Bulletin 9 - 9th August 2016

Alex Laffey and Andrew Roughead - Ford Fiesta R5 Evo
Alex Laffey and Andrew Roughead - Ford Fiesta R5 Evo
Barry Renwick / Paul Hughes - Proton MillingtonAlistair Hutchinson, Renault ClioLee Hastings / Julie McGuire in the Subaru ImprezaGraham and David Malthouse - Mitsubishi Evo 6John Nicholson / Peter Littlefield, Ford EscortGary Laverick and Phil Kenny - Ford Puma

Barry Renwick / Paul Hughes - Proton MillingtonAlistair Hutchinson, Renault ClioLee Hastings / Julie McGuire in the Subaru ImprezaGraham and David Malthouse - Mitsubishi Evo 6John Nicholson / Peter Littlefield, Ford EscortGary Laverick and Phil Kenny - Ford Puma


Laffey and Roughead take Tyneside Podium.   


The calendar may have indicated that the Tyneside Stages sponsored by Retro Motorsport, was running on the first Sunday of August but the weather wasn’t too kind to us on rallyday this year.  Instead of rushing for the factor 50 this time we had to contend with a right whooly of a wind and when you’re up on top of Cottonshope Head, you needed to hang onto everything before Storm Sophie whisked it away.


Issues with the Army, Landmarc and tenant farmers restricted the availability of certain roads on the Otterburn military ranges but the joint efforts of Alnwick and Berwick Motor Clubs still managed a route of 60 competitive miles run over 12 stages.


Alex Laffey and Andrew Roughead sneaked in a late entry as some tarmac testing for the forthcoming Ulster Rally.  Their Ford Fiesta R5 was quickly on the pace and running in 2nd overall after the opening loop of 3 stages.  They were able to hold onto this position until the last 4 tests and had to settle for another 3rd overall at this venue.  A small matter of 12 seconds was the difference at the end of the day.


Taking 2nd co-driver’s points on the rally was Jack Morton.  The youngster was sitting alongside the non-registered Thomas Preston again and they would bring home their very rapid Skoda Fabia a further 30 seconds adrift of our winners.  The next crew along was event sponsor Barry Renwick with Paul Hughes sitting alongside in the Proton Millington.  A bit of a cautious start found them down in 19th place after the opening pair of tests but they quickly moved up to 13th and then 12th by the end.  The intermittent electrical gremlins that have troubled the car over the recent 4 events appear to have been cured once the broken wire was discovered / replaced and some reliability returned.  Some adjusting of the suspension for SS8 didn’t help improve their times so they softened it back for the rest of the rally and picked up more good championship points.


Alistair Hutchinson called on the services of his non-registered son Joe to guide him around Otterburn for this rally.  Their Renault Clio was reliable apart from a little fuel pressure issue early on when they dropped about 15 seconds.  The heavy drizzle that came for the last pair of stages made Alistair back off a little but he was bit too cautious on the final stage and recorded a time 16 seconds slower than the first run through the Watty Bells stage.  This didn’t affect his championship, but he seemed more peeved that he’d lost 2 places overall and the class win by 1 second !


Next was Lee Hastings / Julie McGuire in one of Lee’s Subaru Imprezas.  They had contested the Solway Coast rally the day before and were quickly into a rhythm but then lost over 30 seconds with a slow run through the first Dudlees stage.  Lee’s only other issue came on the final test when he, like lots of other crews, was already feeling a bit nervous with the slippy conditions.  Early into the test he came too quickly over a crest and a full 360 + spin found him stuck in the middle of the road.  A quick bit of shuffling around and he was on his way with a loss over 20 seconds.  Ken Bills was called up to co-drive for a man with a Mitsubishi Evo 9 from Bristol and he duly obliged for a steady trouble free run to 23rd overall.


Neil Thompson was next despite his non-registered co-driver booking in 1 minute early at the first Riverside arrival control.  A bit like Alistair Hutchinson, this didn’t affect his championship, but he did lose 2 places overall and the class win.  But after the opening Makendon stage I’m sure that he’d have gratefully accepted this result.  Before the rally he’d decided on a last minute check on the Corsa and found the rear geometry was out a little !  Another beam was quickly sourced and fitted on Friday night.  Then on Saturday Neil was unhappy with the engine so he stripped and rebuilt the oil pump only to overfill the engine with oil.  Once on the ranges the car felt sluggish and a blue plume of smoke followed the white Vauxhall everywhere.  It was no surprise that the crew were down in 77th place after stage 2 so a good recovery to 29th back at the final control was very noteworthy.


