The weekend of Friday 26th and Saturday 27th Februray 2009 saw the running of the first round of the Manx Rally Championship on the Isle of Man.
The Jaks Asphalt Stages Rally had 9 night stages on the Friday followed by 7 stages during the day on Saturday.
Team Mini Sport of Padiham were out in force with a full team of four cars including the Framor Garage Banchory / Minisport.com Mini Cooper ‘S’ of Finzean based driver Martin Page along with new co-driver Martin Cressey from Dundee.
The night stages went well with the weather holding dry and the team cars started to work up the overall placings. Overnight Page and Cressey held 18th overall, sandwiched between two Subarus. A very good mid rally result for their first time on the islands roads.
Saturdays stages were much longer and used parts of the TT race mountain course. With overnight rain and fog on the higher parts of the stages full concentration was going to be rewarded here.
The first fog bound stage of the day saw Page and Cressey carrying a little too much speed, the result of which led to them demolishing a chicaine mid stage. However with only a couple of seconds lost and no damage to repair they set about the remaining stages.
Following a big jump on stage 11, the Cooper ‘S’ cut out when the battery cable snapped near the flying finish. A temporary repair by team mate John Cressey enabled the crew to get the car back to main service on time. An engine mount had also broken and this had damaged one of the driveshafts so the crew nursed the car back to main service. With only 30 minutes allowed, the Mini Sport and Framor Garage mechanics swarmed over the car to make all the repairs, the cars further progress now entirely in their hands. Co-driver Cressey counted down the minutes remaining of the service with a gathering of spectators watching the mechanics in their own race against the clock.
With just two minutes remaining, the mechanics pronounced the Cooper ’S’ healthy and Page and Cressey raced off penalty free back into the last stages of the day.
The final stages comprised two runs over the famous Druidale stage. A spectacularly fast drive using the fast flowing main roads and the connecting tight, twisty and bumpy single track roads across the moorland.
Now looking to consolidate their position of 23rd overall after the damage on stage 11, Page and Cressey attacked the final stages and brought the Mini to the finish line unscathed.
The other three Mini Sport cars stopped the clocks to gain a superb 4th, 10th and 16th place and collected a variety of trophies. A fine result for Team Mini Sport and a fantastic four car finish.