HRCR Mini Sport Cup: AGBO Stages 1st Round Review

Saturday saw the first round of the HRCR Mini Sport Cup kick off with the AGBO Stages organised by Owen Motoring Club.

Once again, returning to Weston Park, Shropshire the Championship got off to a fantastic start with a record number 31 Mini crews competing on the day, making this possibly the largest single-make, stage rally Championship in the World!

The bitter weather, and frequent snow showers courtesy of the ‘Mini Beast from the East’ caused issues for all the crews competing – leaving the stages wet & slippy, resulting in a loss of traction and poor visibility!

However, our Minis battled through the elements, and it was 2017 reigning Champions who once again came out on top… Ray Cunningham & Jared Gill had a flawless run, and proved they were the crew to beat placing 1st Mini, 1st MC2 and 5th o/a! Ray had this to say of his performance, “We’re keeping it neat & tidy, the car’s running perfectly and we’re really happy with the times! Enjoyed the day and the changing conditions makes it a real challenge, but I would be critical of the water splash!”

Clive King & Anton Bird played their Joker card for 1.5x points on the AGBO!

Clive King & Anton Bird played their Joker card!

Following on from last year’s Championship the battle to be victorious continued on between Ray & Jared and of course Mini Sport sponsored crew Clive King & Anton Bird, with there being as little as just a 2 second difference between them on some stages! Clive & Anton were putting their new Mini Sport 5 port engine through it’s paces, upping the revs and pushing their way to 2nd Mini, 2nd in MC2 and 8th o/a. Speaking on Saturday, Clive added, “A special thank you to Mini Sport, who have built the best engine that I have ever had, it ran all day without any problems!”. Previous experiences on this course proved successful for Clive & Anton, who chose wisely to play their Joker Card on the AGBO… Resulting in 1.5x points for this round, meaning they are now leading the Mini Sport Cup, and the ‘oldSTAGER’ Championship.

Also edging towards the top of the timesheet were Jim Brindle & Sam Bould, who enjoyed themselves despite the sharp contrast between heavy snow one moment, and glorious sunshine the next, battling their way to be 3rd Mini, 3rd in MC2 and 9th o/a! With Jim and Sam adding that they were going to – “nibble a bit quicker!”.


Ryan Taylor & Hollie Churchill had a great result for their 1st rally!

A change of pace for Ryan Taylor this year, as Andrew O’Hanlon’s former navigator, the AGBO saw Ryan take on the drivers seat alongside navigator Hollie Churchill… And what a swap it was! As Ryan’s first rally behind the wheel, this newbie crew showed they were certainly ones to watch in for the season, bagging 4th Mini, 1st in MC4 and 10th o/a!

However Ryan & Hollie weren’t the only new crew to join us for this year’s Championship with John Cressey & Michael Anderson putting in a last minute entry! Despite a few teething problems, as work only finished on the Mini the day before the rally, John & Michael had the other crews talking, placing 5th Mini, 2nd in MC4 and 12th o/a, it’s easy to see why! Another crew to watch through 2018. Other Cup newcomers also included Stephen Robinson & Daniel Nieroda, who having never even met before the rally, had a great first event to place 11th Mini and 21st o/a, Stephen went on to say, “I’m absolutely chuffed to bits with that result and Daniel was fantastic! Hoping we continue for the season!”.

Junior Mini Sport Cup competitors Jack Hartley & Gary Dawes, were also competing together for the first time in the Championship, and even running a 998cc placed 12th Mini, 1st in MC1 and 22nd o/a! Increasing a massive 28 places over his original seeding, which set a few tongues wagging in the service area, with fellow crews noting that Jack would likely be a very strong contender, if/when he progresses in to the main Mini Sport Cup Championship!

Husband and Wife crew, Brian & Joanne Watson of the RAFA Glasgow Historic Rally Team unfortunately snapped their gearstick in half mid-stage, with very little time in service, they managed to extend the shortened left over slightly and complete the rally, finishing 16th Mini and 27th o/a.

John Cressey & Michael Anderson battled the snow in their 1st event!

John Cressey & Michael Anderson battled the snow in their 1st event!

Shane Gamble & Bob Ward had noted the 1st stage was a bit of a panic, with it having been so long since the last round of the 2017 Championship, however they got back in to the swing of things and were having a good run until they unfortunelty got stuck in the wet, soft mud near the water splash on stage 8, resulting in a 6 minute stage time, 18th Mini and 31st o/a.

Peter Ellerby & Ben Anderson joined forces once again, however they were unfortunately hit with clutch slipping right from stage 1, making the decision not to attempt to change this in the very short service times, they pushed on to finish 19th Mini and 32nd o/a.

Louise Thomas & Heidi Woodcock, of the Mini Girls Rally Team had a great run, settling back in to the car nicely. However hitting a bail on stage 2, causing minor damage – but not enough to prevent the girls from finishing… Placing 20th Mini and 33rd o/a!

All of the crews that competed on Saturday have poured time, money and effort in to competing, and for those that did suffer with issues, we hope that the next round will be a lot smoother sailing for you!

Despite the challenging weather conditions, crews and spectators were treated to a great event – the AGBO has truly kicked off the 2018 HRCR Mini Sport Cup in style, and the countdown is now on to Dixies on April 29th… What a year it’s looking to be!

Mini Sport Cup 1st Round Overall Results:

1st – Ray Cunningham/Jared Gill

2nd – Clive King/Anton Bird

3rd – Jim Brindle/Sam Bould


Mini Sport Cup 1st Round Class Results:

1st – Jack Hartley/Gary Dawes

2nd – Ken Pryce/Don James



1st – Ray Cunningham/Jared Gill

2nd – Clive King/Anton Bird

3rd – Jim Brindle/Sam Bould



1st – Rhodri Roberts/Catryn Jones

2nd – David Evans/Tom Aleksandrowicz



1st – Ryan Taylor/Hollie Churchill

2nd – John Cressey/Michael Anderson

3rd – Ian Clare/Anthony Elkes

Full results from the AGBO can be found on the Owen Motoring Club’s website here.

For more information on the Mini Sport Cup, please see our Facebook page here.

For more information on the ‘oldSTAGER’ please see the HRCR’s website here.

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