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Nick Elliott and Dave Price continued their impressive form in the 2017 Mintex MSA British Historic Rally Championship with a third win in a row on the Pirelli Historic Rally (29 April).
The Ford Escort Mk2 crew finished with a winning margin of just 6.5 seconds over defending champions Jason Pritchard and Phil Clarke after a day-long tussle in dry and dusty conditions in Kielder forest. Other category wins went to Phil Harris/Richard Suter (Mini Cooper) and Phil Jobson/Arwel Jenkins (Ford Escort Mk1).
The fast and flowing Kielder stages were in fine condition and the rally format of running the historic and two-wheel drive cars first on the road for single usage of the stages drew widespread acclaim from the competitors.
Just four long stages were needed to cover the competitive distance and Elliott, despite running first on the road, put down a marker on the opening 10.47-mile Whitesike test. Elliott took an immediate 5s lead over Stanley Orr/Stephen McAuley, with Pritchard/Clarke a further 5s down.
Next came more than 15 miles in Black Fell and Pritchard showed tremendous form to be just 0.8s down on Elliott after more than 15 minutes of competition. After service came the 14.69-mile Clintburn stage and once again there was very little between the top two as Elliott added only 1.5s to his advantage. Going into the deciding nine miles of Claver Hill Elliott’s lead was just over 12 seconds and it was all to play for. Pritchard really attached and pulled back 5.9s but it was not quite enough and Elliott was confirmed as winner with a winning margin of just 6.5s at the conclusion of a fine contest between two drivers at the top of their game. Elliott/Price won Category 3 while Pritchard/Clarke headed Category K.
Little more than a minute down on the leading pair was a great result for Simon Webster/Jez Rogers, while Steve Bennett and Osian Owen took fourth on their first rally together. Other Category 3 class winners included Ben Friend and Cliffy Simmons (Ford Escort Mk2) who again won D3 as well as finishing fifth in the category.
Orr/McAuley (Ford Escort Mk1) set the early pace in the Capital Construction Category 2 but went out with broken steering on stage 2 and so it was local driver
Phil Jobson and his Welsh co-driver Arwel Jenkins who won the category after rivals Bob Bean/Malcolm Smithson took a stage maximum in Clintburn.
In Class C2 Elliot Retallick and Tim Tugwell (Hillman Avenger) took another class win, while in the Vintage Car Radiator Company Category 1, the Mini Cooper of Phil Harris and Richard Suter maintained a perfect record for 2017 with their only concern being a puncture towards the end of the opening stage.
1 Phil Harris/Richard Suter (Mini Cooper)
1 Phil Jobson/Arwel Jenkins (Ford Escort Mk1)
2 Eliot Retallick/Tim Tugwell (Hillman Avenger)
3 Stuart Cariss/Linda Cariss (Ford Escort Mk1)
4 Aziz Tejpar/Steven Davey (Ford Escort Mk1)
5 Bob Bean/Malcolm Smithson (Ford Escort Mk1)
Category 3 and Category K
1 Nick Elliott/Dave Price (Ford Escort Mk2)
2 Jason Pritchard/Phil Clarke (Ford Escort Mk2)
3 Simon Webster/Jez Rogers (Ford Escort Mk2)
4 Steve Bennett/Osian Owen (Ford Escort Mk2)
5 Ben Friend/Cliffy Simmons (Ford Escort Mk2)
Harris/Suter; Retallick/Tugwell; Jobson/Jenkins; Friend/Simmons; Elliott/Price; Pritchard/Clarke.
Elliott (SS1 – SS3)