On Sunday the 2nd July, the Mini Sport Mini Cup Championship entered it’s fourth round of the season at Caerwent, Monmouthshire for the Garth Tyre and Auto Services MidSummer stages. As competition gets tough following Ray Cunningham/Jared Gill’s win at Dixies Historic Challenge, we were certainly expecting some great performances from these year’s competitors on the well-known MOD venue.
The first stage turned out to be truly challenging for the crews competing, the Irish clearly having the luck on their side with Ray Cunningham/Jared Gill coming in in 1st, followed by fellow Irishmen Colin McDowell/Micheal Spence in 2nd and Mini Sport sponsored Clive King/Anton Bird in 3rd place. Unfortunately this first stage wasn’t so kind to everyone, with Peter Ellerby/Ben Anderson struggling with rotor arm problems – although Martin Melling/Carmel Venables came to Peter and Ben’s rescue by launching a new rotor arm out of the window as they passed Peter and Ben, allowing them to quickly get their Mini back on the track – team work and camaraderie at it’s best! Rick Ford/Neil MacDonald also suffered in this opening stage with a puncture forcing him in to a quick mid-stage tyre change!
The second and third stages saw no change at the top, with 3rd place Clive King/Anton Bird proving their consistency to attack the course as fast as they possibly could, even hitting the exact same stage times as the previous stage. Stage two saw the loss of several of our Mini crews, including Andrew O’Hanlon/Ryan Taylor snapping a drive shaft, Ian Clare/Antony Elkes running wide and damaging their suspension, and Shane Gamble/Bob Ward retiring with over-heating issues.
With such consistency throughout the first stages, it appeared that the leaderboard would be set, until the shock of stage 4! Ray and Jared were forced to retire with a broken driveshaft, leaving Colin and Micheal to take the lead spot for the first time of the day , with Clive and Anton moving up to second place and Jim Brindle/Sam Bould moving from fourth to third.
All was not well as trouble struck Clive and Anton with a damaged rocker shaft on their 8-port cylinder head, which is unfortunately a common fault on 8-ports – having made it back to their final service, Mini Sport’s Rob Eastwood and Clive’s son Craig frantically set about removing the broken parts. Taking a big risk, Clive and Anton made it back out on just 3 cylinders to claim points for the overall Championship. Colin and Micheal had to stop in the sixth stage with distributor and coil issues, however after a hectic few moments, which felt more like hours, the Irish crew managed to get themselves running again.
Perhaps the biggest shock of the day, especially to themselves, came in the form of Jim and Sam whose strong performance and lack of mechanical problems solidified themselves as winners! Due to their quick fixing, Colin and Micheal managed to hold on to second place, with Clive and Anton managing to complete the stage and grip third!
Notable mentions also to Rick and Neil who won Open Class, followed by Mini Sport sponsored crew Louise Thomas/Emily Easton-Page of the Mini Girls Rally Team who on only their third rally together, claimed second Open Class. The Snap-On award went to Martin and Carmel, with Rhodri Owen Roberts winning the Yokohama prize.
Simon Malins Championship Co-Ordinator of the HRCR went on to say that, “With 3 different winners in the first 3 events the Mini Sport Mini Cup is shaping up to be one of the most competitive so far.”
Congratulations to all the crews who competed, and what a way to end the champagne finish with the Red Arrows flying overhead!
1st – Jim Brindle/Sam Bould
2nd – Colin McDowell/Micheal Spence
3rd – Clive King/Anton Bird
Full results can be found on the site here.