Round Five of the KUMHO National Rally Championship: 'Dusty Duckworth on hot form in Swansea'. Roger Duckworth produced a terrific fightback performance to claim his second consecutive KUMHO National Rally Championship win of the season, as he...
Round Five of the KUMHO National Rally Championship:
'Dusty Duckworth on hot form in Swansea'.
Roger Duckworth produced a terrific fightback performance to claim his second consecutive KUMHO National Rally Championship win of the season, as he toasted victory on the Swansea Bay National Rally this weekend.
Partnered by local stand in co-driver and former event winner Aled Davies, Duckworth recovered from a gear selector problem that left his Subaru Impreza WRC jammed in gear on the opening stage to take a 21.3 second victory over championship favourite David Mann.
The Mushroom farmer from Bungay went off three times on the opening stage of the event, but still managed to set fastest time in temperatures of 30 degrees plus. The KUMHO backed championship leader had no answer to Duckworth's charge over the final stages, and wisely settled for the runner up spot as he and co-driver Alun Cook increased their lead in the series to a very healthy 27 points over Ulsterman Brendan Crealey.
Crealey starred on the event. Third fastest on the opening stage, despite catching another cars dust, the Group N and Mitsubishi Evo Challenge leader was on terrific form. With regular co-driver Steve Harris back on the notes, Crealey enjoyed a clean run throughout the event's six special stages, hampered only by catching the dust of the car in front. As a result of his brilliant drive, Brendan took a well earned 3rd overall and second in the overall points table.
With his Subaru engine fully rebuilt, Nigel Griffiths was another Group N driver in the absolute peak of form. Consistent Top 5 stage times allowed the Presteigne driver to score his career best KUMHO series result, just six seconds ahead of another front running Group N car, that of Gavin Cox/Tim Hobbs, who also enjoyed a near trouble free day in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII.
Those not so fortunate included pre-event favourites Andy Burton/John Roberts in their mighty Peugeot-Cosworth. Taking the lead after the first run through the Walters Arena stage, Burton had to repair a broken alternator at the start of the third stage, meaning he dropped well down the order. Unfortunately, the Hereford driver set off into the 15 mile stage one minute behind Group N driver Paul Wedgebury. Paul was being hampered by a chronic map sensor problem that left his Subaru powerless over 3,000rpm. Despite stopping several times on the stage to try and let Burton through, the Peugeot driver could not see a thing in the dust and could not pass. It was all immaterial to Burton when the gearbox began to malfunction on the Rhondda stage, and he was out.
Joining him on the sidelines were Steve Petch/John Richardson, who were fastest on Walters Arena before a transmission failure stopped their Hyundai Accent WRC from going further. Martyn Harrison also recorded his first no-score of the year as his Metro 6R4 was parked up after SS4. Phil Morgan, debuting his ex-Marcus Dodd Impreza WRC had the ignominy of being one of the final retirements, when he spun the car off the road in the very last stage. Phil had been suffering with dust in his eyes all day - not a good thing for a man wearing contact lenses.
Another challenger for overall honours was Bob Ceen. The Subaru Impreza 555 driver enjoying his day until a time consuming puncture on Rhondda dropped him over a minute and thirty seconds to the leading duo. Ceen was on course for second or third overall until disaster struck. 3rd quickest through the final stage brought the Malvern driver back up to 6th by the end, in front of series regulars Steve Palmer and Charlie Payne, who both put in highly commendable performances as they endured the worst of the dusty conditions.
12th overall and first in three classes once again were the ever improving Craig Middleton/Robin Hernaman. Despite being hampered by a chest infection, the Llandrindod Wells driver recovered from a slow first stage time to claim a convincing victory in Class A7, Formula 2, and the Junior Championship. As a result of scoring maximum points on all rounds this season, Craig cannot now be beaten for any of the titles - a fantastic display of consistency from the youngster.
16th overall and taking the honours in Class B11 was David Young in his Ford Escort RS. Trying a sequential gearbox for the first time took some getting used to, but Young soon found the Dutch gearbox to his liking, as he finished second two wheel drive car home, just ahead of the ever spectacular B12 class winner, Robin Bradbury, who was once again entertaining the crowds in fine style.
First in the Super 1600 category was Michael Coomber in his Proton Satria, run by Geoff Jones Motorsport. Coomber's victory was made all the more easier once series leader Andy Gwynne had retired. Gwynne had suffered a tough day in his Vauxhall Corsa. Andy one of many drivers suffering with fuel problems as the temperatures soared.
Mandy Roberts was once again on top form in the Ladies Category. Having won on the Astra Stages and Mutiny Rally, Swansea based Mandy knew that a win on her home event would give her the title of the KUMHO National Ladies Champion. After six very enjoyable stages with co-driver Derek Davies alongside, Mady brought her Mitsubishi home a fine 31st overall - and enjoyed her first National Ladies title to boot!
Taking his first finish of the year, and first in class A5 along the way, was Stephen Petch in his Ford KA. After a series of engine failures this season, Petch Jnr beat a host of 4wd cars to claim 34th overall, and the KUMHO Star of the Rally Award in the process.
The battle for N3 honours was just as close fought. Steve Blunt/Bob Duck were suffering from some gear linkage problems on the early stages in their Peugeot 306, whilst the husband and wife team of Dave/Pamela Hull suffered a broken suspension strut early on in their Vauxhall Astra. Just sixteen seconds separated the crews at the end, with Blunt once again taking the honours. In Class B10, another husband and wife duo, Alan and Denise Desbois were the lone finishers in their Peugeot 306 RWD.
The smallest capacity class, N1 saw Mark Annand and Geraint Lloyd Williams take the honours once again in their SRM Sport run VW Polo 16v. Despite going on two wheels for one heart stopping moment early in the rally, Mark recovered to finish 42nd overall. As a result of his class win, Mark has now lifted the N1 Class Championship title - with two rounds to spare.