GASS TAKES THIRD ON JIM CLARK Darren Gass and Neil Shanks took a hard earned third place in the Super 1600 class on this weekend's Jim Clark International Rally, round two of the British rally Championship. The compact event saw the pair...
GASS TAKES THIRD ON JIM CLARK
Darren Gass and Neil Shanks took a hard earned third place in the Super 1600 class on this weekend's Jim Clark International Rally, round two of the British rally Championship.
The compact event saw the pair cover 150 miles in just a day and a half but the stages were all tricky and contained jumps, bumps and water hazards along with the now traditional fast lanes of the Scottish Borders. The experienced Crozier Motorsport team knew that the Langton stage could potentially cause difficulties, as the Fiesta air intake is positioned low down and the stage contains a deep ford to traverse. They made an attempt to deflect any water from the engine intake before the start but the car still stalled at the water-splash on the first attempt.
"The modification has helped keep water out but it has meant hot air is being drawn into the engine and we're down on power." explained Darren at service. "I took it really easy but it bogged down and we lost about 15 seconds." The team opted to keep the modification until the final service of the day when they reverted to the original position for the Saturday stages.
There was a definite possibility of rain on Saturday as the clouds only broke occasionally over the countryside around Duns. Darren and Neil opted for Kumho slicks nevertheless and the decision was to prove correct all day. Just less than one hundred miles of competitive miles over fourteen stages stood between the teams and the finish in Kelso and the Castrol backed car had four visits to the centralised service area. "We haven't changed too much all day," remarked Darren at the lunchtime halt. "We're still on the older specification dampers and I think we're dropping time as a result. We've taken it really easy through the long ford in the Whiteadder stage on both runs but its hellish slippery all the way to the finish. The brakes, tyres and everything is cold so you've got to tip-toe to the flying finish."
The final two loops of stages included the very tricky Little Swinton crossroads as Neil explained, "I can't remember the last time it was used with a downhill approach and we took it flat. The back end kicked up on the bump and we landed at an angle to the road." Mercifully for the pair there was a big straw bale protecting the end of the adjacent house, but the impact with it deranged the rear suspension and broke the rear wheel arch and window.
With just a couple of miles of the stage remaining, Darren hung on to the wayward car and made it to service where repairs were carried out. "It was a big moment," said Darren, "We were really lucky the bale was there or the damage would have been much worse, I think I'll back off next time through!"
On the final loop of stages there was nothing to gain by pushing as they held a solid third in class with little chance of catching the crew in front. But the crew had one further scare before he finish. On the penultimate stage Darren noticed a vibration and noise from the front left of the car. He checked the wheel nuts but could see nothing wrong, "We opted to potter through the last stage just in case," he said, "and it was a good job as it turned out to be a collapsed front hub. I presume it was as a result of the landing we had at the crossroads."
The relieved crew took their third place in Kelso with the promise of further improvements to come. "It was a tough event," commented Darren, "but I definitely enjoyed it and we're looking forward to the Isle of Man in August."
The next round of the British and Irish Rally Championships is based in Douglas IOM on the first weekend in August and the team will be there to continue the Super 1600 battle.