Round 2 of the 2019 HRCR Mini Sport Cup, Dixies Historic Challenge run by Forresters Car Club is a firm favourite with our Mini crews – despite the notoriously challenging conditions – and usually equally as challenging weather conditions! With 17 Minis on the entry list, we were treated to dry & clear conditions, making the Epynt ranges particularly quick for our crews where there’s 45 miles to cover, over 10 Stages.

Hot off the back of their utter domination at the AGBO Stages, father & son crew, John & Martin Cressey, set off steady away for Stage 1 – where no drama bagged an early lead of the Minis. Minor malfunctions with an intermittent intercom on Stage 2 didn’t instil the team with confidence, having to tackle 3 out of 4 corners with no communication! With no further issues, Cressey Senior opted to stiffen the suspension & alter the tyre pressure in service, teaming that with having a play around with his driving style meant the twosome got off to an early lead, blazing a trail to the top of the 1400 Class 1 by a whopping 30 seconds & being 25 seconds ahead of the next Mini crew (team mates Clive King & Anton Bird)! Luck was not on their side though, struck down a mere half a mile in to the penultimate Stage, a broken Throttle Cable forced retirement. Despite the fluke incident bringing the rally to an untimely close for the Cressey’s, John was still in good spirits, adding that, “I’m gutted, but I learnt an awful lot about the car, what works & what doesn’t. It was a really good event, and we really, really enjoyed it. Just like Arnie… We’ll be back!”

We were joined by both Hart crews for Dixies Challenge, with Nigel Hart & Shaun Lovegrove tormented with a loss of brakes on the very first loop of Stages! A blown valve on the back Brake Circuit was to blame, & back in service the crew isolated the Rear Brakes – being forced to compete the final 8 Stages with just the Front Brakes, not deterred by the lack of stopping power, Nigel & Shaun had a great run to finish 3rd Cat 1 & 5th Mini o/a, also being bestowed the honour of Questmead’s prize for the ‘Best Improvement on Seeding’ from 71st to 35th! Hart added that, “We’re really pleased with a finish, but it’s safe to say our pads are now worn out!”

 

Keeping it in the family with Nigel’s son, Stuart Hart, joined by Navigator Catherine Farrell had a strong, trouble-free run out, following on from replacing the Clutch & Slave Cylinder after the wear of the AGBO had taken it’s toll. The team thoroughly enjoyed the the jumps that these gruelling Military Ranges had to offer, bagging the Yokohama prize of 2 regulation tyres, 4th Cat 2 & 10th Mini o/a.

Despite an 18 month absence from Epynt, Andrew O’Hanlon was back and ready to take on one of his favourite rallies once again! Pairing up with Bill Douglas, having a steady run, delighted that their Mini only required fuel all day – Bill brought a wealth of rally knowledge to the crew, with Andrew adding, “Bill would agree with me, that he is more a driver than a co-driver, and struggled at times with the delivery of the Pacenotes. Great fun to be with!” It seems that even slight issues with the Pacenotes didn’t hinder the pair as they concluded the rally with a Cat 2 win & 4th Mini o/a! As a previous Cup Champion, is Andrew seeking victory in 2019?

Following on from having only 1 week to prep his Mini for the AGBO (after an unfortunate off at a previous event), Peter Ellerby ended up having to replace his bent Subframe pre-Dixies… Never doing things by halves, Peter decided to have the Gearbox overhauled in the process seeing as the Engine was already out! All issues solved, it was a new pairing for this event, with Colin Tombs on the notes, taking it steady on the opening Stages as the new team settled in to their roles & found their footing. Concerns arose that the LSD was slipping, Stage 6 it had got so bad that Peter realised it was the Clutch! “We had to limit how much throttle to put on till it gripped, but otherwise it was a great event & Colin and I were happy to get a finish!” Completing the rally, 4th Cat 1 & 6th Mini o/a.

Reunited for Dixies, Craig King & Clare Bird got off to a rusty start on the first few Stages, with Craig noting that it took him a while to commit to the Pacenotes, struggling with a Mini that didn’t seem to want to rev past 6ooorpm & an intermittent misfire from Stage 5, it wasn’t the smooth run the pair had hoped for. In defiance of the incurable misfire, that was almost causing a complete halt, Craig & Clare relished the challenge & secured a finish – 2nd Cat 2 & 8th Mini o/a.

 

Ryan Taylor & Hollie Churchill proved once again that they were a crew to be watched, their extremely rapid Stage times saw them prevail to 1st Open Class & 3rd Mini o/a, but their rise to the top wasn’t without it’s trials! Having a careful start, as many crews – Ryan & Hollie were also troubled by intercom issues on Stage 3, before the Starter Solenoid packed up… Luckily, Clive King had a spare, and the Mini was repaired in Service. A big push from Stage 5 caught time up, and Ryan added a big thanks to his dad (Paul Taylor) & Clive for all their help!

Clive King & Anton Bird were ready to battle team mates John Cressey & Martin Cressey for the overall honours, as the competition is proving to be an ambitious one between the two crews, however plagued with intercom issues during Stages 1 & 2, Clive & Anton’s plan to take time out of the Cressey’s was foiled. Clawing back 10 seconds out of the Cressey’s in the next 2 Stages, it was looking like it could go either way – even setting the same Stage times twice. Clive noted that his Mini never missed a beat, and despite being neck & neck, decided that he & Anton would settle in for 2nd o/a, behind John & Martin – who at this point seemed inevitable to win… Second to last Stage, Clive & Anton set out to bring home a finish, yet half a mile in, parked up was John & Martin, their rally over. 1st Mini & 1st Cat 1 was in sight again for Clive & Anton, however the victory was bittersweet – with Clive adding that, “of course we were delighted to get the win, but we really felt for John – he drove well.”

With a mere 3 weeks to go until our crews descend upon Down Ampney Airfield for the EMCOS Stages, on May 25th, ferocious preparations will now be underway for our 13 Minis entered (+ 2 reserves).

Well done Clive & Anton!

Prizes:

The Yokohama prize of two regulation tyres, used throughout the Championship, was awarded to Start Hart, Paul Taylor bagged himself the 5L of Penrite Classic Mini Oil, David Evans won a torch from Snap-On & the Questmead prize for best improvement on seeding went to Nigel Hart – who was seeded 71st & finished 35th!

Retirements:

Eric Davis / Russell Joseph – Stage 3

Mathew Davis / Abi Haycock – Stage 4

Paul Price / Owain Thomas – Stage 5

Julian Gore / Marcus Gore – Stage 5

John Cressey / Martin Cressey – Stage 9

Overall Results:

1st Category 1 Clive King / Anton Bird

1st Category 2 Andrew O’Hanlon / Bill Douglas

1st Category 3 Jack Hartley / Gary Dawes

1st Open Class Ryan Taylor / Hollie Churchill

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

Thank you to the generous sponsors of the HRCR Mini Sport Cup – Mini SportMintexYokohamaPenrite & Questmead, without whom there wouldn’t be a Championship.

Full results from the 2019 Dixies Historic Challenge can be found on the here.
To catch up with all the action from the Mini Sport Cup, please see here.
For more information on the Mini Sport Cup, please see our Facebook page here.

(Photos – Michael Anderson, Stuart Hart & the HRCR)