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