Once again returning to the challenging & demanding roads of the Epynt Military Ranges, we had an impressive 25 Minis registered to compete on the day… A strong turnout following on from the issues many crews experienced during the first round at the AGBO!
These notoriously gruelling military roads certainly took a few victims early on starting with Peter Ellerby/Ben Anderson who had the unfortunate accolade of being the first crew to retire, troubled with problems including losing 1st & 2nd gear half way round Stage 2!
It was also a true bout of bad luck for both Clive King/Anton Bird and Colin McDowell/Brynmore Pierce with the two of the usually strong, front-running crews both being forced to retire with mechanical issues. Colin & Brynmore were pushing Ray & Jared very hard in the first few stages with mere seconds between them, and Clive & Anton were a massive 8 seconds quicker than their stage times from 2017 – lying in 2nd o/a before the issues struck. Clive went on to say that, “it’s a shame that we had the problem but Mini Sport are pushing the extremes with the engine. We had an issue but rather than blow it up, we retired to have a look and get ready for the next round!”
Paul Price/Tom Bishop retired after Stage 5 having blown the head gasket and Shane Gamble/Bob Ward unluckily had a drive shaft go on Stage 3 resulting in Shane & Bob having to limp their Mini out of the stage. Shane & Bob managed to continue for another four stages though before retiring at the last service with clutch release bearing issues.
But the bad luck didn’t stop there as Stephen Robinson/Daniel Nieroda were well on their way to placing 3rd in MC4 on their 1st time out on Epynt before this was all taken away with gearbox trouble.
Now on to the Mini crews who didn’t suffer as much with the bite of the ranges, Craig King/Clare Bird (son and daughter of Clive & Anton), teamed up for the first time in the Championship for Dixies. Despite having a few niggles, and a worsening misfire throughout the day, Craig & Clare won Cat 3, placing 13th o/a in the Cup.
Team Mini Sport‘s newcomers to Epynt, John Cressey/Martin Cressey were setting consistently quick times all day. It was only due to an unfortunate incident on Stage 3, and the presence of local livestock on Stage 4, that ultimately kept them from a Class result. However, being only John’s second time out in the Mini it was a great opportunity for more seat time to learn more about the car and John commented, “we played around with the settings and got the car more to my liking culminating in us being the fastest Mini on the last stage, which certainly bodes well for future events!”
Junior Mini Sport Cup competitor Jack Hartley/Gary Dawes had a successful second round, once again knocking plenty off the original seeding to finish 2nd MC1 & 1st Junior – upsetting a few crews in more powerful cars! Kev Haworth of Racing Ahead Media will hopefully manage to get a little more from Jack in the next live feed… Our Junior competitor had a little stage fright!
Fellow Mini Sport sponsored crew Louise Thomas/Heidi Woodcock, AKA the Mini Girls Rally Team, said they had a “great event, and we changed from descriptive notes to numbers, although it took 2 stages to adjust to them it worked well and we will be sticking with them! The Mini was fantastic with no issues apart from a couple of close encounters with chicanes but we just breathed in! Lewis, our new team member, from Mini Sport kept the Mini shinning all day. And as always the camaraderie was like nothing else! Fantastic! We did nothing but smile and laugh from start to finish, Heidi did a top job as always, helping me build confidence and supplying me with Fruit Pastels!” Luckily the girls managed to go around the hay bails this time, and not through them… So no Mini damage unlike at the AGBO!
Congratulations go to Ray Cunningham/Jared Gill who had another flawless run, dominating the Mini crews once again to place 1st MC2 & 1st o/a! Jared added that the rally “went OK for us, [with Clive & Colin retiring] so we weren’t under pressure on the last few stages.” Ray & Jared also made the gamble of playing their ‘Joker Card’, which luckily payed off, meaning the Irish crew receive 1.5x points for Dixies, claiming the lead on the points table for the Championship!
Ian Clare/Antony Elkes had another great performance with the car running faultlessly and Anthony adding that, “the biggest moment we had was going very sideways over the finish of the last stage, a great way of finishing in style and made us chuckle but almost went very wrong!” Finishing 1st MC4 & 2nd o/a!
Stephen Brown/Paul Stringer had a great first event having not spent any time in the car previously and Stephen worked on adapting a driving style that’s usually tailored towards a Micra, placing 2nd MC4 and 7th o/a, a massive 27 spots above seeding, a great and confident start to the Championship with Stephen & Paul also playing their Joker card for 1.5x points. Stephen, obviously delighted with those results had this to say, “we had a great day and the Mini Sport Cup is a great Championship to be involved in!”
A fantastic result also for Andy Walkingshaw/Lewis Griffiths who unfortunately suffered when the exhaust dropped off their Mini! Thankfully, with the help of Jeff Robinson (who was servicing for Colin & Brynmore – not competing in this round) & Mini Sport’s Rob Eastwood, this issue was soon solved, getting Andy & Lewis back out and all the way up to 2nd in MC2 and 3rd o/a. This is Andy & Lewis’ first Class result, and best result ever!
Eric Davis/Russell Joseph finally got their first taste of the 2018 Championship after being forced to retire at the AGBO with electronic issues before the start of Stage 1. Eric & Russell battled it out despite a split oil cooler on Stage 2 and continuing with very little oil pressure setting strong stage times in their Clubman and placed 1st MC3 and 4th o/a – a great result!
Congratulations are also in order for Mini crew Ryan Taylor/Hollie Churchill, who will certainly be remembering Dixies as a stand out rally for 2018, and not because of their snapped drive shaft… Ryan popped the question to his navigator Hollie, and she said “YES!”
The 2018 Mini Sport Cup has also seen the launch of the ‘Team Award’, allowing crews to team up in to pairs in aid of raising funds for Marie Curie UK. Entries in the team award dramatically increased for Dixies with 16 crews entered! It was quite the surprise for Andy Walkingshaw/Lewis Griffiths & Ken Pryce/Don James – whose combined 2nd in MC2 & 1st in MC1 clinching them the victory… Could they be the team to beat for future rounds? Only time will tell…
Mini Sport Cup 1st Round Overall Results:
1st – Ray Cunningham/Jared Gill
2nd –Ian Clare/Anthony Elkes
3rd – Andy Walkingshaw/Lewis Griffiths
Mini Sport Cup 1st Round Class Results:
1st – Ken Pryce/Don James
2nd – Jack Hartley/Gary Dawes
1st – Ray Cunningham/Jared Gill
2nd –Andy Walkingshaw/Lewis Griffiths
3rd – Jim Brindle/Sam Bould
1st – Eric Davis/Russell Joseph
1st – Ian Clare/Anthony Elkes
2nd – Stephen Brown/Paul
3rd – Nigel Hart/Shaun Lovegrove
Andy Walkingshaw/Lewis Griffiths & Ken Pryce/Don James
Full results from Dixies Historic Challenge can be found on the Forresters Car 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.
Photos by Racing Ahead Media.