Celtic benefit on the Winter Cup. Thirteen Peugeot competitors started the final and deciding round of the Peugeot 206 Winter Cup from Bournemouth this morning, five of them with a chance of taking the title. Seventy five competitive ...
Celtic benefit on the Winter Cup.
Thirteen Peugeot competitors started the final and deciding round of the Peugeot 206 Winter Cup from Bournemouth this morning, five of them with a chance of taking the title. Seventy five competitive miles divided into sixteen stages awaited them, beginning with the spectacular high speed sprint along Bournemouth Promenade in blinding sunshine.
Martin Evans stormed away setting fastest time, but at just under two miles there was a lot to catch out the unwary and a steady start suited most. However, this didn't prevent Richard Sykes from spinning on the final chicane and Trevor Martin reported oil on the stage. Peugeot 205 Challenge prize drive winner Eliot Retalick also had a steady start, still learning about the car.
Stages 2 and 3 took the crews to the 3.7 mile Barnsfield stage, still on tarmac, where Sykes realised that his brake bias was still set for the forests, hence his spin on Stage 1. Phillip Morrow was getting into his stride, setting fastest time on both runs although he remarked at first service that he preferred the forests. Championship leader at the event start, Leon Pesticcio, was struggling with gastric flu and admitted to not driving too well. Martin was struggling with no power steering and thought he had lost the belt on a jump on Stage 2. Newcomer Paul Jones couldn't find any gears when he needed them.
The first batch of long forest stages was about to make a big difference to the Cup, when first Leon Pesticcio's rally ended with retirement on Stage 5 when he broke his suspension on a pothole, then Richard Sykes broke the nearside CV joint on Stage 6. Although he was able to exit the stage, he retired shortly afterwards. This left Stuart Jones leading the event at the second Service and leading the Winter Cup. He said he was "good and happy, just being consistent". Phillip Morrow was surprised to find himself only sixth tenths of a second behind because he was still finding it hard to get gears and was just trying to stay on the road, the tight sections catching him out all the time. Sebastian Ling had moved up to third, while Eliot Retalick had got to grips with the car, setting fastest time on Stage 6. Martin Evans was another suffering from flu, and saying "I'm hearing the notes but the arms don't work and the legs won't react". As a consequence he had had two big overshoots on Stage 5 but was still lying 5th at Service. Shane McCarthy in 7th place summed up his day so far with "I don't like gravel, full stop!". Jon Tucker having survived a puncture on Stage 2 said he felt really quick and had a big moment on a bump on Stage 5, but was not making times up on the others.
Stages 8 & 9 repeated Stages 2 & 3 in the opposite direction and back on tarmac. At the following Service at Matchams Park, only 56 seconds separated the top 9 competitors but sadly Martin Evans, who was in 5th place only 38 seconds behind the leader, was forced to retire with loss of engine compression. Fastest times on both stages were set by Phillip Morrow who declared them "brilliant, I'm really enjoying the tarmac and getting plenty of grip".
Only 7 seconds behind, Stuart Jones had been very untidy at the chicane on Stage 8 but happy on Stage 9. Tucker admitted to being just wild on Stage 8, onto gravel, onto grass and then straight on at a hairpin, trying to leave his braking as late as possible. Paul Jones said "I made mistakes on first time through but I am quicker now and the times are slower, I can't make it out!" Eliot Retalick struggled on Stage 8 when he lost power steering, but set fourth fastest time on Stage 9 before having it fixed at Service. Olly Marshall looked on the stages as "a bit of tarmac testing and good experience" whilst Ian Warren admitted to being slightly discouraged. He said "I am learning a lot on this rally. I thought I had learnt a lot on the last round but this event just proves how much more I have to learn.".
Back in the forests, Jones and Morrow were battling it out and set equal fastest times on the short Stage 10, Uddens, but things were to change dramatically on Stage 11 when Morrow landed heavily on a bump losing engine oil and retiring immediately. All competitors reported the stage to be very rough and most exited without front number plates, but Ling saw his opportunity and set fastest time on Stage 13 leaving him only nine seconds behind the new leader, Stuart Jones, at the last Service point.
With three short tarmac stages left, the situation was very tense, Jones needing to win the event to win the Cup. With a mature drive belying his 17 years, he and codriver Richard Edwards took a championship run on the three to secure the win they so badly wanted. 11 seconds finally split the leading pair, Sebastian Ling, 19 years old from Carmarthenshire took the runner up spot with James Philips from Swansea guiding him. Shane McCarthy with Tony Mulcahy completed the Celtic domination of the event.
Despite the frosty feel of the 206 Winter Cup title, the three events have been the sunniest three events despite the temperatures but hardly compared to the sunny smile beaming across Stuart's face at the podium finish.
<pre> Pos. Driver/Co-Driver Total Difference 1 Stuart Jones/Richard Edwards 1:21:22.8 2 Sebastian Ling/James Phillips 1:21:33.9 0:11.1 3 Shane McCarthy/Tony Mulcahy 1:22:52.2 1:29.4 4 Olly Marshall/Craig Parry 1:23:15.7 1:52.9 5 Ian Warren/Ian Bevan 1:25:13.3 3:50.5 6 Jon Tucker/Scott Cleverdon 1:25:49.2 4:26.4 7 Trevor Martin/David Henderson 1:32:08.0 10:45.2