Author Archives: Howard Wilcock

SERIOUS FUN AT 70 !…

2023 marks the 70th [Platinum edition] of both the BTRDA Gold & Silver Star® Rally Championships and, following ratification by the Rally Championship Control Panel, the BTRDA Rallies Committee is delighted to announce next year’s calendar (N.B. Dates correct at time of publication). Eight of the UK’s finest one-day forest events are included and, as ever, in order to give competitors an element of choice and to fit in with busy work / life schedules, everyone’s best six scores will count towards their final tally.  So, diaries at the ready! The 2023 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series calendar is as follows : –

   March 11th           Malcolm Wilson Rally            Cockermouth
   April 15th             Rallynuts Stages                    Royal Welsh Showground
   May 6th                Border Counties Rally           Jedburgh
   June 17th             Kielder Forest Rally               Hexham
   July 8th                Nicky Grist Stages                 Builth Wells
   September 9th    Woodpecker Stages               Ludlow
   September 23rd  Trackrod Forest Stages         Filey
   October 28th       Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally  Llandudno

(Dates for the 2023 English Rally Championship will be confirmed shortly)

 

<<<<<  Grant Inglis  Winner of the 2022 BTRDA Historic Cup and the AC de Monaco Trophy

For 2023 the all-encompassing 12 class structure, which caters for all rally cars conforming to the current Motorsport UK technical regulations, has undergone a few ‘tweaks’ which include: – 

BTRDA Gold & Silver Star
Class B11 (1601cc – 2000cc) will also include cars up to 1300cc with forced induction engines.

Class R2 and Junior R2 Cup will include all current and former FIA R2 cars (but not FIA Rally 4 Cars)

The BTRDA Historic Cup will be split into 2 classes: –
 Class H1/2 All Historic Category 1 and 2 cars and Category 3 cars with single cam engines.

Class H3/4 Historic Category 3 cars with multi cam engines and all Category 4a and 4b cars which comply with R49.1.5.BTRDA Historic Cup

BTRDA Bronze Star
Class 1400S – to include FIA Rally5 cars.
Class RF1.4 – to also include BTRDA Rally First cars with forced induction engines up to 1000cc.
Class RF2.0 – to also include BTRDA Rally First cars with forced induction engines up to 1300cc.
NB:   Rally First cars will now be permitted to use a limited-slip differential.

Neil Cross, BTRDA Rallies Committee Chair, commented ‘We’re delighted to present the 2023 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series, returning to the events that competitors enjoyed so much this year. Offering a stable well-spread calendar, we’re looking for another season of ‘Serious Fun’ with the BTRDA. We’ve listened to our competitors and have tweaked our class eligibility. New for 2023, for example, is the introduction of limited slip diffs in Rally First, a change that we hope will bring some more cars out in that class.” 

                                                                                                                                 BTRDA R2 Junior Cup Winner   Billy Grew   >>>>>>

In addition to our title sponsor, MRF Tyres, the BTRDA would also like to place on record its thanks to all the associated sponsors including JORDAN Road Surfacing, FUCHS Titan, MINTEX Racing / Questmead, CARLESS fuels, KIELDER products and Shepherd Compello Motorsport Insurance, who have contributed to the success of the 2022 BTRDA Rally Series, and look forward to working with them again in 2023.

More information and the 2023 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series Championship Regulations will be available from early December.  The 2023 BTRDA Rally Series (‘platinum edition’) will have something for everyone !

VICTORY PARADE!…

Preview of Round 8 (Final):

Having clinched the 2022 MRF Tyres BTRDA Gold Star® Rally Championship title with a round to spare, Elliot Payne and Patrick Walsh (Fiesta Rally2) start the final event, the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally, with the express intention of going one better than the runners up spot they achieved in North Wales twelve months ago!   The featured image is Elliot Payne and Patrick Walsh (Fiesta Rally2) – 2022 MRF Tyres BTRDA Gold Star Champions on the recent Trackrod Forest Rally

