Punishing Pirelli for Petchie Young Stephen Petch Jnr survived an eventful weekend as the 2006 Tesco 99 Octane British Rally Championship got underway with the Pirelli International Rally. Amongst the many lessons that Stephen learnt was ...
Punishing Pirelli for Petchie
Young Stephen Petch Jnr survived an eventful weekend as the 2006 Tesco 99 Octane British Rally Championship got underway with the Pirelli International Rally. Amongst the many lessons that Stephen learnt was how essential it is to ensure your pace notes are perfect.
Despite only very limited gravel testing Stephen had high hopes of a good score in Carlisle, having finished on the production class podium here last year.
A cautious start to the event saw Stephen inside the top 15 at the end of the opening stage. Happy with the settings on his car he then upped the pace to go 8th quickest through the 8.7 mile Rushy Knowe. Stage 3, the famous Chirdonhead, saw 3 cars finish less than a second apart, with Petchie and young Irishman Phil Morrow sharing an almost identical time through the stage.
Stage 4 was the first run through the 'P zero' spectator stage, where the SG Petch Motorsport car entertained the crowds with his impressive leaps over the jumps and committed approach to the water splash! By first service Stephen was up to 11th overall and was a mere 15 seconds behind JWRC contender Guy Wilks.
Next up was the 8.7 mile Shepherdshield Stage. A typical Kielder stage with tricky cambers and very fast straights. World Champions have been caught out in these forests. And so was Stephen. An incorrectly marked pacenote meant they came over a crest absolutely flat out, only to discover the road going 90 degrees to the right!!! A quick thinking Stephen yanked the handbrake and spun the car around, sending them backwards into a bank at over 90 miles an hour!!! It took spectators a while to get the car back on the road but the pair carried on undaunted and made it to the finish where they could execute minor repairs.
13th quickest on the next stage showed that Stephen was still on the pace, but then intercooler problems, and a damaged clutch hampered their progress and rather than damage the mechanicals further the pair opted to retire from the Saturday rally and focus on rejoining under super rally rules.
Sunday morning saw Stephen resume the rally down in 30th overall but a string of top times was some consolation, showing that young Petchie has the pace and should be a top contender when the season resumes with the Jim Clarke Rally in July.
Stephens's next outing is Round 4 of the ANCRO championship, the Severn Valley Rally in Wales on 3rd June.