Jason Pritchard and Phil Clarke scored a vital double win in the Isle of Man Historic Rally (15th to the 17th of September), the seventh and eighth rounds of the 2016 Mintex MSA British Historic Rally Championship. During the fabulous event run in warm sunshine over the island’s sensational closed roads, Pritchard and Clarke scooped a perfect score to ensure that the overall title will only be decided at the final round, the Trackrod Historic Cup (30 September/1 October).
After two and a half days of flat-out asphalt rallying, Simon Tysoe and Paul Morris were confirmed as champions in the Capital Construction Category 2 and Bob and Dale Gibbons secured the Vintage Car Radiator Company Category 1 title after a tremendous performance in their Ford Cortina Mk2
This was never an easy result for Pritchard’s Ford Escort Mk2 as a concerted attack from Ryan Barrett and Paul McCann left the margin at just 10 seconds with two stages to run as Barrett clawed back into contention after collecting 40s of road penalties with ignition dramas. Sadly, a loss of oil pressure ended their rally with only a handful of miles to run. “It’s been a perfect weekend,” said Pritchard who had to claim two good points’ scores to keep his hopes alive of retaining the BHRC crown.
Another star performance came from Paul Barrett, elder brother of Ryan, and co-driver Dai Roberts in their Pinto-powered Escort Mk2 to finish second BHRC contenders. “It’s a brilliant rally and the Pinto won’t go any harder,” said Barrett, who is now the main rival for Pritchard heading for the Yorkshire showdown. Barrett also headed the RSR Historic Engineering Category 3, while Pritchard/Clarke topped the Holton Homes Category K.
Third BHRC finisher with a fine performance was the Escort Mk2 of Shawn Rayner/Declan Dear and it was a rewarding first Manx finish at the third attempt. Despite losing more than 10 minutes with a late trip into a ditch, Tysoe and Morris sealed the Capital Construction BHRC Category 2 victory in their Ford Escort Mk1, but title contenders Stanley Orr/Guy Weaver were a Friday casualty with two broken rockers in their Pinto engine.
Deserving Category 2 winners on the rally were Barry Jordan and James Gratton-Smith (Hillman Avenger) after a very strong run for the BRM-engined car. “The car has been mint,” reported Jordan. However, out of luck were Phil Jobson and Arwel Jenkins who went out with an accident on the final day.
The Gibbons father and son team had a great rally to take Category 1 in both the rally and the BHRC standings. The father and son team overcame a strong Category 1 field and ended the Cortina’s stage rallying career in fine style. Mike Barrett and Fiona Scarrett did well to record a good finish with second in Category 1 for their Ford Cortina Mk1 GT.
In Category 3, there were mixed fortunes among the Ford Escort Mk2 ranks and a cruel blow for the 1600cc car of Chris Skill/Tom Jordan when a broken rocker forced a late retirement after a dominant performance. Also destined not to reach the finish with engine dramas were Malcolm Rich/Ryland James and Daniel Jones/Gerwyn Barry.
Rudi Lancaster and George Gwynn got their rather battered Escort Mk2 to the finish, but lost a lot of time after hitting a chicane on Thursday evening. Similarly, Phil and Mick Squires drove an attacking rally in their freshly-built Escort Mk2 but dropped a lot of time on the final stage when the engine cut out.
Sixth BHRC crew home was a great result for Barry Stevenson-Wheeler and John Pickavance on their island debut despite some car problems including a cracked fuel tank. They finished just ahead of a three-way battle between the Vauxhall Chevette of Stuart and Jack Anderson and the Escort Mk2s of Mike Tomkinson/Shaun Whitehurst and Simon and Alister Crook. For the two Escort crews, a strong finish on their first attempt at the event was just reward in this most challenging rally on the calendar.