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13 crews made it to Donington Park for the Dukeries Rally, for one of the two opening rounds in this years championship.

It was a wet start but it didn’t stop Paul Morgan/Sam Stafford’s Honda Civic taking a three second lead over Andrew Turner/Ross Green’s Ford Escort.

Nigel Greensall/Graham Wild were third quickest in their Toyota GT86, with Class B rivals Joe Piggott/John Fellowes’ Citroen Saxo and Ian/John Dove’s Vauxhall Nova next up. Matthew Honeyborne/Martin Allwood’s Escort Mk1 completed the initial top six.

But Honeyborne was in trouble, “we had a plug lead off and an ignition problem, so had to be pushed away from the stage finish and couldn’t start it for stage two,” he explained.

It was even wetter for stage two, but it was game over for the HOE leader, “I had been held up at a merge by an R5 car and tried to get around him. I thought he went wide to let me through, but we collided,” said Morgan, after collecting frontal damage, taking off a drive belt and losing his power steering.

With Morgan out, Turner was the new leader with a six second gap over Greensall. “I wasn’t taking any risks, but we still glanced the armco with the rear,” said Turner. “Fantastic and wonderfully wet,” Greensall added.

Piggott had consolidated his lead over Dove, and was into third place, with both Scott/Darren Stuchbury’s Renaut Clio and Connor/Gary Powell’s Saxo moving into the top six.

But Ben/Alice Williams found out just how wet it was, when they spun exiting the Melbourne Hairpin. “I think we went into it too fast, spun and got stuck on the grass until the end of the stage,” Ben explained.

Piggott had been going well, “I was pushing on and the car felt great in the wet,” he explained. But a wrong slot on stage three gave them the bogey time.

Dove was up to third and led Class B, while in fourth Massie Piggott/Julian Monkley’s Escort G3 was into fourth, from Powell and Kay Thompson/Reece Brookes’ Micra.

“All good for us, full wets, but not quite fast enough,” added Piggott senior.

Stuchbury had been pleased with his pace in wet, but drama on stage three dropped them to the tail end too, but the skies were brightening and the rain had stopped.

Turner’s lead was halved on SS4 with Greensall charging, but he gave co-driver Wild a scare. “We weren’t far off a concrete wall on Graham’s side,” he explained.

Piggott Senior was flying though as it dried out, “we picked up a bit of a misfire though,” he explained, after heading Dove by a solitary second after four stages.

Turner managed to consolidate his lead over the final pair of stages to secure his win by 23 seconds over Class C rival Greensall.

It was a Piggott family duel for third though, with Joe’s Class B Saxo snatching it on the final stage. “We broke the anti-rollbar so took that off, but lost out a bit for pace in the afternoon when it dried out,” said Joe.

Massie still held onto a fourth and third in Class C, but with Dove retiring after hitting a tyre stack, Powell rook fifth and second in Class B. “Apart from a big sideways moment on stage one,” it was great,” said Powell.

Williams managed to recover to take sixth on the final stage too, ousting Thompson and Mark Turner/Phil Bramma’s Class T Mini.

Thompson was seventh and won Class A, with Turner eighth and the only Class T starter. “We had a couple of half spins, stayed on wets to long and managed to touch a chicane on stage two, but a good day,” said Turner.

James/David Palmer-Smith’s Corsa took second in Class A from ninth overall, with Stuchbury completing the top 10 for fourth in Class C.

Honyeborne managed to rejoin the fray to be classified and was the only runner in Class H for maximum points too.

Published by Peter Scherer for Heart of England Rally Championship


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