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Carlisle: BRC Challenge event summary

Wilkes extends BRC Challenge lead on Pirelli Rally The current BRC Challenge championship leaders Julian Wilkes and Will Rutherford repeated their first round victory, with a well deserved win on the Pirelli rally. The South-coast dynamic duo...

Wilkes extends BRC Challenge lead on Pirelli Rally

The current BRC Challenge championship leaders Julian Wilkes and Will Rutherford repeated their first round victory, with a well deserved win on the Pirelli rally.

The South-coast dynamic duo in their venerable Vauxhall Nova once again proved to have the edge over the competition, but as on the Bulldog event last month they were pushed to the very end.

However their win was not as straight forward as they may have wished, with problems being encountered right up to the last road section.

"We lost rear brakes and ended up in a ditch on the last stage, fortunately we were able to get the car out and carry on, only to overshoot a chicane". The trouble didn't end there as the Nova's exhaust came loose and fell off, taking out the rear suspension.

"We can't believe we made it to the finish", explained an exhausted Julian. "We had a talk at the start of the last stage and decided to just bring it home and see where we finished, expecting to be fourth or fifth" added Will.

In second place just 23 seconds behind the leaders were Chris Peart and Jamie Forrest in the Vauxhall Astra.

The Astra managed to set some impressive stage times throughout the event and was quickest on two of the five stages. "We lost our rear brakes on the final stage, it was do or die stuff" remarked Jamie as they tried valiantly to close the gap to Wilkes and Rutherford.

But with the Nova's consistency and Wilkes never outside the top two stage times, it proved a bridge too far for the Yorkshire crew.

The final step on the podium fell to Callum Black and Paul Wakely in the MG ZR. "We lost power late on and the intercom was failing throughout the day, until it eventually stopped working. I drove the last stage without hearing the notes" explained the Northampton engineering student.

To add to his woes the MG stuck in fifth gear on one of the stages, "It's been very frustrating today, though I suppose its points in the bag" remarked the driver who had given his all.

The second round of the Championship proved to be a war of attrition as a number of cars had incidents or fell by the wayside. One such driver was Simon Moore in his Clio who said at the start "I'm looking for a podium", but when his drive-shaft broke on the start line of the first stage so went his chances.

Better luck was bestowed on top Fiesta SportChallenge entrant and fourth overall Damien Smith, who failed to complete the first stage on the Bulldog Rally. "We lost oil out of the rear shock after the first service" explained the former Motor-crosser.

But with a fastest time on the 6.42 mile Forks stage, he cemented his ST win and fourth overall. "I only have 12 months rallying experience so this is a great step forward for me".

The top five places were rounded off by Brett Griffin and Sam Fordham in their Peugeot 106 GTI.

The final Fiesta SportChallenge podium places were gained by John Pritchard and Jonathan Cunningham, the latter surviving a crash into logs on a fast crest which damaged the windscreen of the Ford.

With the first Tarmac event of the year and the first of three successive asphalt rallies coming up in May, the Wilkes/Rutherford partnership looks to be a force to be reckoned with.

"I grew up on tarmac, doing single stage events and progressed from there. I consider asphalt to be my favourite surface" remarked a grinning Wilkes, who has competed in the National Tarmac championship.

And in this form it will be tough to wrestle the Championship lead away from them.

When asked if the Somerset based crew were already thinking about the BRC Challenge title, Julian and Will simultaneously said "It's a real possibility".

The next round, the Jim Clark Challenge Rally, takes place over the Bank Holiday weekend of the 28/29th May. Based in Kelso it takes the championship onto asphalt for the first of three rounds on the "Black Stuff"

-source: brc

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Series BRC
Drivers Jim Clark