Matt masters Isle of Man Two consecutive class wins for top Nuneaton rally driver Matt Beebe, co- driven once again by the experienced Gemma Price, as Matt powered his little MG ZR160 to an incredible 27th overall, from a start number of 53...
Matt masters Isle of Man
Two consecutive class wins for top Nuneaton rally driver Matt Beebe, co- driven once again by the experienced Gemma Price, as Matt powered his little MG ZR160 to an incredible 27th overall, from a start number of 53 to win their class by 9 minutes, on this weekends extremely difficult Rally Isle of Man.
Despite never having been to the Island before, Matt was keen to put in a strong performance, following on from his confidence building victory on the recent Jim Clark Rally. As a result Matt and Gemma concentrated on perfecting their pacenotes during the recce and began the rally in a confident mood.
The very first stage of the rally was extremely tricky and claimed the first victim of the rally when top WRC driver Roman Kresta crashed out. Matt took it easier and was happy to be 2nd in class at the end of the stage.
After stage 2 was scrapped due to a big crash further up the field the pair headed to Castletown for 2 spectator stages. With nothing to be gained by crashing out on the short 1.3 mile stages Matt did not push too hard and focused on stage 5, Newtown. From car wrecking curbs to fast flowing sections, this stage had a bit of everything. A big push by the team, enjoying rallying in the dark, saw Matt go 2nd quickest in class once more and he was happy to return to Parc Ferme well inside the top 50 overall and 2nd in class behind the rapid Justin Dale in his 2 litre Renault Clio.
Day 2 was typical Manx weather. Whilst bright and sunny at service the stages were enveloped in a big blanket of cloud, making the going treacherous. Despite having virtually no wet weather experience Matt had all the confidence he needed in his Hankook shod MG and once more was 2nd only to Justin Dale. Stage 7 was scrapped after another stage stopping accident but Matt once again posted a 2nd fastest class time in Stage 8, impressing everyone with his consistently quick times. By stage 10, the 14 mile run through Cringle, Matt was in the lead of his class, after his championship rival, Justin Dale, had retired with mechanical problems. By now you'd have forgiven Matt for easing off. He'd beaten the locals and with Justin no longer in the equation Matt had a large lead in class, but, whilst consistent and tidy, Matt doesn't do slow, and a string of class wins and top 40 times proved that. Even a big spin through a box junction on Union mills 2 when the duo were caught out in the treacherous conditions didn't slow Matt down.
Matt returned to service at the end of the day nursing a rapidly failing clutch and with no spare available had no option but to nurture it to the end of the rally. Even with this added distraction the Nuneaton lad was still lying 34th overall and some 5 and a half minutes ahead of his nearest contender!
Nursing his car through the final 7 stages and 90 miles of rallying was Matt's aim for the final day and a consistent run saw him extend his lead over Alan MacMahon's Honda Intergra. The final stage of the rally, the 14 mile 'Classic' incorporated parts of the TT race course and is one of the true classics of British Rallying. With the conditions perfect and the route suiting Matt's driving style he blitzed through the stage to go an incredible 21st fastest overall!!!
This rally has been one big learning curve. This is only my 5th ever tarmac rally and my first visit to the Isle of Man. The conditions were really tricky and many thanks to my 'weather' crews up in the hills. The Hankook tyre choice was great and a big thank you to my service crew, the guys from m3motorsport, for helping me nurse my clutch-less MG through 3 hard days of rallying!
Despite taking the lead in class 'R3' for 2 wheel drive Production class cars Matt knows the championship is still wide open as the championship works on the best 5 scores.
Thanks to Hankook Tyres, m3motorsport, NWHC Motorsport Academy, PIAA (for the lights and wipers) and Mum and Dad.
Round 4 is once more off shore as the 2006 Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship heads across the water to Ireland for the Phillip White Tyres Ulster Rally which runs over the first weekend of September.
For more on the rally please visit www.ulsterrally.com For more on Matt please visit www.mattbeebe.co.uk
-credit: Geoff Mayes