ACSMC Rally Championship Newsletter – February 2022

We finally managed to get the Championship underway last month, after two failed attempts in 2020 and 2021. Once again last year, I felt that we just did not have enough rounds to constitute a Regional Championship.

For those of you that paid a registration fee in either year, this will be ‘rolled over’ into 2022. With Brands Hatch now behind us and Bovington just two weeks away, which a good number of you have secured places at, I am really confident that we have a proper year of competition ahead of us.

On a happier note, the atmosphere at Brands Hatch was a great one, with a cold but very sunny and dry day helping the mood. It was great to see the spectators pouring in and with conditions starting out cold and a little icy, this felt like real rallying again! From an ACSMC perspective, I was delighted to see seven competitors in attendance.

Carrying the Number 18 were Richard Weaver and Steve McNulty in their Mitsubishi Evo VI and Richard described SS3 as ‘surprisingly grippy on the circuit whilst I was having to drive the rest of it accordingly’.  A good number of Competitors took it easy on the first competitive stage and the times were tumbling by the time I spoke to Richard. This was causing some discussion over tyre choice in the paddock. Richard was happy with his Cooper wet tyres which were ‘working well, so we will stick with them’.

Wayne Hole and Chris Wilson were back in their Ford Escort Mexico, as part of the Isle of Wight contingent. Like others, he found SS1 very slippery and lost time, gaining 14 seconds in SS2. At the end of SS3, Wayne told me that he had been finding ‘loads of grip’ until their rear differential failed, forcing them into retirement, which they were clearly very disappointed about. They will be back at Bovington though.

Returning to the Championship for 2022, Stephen and Melissa Hall were competing in their Ford Fiesta Mk1. Stephen told me that he was ‘looking forward to rallying with my daughter after several years’. After SS1, he had found the ‘rally stage slippery, with lots of mud coming back on to the circuit, but there was lots of sliding and fun!’

I found Dean Long sitting in the wrong side of a BMW E36 as he was making some last minute adjustments ahead of co-driving for Barney Lower. He was sitting in the other seat ‘to repay a favour. I am much more relaxed and enjoying it. The stage was not too foggy and we can see far enough’ he said after the first run. Hopefully, we will see him back in the drivers seat of his Subaru as the season continues though.

Brands Hatch also saw a new entrant to the Championship, Chris Daykin in his Subaru Impreza, co-driven by Michael Weeks. They were ready to go and in good spirits, and after SS2 they were 16 seconds quicker than the first stage. ‘The suspension set-up is now sorted, with the back end more controllable’ Chris explained. He was also talking about trying slicks, but had some issues in SS4, struggling in the pit lane hairpin and having to reverse on the second lap.

Dave Hockaday and Steve Frost were smiling as ever in their Volkswagen Golf GTi and Dave said ‘we cannot wait to get back into it. This is only the second event for this engine’. However, Brands Hatch has been their Nemesis in previous years and I soon found them with the bonnet up and their smiles diminished, albeit only slightly. Even the coolant leak that they had discovered and which had caused the engine to overheat could not get them down. A screwhead sized hole in a coolant pipe was the issue and Dave was busy attempting to repair it and hoping to restart later. 

Last, but not least, Tim Richman and Ben Allwright were at this event for the very first time in their Nissan Micra. Several parts of the engine had been changed beforehand. After SS2, Tim explained that he had found the stages ‘very slippery, we spun twice! We have changed tyres. The first ones that we tried were rubbish!

The afternoon saw many cars retiring, although no further Competitors from the ACSMC Championship. Richard Weaver finished 16th overall and 9th in Class and is hoping to do some of the other rounds. He has since secured a place at Bovington.

Stephen and Melissa Hall finished 53rd overall and 18th in a very busy and closely fought class C. I hope that we will see more of them as the year progresses.

Barney Lower and Dean Long were classified 75th overall and 11th in Class, climbing up to this position from towards the bottom of the listings as Barney started to find confidence. Chris Daykin and Michael Weeks were to found at 61st overall and 2nd in Class E1 at the end of the day.

Happily, despite having to take stage maximum times for SS2 and SS3, Dave Hockaday and Steve Frost were able to rejoin the rally in SS4 and ended the day with smiles and a result, finally breaking their run of DNFs at this event. They were classified 78th overall and 23rd in Class.

Tim Richman and Ben Allwright, having started in 96th, climbed to a very credible 69th overall and secured 8th in Class, having thoroughly enjoyed their maiden attempt at this event.

My congratulations to all of the Competitors and my best wishes to all of you that will be enjoying the fast and flowing stages at Bovington in two weeks time.

I am sorry that I cannot be there. I do look forward to seeing all of you at some point in 2022 and so watch out for the entries opening for round three, the Corinium Stages, fairly soon.

Mark Baulch

Rally Championship Coordinator

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