It was Callum Black who took victory on the final round of last year’s BTRDA Rally Series and, while not in contention for 2022 honours, the Brackley driver will be aiming for a repeat performance in his appropriately black-liveried Fiesta Rally2 !  So, while we already know who the Gold Star Champions are, the remaining podium places are still to be decided. Without going into the mathematical gymnastics of ‘who needs to do what’ in order to qualify, Stephen Petch / Michael Wilkinson (Fiesta Rally2), Perry Gardener / Jack Bowen and newly-crowned Welsh National Rally Champions Matthew Hirst / Declan Dear (both Fiesta R5s) are all in the frame and, while also battling for Class B13 supremacy, the Lancer EVO9s of Richard Hill / Pat Cooper and Russ Thompson / Steve Link could also feature by the time crews arrive back in Llandudno at the conclusion of the Cambrian!…

Class B13, itself, is an interesting one! Hill has finished all seven events to date and heads the table from Thompson who, for his part, has a score in hand and, given a clear run, is ideally placed to snatch victory at the last gasp. Then, although not quite close enough to target a class win, and with all the usual caveats, current 3rd & 4th placed Rob Wilson / Richard Crozier and Pat Naylor / Ian Lawrence (also Lancer EVO9s) could well end the season in the Top Three. Fascinating stuff!…

With all due deference to Andy Davison whose Talbot Sunbeam VXR showed the other two-wheel drive cars a clean pair of heels on the recent Trackrod Forest Rally, the MRF Tyres BTRDA Silver Star® Championship has been dominated by Ford Escort Mk2’s once again this season. Maximum points on each of the other six rounds have been claimed by such vehicles and, as we approach the finale, Rob Wright – whose co-driver Mark Fisher is already confirmed as Silver Star Champion – is in front of mid-season leader Nick Dobson. At the time of writing neither name appears on the Cambrian Rally entry list and thus, should this situation be maintained, Wright will automatically join Fisher as 2022 Champion.

<<<<   Rob Wright / Mark Fisher (Escort) – MRF Tyres BTRDA Silver Star Championship Leaders

 

Already confirmed as BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup Champions, Jonathan Jones / Jez Rogers have broken the Escort stranglehold at the business end of the Silver Star table in their Fiesta and arrive in Llandudno in 3rd place. However, they must be very wary of Michael McDaid / Declan Casey whose Escort Mk2 – what else?… – has only contested four events, but has two maximums, one 2nd and a 3rd to its credit – a continuation of this form could see Jones deprived of a possible podium finish… Although only contesting selected events, the ‘Flying Kiwi’ Boyd Kershaw (Escort) and co-driver Keegan Rees, who ‘won’ Silver Star on their last appearance on the Woodpecker Stages Rally, return for the finale and can reasonably expect to be there or thereabouts when it comes to the two-wheel drive leader board.

                                                                  Jonathan Jones and Jez Rogers Winners of the 2022 BTRDA R2 Cup >>>>>>>

In spite of a couple of hiccups (or ‘retirements’ as they’re known in the trade!) along the way, Grant Inglis / Gavin Chisholm (Escort) have been the season-long leaders of the Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Historic Cup but, as they approach the final countdown, once again it’s McDaid and Casey who could yet upset the apple-cart. Put simply, if Inglis / Chisholm finish, they’ll be safe but, as we all know, that’s easier said than done!

Lewis Hooper has led the Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star Championship right from the word ‘go’ in his ‘Rally First’-specification Nissan Micra. In spite of its lack of power when set against the 1400S ‘pocket-rockets’, reliability has helped maintain its position which only now is coming under threat as proceedings draw to a close.

<<<<<<<<   Lewis Hooper (Nissan Micra) – Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star Championship Leader

Pete Gorst / Mark Twiname (Nova) have three maximums (four in the co-driver’s case) to their name but have also recorded two DNFs – so, on the one hand, they have a score-in hand over their rivals but, on the other, leave themselves with absolutely no margin for error. Not only must they finish the Cambrian to give themselves any chance of success but, if they finish well, they could earn themselves a BTRDA Bronze Star each!…  Ed James / Charlie Mason (Nissan Micra Kit Car), who posted their first retirement of the season last time out, can only improve on past scores but, dependant on the fortunes of others, could possibly hold on to their current 2nd (Driver) and 1st (Co-driver) positions. In spite of two consecutive retirements, Richard Garnett / Stefan Arndt (Nissan Micra) hold sway in Class 1400C but they’ll need to keep a wary eye out for the Ka of Adrian & Matt Walk which, while also the victim of a couple of DNFs, could still overhaul them – just!

