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Heart of England Rally Championship leaders Aled Morgans and Mark Rodway, took another win in their Ford Escort, as round four of the Championship visited the CAR-nival Stages at Abingdon. But it was a close run victory, with Ian/Oliver Hucklebridge only five seconds behind.

Despite a first stage spin Morgans managed to pull out a three-second lead over his rival, who had his own early drama. “I had perfect soft tyres, but messed up a chicane, hit the tyres and had to reverse, then I was too cautious and struggled with my braking,” said Hucklebridge.

Paul Morgan/Sam Stafford were third best HOE contender in their Honda Civic, three seconds up on Michael Bowle/Izzie Lawrence’s Renault Clio.

With Morgans having a clean stage two, he was able to double his advantage, with Hucklebridge having more drama. “I tried third gear into a chicane, but was too deep again and ended up on the grass. It should have been second,” he explained.

Although Morgan consolidated third, he had a problem at one of the chicanes too. “I clipped it and put a dent in the wing and door, as well and I though it was just the mirror, as I was just pushing too hard,” he said.

Bowle had the Escort of Mark/Claire Lennox closing on his fourth place, after they had passed Dean Davies/Cameron Wheatley’s Escort, playing catch up to after clipping a chicane on SS1.

As Hucklebridge settled into his stride, the gap to Morgans was still six seconds after four stages, after the leader spun again on SS3 and had a brake issue on SS4. Bowle lost some time with a stage four misfire, but the pressure was off as Lennox had picked up a puncture, handing sixth back to Davies.

Out though had gone Matt Turner/Paul Bishop, after their seventh placed Escort had engine failure and eighth placed Graham Davies/Gary Powell after their Darrian had an oil pressure problem.

After opening a 10 secs lead on SS5, Morgans and Hucklebridge went into the final stage tied. “I spun again on stage six due to my bad driving,” Morgans admitted.

I had been braking harder in a shorter distance and had a good final stage, but I didn’t know we were level,” said Hucklebridge. “I just had a stormer at the end,” Morgans added, as victory was secured by just five seconds.

Morgan won class C and retained a clear third, “I just needed more power, I was flat out all day,” he said.

Bowle came through unscathed in fourth, with Davies holding onto fifth and second in class C, after his brakes had been overheating and he had an alternator issue.

The sixth placed battle was also the duel for Class B between Joe Piggott/John Fellowes’ Saxo and the Citroen C2 R2 of Chris Gravestock/Mark Harmer. They were tied after three stages. “I spun on stage four, but was being pushed hard by Chris and Mat Wheeler and then clipped a tyre on SS4 and it pushed a wheel back,” Piggott explained.

Gravestock had gone a second clear, but not for long. “The alternator packed up, so the rev limiter kept cutting in and we only just made it to the finish,” he explained.

So Piggott took sixth and the class, with Gravestock still second in class, having recovered seventh from Jamie McBain/Ryan Stuchbury’s Peugeot 205 GT, who claimed third in Class C.

Stephen Pritchard/Jack Bowen’s Nova led class A all day and was and was joint ninth with Lennox’s recovering Class C Escort. “I bent the clutch pedal on stage one as it was too tight. After adjusting it all was OK and we used the same tyres all day too,” he said.

Wheeler/Stuart Jones; Citroen C2 Max dropped out of the Class B battle and overall top 10 after damaging their steering on a kerb on SS6, but were still third in class and 11th, while behind them Alex/Stephen Roscoe’s Micra held off Lucy Pitch/Pete Bowles Rover 200 for second in Class A.

Ryan Lloyd/James Wardle lost time with a puncture in their Class B Saxo, while Glyn/Owain Thomas’ Class A Peugeot 106 kept overheating. Anthony/Kirun Deignan’s Class C Skoda Fabia lost boost and had a puncture, while John/Sharon Mills’ Class A MG ZR rounded off the 17 finishers.

Published by Peter Scherer for the Heart of England Rally Championship, June 15th 2022.


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