This weekend  saw 14 of our Mini crews take on Blyton Park Test Venue in Lincolnshire to compete in the Hall Trophy Rally for the 8th, and final, Round of the 2018 HRCR Mini Sport Cup.

Competing over 10 stages of smooth asphalt, our Mini crews were met with wet and slippy conditions on Saturday morning, but luckily no rain! The skies brightened, and the competition got off to a strong start with multiple crews tied for final positions. The crews also had the added bonus of our servicing all together at this event, thanks to the fantastic organisation by Clitheroe & District Motor Club, just adding to the enjoyment for everyone involved.

One of the crews in joint position to conquer MC2, Jim Brindle/Jacqueline Parkinson ended their campaign for the win after Stage 2, having lost a valve mid-stage, forcing them to retire.

It was a truly unfortunate event for Andy Walkingshaw/Ryan Taylor, after months of hard work prepping his Mini to get back out, (after an accident on Solway it was feared Andy wouldn’t manage to return this year), the crew were forced to retire after Stage 8 with a blown head gasket, Andy went on to say that, “we made a cautious start but I was re-gaining confidence as the day went on. All day We were swapping positions with Peter Ellerby just a few seconds apart competing for third in class.” Noticing they were having engine trouble, following a compression check it quickly became apparent to Andy that the head gasket had blown – “We had a great day though and I was pleased to get the car back out before the end of the season.”

Peter Ellerby/Victoria Swallow finished the rally – the first finish of the season for Peter after several spells of bad luck, but it wasn’t without issue… Having only had his engine back a mere 2 days before the rally, it was a big rush to get everything prepared in time, finishing the rally in a cloud of smoke, it turned out Peter & Victoria’s rocker cover was leaking oil, and the water cooler was leaking too! However, Peter has said he was delighted to get the a result, and finished 3rd MC2 and 7th overall.

Louise Thomas/Heidi Woodcock had another consistant rally, noting that it was a very slippy start, but that thankfully the course dried up as the day progressed. Thanking the organisers and marshals, Louise went on to add that, “the event was so well organised, we particularly loved the night stages – but we couldn’t compete if the marshals and recovery crews didn’t do what they do best, and I hope they know that their support is greatly appreciated!” The girls had great fun whilst out competing, and the experience for the team was made that much sweeter by finishing 5th MC4 and 11th overall, resulting in the MC4 win for 2018 and 2nd place overall in the Championship!

 

Shane Gamble/Bob Ward closest competition after Jim & Jackie retired, was Clive & Anton, pushing to take seconds out of their rivals, Shane & Bob were setting great times. Even catching a an Escort in Stage, Shane flashed his lights, for the Escort to allow them past, yet accidentally flicked a different switch entirely… Turning the fuel pump off! Rolling over the finish line, it was back to service when it clicked what had happened. Issue solved, the pair were on the last bend of the Stage, when one of the brake discs broke in one piece, meaning it was just spinning round. Thankfully for Shane & Bob, they managed to borrow one from Jim, finishing 2nd MC2 and 4th overall. Shane commented that, “we’ve thoroughly enjoyed this season!”

Craig King/Clare Bird had already secured themselves the Cat 3 win in the OldSTAGER Championship out on the Cheviot after taking it steady, so they decided to have a ‘bit of a go’ for Hall Trophy… Feeling a knocking on Stage 1 when speeding round corners, Craig & Clare knew something was wrong, back in service, it turned out to just be a loose shock absorber mount – luckily a quick fix! Following on from Stage 3, the crew noticed a little oil on the engine, that by the end of Stage 4 had gotten worse – the oil cooler was leaking. By the end of Stage 5, there was oil everywhere and there was no choice but to change the oil cooler – with only 20 minutes for service, it was going to be extremely tight! Craig added that, “Luckily Mini Sport’s mechanic (and service crew for John & Martin Cressey) Michael was on hand, and went from helping to basically doing the whole job… So a big thank-you to him!” With Michael swapping over the oil cooler in time, Craig & Clare were back out with no issues, thoroughly enjoying the rally and revelling in the final two Stages – in darkness! The few issues didn’t cost Craig & Clare too much, as they finished with their highest result to date – 4th MC2 and 8th overall! Unfortunately, Craig’s Mini has only been loaned to him for the season, which has now got to be returned… But we’re sure this won’t be the last we see of Craig & Clare!