SPECTATORS : The first car leaves the start on Llandudno Promenade at 08.01 on 29th October and further details are available at : https://cambrianrally.co.uk/spectators
All photos © Kevin Money / Malcolm Almond

BLACK’S BEAUTY LEADS THE WAY!…

Preview of Round 7:
As the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series moves towards its finale, Filey plays host to the penultimate encounter, the Trackrod Forest Stages, on 24th September and, following victory last time out on the Woodpecker, Callum Black (featured image) will lead contenders away from the start in his black liveried Fiesta Rally2. Due to his absence from a number of the earlier rounds, he’s not personally involved in the battle for MRF Tyres BTRDA Gold Star Rally Championship glory but, for those who are, it now gets serious as dropped scores come into play.

Matthew Hirst / Declan Dear (Fiesta R5) are next but, while they have already won two rounds outright, a ‘did-not-start’ and a retirement leave them with no room for error between now and the end of the season if they are to capitalise on their earlier successes. Meanwhile, Elliot Payne / Patrick Walsh (Fiesta Rally2) not only have two victories to their credit but have also backed them up with a pair of second-places and one third.

                                                                                                      Elliot Payne / Patrick Walsh (Fiesta Rally2)  >>> 

Even so, there is still work to do if they are to achieve their aim and become the latest in a long – and illustrious! – line of BTRDA Gold Star Rally Champions…
Perry Gardener / Jack Bowen (Fiesta R5) were leading the points table prior to an accident on the Nicky Grist Stages in July and, in spite of finishing runners-up on the recent Woodpecker Rally, currently trail Payne / Walsh & Stephen Petch / Michael Wilkinson’s Fiesta Rally2. All three crews have, so far, only registered one retirement apiece and, thus, still have an element of wriggle-room before Judgement Day at the end of October!

Class B13 is proving to be its usual hot-bed of competition to the point that, without a blemish on their finishing record, Richard Hill / Pat Cooper (Lancer EVO9) are actually leading the Gold Star Championship overall. We could, therefore, be accused of stating the obvious by recording the fact that they also head B13 – currently by a considerable margin! The one crew who could yet rain on their parade is Russ Thompson / Steve Link (also Lancer EVO9) who, similar to Hirst / Dear, already have a couple of gaps on their scorecards and cannot afford to put a foot wrong. Pressure – what pressure?….

In common with Gold Star, the MRF Tyres BTRDA Silver Star® Championship has also witnessed four different winners so far this season and, from them, it’s the ‘double top’ crew of Michael McDaid / Declan Casey (Escort Mk2) who are the first two-wheel drive car away as they attempt a hat-trick.

<< Michael McDaid / Declan Casey (Escort Mk2) on the Woodpecker

The Irishmen will have the Talbot Sunbeam VXR of Andy Davison / Tom Murphy and early season leaders Rob Wright / Mark Fisher (Escort Mk2) to keep an eye out for while, from the start, current series leader Nick Dobson (Escort Mk2) is only a couple of minutes behind this group.
Jonathan Jones / Jez Rogers (Fiesta) lead the race to succeed Ioan Lloyd / Sion Williams as BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup Champions, but there is still work to be done before the matter is put beyond doubt. So, a good run over the North York Moors would help immeasurably!
Another category-leading crew to fall foul of the terrain on the Woodpecker was Grant Inglis / Gavin Chisholm whose Escort came off second-best in a skirmish with some logs. In spite of this setback, they’ve managed to maintain their lead in the Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Historic Cup, albeit by a reduced margin from Michael McDaid / Declan Casey (Escort). James Lepley (Escort) had his best run to-date on the Woodpecker and will be hoping for a continuation in this change of fortune while the presence of Alex Waterman / Glyn Thomas (Datsun 1600SSS) and Ernie & Patricia Lee (BMW 325) provides further variety to the category as a whole.

