MAUGER ON A MISSION!…
Bicester driver Simon Mauger begins the defence of his MSA Asphalt Rally Championship title on 13th March when the new season kicks off with the Melvyn Evans Motorsport Tour of Epynt. Reunited with both the Dennis Marshall-built Metro 4M4 and co-driver Jonathan Hawkins, a combination that proved so successful last year, Mauger will be looking to repeat, if not improve on, the victory he took on the Epynt Military Ranges twelve months ago. On that occasion, they emerged as winners by just a solitary second from the Ford Focus WRC of five-time Asphalt Champion Damian Cole who had won the event himself in 2014.
Cole replaced the Focus with a Fiesta WRC mid-way through 2015 and it’s in this that he will be pinning his hopes of another victory on the Military Ranges in the Brecon Beacons. A brace of Impreza WRCs are next in the capable hands of Steve Simpson/Patrick Walsh, Epynt winners themselves in 2014, and Adrian Spencer/Mark Hewitt – Spencer has recently taken delivery of the S11 previously campaigned by John Indri.
Builth Wells’ Eian Pritchard has entered in the Focus WRC that son Jason has taken to victory on the Manx National Rally in both 2014 & 2015. Pritchard Snr was a regular Championship contender some years ago in an Impreza and knows the Ranges very well…. Another Epynt ‘veteran’ is Bob Fowden (Impreza) who, with Paul Wakely reading the notes, starts ahead of Philip Turner/Simon Anthony (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO9).
Previous Asphalt Championship Group N winner Rob Tout and Dylan James have entered their Lancer EVO9 in Class B13 this time while, a minute behind them, Richard Clews/Carl Williamson are in a similarly upgraded Impreza. Clews was running comfortably in the Top Ten on the Isle of Man last year before problems caused him to drop back. Former Asphalt Championship sponsor Mark Worley, through his Prima Motorsport concern, and Hamish Campbell have forsaken their Fiesta and returned to more familiar ground – an Impreza S12B – while David Tinn will be hoping for better luck this time. The night before last year’s rally a colleague took ill, requiring him to return home. Hopefully, nothing will impede David and Giles Dykes this time in getting their Proton Satria Neo to
the start and, obviously, to the finish!
Further to the mention of Class B13 above, it’s worth remembering that Simon Mauger’s Metro 4M4 falls into that class and, similar to his results in a Ford Escort MkII that gave others the belief that they could achieve greatness, he has now shown that it is not necessarily compulsory to have a World Rally Car to win a Championship at this level. In addition to Tout and Clews, Manxmen Stu Bainborough/Andrew Cowley are out in their Lancer EVO6, sizing up the opposition prior to their ‘home’ event, the Manx National Rally, in May.
Defending Group N Champions, David & Mathew White (Impreza) are back for more this season and are joined by Oliver Hopkins in his Lancer EVO9.
In recent years the Millington Rear-Wheel Drive Challenge has become an integral – and very popular! – facet of the Asphalt Rally Championship and, in the absence of 2015 winners Darren & Sue Underwood (Escort G3), we wait to see who is likely to follow in their footsteps. Mike English & Phil Turner (Escorts) have indicated their intention to participate, while the always-immaculate reengineered Vauxhall Astra RWD of Geoff Glover/Keith Barker will be travelling down from Teesside to join in the fun!
The AB Motorsport Front-Wheel-Drive Challenge looks set for a bumper year, with the Citroen C1 Max of Rhidian Daniels/Tomos Whittle leading the field away from the start. Paul Clapham (Peugeot 106) and 2015 Championship class winner David Earthy (Citroen C2R2 Max) are back for more, with both Mike Williams and Tim Seipel choosing MG ZRs as their ‘vehicles of choice’!
Last year the 1400 category was a hard-fought affair and eventual winners Ian Barnard/Richard Bonner (Nova) have their sights set on back-to-back titles.However, in order to achieve this, they must first see off challenges not only from the Nissan Micras of Ian & Margaret Kelly and Lloyd Morgan/Kath Curzon, but also David & Mathew Smalley and Richard Milbank/Lee Bezuidenhout in Vauxhall Corsas.
Those competitors who have yet to register for the Championship are asked to do so before the Event on the BTRDA Membership website, where you can join or renew your membership and register for the Championship. It’s very straightforward and you can pay using your credit or debit card. The website address is https://www.btrdamembership.com/index.php
If you don’t want to register on-line, you can still do so at Event Documentation, but it would save time if you came with your form already fully completed (in capitals, please) and the correct payment. If you haven’t got a form, you can download one from the Championship website.
For anyone intending to come out and watch, please note the following which is
taken from the Port Talbot MC Event Preview :
‘Spectators are welcome at the event though, in line with the new MSA safety
precautions, access will of necessity be different to earlier years on Epynt. All spectator access is from the ‘Dual Carriageway’ off the A40 at Llywel, no other access permitted, and three locations can be reached. Dixies will have viewing of SS1,3,5,6&7 from 09.00 through to 16.10, Burma Road will allow views of stages SS1,3,5,6&7 from 09.00 to 16.10, and the third spectator area will be for viewing near German Village East, for SS2,4,5,6&7, from 09.12 through to 16.10. It is essential that spectators respect the indicated viewing areas and parking arrangements at every location, in their own interests and that of the sport, as MSA Safety observers have the right to cancel stages, should they consider any risk unacceptable. Admission will be by programme at the gate at the top of the ‘dual carriageway’, proceeds to local charitable organisations. The Awards Ceremony is scheduled for 6.00 pm at the Castle Hotel, Llandovery.’