Gallagher opens his account. The competitors on the first round of the Peugeot 206 Super Cup unexpectedly found themselves in Scotland when the Border Counties Rally was included in the Championship as a replacement for the cancelled Rally of ...
Gallagher opens his account.
The competitors on the first round of the Peugeot 206 Super Cup unexpectedly found themselves in Scotland when the Border Counties Rally was included in the Championship as a replacement for the cancelled Rally of Wales.
Jedburgh Abbey formed the backdrop for the start of the event which headed out to Kielder Forest for the 45 competitive stage miles. A problem caused the first stage, 5.5 miles through Comb, to be cancelled and the 206 Cup competitors were given a nominal time before proceeding to Pundershaw. The change of venue played into the hands of local man Chris Moore who with his new co-driver Mike Panes set fastest time with Richard Sykes two seconds behind. Newcomers Joan Roca and Daniel Guirro, fresh from winning the Spanish 206 Championship, showed they meant business by setting a top ten time. Jack and Grania Ingleby meanwhile had a challenging start to their season when they went off the road, landing on their roof. Then, "helping" spectators rolled them into the ditch.
Richard Sykes fought back on Stage 3 to take the lead from Chris Moore by 2 seconds. But at second Service after stage four and with two stages remaining, the situation just could not have been closer, with Chris Moore and Richard Sykes on equal times. This despite a sensor failing on Moore's car cutting out whenever he reached 7000 revs. Only seventeen seconds separated the top nine cars, with George Phillipedes a further ten seconds behind in tenth place.
However, Moore's efforts ended in disaster when he ended his day in one of the notorious deep Kielder ditches on the final stage. This was a tough injustice as his sensor problem had re-appeared, and a fellow competitor Mike Faulkner had caught him so Moore pulled over to let him through, but just a metre too far. This left a jubilant Gallagher to take the win. With the final two events of last year's Championship under his belt, this makes it three Cup victories in a row for the young Irishman, who has planned a huge programme for 2003. The Norwegian and the French 206 Championships plus the UK one are all under attack.
Richard Sykes had to be content with bridesmaid place yet again, his finishing spot on the 206 Winter Cup championship. Next place went to the beaming Spaniards, Joan Roca and Dani Guirro, who improved and improved during the day to take fastest on Stage 5 and charge into 3rd. "Pundershaw is a very beautiful stage. But we are having a lot of fun, which is also very important." commented Dani.
Ben Roper was having such a bad day with the rally, he could only joke "nice weather". Usual stunt driver Paul Swift couldn't hear his co-driver Alyson Marlow but was taking it easy, "As I'm not going to throw it all away on my first Cup event." Ian Warren got over confident on his new tyres and slid wide, landing some 20 feet later in a ditch, ending his day. He returned very crestfallen into service. 206 Winter Cup champion Stuart Jones lost his intercom earlier on, but didn't lose much time, catching the car in front. He drove cleanly to the end and into 8th place. Gareth MacHale was too neat on the first pair of stages, too aggressive on the next two, but going back to neat took him up to 7th place. Olly Marshall needed to be braver to catch 7 seconds up on man in front after stage 4, but being too brave resulted in an overshoot, keeping 6th.
Former Scottish Junior Champion Mike Faulkner with new co-driver Peter Foy took a joint fastest time on Stage 3, and commented that they were "Working well together" as they ended up in the top five. Sebastian Ling with James Phillips took an excellent fourth; his brake bias problem sorted out at first service and although commenting, "Not going quick enough" at that point, improved to the end.
But it was Gallagher's day, as he took maximum points heading to the next round, the double header on the Pirelli Gateshead and National Rallies on April 25/26.