Long-time Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star Championship leader Lewis Hooper (Nissan Micra) was absent from the Woodpecker, allowing Ed James / Charlie Mason (Micra Kit Car) to overhaul him. Another crew to fall foul of a broken driveshaft last time, Richard Garnett / Stefan Arndt (Micra) were, thus, unable to further their cause while, at the same time, Pete Gorst / Mark Twiname can count themselves lucky as, by the finish at Ludlow Racecourse, their blue Nova was sporting a large dent in its roof!   Nevertheless, returning to the subject of dropped scores, Gorst / Twiname have previously accrued three maximums and, while not sufficient to put the matter beyond doubt, will certainly benefit from them as the season draws to a close.

Having had July and August to regroup, contenders for the Motorsport UK English Rally Championship in association with Seacon UK, are being called to arms for the second time in three weeks on the Trackrod Forest Stages! Richard Hill (Lancer EVO9) leads Nick Dobson (Escort Mk2) by a single point, with Ian Joel (Escort Cosworth) and Stephen Petch (Fiesta Rally2) tied in 3rd place, another one point behind.

SPECTATORS : Advanced tickets (no cash on the day) and details are available via the website (www.rallyyorkshire.co.uk/spectator-information).

All photos © Kevin Money / Malcom Almond

A DAY AT THE RACES..!

Preview of Round 6:
The sixth round of the 2022 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series, the Phil Price Memorial Woodpecker Stages, returns to its traditional base at Ludlow Racecourse on 3rd September for the first time since 2019 and what is one of the most popular forest events in the calendar has attracted a total entry of nearly 170 cars!

After a brief summer break, the battle for the MRF Tyres BTRDA Gold Star® Championship resumes with the ultra-consistent (5 starts > 5 finishes) Mitsubishi Lancer of Richard Hill / Pat Cooper currently in pole position. To date, the Fiestas of Elliot Payne / Patrick Walsh and Matthew Hirst / Declan Dear have two wins apiece, while Stephen Petch / Michael Wilkinson were victorious on the opening round of the season in theirs.

<<    Matthew Hirst / Declan Dear

Following an indiscretion on the Nicky Grist Stages which cost them a finish, erstwhile series leaders Perry Gardener / Jack Bowen’s Fiesta R5 has been returned to the shape originally intended by the designers at Ford and they’ll tackle their ‘home’ event (Perry lives in Ludlow) in an attempt to reassert their supremacy. Joining them for the first time this year will be the BTRDA Rally Series’ 200th registration and 2017 Gold Star runner-up, Callum Black, who has 2015 MSA Asphalt Champion Co-driver Jack Morton for company in his MRF Tyres-sponsored Fiesta Rally2.

As far as Class B13 is concerned, while Hill and Cooper currently hold the upper hand, this particular skirmish certainly isn’t over yet! Class leaders until a big accident on the Kielder Forest Rally in June temporarily halted their progress, Russ Thompson / Steve Link (Lancer EVO9) return to join similarly-mounted Darren Craig / Harry Stubbs, Pat Naylor / Ian Lawrence, Rob Wilson / Richard Crozier and winner last time out James Giddings who, from varying distances in arrears, all have one common aim!…

A similar faultless finishing record, thus far, sees Nick Dobson’s Escort [see featured image] dominating the MRF Tyres BTRDA Silver Star® Championship points table. Nick took advantage of former top dogs Rob Wright / Mark Fisher’s early exit from the Kielder Forest Rally and has yet to be persuaded to restore the status quo (at least from Wright / Fisher’s perspective!). Grant Inglis / Gavin Chisholm’s Historic spec. Escort Mk2 is continuing to make its presence felt at the business end of the Silver Star table, while Jonathan Jones / Jez Rogers’ Fiesta R2 not only provides some front-wheel drive opposition to the ubiquitous Escorts but also – unsurprisingly! – leads the BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup at this juncture.

Although they’ve only contested two events so far, Michael McDaid / Declan Casey (Escort RS1800) have claimed maximum Silver Star and Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Historic Cup points on both occasions. They’ll be on parade in Ludlow and, based on past performance, could significantly improve their standing in both categories! While, even now, it would be a brave man to bet against Inglis / Chisholm’s success in this year’s Historic Cup, the presence of the likes of Alex Waterman / Glyn Thomas (Datsun 1600SSS) and Jonathan Brace / Paul Spooner (Escort) could well serve to liven up the proceedings!

