HRCR Mini Sport Cup: Cheviot Stages Rally 7th Round Review

HRCR Mini Sport Cup: Cheviot Stages 7th Round Review

Sunday 22nd September saw 9 of our Mini crews gear up to compete in the Ford Parts Cheviot Stages Rally for the Final Round of the 2019 HRCR Mini Sport Cup!

Competing over the course 13 stages on the notoriously difficult Otterburn Ranges, our Mini crews had honours to battle for, with poll position in all the Classes still up for grabs!

Despite worries that Craig King & Clare Jennings would catch them on Stage, Andy Jarman & Paul Davies had a run with no issues, following on from reassurances from Clive & Craig that no one would do anything daft in Stage. In a haste to keep ahead of Craig & Clare, Andy & Paul ended up having a bit of a spin on a bend, allowing Craig & Clare to sneak through. Finishing 9th Mini o/a & 2nd Cat 2.

Roy Jarvis & Luke Greaves were pushing hard all day, after Roy decided that he needed to take more risks & grow his confidence to be setting faster Stage times. It worked, with Roy & Luke finishing 5th Mini o/a & 3rd Mini Cat 1.

It was the first time taking on the gruelling Otterburn Ranges for Ken Pryce & Don James, but boy were they on it! Ken’s new, bigger Engine was performing flawlessly & the crew were nearing the top of the Minis all day. Both thoroughly enjoyed the event & can’t wait for next year – with Clive adding, “They’ll only compete if Ken’s Welsh Passport will allow him up there!” Ken & Don finished 3rd Mini o/a & 2nd Mini Cat 1.

Pairing up with Russell Joseph for the Cheviot Stages Rally, Peter Ellerby was still suffering from the slight mishap with the incorrect fuel the experienced on Flanders, meaning the Engine was rocking, causing the bottom Engine Mounts to pull out! The issues didn’t end there, when on the 1st loop of Stages, the crew clipped a straw bail, resulting in one of the Wheels being on full lock due to broken Suspension. A quick fix in Service got Peter & Russell back out for the final loop, out-braking on a Chicane the Mini flew off on to the grass – luckily it was empty, so the vehicle just bounced over & back in to Stage! Finishing 5th Cat 1 & 6th Mini o/a.

Jack Hartley & Gary Dawes had a strong start to the rally, standing at 4th Mini after the 1st loop of Stages! With Jack adding, “we had an all day battle with Ken Pryce! We were constantly making time up, going in to the last Stages 2 seconds in front… But I don’t know what he did in that final loop, he beat us by 11 seconds in the end! Still, it was a really great event, thoroughly enjoyed it.” Jack noted that him & Gary had to be a little more cautious than usual, with just 2 weeks to go until Mull Rally, where the crew will be competing again. The only real issue for the day was the overheating of the Engine & Brakes, “we just couldn’t cool them down, they were getting far too hot”. Even with the cooling problems, Jack & Gary had a great performance, finishing 1st Cat 3 & 4th Mini overall, which means Jack & Gary have won Cat 3 in the 2019 Championship!

Believing they needed to finish 2nd Cat 1 to cinch the Cat win, Shane Gamble & Bob Ward were driving at a pace to achieve that win, until the following loop of Stages, Bob booked the Mini in 4 minutes early which resulted in a 4 minute penalty being added! Thinking the win had been lost, Shane was all ready to pack up & go home, but being convinced to stay he reluctantly returned to the drivers seat, despite the frosty atmosphere, by the end of the rally driver & co-driver were on speaking terms again, but not before Shane tried to return Bob to his rallying days with Clive. Luckily for Shane & Bob, the win was still attainable! Finishing 7th Mini o/a & 5th Mini Cat 1 – which bagged enough points for the crew to finish the 2019 Mini Sport Cup 1st in Cat 1!

Despite our previous announcement that the Mini Sport Cup victory for 2019 had already been claimed by Clive King & Anton Bird, under closer examination it was soon realised that due to the bonus points available on Flanders & when the dropped scored were taken in to account, the title could be stolen by Clive’s son Craig King!

