Petchies painful Rally Isle of Man Stephen Petch junior experienced one of the biggest crashes of his career on an incident packed Rally Isle of Man, round 3 of the 2006 Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship. After debuting his SG...
Petchies painful Rally Isle of Man
Stephen Petch junior experienced one of the biggest crashes of his career on an incident packed Rally Isle of Man, round 3 of the 2006 Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship.
After debuting his SG Petch Motorsport run Mitsubishi Evo IX on the island earlier in the year Stephen was confident of a good run on the Rally Isle of Man, an event notorious for its changeable weather conditions and tricky roads. With the high speeds frequently reached on these treacherous roads this event is not for the faint hearted and the young County Durham driver was confident that the event would suit his driving style.
The rally got off to a bad start when Stephen slowed to ensure that Roman Kresta, who had crashed out early in the very first stage, was alright. With the anti lag on his Mitsubishi inadvertently turned off Stephen struggled through most of the stage before realising his error. The resulting slow stage time dropped Stephen down the order.
Stage 2, run over slightly faster and more flowing roads saw Stephen and co- driver Michael Wilkinson up the pace considerably, but then, as the pair neared the finish they were slowed as young Stuart Jones had crashed out heavily and his car was partially blocking the stage. Stephen, presuming the stage had been stopped, halted at the accident to ensure that the crew were both ok before slowly continuing to the finish. Despite the majority of the crews receiving nominal times the SG Petch Scalextric Mitsubishi driver was awarded his actual time, costing him even more time!
The final 3 stages of day 1 went without incident and despite struggling in the dusk on the final stage, where running with lights seemed to make no difference, Stephen still set some fairly quick times but was not happy to be lying just inside the top 30! We lost a lot of time on the first 2 stages when we slowed down at two very big crashes. Now we have no option but to push fairly hard tomorrow and try and make up a bit of time!
With the weather changing constantly on Friday morning tyre choice was a real gamble and Stephen was one of many to struggle through the opening stage on the wrong tyres. Despite this Stephen was confident that his tyre choice would work for the rest of the morning loop and headed into Stage 7 still remarkably optimistic.
However half was through Stage 7, Kella 1, it all went horribly wrong for the young man. As the pair approached a fast sequence of bends they hit a patch of wet tarmac which speared the Mitsubishi off the road and up a bank. This was not too bad except the bank. and the car, ended in a wall! Going from 90mph to 0 in half a second did the car no good and the team were out of the event immediately. Despite being fairly shook up both Stephen and Michael were uninjured but their rally, and quite possibly their championship aspirations, were over! I am absolutely gutted! This was the biggest crash of my career and the car is pretty messed up! Both Michael and I are pretty sore now but full credit to all the safety devices built into the car! I don't think we'll have her ready in time for the Ulster so now I need to sit down with the team and decide what to do. Either way we'll definitely be back for the Rally of Yorkshire seeing as how that's my home event!
The SG Petch Motorsport Team now face a challenge as Stephen is due to contest the Park Systems Rally in early September, as well as the Ulster Rally shortly afterwards.
For more on SGP Motorsport please visit www.sgpmotorsport.co.uk
-credit: Geoff Mayes