The son and father combination of Graham and David Malthouse were another 3 places back.  They hadn’t competed since the Jack Frost but the 6-month layoff didn’t work against them.  Their Mitsubishi Evo 6 ran reliably and they gently moved up the leaderboard as the day wore on.  Kenny Moore and Richard Wardle had a steady day in the lovely Hillman Avenger and with no problems to record, Kenny seemed to be relieved and happy to finish in one piece.  Just 2 seconds behind them in 35th position was Tom Middlemiss with Richard Stewart sitting alongside him.  They rolled out Tom’s other car, the ex Kev Monaghan Vauxhall Corsa, for the first time in almost 12 months when they last contested a rally at Epynt.  Tom was another happy man with no car problems to report.  After a slow start, the times got better in the afternoon runs as they headed up the score sheets.


John Nicholson / Peter Littlefield were another crew to record a clean run mechanically with their only ‘time loss’ on SS1.  They believe that the nominal time they were awarded for being held up on this opening stage dropped them in the region of 20 or so seconds.  But like others recorded earlier, a couple of places were lost but this didn’t affect their championship.  And right behind the Historic Ford Escort was a more modern Renault Clio being crewed by Tom and Sue Hynd. At the end of the morning loops, the husband and wife team were placed 52nd yet as the day progressed they moved up the leaderboard to finish 44th.  It had been a bit of a ‘character building’ day as they changed suspension parts all day trying to find some improvements.  Finishing in 46th place and taking top championship points in their class were Stephen Bethwaite and Ann Forster.  Despite a poor seeding of 82, the West Cumbria CC team continued to enjoy another dose of good reliability with the little 1400 Vauxhall Nova.  They tried pushing on a bit more in the afternoon’s stages but found their limit before they managed to go over it.


Gary Laverick was a very happy man back at the last Airstrips main control as he achieved his ambition of finishing a rally at Otterburn.  His first attempt at the rally was 12 months earlier and he only managed about 3 miles then but this time he performed a lot better.  The Ford Puma wasn’t working too well over the first lap and actually struggled to get out of 2nd gear going up the hill out of Watty Bells on the first Dudlees test.  A blocked fuel filter was sorted out in first service and the times started to get better.  A steady run to 50th at the finish made both him and Phil Kenny quite content.  Nigel and Helen Harkness struggled for most of the day with gearbox issues.  Apparently, the Vauxhall Corsa would allow them to use 3rd gear going along a straight but when going around corners it was another matter, as it just would not engage.  Seems like a project to sort out another day when back at home and they were classified as 54th overall.  Our final finisher was yet another family combination crew of Jeff and Owen Malthouse.  Their fairly standard Peugeot 205 was reunited with a 1900cc motor since it’s last outing at Croft and performed without a problem.  The driver felt he was slow ‘out of the box’ but happier that his times got better as the day went on.


Our list of retirements is fairly short and starts with newcomers to the venue Alistair Has and Chris Lees approaching the flying finish of the opening stage when the back end of their Peugeot 205 stepped out over a cattle grid, nose dug in to the grass banking and over and over it went.  Thankfully both crew members were unhurt.  Next it was Andy Brown’s turn as he was co- driving for the unregistered Tim Seipel; the clutch on their MG ZR failed on the start line for SS6 and although they made it to the end of the stage even after a spin but were unable to repair the clutch in service.  Kevin Mathers and Craig Forsyth also dropped out after stage 6 having stopped during the stage with gear selection issues.  He got going after a couple of minutes but the box gave up the ghost having lost about 6 minutes in the test.  Stage 7 accounted for Stuart Walker when he ran wide off the road a few inches into a big hole and broke rear hub.  After two jacks, some ratchet straps and cable ties he got it squared up and drove the car back to service and OTL. Gareth White / Harry Marchbank had a great morning and were up to 26th overall and 2nd in class with their Peugeot 208.  Then on SS8 were flat in 4th before clicking 5th gear and the engine cried enough dropping onto 3 cylinders and game over. A closer inspection revealed dropped valves in cylinder 3 and 4 !  The same stage also claimed the Knox brothers in their new mount of a BMW M3.  Some teething troubles slowed them a little in the morning but when the fan broke and went in to radiator, it was time for an early bath for them too.  And our final retirees were David and Mathew White who came off second best after a close inspection of a chicane on the first run through DavyShiel, damaged radiator was the end result.


As ever we must record our thanks to Alnwick and Berwick Motor Clubs for their efforts in coming up with an event in more challenging times and yet they managed to stick with a tight time schedule.  The Otterburn Ranges continues to provide a huge contest against man and machine that still bites back when pushed over the limit.  Fortunately there were no injuries again and we had very few retirements, which is always good to see.


The next qualifying round, and our penultimate championship event, is the Pendragon Stages.  This will take place on Sunday 11th September and similar to previous years, the event will utilise the military roads on Warcop Ranges near Brough where 72 competitive miles are being laid on.  The Regulations were published recently and the organisers already have their 80 guaranteed entries with a reserve list for the remaining 10 that they will choose. The rally website is http://www.pendragonstages.co.uk/ where you’ll find more information.