Although Billy Grew {pictured left] has already made sure that the BTRDA Rallye R2 Junior Cup will be residing in Stafford for the next twelve months, the fate of the BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup, itself, is far less certain. As mentioned, Jones / Rogers lead the charge but such is the nature of the competition that, on paper at least, any one of the top seven drivers could claim the trophy. Four different winners from the five events so far (Tony Simpson / Ian Bevan are the only crew with two maximums to their credit) leave everything to play for – and no doubt it will be!…

                   Tony Simpson / Ian Bevan looking for a 3rd maximum  >>>

With the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally First Cup already secured, Lewis Hooper’s grip on the Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star Championship in his Nissan Micra [see image below] is such that, whatever happens on the Woodpecker Stages, his position at the top of the table won’t alter.

 

However, that doesn’t mean to say that his work is done. Richard Garnett / Stefan Arndt and Ed James / Charlie Mason (both Micras) are his nearest rivals but, with three events to go, a possible 90 points are still to be claimed which, at the risk of stating the obvious, could significantly alter the look of the leaderboard when it matters most!

Pete Gorst / Mark Twiname’s run of three consecutive maximums came to an abrupt halt on the Nicky Grist Stages when, well on their way to a fourth, their Nova left the road on the final stage. Although no threat in terms of outright Championship victory, the regulars are joined by 2021 Bronze Star Champion Steve Black (Suzuki Swift) and former front-runners Dave & Freddy Brick (Nova) whose farm overlooks Ludlow Racecourse!….

Having been standing at ease since the Kielder Forest Rally in mid-June, contenders for the Motorsport UK English Rally Championship, in association with Seacon UK, report for duty on the Woodpecker Stages once more. Following the first couple of rounds, Nick Dobson (Escort Mk2) has established a slender one-point lead in the series but, with four events to go, the Ilkley driver knows he will have his work cut out to maintain station.

Dobson’s nearest rival David Crossen (Escort) is absent on this occasion which turns the spotlight on to Richard Hill (Lancer EVO9) and former English Rally Champion Ian Joel (Escort Cosworth). However, in the class-based series, the competition will be very close and, literally, anything can happen between now and the beginning of December.

SPECTATORS : The first car leaves Ludlow Racecourse at 8.30am on the Saturday morning and full details can be found at www.woodpecker-rally.co.uk

All photos © Kevin Money / Malcolm Almond

PAYNE’S KILLER INSTINCT !…

Preview of Round 5 : Nicky Grist Stages (9th July)
Elliot Payne has won the last two rounds of the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series with displays of speed and skill that defy his 19 years. With 2019 British Rally Champion Codriver Patrick Walsh installed in his Fiesta Rally2, Payne heads for Builth Wells and the Nicky Grist Stages with the express intention of making it three-in-a-row. However, as is ever the case, there will be others present in the massive 160 car entry, with a different ‘take’ on the situation!…     The featured image is Elliot Payne / Patrick Walsh (Fiesta Rally2) – Winners of the Border Counties & Kielder Forest Rallies

Unlike their rivals, MRF Tyres BTRDA Gold Star® Championship leaders Perry Gardener / Jack Bowen (Fiesta R5) have maintained a 100% finishing record thus far, with 4th place on the recent Kielder Forest Rally representing their lowest score. The pressure is already on for this likeable pair to keep up the momentum as, once dropped scores come into play (following the Woodpecker Stages at the beginning of September), any maximums will really pay dividends…The other two similarly Fiesta-mounted crews with BTRDA Series victories under their belts this season are Stephen Petch / Michael Wilkinson (Malcolm Wilson Rally) and Matthew Hirst / Declan Dear (Rallynuts Stages) and, in common with Payne/Walsh, each has one dropped score although, in Hirst/Dear’s case, it was a ‘Did Not Start’ as Declan was far too busy getting married on the day of the Kielder Forest Rally !….

