Author Archives: Howard Wilcock

ERNIE’S PREMIUM SCORES PAY DIVIDENDS!…

Following the Wyedean Forest Rally, the penultimate round of the Motorsport UK English Rally Championship, in association with Seacon UK, Ernie Graham is confirmed as the 2023 Champion. Co-driven by his wife Karen, they missed the opening event in the calendar, the Malcolm Wilson Rally, but then proceeded to take maximum scores on each of the next five rounds in the immaculate MkI Ford Escort RS1600 (featured image on the Wyedean Stages) to claim the title with an event to spare.

11th overall in the Forest of Dean, just four seconds off a Top Ten finish, was enough for the Walton-on-Thames crew to take another English Championship class win which, in turn, deposed erstwhile leader Elliot Payne (Fiesta Rally2) from top spot.

 

 

 

Recent winners of the English Rally title are listed below which illustrates that it is possible to take this title with a car from any of the classes in this ‘class based’ stage rally championship.

  • 2023 Ernie Graham     Escort Mk1
  • 2022 Nick Dobson       Escort Mk2
  • 2019 Steve Black        Suzuki Swift 1400cc
  • 2018 Ian Joel              Escort Cosworth
  • 2017 Steve Petch       Fiesta WRC
  • 2016 Sam Bilham       Fiesta R2

All eyes now turn to the Coppermines Grizedale Stages (1st/2nd December) for the final event in the 2023 calendar and, while the Champion has been crowned, 2nd and 3rd places are still far from certain. The aforementioned Elliot Payne currently occupies 2nd place, while Russ Thompson’s Mitsubishi Lancer EVO9 is 3rd, but the presence in the Lake District of both Robert Proudlock (Opel Adam) and Nigel Jenkins (Nova) could quite possibly change all that!

<<<<<<   Robert Proudlock’s Opel Adam

It’ll be calculators at the ready in Ambleside as, should Elliot fail to improve on his current total and Robert come away with a maximum score, he could just finish the season in runner-up spot!…

All photos © Kevin Money & Malcolm Almond

DEEP IN THE FOREST SOMETHING STIRRED!…

Wyedean Stages Rally Preview:  (18th November)

The Forest of Dean plays host to the penultimate round of the 2023 Motorsport UK English Rally Championship, in association with Seacon UK, the Wyedean Stages Rally on 18th November. From its base in Coleford the event takes in seven special stages within the Forest of Dean and pressure is mounting as the race to succeed 2022 MSUK English Rally Champion Nick Dobson heads towards its conclusion.

Following a recent run of bad luck which saw them retire from the Trackrod Forest Stages and not actually make it to the start line of the Woodpecker Stages, winners of the last two Wyedean Stages Rallies, Matthew Hirst and Declan Dear (featured image on their way to winning the 2022 Wyedean Forest Rally) will be hoping their troubles are now behind them and that their Fiesta R5 will carry them to a hat-trick of victories. They’ve not actually finished an English Championship round since the Kielder Forest Rally back in June, but they did come away with a maximum on that occasion!…

On the subject of maximums, having missed the opening round of this year’s English Championship, Ernie & Karen Graham (Escort RS1600) have taken maximum scores on the next four – with each competitor’s five best scores to count towards their final tally in this class based championship they are in a strong position and one more from either of the remaining two rounds will see them finish with a ‘full-house’!

<<<<   Ernie & Karen Graham (Escort RS1600)

If local knowledge counts for anything, Nigel & Kaz Jenkins live in Lydney and, from years of experience, know the Forest of Dean very well. The husband-and-wife team’s 1400cc Nova (pictured right) took a class win on the 2022 event and, in a class-based series such as the English Championship, it’s performances such as that which can really pay dividends – Steve Black claimed the ERC title in 2019 in his 1400cc Suzuki Swift!….

Luke Watts, Kaz Jenkins’ son, hails from Coleford and his MG ZR is less than a maximum score behind the class leader, while Steve Ward / Phil Sandham (Escort Mk2) are also in the mix at this stage of the proceedings.

 

Rob Wilson’s Mitsubishi Lancer EVO7 (seeded car 2) finished runner-up, behind Hirst / Dear, on last year’s Wyedean Stages and, having already experienced both extremes of the sport – a retirement and a maximum points score – so far this season, will obviously be hoping to go one better this time…

<<<<     Rob Wilson pressing on in his Lancer EVO7!

Although using vastly different cars for their individual campaigns, Ashley Francis-Adams (Nissan Micra)          >>>>>>>              and Colin Minton (Fiesta R5) are tied on points as they set off on the Wyedean Forest Rally, but will that still be the case at the end of the day?…

SPECTATORS : The first car leaves the start in Coleford at 8.00am on Saturday 18th November and full details will be available via the website : https://www.wyedeanstages.co.uk/spectators

All photos © Kevin Money / Malcolm Almond