Returning after a four-month sabbatical due to injury, STEVE PEREZ has won the North Humberside Forest Rally in his Ford Focus WRC. Setting fastest times on five of the six special stages, the Chesterfield driver, accompanied by Welshman HOWARD DAVIES, led from start to finish to record his second consecutive victory on the Whitby-based event.
An excellent run over the North York Moors was sufficient to give St Albans- based Irishman MIKE O'BRIEN & IAN ALLSOP, in another Focus WRC, runners-up spot whilst, following a troubled event last year, local driver RYAN CHAMPION was third in his Mitsubishi Lancer EVO.
After almost 45 miles of flat-out motoring, the top five finishers in the overall results were separated by little more than a minute and, behind Champion, HUGH HUNTER/ANDY MARCHBANK (Ford Focus WRC) and WILL NICHOLLS/NICK BROOM (Subaru Impreza WRC) remained in close attendance.
A Top 10 finish for TIM PEARCEY/JAMIE EDWARDS in their Mitsubishi Lancer EVO gave them the Group N "production"category, while two-wheel drive honours went to the Ford Escort RS of HENRI GREHAN/SHANE BOWEN. A strong Irish contingent in similar cars had made the trip across to the east coast and RYAN BARRETT/KEITH FERRIS led their countrymen home on this occasion, ahead of the Opel Manta of Leominster's JON BALLINGER.
As he attempts to become the first driver to win all three elements of the Silverstone Tyres BTRDA Rally Series (of which North Humberside is the third round), GRAHAM MIDDLETON has improved his chances of adding the BTRDA 1400 Championship to his already impressive tally with a category win in Yorkshire. Co-driven by ROBIN HERNAMAN, his Suzuki Ignis finished half a minute ahead of the Proton Satria of DARREN PINCHIN, with another Proton in the hands of ROGER PRIESTNALL 3rd. Defending 1400 Champions CLIVE WHEELER/KEN BARTRAM were 4th in their Citroen C2, with a battle royal in prospect as the series moves to Somerset in a month's time.
North Humberside was also the scene of the inaugural encounter for contenders in the BTRDA Rally First Challenge. Designed as an entry-level initiative into the sport, the winner on the day was 20-year old JASON HOPKINS, from Whitchurch, in a Nissan Micra. However, luck was not on the side of ROBERT BROOKES, son of former double British Rally Champion Russell. His VW Lupo suffered electrical problems prior to the rally and, despite frantic efforts by his service crew, the Worcestershire driver was unable to take the start.
Only one of the Top 10 starters, CHARLIE PAYNE/CRAIG THORLEY, failed to make the finish after their Mitsubishi lost a wheel on the final stage, while four-time winner of the North Humberside, WARREN PHILLISKIRK, was forced out when his MG Metro 6R4's front differential failed midway through the day.
Full results of the North Humberside Forest Rally are available on www.btrdarally.com.
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Last Modified: 3 April 2008