This weekend  saw 14 of our Mini crews descend on the Military ranges of Otterburn to compete in the Cheviot Stages Rally for the 7th Round of the 2018 HRCR Mini Sport Cup.

Competing over 12 challenging stages, our crews were certainly put to the test in a battle with the elements! Despite the awful weather conditions, the Cheviot Stages Rally was enjoyed by the majority of the crews that competed.

It was unfortunately a bad event for Shane Gamble/Bob Ward who were plagued with a misfire at the very start of a loop of 3 Stages, the team were caught and passed by 8 cars! Back in service, and the issue believed to have been cured, Shane & Bob set back out for the next loop of 3, only to be struck with the same misfire again – turning out to be an issue with the condenser, resulting in 5th MC2 and 7th Mini overall.

Peter Ellerby/Ben Anderson’s notorious bad luck continued to taunt them, after blowing a head gasket out competing at Flanders in Belgium, Peter has had the engine completely re-build and fit with new pistons – only for the engine to seize after Stage 3 of the Cheviot!

We would like to send our best wishes to Ian Clare/Antony Elkes, who unfortunately suffered an accident on the event and have been recovering in Newcastle Hospital’s spinal unit – we’re happy to hear that Ian has now made it home, and that Antony is moving to a more local hospital. We hope it’s a speedy recovery and that you’re both back out rallying with us soon!

Louise Thomas/Heidi Woodcock had a good run, despite the difficult conditions and a couple of close calls, with Louise adding that, “Most of the crews were re-routed many times due to accidents and cancelled stages. It was a very mentally and physically challenging Rally and unfortunately we were on the scene after Ian and Antony had their awful accident – but we were able to help and give support. It was very difficult to compete on the last few stages after seeing so many accidents that had taken place.” The girls still managed to enjoy the event, and bag another great result – 2nd MC4 and 6th Mini overall, a result that we believe has won Louise & Heidi 1st place in the Mini Sport Cup Open Class for 2018.

Newcomers to the Championship, Andy Jarman/Paul Davies had an impressive first run out, with many other crews commenting on Andy & Paul being crazy to choose the Cheviot as their first event due to it’s difficulty! Andy mentioned that he and Paul, “had a fantastic time and we will be there next year!”. It was a superb starting event for Andy & Paul who finished 10th Mini overall, and are now looking forward to the next round at Hall Trophy – even having booked their hotel for the 2019 AGBO!

 

Craig King/Clare Bird were under strict instructions from their dads – (Clive King & Anton Bird), that they needed a good, solid run and a finish to bag themselves the overall Cat 3 win for the 2018 oldSTAGER Championship. Luckily, Craig & Clare had no ‘big moments’ and the car ran well, with Craig adding that, “we even decided not to rev the car past 6500 rpm!  The car ran faultlessly though and other than having no intercom for the first three stages, we had no problems.” This caution proved to be the right decision as Craig & Clare were setting good times placing 4th MC2, 5th overall AND winning the Cat 3.

Going in to the penultimate round with high hopes for the event, as a result of their new Mini Sport engine, Clive King/Anton Bird got off to a fantastic start to the rally. Despite the extremely slippy conditions, the regulations tyres did their job and kept the Mini crew stable on the wet stages. An unfortunate mix up with the notes in Stage 2 cost the pair valuable seconds, however once the team had solved the issue it was back to focusing on having a great run. Running in loops of 3, the Stages were extremely quick, with the Minis reaching speeds of up to 110mph. Clive added that, “during one of the Stages the heavens opened – it was like a monsoon! There was water running right across the Stages and we, like many others, ended up aqua planing! We pushed on and managed to get through that, only to be met by blizzard conditions in the next stage, visibility was so poor that you couldn’t even see 100 yards in front. On to the next stage, we were met with glorious sunshine! Honestly, we had it all.” Luckily though, the Mini ran faultlessly all day, all the pair had to do was fuel up and they were setting quicker times than they had done for the rest of the year… “I’m just a bit naffed at Cressey beating me – I told him he needs to be slowing down at his age! ” Clive joked, having had a terrific run finishing 2nd Mc2 and 3rd overall!

John Cressey/Martin Cressey were back out with us for the 7th round, this time with something to prove! John was determined to finish with no issues, and finish he did… Despite water causing a particularly bad misfire for several miles of Stage 3, John & Martin were fortunate to be due back in service where the issue was quickly fixed. Back out in Stage, the traitorous weather conditions resulted in the pair spending much of the day in various different angles other than straight, however, the car was absolutely smashing and John & Martin were  delighted to have a near faultless run. Stage 11 being cancelled, and a lengthy hold-up prior to the final stage, resulted in John & Martin having to complete the Stage without spotlights and in the ever-fading light, with John joking that, “it wasn’t great at my age and with my eyesight!”. The lack of light wouldn’t stop the father & son team, who battled on to finish 1st MC4 and 2nd overall – fantastic practice for when they compete in the Pokerstars Rally in less than two weeks time!

Congratulations to Ray Cunningham/Jared Gill on being crowned the Champions of the 2018 HRCR Mini Sport Cup! Having the lucky number of fellow Irishman Paddy Hopkirk on their side – being seeded at car 37 for the Cheviot (Paddy’s iconic car number for winning the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally in his Cooper S 33EJB), Ray & Jared have been truly unstoppable this year, their sensational Stage times have resulted in wins at 6 out of the 7 rounds that the crew have competed in. With the Cheviot Stages being no exception, Ray was delighted to finally get his wet event – mentioning that it takes away any power advantage that the modern cars have. Ray also added that, “I felt had driven the first stage a little to cautious, but got settled in on the second and worked away from there for the day. The car ran faultless all day, only needed petrol. Apart from a scare on crossing the wooden bridge and being held up by a Mk2 Escort for 2 miles we had no major dramas!” Dominating the leaderboard, the pair have already secured their victory in the 2018 Championship, needing to carry only 5 results with them for the HRCR Mini Sport Cup & oldSTAGER respectively, the crew cannot be beaten!

 

Well done Ray & Jared!

The generous Yokohama prize of two regulation tyres, used throughout the Championship, was drawn by the Flanders tyre recipient Craig King, and awarded to Martin Melling.

Retirements:

Peter Ellerby/Ben Anderson – Stage 2

Dave Evans/Tom Aleksandrowicz – Stage 2

Ian Clare/Antony Elkes – Stage 7

Stephen Robinson/Neil MacDonald – Stage 9

MC2

1st – Ray Cunningham/Jared Gill
2nd – Clive King/Anton Bird
3rd – Roy Jarvis/Luke Greaves

MC4
1st – John Cressey/Martin Cressey
2nd – Louise Thomas/Heidi Woodcock
3rd – Martin Melling/Carmel Venables

O/a
1st – Ray Cunningham/Jared Gill
2nd – John Cressey/Martin Cressey
3rd – Clive King/Anton Bird

It’s just 4 weeks to go until the 8th and final round of the 2018 HRCR Mini Sport Cup for the Hall Trophy Rally on 24th November, there’s still plenty of final positions to be determined for our Mini crews – who take their best 5 results from the Championship forward.

Full results from the Cheviot Stages Rally can be found on the here.
To catch up with the 2018 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 Carl Leavold.