Milner revved for tarmac Clark attack! Reigning British Rally Champions and joint Pirelli British Rally Championship leaders Jonny Milner and Nicky Beech are gearing up for their first tarmac outing of the season on July 4-6th. The Team ...
Milner revved for tarmac Clark attack!
Reigning British Rally Champions and joint Pirelli British Rally Championship leaders Jonny Milner and Nicky Beech are gearing up for their first tarmac outing of the season on July 4-6th. The Team Dynamics Pro Rally Toyota driver from Huggate in Yorkshire and his Welsh co-driver from Wrexham will contest the Jim Clark Memorial Rally, based in Edinburgh.
The on form duo took a superb last stage victory on the recent Scottish Rally, based in Dumfries. Main championship rival Tapio Laukkanen of Finland punctured a tyre halfway through the final stage and Milner rocketed through to set fastest time and win the rally by 28 seconds in his Toyota Corolla WRC, after a weekend long battle with the Subaru Impreza WRC of the former British champion.
Tarmac is an altogether different challenge for both Milner and Laukkanen. Milner had to fight a lone battle with an influx of rapid Irish tarmac experts on last years event. The fight was made all the harder when Milner glanced at a rising temperature gauge in 6th gear and missed a braking point, colliding with a stout Scottish wall. Considerable front end damage was done to the Corolla WRC, and to make matters worse, as repairs were completed at the next service, the turbo failed. In a superhuman effort, Milner's mechanics fixed the turbo and the Corolla booked out of the time control on its very last second of maximum lateness.
Milner was left to battle back from 4th overall to an excellent 2nd overall by the rally finish, just behind tarmac king and 2003 Jim Clark Memorial Rally favourite Andrew Nesbitt, of Ireland. With the Corolla being overhauled and changed to full tarmac specification before it makes the journey to the closed public roads near the late Clark's home town of Duns, Milner is expecting a tough battle this time round:
"There are so many potential winners out there" remarked Jonny. "Tapio is no slouch on tarmac, and neither is (Jari-Matti) Latvala. Then you look at the Irish contingent like Nesbitt and Austin McHale and you could pick any one of three or four drivers who could set the pace. Obviously we're at a disadvantage in the sense that our Corolla WRC is an older '98 car, but you cannot argue against the car's impressive reliability record, and it is also a very well balanced car on tarmac as well. We came very close to not finishing the rally next year - just one second more and we would have been out of time. Thankfully we managed to claim second by the end of the rally thanks to the strength of the Toyota and the efforts of my team.
The stages are brilliant to drive on, as the conditions can be changeable if the weather is unsettled, making tyre choice very important if there is rain about. Fortunately we have excellent support from Pirelli and I'm confident that our tyres will be more than capable of giving us the chance to be competitive on the stages. I think it will be very difficult to predict a winner on this rally, but if we get a clear run and don't have any problems, I'd expect us to have a good finish again. I won't be looking at the gauges this year though..."
Starting with a spectator friendly stage near the Ocean Terminal shopping centre on the Friday evening, the crews will then leave Edinburgh for the run out to Duns on the Saturday morning. Using the classic country lanes near the town, the crews will have a full day's rallying on the Saturday, before the overnight halt back at Edinburgh. Sunday morning sees the crews tackle fewer stages before returning for the champagne celebrations at the Ocean Terminal around 2.15pm in the afternoon.