Realising the Championship win was still within reach, Craig, teaming up with Clare Jennings for the Cheviot was ready to give it his all on the rally. With the very short time between Flanders & Cheviot – just 2 weeks, Craig only had time to give the Mini a quick check over, being forced to deal the previous issue that the car was unable to rev past 6000rpm. With Craig adding, “despite knowing we had this issue that would potentially cause us problems cinching the Championship, we had a good feeling before the event & we were looking forward to it!” The lucky feeling came to an abrupt halt, when on the way to Stage 1 the engine cut out & the crew ground to a halt! A fast diagnosis in service found that the lead from the Coil had come dislodged, quickly fixed the Mini was on it’s way again. The lack of revs became apparent in Stage 1, with Stage 2 being a struggle for the team as the notes didn’t seem to match the Stage – later being put down to the start being different from the recce. Finally finding out that the reason the Mini wouldn’t rev because of ‘valve bounce’, it was noted that tougher Valve Springs would be required for future rallies! Seeing that they had a comfortable lead on the Category, paired with Clive & Anton were having difficulties, Craig took the decision to back off a little to save the Mini – knowing that they needed a finish. The dreaded sound of the Gearbox crunching on Stage 11, was aided by a Clutch adjustment in Service, but it wasn’t a fix… Craig explained, “in Service we also found out that Dad was also having Gearbox problems so for both of us, the last 2 Stages became about survival! Me & Clare lost our intercom on the last 2 stages but we finished with a win in Category 2 on the event and in the Championship! We also secured 2nd overall in the Mini Sport Cup. Congratulations to Dad and Anton, they thoroughly deserve the Championship this year, and thank you to everyone at Mini Sport for their support this year!” Congratulations to Craig King & Clare Jennings who finished 1st Cat 2 on the Cheviot – with Craig placing 2nd driver o/a in the 2019 Mini Sport Cup!

Fresh with the knowledge that his son Craig could take the Championship from his grasp, Clive King, teaming with Anton Bird needed to win their Class, or at least bag 2nd to beat Craig’s score on the Championship Leaderboard. With the water leak from Flanders cured with a new Water Pump, & a full check over of the Mini – Clive & Anton got off to a confident start. Stage 1 went smoothly, with the exception of a ‘moment’ where the Mini ended up on 2 wheels as the crew hit a hole on the inside of a left handed bend! A little shaken from the stunt driving that had ensued, Clive & Anton quickly settled in to their usual fast-paced, top-notch rallying, the next 3 Stages running smoothly. Clive noted, “Back in Service, we needed to have a look as the Mini didn’t feel as crisp at the top end! Not what we need with the Championship on the line… To my horror the new pump looked to be leaking, with no time to investigate it was back out for a repeat of the first loop!” Managing to keep just ahead in the Class & shaving a couple of seconds of main rival John & Martin Cressey who was leaving the Minis. Forced to keep an eye on the Temperature Gauge & keeping the revs down, Clive & Anton completed the loop of Stages even with water splashing over the Screen from the leaking Water Pump! Nipping the front 2 bolts holding the water pump on, hoping to stop the loss of water in Service, the crew set off for the final Stages, armed with a container of water & their fingers thoroughly crossed. The Gearbox began jumping out of 3rd and 4th, with the team being forced to complete the last Stage by holding it in gear! But finish they did… Top of Cat 1, securing the Championship for definite this time! Massive Congratulations to Clive King & Anton Bird, who after an unstoppable 2019 run, we crowned 2019 Mini Sport Cup Champions!

John Cressey & Martin Cressey were back out in Mini Sport’s ‘Pocket Rocket’, with an Open Class victory firmly in their sights! Delighted to have another flawless run, with no issues with the Mini at all. John even noted that, “it was a really, really good run, testing all the new bits we’ve added with no problems!”. Topping the Minis leaderboard outright, with closest rivals Clive & Anton finishing over 2 minutes behind. Huge Congratulations are in order as these results bagged John & Martin the 2019 Open Class Championship win!

After a truly enthralling year’s rallying, the 2019 Championship has now drawn to a close. We’re delighted to announce that it was a ‘clean sweep’ for Mini Sport, with all 4 of our ‘Team Mini Sport’ crews winning their respective Categories: Mini Sport Cup 2019 Champions – Clive King & Anton Bird, Cat 2 Champions – Craig King & Adrian Lloyd, Cat 3 Champions – Jack Hartley & Gary Dawes and finally, Open Class Champions – John Cressey & Martin Cressey… Winning with Mini Sport!

We are so appreciative of all the crews who competed this year, and we hope to see you again in 2020!

The Yokohama prize of two regulation tyres, used throughout the Championship, was awarded to Clive King, won the 5L of Penrite Classic Mini Oil & the Questmead prize for best improvement on seeding was awarded to Jack Hartley, with Craig King winning the Snap-On Prize!

Cat 1:
1st – Clive King/Anton Bird

2nd – Ken Pryce/Don James

3rd – Roy Jarvis/Luke Greaves

Cat 2:
1st – Craig King/Adrian Lloyd

2nd – Andy Jarman/Paul Davies


Cat 3:
1st – Jack Hartley/Gary Dawes

Open Class:
1st – John Cressey/Martin Cressey

1st – John Cressey/Martin Cressey

2nd – Clive King/Anton Bird

3rd – Ken Pryce/Don James

Although the 2019 HRCR Mini Sport Cup has drawn to a close, it is only 2 weeks to go until Mull Rally – a favourite amongst our crews & event many of our Minis have entered! Keep your eye for updates here.

Thank you to the generous sponsors of the HRCR Mini Sport Cup – Mini SportMintexYokohamaPenrite & Questmead, without whom there wouldn’t be a Championship.

Full results from the Cheviot Stages Rally can be found on here.
To catch up with the 2019 Mini Sport Cup so far, please see 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.

Photos courtesy of  Andrew Hern.

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