The Coppermines Lakes Cottages Grizedale Stages Rally brings the Motorsport UK 2022 English Rally Championship, in association with Seacon UK, to a close over the first weekend in December and, from a very strong entry list, there are still several drivers who could yet walk away with the title! Current leader Nick Dobson (Escort Mk2) [headline image] takes the start with the obvious intention of maintaining station but such is the nature of the points table that he’ll have his work cut out if he is to succeed Steve Black as the Motorsport UK English Rally Champion…
Dobson’s nearest rivals prior to the start of the event are Stephen Petch / Michael Wilkinson whose Fiesta Rally2, although in a different class, is just five points adrift. For their part, they also have the similar car of 2022 BTRDA Gold Star® Rally Champions Elliot Payne / Patrick Walsh to contend with. The latter crew’s English season began badly with a retirement on the Malcolm Wilson Rally, back in March, but top marks in Grizedale could, potentially, pay dividends. Certainly, as far as their class (E7) is concerned, Payne has a score in hand over Petch who, rather than adding his full points on the final round, can only improve on previous results. So, plenty of interest until the final whistle here!…
Classmates : Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson (L) & Elliot Payne/Patrick Walsh (R)
Russ Thompson / Steve Link are in a similar situation in Class E6 – their Mitsubishi Lancer EVO9 was involved in a big accident on the Kielder Forest Rally in June (nil points on that occasion!) but is now fully restored and finds itself in with a chance of class glory. The car could also possibly challenge for outright victory but this would be, in part, dependent on the fortunes of others!
Russ Thompson/Steve Link (Lancer EVO9) spinning their way to a class win on the Trackrod Forest Stages >>>>>
Nathan Wearden / Ethan Thompson (Fiesta ST) are strong favourites to win Class E3 and Nathan also has an outside chance of the overall drivers title, but again that is partly dependant on the misfortunes of others.
<<< Nathan Wearden / Ethan Thompson
Andy Davison/Tom Murphy have had what might politely be described as a ‘mixed season’ in their Talbot Sunbeam VXR, but perseverance brings them to Grizedale in prime position to claim Class E5 for themselves. Davison is one point off the lead of the E5 Drivers’ table while Murphy is joint leader of this particular Co-drivers’ section. A finish is what is required to complete the job but, as they’ve found out to their cost, that is sometimes easier said than done!…
Andy Davison/Tom Murphy (Talbot Sunbeam VXR) >>>>>
2022 BTRDA Bronze Star® Champion Pete Gorst won’t need reminding that the outgoing English Rally Champion earned his title at the wheel of a 1400cc Suzuki Swift. His own Vauxhall Nova has had a topsy-turvy season (literally on the Woodpecker Stages!…) but, in ERC terms, is just two points behind Nigel Jenkins’ similar car in Class E2. To stand any chance of altering the current standings, Gorst must beat Jenkins and, should they finish 1st & 2nd, a tie will occur which, without delving too deeply into the mathematics, would be broken in the former’s favour…
The battling Novas of & Nigel Jenkins (L) and Pete Gorst (R)
The Grizedale Stages is based in Ambleside and boasts a very compact route containing four special stages in and around Grizedale Forest totalling 42 miles, with just 37 road miles between them.
SPECTATORS : The first car leaves the start at 5.30pm on Friday 2nd December and full details are available via the website https://www.grizedalestages.co.uk/index.php/spectators
All photos © Kevin Money / Malcom Almond