Taylor takes second Swift Sport Cup win on Pirelli Twenty year old Australian Molly Taylor with Cumbrian co-driver Jemma Bellingham made it a second successive victory on round two of the British Rally Championship's Swift Sport Cup, the Pirelli...
Taylor takes second Swift Sport Cup win on Pirelli
Twenty year old Australian Molly Taylor with Cumbrian co-driver Jemma Bellingham made it a second successive victory on round two of the British Rally Championship's Swift Sport Cup, the Pirelli International Rally this weekend.
The Friday night stages looked like being a battle between Luke Pinder/Peter Scott and Richard Sykes/Simon Taylor though, as the pair swapped fastest stage times over the two tricky Kershope tests. Sykes took first blood, but used his many years of experience on the second, backing off in the rough sections.
Pinder had what he described as a good pace on the opener, then stormed through stage two with a time sixteen seconds clear of Sykes to lead at the overnight halt. Manxman David Harrison and co-driver Glyn Thomas were third in the falling dusk of stage one, suffering on two with inconsistent pace-notes and a trailing rear suspension canister.
Taylor was initially fourth having bent a steering arm on a rock, but she pushed into the failing light and leap-frogged Harrison to lie third, just two seconds back, with 2008 Swift runner-up Gordon Nichol & Emma Morrison fifth having suffered excessive oversteer.
The time difference between the top five was just fifteen seconds, but Nick Everard & Chris Davies were not too disheartened despite being over a minute back. "We have a game plan to get to the finish after our retirement so early on round one," explained the 21 year old.
The first stage of Saturday morning saw another stage winner in the form of Taylor, albeit only 1.5 seconds quicker than Pinder. Sykes and Harrison were both within four seconds of the all-female crew's time, themselves split by 0.2 seconds.
Pinder now started to pull clear of the chasing pack, setting fastest times on stages four and five, but the fierce fight for third was still blazing. Harrison had a cracking stage four, beating all but Pinder, while Sykes and Taylor were split by just a tenth of a second in Sykes' favour. Nichol's new pace-notes system was proving inconsistent again but he remained ahead of Everard whose confidence was building on every stage.
By the first proper service of the day however, it was Taylor who led by just over a second from a closing Sykes. Pinder had disappeared from the results on SS6, crashing his yellow Swift on a high speed section of the infamous Kielder stage. "We were going well but got onto the loose stuff on the right hand side," he explained, "Then I don't really know what happened, but we went off on the left. Looking at the in-car footage we think something may have broken, because the car just lurched to the left."
"I'm not surprised Luke was off," said the Taylor, "We were taking risks and he was quicker; the loose gravel tries to suck you into those ditches. It's a shame for him but we're concentrating on keeping Richard at bay now."
A big push after service saw Sykes snatch the lead by three seconds, stating, "Both back wheels were in the ditch at some points, I've never been so terrified" Harrison and Nichol were close on times too, the Manxman having suffered rear shock absorber leakage.
As stages eight, nine and ten were cancelled due to event leader Guy Wilks' car fire; the Swift Sport Cup crews had just a re-run of the rally's opening pair of stages to decide a winner.
The titanic scrap that Taylor and Sykes had maintained throughout the event ended on the penultimate test though, after the Stourbridge man's engine mount broke, forcing him to crawl through that and the final stage. He and co-driver Simon Taylor lost over twenty minutes as the engine thrashed back and forward on every gear change, leaving Taylor and Bellingham to cruise to their second win on as many events.
Harrison and Thomas survived a loose lamp pod on the final stage to take second, just keeping a charging Nichol at bay. His and Morrison's pace-notes eventually came good and the pair was only 0.5 seconds slower than stage winner Taylor on the event's final stage.
Nick Everard seemed happy enough with fourth, realising his goal to finish the event and gain valuable experience, but the most disconsolate crew was definitely that of Sykes and Taylor, whose lowly fifth place certainly didn't do their early pace justice.
Molly Taylor now leads the Swift Sport Cup by eight points from Gordon Nichol, the pair the only two to score on both rounds.
The next event in the calendar is the asphalt of the Jim Clark International Rally on May 22nd & 23rd; will a change in surface mean a change in winner?