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It was wet and it was muddy in parts, as the Heart of England Rally Championship headed north, for the Lookout Stages Rally, at Melbourne near York.

Paul Morgan/Sam Stafford’s Honda Civic went into an immediate 14 second lead over Ryan Lloyd/James Wardle’s Citroen Saxo on the opening stage, after there was a mixture of tyre choices.
Joe Piggott/John Fellowes were just a second down in third, with Gary/Yvonne Powell fourth, both in Saxo’s too.

Morgan continued to increase his lead on SS2, but Piggott was into second, with a six second gap over Lloyd, as the Escort’s of Stefan Morris/Jack Bowen and Ben Williams/Russell Joseph demoted Powell to sixth.

But after clipping a bank on stage three, Morgan’s lead was cut back to 10 seconds. Piggott was charging though. “We stayed on wets after we spun and dented a door on the first stage, it was Ok but very slippery,” he said.
Although Lloyd was still in third, Morris had closed the gap to three seconds. “The wet had been suiting us in a low powered car, as the others couldn’t use their power advantage,” said Lloyd.

Williams was just two seconds off Morris too, “ I started on slicks, but couldn’t get any power down on stage one, so put the wets on,” he said.
Over the next two stages Morgan had restored his lead to 41 seconds, but disaster struck as he approached the finish of SS5. “It was too rough for us, I had gone for slicks from stage four as we had been struggling on wets, but then burst both front struts and only just made the finish of the stage,” he explained.

It was all over for Morgan and a stage later Morris joined the retirements too, having moved ahead of Lloyd into third. “We were way off pace in the morning, but made some changes and was getting used to it again. I spun on stage five and then punctured a rear in a gateway and we were out too,” he added.

Piggott was then left with a 21 second lead to defend over Williams on the last stage , to which he added another three seconds to seal his win. “I kept the wets on until the last two stages, but think I will need a longer fifth gear before Abingdon,” he said.

Williams consolidated second place in the final stages, “a stage four misfire cleared itself and then on stage four, I overtook Matt Walk, spun in front of him and he retook me,” he explained.
Lloyd managed to recover third following Morris’ retirement, which also gave him second in Class B behind Piggott. “I stayed on the same tyres all day, and I think my road rally experience helped too,” Lloyd explained.

Harry Pinchin/Colin Jenkins’ Citroen C2 snatched fourth from Matt/Ade Walk’s Fiesta on the final stage and was third in Class B. “I was surprised how well we went. We had a new wiring loom for this rally, we kept the wets on until stage five and ruined them, otherwise it was ongoing checks,” he said.

Walk was a comfortable Class and fifth best HOE driver, “we broke an exhaust hanger on stage two, so just had to keep refixing it, “he added. Having been as high as fourth best HOE contender on SS1, Powell finally finished sixth, fourth in Class B, followed by Tony North/James Hod’s Impreza, the only Class E runner.

“Absolutely fabulous day. It was hard on the car and I stayed on wets until SS5 when it rained again, but we were OK after that,” he commented,
Andy Brinkley/Helena Mayall’s BMW M3 was second in Class D behind Williams for eighth, followed by Mark Turner/Emma Cooper’s Class T BMW Mini R53, while Jordine Crooks was navigating for David Martin in a Class C Escort and completed the top 10.

Kay Thompson/Reece Brookes’ Class A Micra and Massie Piggott/Julian Monkley’s Class C Escort G3 completed the finishers, with David Burden/Peter Williams’ the only other retirements, after their Citroen C2 broke a hub on stage three.


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