For the first time since 2013 the Raintite/Curzon Wealth Management Patriot Stages Rally, at the Caerwent Training Area near Chepstow, is included in the MSA Asphalt Rally Championship calendar. The battle to succeed Simon Mauger as champion is
finely poised and, with just two events (including the Patriot Stages) to go, Damian Cole and Steve Simpson find themselves under considerable pressure!
Cole and Paul Morris (Fiesta WRC) currently lead their respective points tables and another maximum score at Caerwent would put the matter out of Simpson & Patrick Walsh’s reach. However, the Impreza WRC crew are also in fine form this season, having taken two wins and two seconds from the four events they have started so far. Cole/Morris will lead the field away at 9.15am on Sunday 25th September, with Simpson/Walsh right behind them. Six special stages, totalling 65 miles, are on the menu at this challenging venue and an ‘interesting’ day is in prospect!
Simon Mauger, himself, has placed an entry for the event but, at the time of writing, has yet to nominate a car! Whatever he eventually chooses, the outgoing Drivers’ Champion will be reunited with Brian Cammack who won the Co-drivers’ title in 2013
by a solitary point from Patrick Walsh!
A good run from David Tinn/Giles Dykes (Proton Satria Neo) could elevate them into a podium spot in the points tables while, having had successful outings on both the Manx National and ALMC Stages Rallies earlier in the season, 2014 Championship
runner-up John Stone returns to Caerwent in his Fiesta S2500. He finished 4th last time the series was there and his current form gives considerable grounds for optimism once again. Having missed several rounds, the Legend Fires driver is not in
line for any Championship honours this year, but he’s still more than capable of mixing it with those who are!
Following their excellent 3rd overall on the recent Mewla Rally, Bob Fowden/ Paul Wakely will be hoping that the gearbox problems which have beset their Impreza WRC this season are now behind them. Both have past experience of the
idiosyncrasies of Caerwent, putting them in good stead for this latest visit. We haven’t seen Phil Turner (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO9) since the start of the season but, in the absence of Richard Clews on this occasion, a finish would put him in line for a
good haul of points in Class B13. Lee Perry/Stuart Powell would also benefit from a respectable result in their Escort Cosworth.
The Group N battle this year is between Wynne Watkins/Ashley Trimble (Impreza) and Oliver Hopkins (Lancer EVO9). With a week to go, Oliver is on the reserve list for this popular event but the rate of withdrawals thus far has been such that he is confident of being able to take the start on 25th.
Mark Borthwick, the current owner of the ex Simon Mauger Escort MkII, took top Millington Rear-Wheel Drive Challenge points on the Tyneside Stages, while William Hill/Richard Crozier (Fiesta R200) did likewise in the AB Motorsport Front-Wheel Drive Challenge, following it up with a similar result on the Mewla. A good run for the pair at Caerwent could put the matter beyond doubt, but there are a number of others who could well have a say in the matter on the day! Tim Seipel/Val Thompson (MG ZR), Richard & Pat Egger (Vauxhall Nova) and Kevin Harbour (Peugeot 205) will be out to stake their respective claims, while Richard Milbank/Lee Bezuidenhout and David & Mathew Smalley (both Vauxhall Corsas) will have one eye on the 1400 category as well!