Black successful on the Black Stuff The fourth round of the British Rally Championship Challenge kicked off on the Isle of Man under changeable weather conditions that have become synonymous with the event. The event however saw a maiden rally...
Black successful on the Black Stuff
The fourth round of the British Rally Championship Challenge kicked off on the Isle of Man under changeable weather conditions that have become synonymous with the event.
The event however saw a maiden rally win for the popular Callum Black who secured his first ever rally victory in only his second tarmac event. In an event that will live long in the youngster's memory the Northamptonshire student extended his lead in the Championship.
The MSA Dulux Trade British Rally Championship support series is run as a double scoring event in both the Isle of Man and Ulster, with maximum Championship points being awarded for both the Friday and Saturday stages.
The Rally lived up to its reputation with the afternoon stages proving to be a war of attrition with notable retirements decimating the field.
The 11 car entry was reduced to just four finishers at the end of day one in a rally to remember for many reasons.
The day didn't start well for Black and co-driver Paul Wakley when the pair spun on the opening stage leaving them at the bottom of the leader board. But when the weather turned so did the Northampton locals luck.
Jim Clark victor Richard Archer started the day looking to consolidate his tag as a tarmac specialist, "There's a bit of pressure being the favourite but it comes with the territory, I just have to keep it on the island".
After posting second fastest time on the first stage, Archer ran out of look on the second stage dropping lots of time after stalling his car on Dog Mills.
His look didn't improve however when a gearbox problem forced him out of the event on SS5 and making him the biggest casualty of the day, "We can fixed it and be out tomorrow, I've never had this problem with the car before". This isn't the first problem to face Archer on the event though as he suffered a mechanical problem last year. "I need to get some luck soon here" he added.
Another front runner that had his fair share of problems was the Fiesta SportChallenge Championship leader Jonathon Cunningham, who suffered two broken driveshafts which ended his day.
Two other unlucky Fiesta drivers were Alex Laffey and Louise Cook who both failed to finish. Laffey was caught out by the conditions and had a big off which permanently put an end to his rally. While Louise Cook driving in her first Isle of Man event maintained a good pace throughout the day only to fail to finish on the last stage.
Brett Griffin and Sam Fordham seemed to be running a charmed life after two incidents which left the car damaged on both sides. "It's the last rally this shell will do" remarked Sam at the end of the afternoon sessions. But their luck finally ran out on the last stage when lying in 3rd place they once again ran off the road, this time terminally.
Not all of the front runners succumbed to trouble, with Chris Peart and Jamie Forrest having an excellent debut in their new S1600 Corsa with a second place finish. "If you offered us 2nd place at the start we would have took it" remarked Jamie. "We only managed to test the car at a single venue event last month, we finished fourth overall and first in class" added Chris.
The top three was rounded out by Andrew Chalmers in his Suzuki Swift who dealt with differential problems throughout the afternoon. The fourth and final car to make it to the end of a tough first day was the 205 of George Morrison and David Jones.
But the first day belonged to Calum Black and Paul Wakley who managed the changing conditions superbly. "I've been rallying 27 years and never seen it so bad" said Paul. Callum spoke of his enjoyment of the final runs by saying "The last stages were great, it was just like being back in karting, finding good lines and getting into a rhythm".
With day one over and day two still to come, those competitors who have managed to survive have it all to do again.
Isle of Man Challenge Rally day one 10th July 2010
Archer secures second win of the season
Dick Archer and co-driver Ashley Trimble took the spoils on day two of the BRC Challenge after another day of tough stages on Rally Isle of Man.
The day started with impressive times being set on SS14 by Archer, Peart and Friday's victor Callum Black. With all three drivers dipping under the 10 minute barrier, it looked like being a real fight with Black and Peart hoping to increase their hold at the top of the championship.
Black was quickest on the Cronk stage taking nine seconds out of the hard charging Archer. But during the next stage at Glascoe, disaster struck the pairing of Black and Wakely when the gearbox let go, "I'm disappointed, we got to a hairpin in the stage and the car lost all drive" remarked a visibly disappointed Black.
The quickest of all was not Archer or Peart, but a determined Jonathan Cunningham in the Fiesta ST. Despite knowing that a finish here would give the Cumbrian based Irishman the Fiesta SportChallenge title, he still wasn't holding back, determined to put his problematic first day behind him.
With Black out, the fight continued into the afternoon and the Island fog which enveloped the stages. "The fog was just horrendous" became a competitor mantra at the second service halt.
Archer admitted to mishearing a pace-note on SS19 and taking a four-right flat out. "I arrived too quick and had to cut the corner more than I would like, I picked up a puncture but managed to drive out the stage". Astonishingly he still posted the fastest stage time.
Not allowing the men to hog all the limelight, Louise Cook continued her steep learning curve with a good debut drive on the Isle of Man. After recovering from an off on SS14 she finally finished fourth.
George Morrison claimed fifth place and another RC1 class victory in the venerable Peugeot 205 ahead of Andrew Chalmers' ailing Suzuki Swift. "We lost drive and had to take the top off the gearbox in the stage, we had no wipers or intercom". Not to be beaten he added "we'll drag it kicking and screaming to the finish".
Third place went to Jonathan Cunningham and Richard Millener in the Ford and in finishing secured the Fiesta SportChallenge series. "I can't believe it" said a relived Cunningham, "I always wanted to do a single make championship just to test myself against equal machinery". "We were both holding our breath on the final stage; the tension in the car was unbelievable" remarked a jubilant Cunningham.
Second place went yet again to Chris Peart, proving the new car has the pace and reliability to be a real threat in the BRC Challenge. The Burton Pidsea driver's day wasn't totally without incident though, as the Yorkshireman suffered a puncture and then lost the intercom, which left the pair struggling to keep pace on the final stage.
Archer also had his moments, spinning on SS14 and dropping nearly a minute. But with the conditions worsening it didn't seem to hamper his progress as he took five fastest times and the second day victory.
"The event was brilliant today" said Archer, "we dropped time on the last stage but that hasn't hindered us". "I would like to say that it has been a pleasure to have Ashley Trimble calling the notes this weekend." added a very happy Archer
With the event winner not competing in Yorkshire and Black not scoring on day two, the door has been left open for Julian Wilkes and Will Rutherford to gain some ground on Black in Ulster and take the MSA Dulux British Rally Championship's support series down to the wire.
The series moves to Northern Ireland towards the end of August, as the Ulster Challenge Rally gives the other half of the field an opportunity to score points on their chosen "overseas" double header event.