Classes and Champions The classes and categories of the Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship have all been settled on the final two scoring rounds of Wales Rally GB this weekend. The fierce battle at the front was, of course...
Classes and Champions
The classes and categories of the Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship have all been settled on the final two scoring rounds of Wales Rally GB this weekend.
The fierce battle at the front was, of course won by Guy Wilks and Phil Pugh after Mark Higgins title defence was thwarted by punctures and gearbox dramas. Wilks also inevitably took victory in Rally 4, the category for turbocharged cars.
The win means that it is Mitsubishi Motors UK that takes the Teams' Championship from Stobart TEG Sport with TQ.com and Dealer Team Suzuki next. "The team had one objective at the start of the season," said team boss Paul Brigden, "Guy, Gwyndaf, Phil, Huw and their crews have delivered -- fantastic!"
In Rally 3 the battle was down to the wire between Stefan Davis and Darren Gass, both in Super 1600 front wheel drive cars. The calculators were out after the first round on Friday when Davis had major problems with the starter motor and electrics on his Puma. Gass had problems too with a broken engine mount, but the young Northern Irish driver came out on top with 20 points.
Even this result meant Davis merely had to finish round seven without resorting to Super Rally. He coaxed the car through Saturday and Sundays first pair of stages before problems on the penultimate stage put him OTL (over time limit). "This has been the worst rally of my life," said the dejected Davis at Rally HQ.
Meanwhile his retirement was more than enough to hand the Rally 3 title to a delighted Gass and co-driver Neil Shanks, Gass also pipping James Wozencroft to the prestigious title of MSA Junior Rally Champion. "The car was falling apart around me," said Gass, "It has been a very hard rally but it's great to win two titles."
Rally 2 was perhaps even more hotly contested with five drivers in with a chance before Rally GB. Leader Lorna Smith's hopes were dashed when a rock holed the fuel tank, while her Suzuki team mate raged a fierce battle with Matt Beebe in his MG. While Smith had the consolation of the MSA British Ladies' Championship title, the round six spoils went to Beebe; Wozencroft annoyed by time loss when he stopped to check another driver was OK.
Despite this it was enough to propel "Woz" to the head of the points table and after Beebe's gearbox cried enough, it seemed that he just needed to finish to secure the title.
Beebe re-started using Super Rally rules, so keeping his time penalties to a minimum, but when he stopped again with alternator failure, the Suzuki team's prospects seemed assured. Unfortunately Wozencroft also stopped on the penultimate stage when his suspension ball joint broke in the rough conditions. The consequent time difference meant the maximum points went to Beebe who takes Rally 2 by just a single point from a gutted Wozencroft. His only consolation was that the result was enough to make Chris Ridge the Rally 2 champion co-driver.
"I can't believe it," beamed Beebe, "I feel sorry for James of course, but the team has worked so hard for this on a tiny budget that I'll take the victory any way I can."
Beebe's hard-charging approach also secured him the final Pirelli Star Driver nomination that will pit him (and four others) against Wozencroft in a shoot-out to win a funded drive in the 2008 Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship.
With Rally 1 already secured by Steve and Tony Graham, they switched to a Diesel Astra to vie for the Diesel Cup with Fin McCaul. The friendly rivalry even extended to McCaul recovering Graham after they both crashed in Yorkshire. The title, however, went to Fin McCaul despite retiring with complete engine oil loss in his BMW. Graham had done his best to capitalise but he too failed to reach the finish with oil loss, his from the gearbox. Brother Tony Graham was consoled with the co-driver's title in both Diesels and Privateers Cup.
"We knew it would be a difficult season learning the car," explained McCaul, "So to win the Diesels in the first season is fantastic." The amiable English domiciled Irishman also takes the Privateers Cup from Fin Vesa Mikkola.
Martin Laverty & Andrew Roughead sealed the inaugural Citroen C2R2 Cup with a consistent approach, taking the title from season-long leader Jason Pritchard. His rally was punctuated by mechanical problems, dropping him behind Martin Roberts who took second.
The final BRC category settled on Wales Rally GB was the Nations Cup, appropriately led by Wales going into the final two rounds. However by the finish back in Cardiff, England had come back, the winning margin just one point.
With all the titles and categories settled (albeit provisional for a week) the only thing left for the 2007 season is to hand out the silverware. The "BRC Bash", as it has become known, takes place on Friday 11th January at the Renaissance Hotel in Solihull.