It was a shaky start for Jeff Robinson before he even sat in the driver’s seat… His navigator was suddenly called in to work, luckily for Jeff, it was Colin McDowell to the rescue! We haven’t seen much of Colin this year, since he suffered a nasty accident (not whilst rallying!) earlier in the year – that left him with two broken ankles, so it was great to have him back out with us. Although Colin still isn’t 100%, and was hobbling around the service area – it obviously hasn’t affected his navigating skills, as Jeff & Colin proved to be an unstoppable pairing! Consistently nearing the top of the time sheets each stage, despite the Mini not handling too well, this is the first rally that Jeff has finished since 1998,  “If you had told me beforehand I would be running near the top of the time sheets I wouldn’t have believed it. I’m absolutely delighted!”  Fantastic result for Jeff & Colin who finished 2nd MC4 and 3rd overall!

The pressure was on for Clive King/Anton Bird, with Jim & Jackie and Shane & Bob the closest contenders for MC2 both this rally, and overall for the Championship final position. Clive & Anton were quick enough to shave seconds off both crews from the off, with Clive noting that, “the new engine is revving absolutely fantastic! In fact, we may even have to fit a rev limiter!” . However a few Stages in, Clive & Anton changed up to 4th on a 90 left in to a corner, costing them valuable seconds… Still just lying ahead, the pair pushed on, suffering with a double spin on a flat bend, having likely hit some oil. It wasn’t the only spin for Clive & Anton though, as they also ended up having a spin in the exact same spot as John Cressey/Martin Cressey did, subsequently stalling and not being able to reach the ignition, Clive had to loosen his belt to reach and get the Mini going again… Loosing time on this, Clive & Anton still managed to pip Jeff & Colin to 2nd overall, by just 1 second! Also bagging the MC2 win in the process, Clive joking that, “we couldn’t catch John, someone needs to tell him he should be slowing down at his age!”

 

 

John Cressey/Martin Cressey were leading the Minis from the off, with the car running faultlessly all day – John went on to say of their performance that, “we were perhaps a little exuberant on Stage 4… We scattered the Stage furniture all over! We went back and had another go in Stage 6 too. All-in-all a fantastic day though, with a good solid Class battle and only a few seconds between the 1400s on event – we were even out-breaking the Subarus and BMWs. Big thanks go to Mini Sport – I only borrow the Mini, and hopefully pit it back in the trailer in the same condition it came out!” Fantastic result for John & Martin who finished 1st MC4 and 1st 0verall, a result that has solidified them as 2nd overall for the 2019 Championship!

Well done John & Martin!

The generous Yokohama prize of two regulation tyres, used throughout the Championship, was awarded to Louise Thomas.

Retirements:

Jim Brindle/Jacqueline Parkinson – Stage 2

Andy Walkingshaw/Ryan Taylor – Stage 8

MC2

1st – Clive King/Anton Bird
2nd – Shane Gamble/Bob Ward
3rd – Peter Ellerby/Victoria Swallow

MC4
1st – John Cressey/Martin Cressey
2nd – Jeff Robinson/Colin McDowell
3rd – Rick Ford/Paul Davenport

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

 

Provisional Championship Awards:

Overall

Ray Cunningham & Jared Gill

MC1

1st Ken Pryce & Don James

MC2

1st Clive King & Anton Bird

2nd Shane Gamble & Bob Ward

MC3

1st David Evans , There is no qualifying co driver.

MC4

1st Louise Thomas & Heidi Woodcock

2nd John Cressey & Martin Cressey

 

Junior Mini Sport Cup

Jack Hartley

 

The full provisional results table for all of our Mini crews can be found below.

We’ve reached the end of the 2018 Mini Sport Cup, however in just 15 weeks, the 2019 HRCR Mini Sport Cup will kick off with the AGBO Historic Stages Rally inWeston Park, Shropshire!

Full results from the Hall Trophy Rally can be found on the here.
To catch up with all the action from the 2018 Mini Sport Cup, 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 Ben Walkingshaw and John Hunt)