                                                            Stephen Petch & Michael Wilkinson on the Kielder Forest Rally  >>>>>>>>>>>>>>

As far as Tom Llewellin / Ross Whittock are concerned, they’ve opted to contest the British Rally Championship section of the Nicky Grist Stages which includes a recce and, as such, precludes them from scoring BTRDA points. We wish them well and look forward to welcoming them back into the fold later in the season. There’s still time!….
While Payne Junior was going about his business on the Kielder Forest Rally, dad Charlie and co-driver Carl Williamson (Fiesta Rally2) were lying 6th after the first stage but had retired before the end of the next one, having been caught out by a crest in Bewshaugh. The 2016 Gold Star Champions’ refettled car will take the start of the Nicky Grist Stages in the hope of some better luck!

Richard Hill / Pat Cooper’s impressive season so far sees their Lancer EVO9 currently occupying 2nd place overall in the Gold Star table and, unsurprisingly, leading Class B13 as well. Having ‘won’ the two previous rounds, Russ Thompson / Steve Link retired from the Kielder Forest Rally after a big accident and, points-wise, have fallen back into the clutches of fellow Lancer crews Darren Craig / Harry Stubbs and Pat Naylor / Ian Lawrence.

Although MRF Tyres BTRDA Silver Star® Championship leader Nick Dobson (Escort Mk2) has a 23-point lead over his nearest

<<<<<  Photo of Nick Dobson on the Kielder Forest Rally 

challenger John Cribbins – whose co-driver, Colin Blunt, leads the Silver Star co-drivers table – they all know that the situation can change in the blink of an eye. With a maximum of 30 points available on every event, at the halfway stage of the season, there’s no such thing as a comfort zone!  Rob Wright / Mark Fisher (Escort), who forfeited top spot following retirement last time out, know that only too well – however, the upside to that is another good score (they’ve already taken one maximum), allied to any sort of problem that might affect Dobson, could conceivably – to their way of thinking – restore the status quo!  What they all need to be wary of, however, is that David Crossen, who has only contested two events so far but scored maximums on both, will be taking the start of the Nicky Grist Stages in his rapid Escort!…

Having suffered the indignity of a retirement on the Border Counties Rally, fortunately without affecting their Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Historic Cup lead, Grant Inglis / Gavin Chisholm (Escort Mk2) returned to their winning ways in Kielder. Nevertheless, Ernie & Patricia Lee (BMW 325i) could yet prove to be a thorn in their side, not to mention a returning Alex Waterman / Glyn Thomas in their Datsun 1600 SSS and, surely, James Lepley / Arwel Jenkins’ (Escort) luck has to change soon…

                                          Grant Inglis & Gavin Chisholm (Escort) – Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Historic Cup Leaders   >>>>>>

Four events have each produced different winners in the BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup and they’re all be in mid Wales on 9th July. Yaniv Bar took first blood, followed by Mat Jackson, Tony Simpson and, most recently, Jonathan Jones.

<<<<  Jonathan Jones (Fiesta R2) on the Kielder Forest Rally

Their Fiestas are joined by the Peugeot 208 of Scott Sloan and Lucy Wigley’s Citroen C2 and, should Billy Grew (Fiesta) continue his winning ways in the BTRDA Rallye R2 Junior Cup, he’ll be crowned champion at the end of the day!

After a shaky start that resulted in retirement from the Malcolm Wilson Rally, Pete Gorst / Mark Twiname (pictured [right > ] in their Nova on the Kielder Forest Rally) have totally dominated the Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star Championship by taking three maximums on the spin. That said, Lewis Hooper has stayed out of trouble and brought his Nissan Micra through to the finish of every event so far to maintain his lead of both the Bronze Star and BTRDA Rally First Cup. This time, the competition is set to be spiced up not only with the addition of 2021 Bronze Star Champions Steve Black / Paul Morris (Suzuki Swift) but also by the return of Aaron Rix / Abi Haycock (Escort) who haven’t been seen since their earlier-than-planned exit from the Rallynuts Stages.

SPECTATORS: The first car leaves Builth Wells at 8.30am on Saturday morning and full details can be found at : http://www.nickygriststages.co.uk/spectators/

All photos © Kevin Money / Malcolm Almond
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