STEVE Entwistle chalked up a hard-fought top twenty result on last weekend’s Vale of Clwyd Classic.
And the Rishton rallyman reckoned it was the “toughest rally I’ve ever done”. A gruelling combination of 13 special tests and seven regularities packed into just eight hours on the tortuous narrow lanes of North Wales produced an event to remember.
“It was a full-on day’s rallying, with no let-up whatsoever,” said Steve. “The tests and regularities themselves were difficult for both driver and navigator, but it was the tight and twisty nature of the lanes that really did it.”
“If you lost any amount of time, there was no way to claw it back. Any mistake was punished severely.”
And, as a round of the Historic Rally Car Register (HRCR) Clubmans Championship, the rally was packed with all the top drivers from Britain and Ireland.
Entwistle, who had his usual Cumbrian mapman Bob Hargreaves alongside, got off to a flier in their famous ex-Roy Mapple Orangebox Mini. The pair clocked the fastest time on the opening Loggerheads Park test – two seconds faster than Irish champion Dermot Carnegie’s Ford Escort RS2000.
“Not bad for a one-litre Mini! And I reckon the engine on Carnegie’s Escort cost twice as much as our entire car,” said Steve. But double trouble struck on test four, when a coil lead came off, costing over a minute, and in the regularity that followed, when a timing error cost them another three minutes. From seventh overall, the pair dropped to 23rd at the lunch halt, before a storming run in the afternoon sections saw Orangebox claw back seven places to 16th.
“The second half proved just what we are capable of, and without the penalties we would have been on for a top ten finish,” explained Steve.
“Although we were slightly disappointed, there are lost of positives to take from the rally.
“We have proved that on the tests we can match all the other top crews, despite the power disadvantage, and aside from the coil lead, the car ran perfectly,”
Most of the top crews, including Entwistle and Hargreaves, were using the Vale of Clwyd as a shakedown for next month’s Rally of the Tests.
They will be making their debut on the event, which is a four-day recreation of the 1960’s RAC Rally, thanks to the backing of Mini specialists Mini Sport of Padiham.