The Retallicks already have six scores and can, therefore, only ‘improve’ on their lowest, while both Hodge and Wells are where they are from five, giving them the opportunity to add anything they can earn in Yorkshire to their final tallies.

The ‘mixed-surface’ BTRDA Rally Challenge draws to a close in Yorkshire and, whilst Jack Morton has already been confirmed as Champion Co-driver, successfully defending the title he won in 2015, the destination of the Driver’s Award has yet to be identified. Stephen Petch (Fiesta R5+) currently leads the list of nominations, but his supremacy could be usurped by either Julian Barnett (Impreza) or, were he to score a maximum in Yorkshire, Steve Simpson (Fiesta S2000). Simpson, who was absent from the first couple of events, has taken maximums on each of the last two Challenge rounds, elevating himself into the frame for overall glory. Although a couple of no-shows and a DNF have put them on the back foot, early-season leaders George Morrison/Jon Quintrell (MG ZR) return to finish what they started!
Good luck to all the competitors.

Photo is Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson (Ford Fiesta R5+) on the Woodpecker.   Photo courtesy of ralliphotoswales

Charlie is the Gold Star Champion in 2016

Congratulations to Charlie Payne on winning the 2016 RAVENOL BTRDA Gold Star Championship.  He is the 63rd Gold Star Champion Driver and joins a long list of rally champions going back to 1954!   BTRDA Rally Champions

Maximum scores on the Malcolm Wilson Rally and the Carlisle Stages were the basis for the championship title which were combined with four other great results to create an unbeatable total of 170 points.  As we know the main challenge throughout the season came from Luke Francis / John Roberts but their ‘off’ and subsequent retirement on the Woodpecker meant they simply ran out of events.

Other title winners on the Woodpecker were Cameron Davies and Lee Taylor who were the winners of the Fiesta ST Trophy. Cameron also wins a place in the D-Mack End of Season Shoot Out which is an opportunity he deserves.

Finally the BTRDA Historic Cup was won by Robin Shuttleworth and Ron Roughead in the Mk 1 Escort.  Six starts and six finishes is hard to beat and it means they deservedly get their hands on the famous AC de Monaco Trophy at the end of season awards presentation.

Competition for the RAVENOL Silver Star, Thomas Panels 1400 and Vital Equipment Rally First Championship titles plus the BTRDA Production Cup will resume on the Trackrod Forest Stages. Good luck to everyone.

Photo is Charlie Payne / Carl Williamson on the Woodpecker courtesy of ralliphotoswales.

Can Payne Cross the Threshold?…. Woodpecker Preview

As the RAVENOL BTRDA Rally Series®’ traditional summer break comes to a close, Sixty & Worcestershire Motor Club’s Eventsigns Woodpecker Stages rally serves to bring all the various Championships to order once again. The eight weeks since the Nicky Grist Stages have given those with designs on title success a chance to regroup and prepare for the final push for victory. Not least of these will be Charlie Payne/Carl Williamson whose Ford Fiesta has topped the RAVENOL BTRDA Gold Star Rally Championship points tables since the Malcolm Wilson Rally back in March. The opportunity to put the matter beyond doubt last time out was missed when their hitherto reliable car succumbed to electrical failure, allowing their closest rivals, Luke Francis/John H Roberts (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO9) through to not only take another victory – their third of the season so far – but also to keep the pressure on in the race to succeed Dave Weston/Kirsty Riddick as Gold Star Champions.

So, Ludlow Racecourse beckons for all those contesting the Woodpecker Stages as the BTRDA Rally Series moves into the final furlong! However, as befits such a popular and well-supported Championship, Gold Star honour is not purely between Payne and Francis – there are others just waiting for the opportunity to pounce, should something untoward occur to those in front! After an indifferent start to the season, Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson (Fiesta R5+) have taken two seconds and one third on the last three events to move themselves into contention when it matters, while Paul Benn/Richard Cooke (Focus WRC) have been right behind them on both the Carlisle and Nicky Grist Stages. All the aforementioned have work to do if their ambitions are to be realised – notwithstanding the fact that, on paper, there are several others who could still theoretically come good. As part of the ‘Road to Wales’ initiative, the eventual winner of the 2016 RAVENOL BTRDA Gold Star Rally Championship will have earned themselves a free entry into the Wales Rally GB National Rally.

