Rautenbach moves into 2nd in BRC Young Zimbabwean Conrad Rautenbach did his 2006 Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship campaign absolutely no harm by staging an impressive performance on one of the trickiest rallies the young driver has...
Rautenbach moves into 2nd in BRC
Young Zimbabwean Conrad Rautenbach did his 2006 Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship campaign absolutely no harm by staging an impressive performance on one of the trickiest rallies the young driver has ever encountered. Finishing 4th of the British Rally Championship contenders on only his 1st ever visit Rally Isle of Man International.
Conrad opened his account with 10th fastest BRC contender on the opening stage having lost time when he slowed done to make sure Roman Kresta, who had crashed heavily near the start, was ok. With the island bathed in glorious sunshine Conrad upped the pace to set a string of top 7 BRC times over the next 4 stages and ended the day lying 5th overall amongst the Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship contenders. With Rory Galligan ahead and Phil Morrow only 8 seconds behind Conrad was in the midst of a great battle.
Friday morning saw the island blanketed by a big grey cloud and with parts of the island receiving a light coating of drizzle tyre choice would be critical. Conrad began the day by going 6th fastest through the opening 7 mile 'Little London' stage and then followed that up with 2 top 5 times before struggling slightly with tyres that were unsuitable to the conditions. Even with this small distraction Conrad never set a time outside the top 10 all morning. The afternoon stages were just as challenging as the weather changed constantly. However Conrad was able to call upon his experienced co-driver David Senior for general advice whilst up to date weather reports from around the island were fed back to the team to assist with tyre choices.
The afternoon was made trickier when the pair were hampered with minor brake problems. This distraction saw Conrad spin under braking on the second run through Union Mills costing him over 20 seconds. Stage 17, Cringle 2, saw the crews faced with some of the trickiest conditions in the whole championship. With the surface of the road as slippery as ice a number of crews reported moments whilst Ryan Champion was one of 4 cars to crash out of the event on one particular corner. These accidents meant the stage was stopped and the majority of the field, including Conrad, given nominal times. This was just as well as Conrad and David had survived their own encounter with a closed gate, resulting in minor panel damage to the front of the Subaru.
Conrad ended the day embroiled in a fight with Gwyndaf Evans. The former British Rally Champion was a mere 3 seconds behind Conrad at the end of over 110 miles of close competition!
Despite the weather clearing up overnight Stage 18, which was a repeat of the first stage of the rally, was still very slippery. Evans took up the challenge and went fastest through the stage. Conrad responded with 3rd quickest but crucially was 3.4 seconds slower, allowing Evans past. Conrad was not going to just let Evans get away from him and set the 4th quickest time before the competitors returned to first service. 2 top 5 times followed but Gwyndaf Evans was now out of the equation after blowing the rear diff on his Mitsubishi Evo IX.
After the penultimate service of the rally Conrad headed out for the final 2 stages and promptly blitzed through the 8.8 mile Newtown 2 to go 2nd fastest of all the British Championship contenders before following this up with 5th quickest through the final stage of the rally to finish 4th in the Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship Rally Isle of Man.
This was one of the trickiest rallies I've ever experienced and I'm really pleased to have finished at all. We had a bit of a moment with a closed gate on Friday night and one or two little spins but overall the weekend went really well and the team did a sterling job.
This result now elevates Conrad into equal 2nd in the championship standings, tied with Ryan Champion. However celebrations were short as Conrad and David now head off to German to prepare for the forthcoming Rally Deutschland which begins on Thursday.
For more on the OMV ADAC Rally Deutschland visit www.omv-adac-rallye.de For more on Conrad visit www.conradrautenbach.com
-credit: geoff mayes-