Ireland's Clubmans Swansea Rally summary

Red Hot Potter makes Championship break! James Potter produced one of the drives of the day as he took his venerable Ford Escort RS to a convincing KUMHO Clubmans Championship win on the Swansea Bay Clubmans Rally, finishing second overall in ...

Red Hot Potter makes Championship break!

James Potter produced one of the drives of the day as he took his venerable Ford Escort RS to a convincing KUMHO Clubmans Championship win on the Swansea Bay Clubmans Rally, finishing second overall in the process - by just 0.3 of a second!

The Kall Kwik Rally winner was on top form as the KUMHO regulars made the trip to the South Wales valleys for four long stages in some of the hottest and dustiest conditions that competitors and organisers could remember.

Potter, with Andrew Hebron alongside, was immediately on the pace, setting fastest time by thirteen seconds on the opening Rheola stage from Peter Rayner in his similar machine. Rayner would get as far as the last stage until he went off - unfortunate to throw away a potential top ten result.

Two of the leading KUMHO Clubmen were not having such a great start to the day. Frustration was the word for both Alistair Adams and Ieuan Rowlands. Adams found his engine to be overheating on the 10 mile stage, but a puncture halfway through would cost him any chance of a top result. Rowlands had been equally unfortunate. The talented Welshman caught the car in front of him halfway through the first stage, dropping around 14 seconds to the flying Potter.

Well on the pace for the first stage was Iain Shirlaw in his shiny black Proton Satria. The ex-Martin Meadows machine was performing well for the Motorsport Direct man, but Shirlaw experienced brake fade towards the end of the stage. Shirlaw uses the left foot braking technique in the car, but previous owner Meadows didn't! As a result, Iain needed to be on a different type of brake pad for the car, and spent the rest of the day guessing if he would have brakes or not, and spinning a couple of times as a result.

Two drivers who had a rally to forget had both travelled from North Yorkshire in order to compete. Front running Escort driver Andy Carter didn't reach the end of the first stage due to a mechanical failure, whilst Pickering's Steve Magson was even less fortunate. The Vauxhall V6 engine in his Astra RWD stopped before the seasoned campaigner could even begin the first stage.

Back at the front of the field, Potter was consolidating his impressive lead as he set three consecutive KUMHO fastest times to take maximum championship points by 38 seconds from the fast recovering Ieuan Rowlands/Kelvin Savage. Ieuan would have closed the gap considerably but for a squashed exhaust on the Walters Arena stage that completely strangled the performance of his Escort 1600.

Another 40 seconds in arrears were the class three Clubman winners, Allan McDowall and Gavin Heseltine. Allan did not enjoy the 'horrendous dust' at all, but he kept his immaculate Opel Kadett on the road all day to take a well earned 6th overall.

Alistair and Andrew Adams were the next finishers home, as they battled back up the field from their puncture to grab 9th overall by the end. Alistair disappointed to have dropped so much time early on, but consoled by second in Class 3. Two places behind the Bewdley driver were Dick Slaughter/Liz Jordan in their Escort RS. Dick found himself running on three cylinders and running out of fuel on the opening stage. Hasty repairs were made to the Escort at service, and the pair claimed 11th overall by the end, and 3rd in Class 3.

Another Class 3 driver was having a more difficult day. Twickenham driver Winston Clarke had a nightmare first stage. Firstly the throttle stuck open, then he caught another car, then the co-driver was sick all over the pristine Ford Escort! With great spirit Winston laughed off the dramas and continued to finish 26th overall. Winston's good humour after his stage one disaster rightly earned him the KUMHO Star of the Rally award, and four free KUMHO tyres. Unfortunately, a sick bag is not included for co-driver Rob Allen!

Class 2 honours went to the other Rowlands brother, John. Like brother Ieuan, John had also been held up by the blanket dust early in the rally. Apart from a few scares when the dust prevented them from seeing where the road went, he and Darren Garrod kept it all together to grab a well earned class win, ahead of the flamboyant Ian McCulloch and the learning Iain Shirlaw.

Finally, it was yet another class win for the Mini of Steven Belcher and Richard May. A slipping clutch meant they spent a lot of time in third gear on the opening stage, but despite that, they were enjoying the stages. A neat and tidy performance on the remaining stages brought them home to a fourth consecutive class win in the championship this year - a fantastic effort from the smallest car in the field!

-kumho-

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers Richard May , Andy Carter , Rob Allen