With two events to go and dropped scores about to come into play, the BTRDA Production Cup table has something of a strange look about it. Having finished all six rounds to date, Sam Bilham’s consistency puts his Fiesta ST into the lead of this highly competitive category. However, a mere three points adrift and with three maximums from just four scores on the board, Russ Thompson (Lancer EVO9) is next with Cameron Davies, who has taken maximum Fiesta ST Trophy points on all five events he has contested thus far, one behind him. Then we have another DaviesAndy, partnered by Max Freeman in a Subaru Impreza, who also has a couple of maximums to his credit but, like Thompson/Murphy, these are matched with a couple of DNFs, leaving neither crew with any margin for error between now and the end of September. In the Fiesta Trophy itself, Davies and Bilham are neck-and-neck at the top, with George Lepley in third place.

The Top Ten cars in the RAVENOL BTRDA Silver Star® Championship all have ‘Ford’ badges adorning their bodywork but the final pecking order is by no means settled yet. Assisted by a maximum last time out, Gavin Edwards/Caron Tomlinson lead the charge in their Escort, with the ever-present Cameron Davies/Lee Taylor (Fiesta) next. Defending Champion Boyd Kershaw and co-driver Bryan Hull (Escort Mk2) are third and, even though they already have two firsts and two seconds on the board, the pressure is now on to maintain this level of performance through to the close. Phill Burton/Mal Capstick’s aspirations were dented (literally!) on the Plains Rally and they were forced to miss the Carlisle Stages while their Escort underwent the work necessary to return it to the shape originally envisaged by the designers at the Ford Motor Company! They’ve been 3rd in the Silver Star points four times now – as the end of the season beckons, a couple more scores of a similar value – or better! – would do wonders to their final tally!

Ludlow farmer Dave Brick, who scored maximum Thomas Panels BTRDA 1400 Championship points in his Nova on the opening round of the season, returns for his ‘home’ event and, while no longer in the hunt for overall honours, could still show the regulars a thing or two! Jordan & Paul Hone (Proton Satria) & James Williams/Paul Wakely (Ford Ka) will be following him away from the Racecourse, while Brick Junior, Freddy, is also in the line-up. His particular Nova came up trumps on the Somerset Stages, but three retirements have set his campaign back somewhat.
Nissan Micras are the preferred mode of transport for Charlie Barlow/Dale Furniss and Matt Jackson/Claire Williams and, while they’ll be concentrating on their own private battle, an interesting entry will separate them from the start…. 1994/5 BTRDA Gold Star Champion Ricky Evans, co-driven by son Mathew, takes to the stages once again in a Peugeot 205…..
As they make a bee-line for Ludlow, Neil Andrew/Dom Adams lead the Thomas Panels-backed series from Carl Davies/Richard Jones, also in Micras, with the Hones in 3rd place but, as is the case with everything else, watch this space!

Dominic Hodge/Stefan Arndt, in their familiar Micra, are the leading Vital Equipment BTRDA Rally First Championship contenders in the Woodpecker entry, ahead of Richard Wells/Calvin Houldsworth (VW Polo). Retirement on the Nicky Grist Stages saw the series lead slip from Hodge/Arndt’s grasp, the cudgel gratefully taken up by Emily & Eliot Retallick (Peugeot 205XS). Somerset Stages ‘winner’ Chris Hickman and Sheldon Furby/Carrie Rogers (both MG ZRs) will also be looking to the event as an opportunity to move their campaigns forward.

After a brief foray via the Tyneside Stages, the MAXXIS MSA English Rally Championship returns to the gravel on the Woodpecker as Cameron Davies attempts to consolidate his lead in the points. Kit Leigh in a Fiesta R200 is next, while Freddy Brick, Emily Retallick and Sam Bilham are all keeping close company, comfortably in range of the leaders. So, there is plenty of unfinished business here, too!  (A Preview of the MAXXIS MSA English Rally Championship on the Woodpecker can be found Here )

Photo is Silver Star leaders Gavin Edwards & Caron Tomlinson on the Nicky Grist Stages.   Courtesy of ralliphotoswales