… Moffett Wins British Rally Championship opener …
Irishman Sam Moffett took a nail-biting win at the opening round of the 2021 Motorsport UK British Rally Championship on Bank Holiday Monday (31 May), taking victory by a slender one-second margin at the Neil Howard Stages in assoc. with Graham Coffey & Co. Solicitors.
Moffett and co-driver Keith Moriarty vaulted their Ford Fiesta Rally2 up the leader board in impressive style during the day, securing their maiden BRC victory in the process. Rhys Yates/James Morgan equalled their best BRC result with second place.
The top-two were hounded all day long by a gaggle of rapid British Championship top-flight crews and Osian Pryce/Noel O’Sullivan would keep the pressure on their rivals on each test to take their Volkswagen Polo to the final podium spot.
Despite being in fifth place on the opening stage and having no competitive experience in the Pirelli-shod Fiesta Rally2 machinery, Moffett’s pace increased across the event’s eight tests to find himself second after the sixth timed run. A solid run on the seventh encounter saw him take the lead, holding off Yates’ fastest final stage charge to secure the win by a mere one second.
“I cannot believe it; literally cannot believe it,” said Moffett at the finish. “We’ve had a phenomenal day. We had a real good push this afternoon in stage five and six which managed to put us right ahead at the end of the day; it’s an amazing feeling.
“It’s been good to get in the mix with some new names and fierce competition. [All] credit to Dommy [Buckley RSC] for preparing an awesome car & for Keith [Moriarty] sitting in for the day. It’s been great to be back behind the wheel and I`m really looking forward to the Nicky Grist; we’ve got more interest [in the series] now we’re here on the top step. Huge thanks to all the marshals and credit to the organising team too for putting on a fantastic event”.
It certainly wasn’t a clear-cut battle as the lead would change hands several times over the course of the 56-mile event. Second place man Yates would have that honour after SS6, only to lose that lead on the seventh to eventually take the runner-up spot on his BRC return in the Michelin-backed Fiesta.
Volkswagen Polo debutant Pryce had a strong start to the day in second, before dropping out of the podium positions at the mid-point of the rally. He would make it back into third as series newcomers Frank Bird/Jack Morton set a blistering pace to lead much of the event, before being excluded due to a technical infringement.
The impressive entry list saw almost 45 British Rally Championship contenders take the start and with a sizeable crowd able to witness the Oulton Park layout. The leaderboard continued to change dramatically over the course of the day, with two-time BRC champion Matt Edwards featuring strongly throughout. A ten-second penalty saw the Volkswagen Polo ace finish fourth with Darren Garrod alongside in the co-driver’s seat.
Desi Henry/Dale Furniss opened their BRC account with an impressive fifth place in their Hyundai i20 as Seb Perez/Gary McElhinney pulled themselves back from outside the top ten at one point, to take sixth in their M-Sport Fiesta Rally2.
The Junior BRC battle was a little more straightforward, however still provided plenty of action out on the stages for the fans to enjoy. Hunting down the impressive FIA World Rally Championship prize drive opportunity for the series victor was Junior WRC contenders William Creighton/Liam Regan.
Their experience on the world tour saw them take start-to-finish victory in their Ford Fiesta Rally4, with Creighton aiming to better his two-time Junior BRC runner-up finishes this season.
Creighton was pushed all the way by series debutants Kyle White/Sean Topping who wrung the neck of their older generation Peugeot 208 to take second place, 11 seconds back from the winner. Eammon Kelly/Conor Mohan made it an Irish one-two-three to take the final rostrum position in third, taking his Fiesta Rally4 to a fine Junior BRC debut.
Jonnie Mulholland/Calum Maguire (Ford Fiesta R2T) enjoyed a confidence-boosting return to the series to take the Academy Trophy win from Fraser Anderson/Jack Bowen.
The National Rally Champion title fight fielded another impressive entry, with Garry Jennings/Rory Kennedy making a popular BRC return. Jennings was on fine form in his right-hand-drive Ford Fiesta, leading the way until a puncture on SS6 put paid to a perfect season start. Victory would go to Thomas Preston/Carl Williamson in the fire-breathing Ford Fiesta WRC, with Charles Payne/Aled Edwards and Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson taking second and third respectively in similar machines.
The next round of the series will be the Nicky Grist Stages in July.
Overall Results (and Class Results): 1, Sam Moffett/Keith Moriarty(Ford Fiesta R5) 49:32 - BRC1, 1 2, Rhys Yates/James Morgan (Ford Fiesta R5) 49:33 - BRC1, 2 3, Osian Pryce/Noel O'Sullivan (Volkswagen Polo R5) 49:40 - BRC1, 3 4, Matthew Edwards/Darren Garrod (Volkswagen Polo R5) 49:45 - BRC1, 4 5, Mark Kelly/Neil Colman (Ford Fiesta R5) 49:52 - E2, 1 6, Desi Henry/Dale Furniss (Hyundai i20 R5) 49:54 - BRC1, 5 7, Joe Cunningham/Josh Beer (Ford Fiesta 2000) 50:05 - E2, 2 8, James Yates/Tom Woodburn (Ford Fiesta R5) 50:09 - E2, 3 9, Kevin Procter /Derrick Fawcett (Ford Fiesta S2000T) 50:14 - E2, 4 10, Seb Perez/Gary McElhinney (Ford Fiesta R5) 50:17 - BRC1,6 11, Josh Moffett/Andy Hayes (Hyundai i20 R5) 50:25 - BRC1, 7 12, Oliver Mellors/Max Freeman (Proton Iris R5) 50:30 - BRC1, 8 13, Thomas Preston/Carl Williamson (Ford Fiesta WRC) 50:32 - E2, 5 14, Enda O'Brien/Ian Davis (Volkswagen Polo R5) 50:54 - E2, 6 15, Joseph McGonigle/Ciaran Geaney (Ford Fiesta Rally2) 50:56 - BRC1, 9 16, James Wilson/Arthur Kierans (Hyundai i20) 51:05 - BRC1, 10 17, David Henderson/Chris Williams (Ford Escort Mk2) 51:05 - D, 1 18, Robert Hughes/Sion Cunniff (Ford Fiesta R5) 51:10 - E2, 7 19, Paul Wedgbury/Neil Dashfield (Skodaru Fabia) 51:10 - E2, 8 20, Charles Payne/Aled Edwards (Ford Fiesta WRC) 51:12 - E2, 9 21, Stephen Petch /Michael Wilkinson (Ford Fiesta WRC) 51:16, E2, 10 22, Simon Bowen/John Cope (Ford Fiesta 2000) 51:26 - E2, 11 23, John Stone/Alex Stone (Ford Fiesta WRC) 51:31 - E2, 12 24, Alan Carmichael/Claire Williams (Hyundai i20 R5) 51:42 - E2, 13 25, Brendan Cumiskey/Ronan O'Kane (Volkswagen Polo R5) 52:15 - BRC1, 11 26, Damian Cole /Dale Bowen (Skoda Fabia R5) 52:15 - E2, 14 27, Graham Coffey/Luke Barry (Ford Fiesta S2000T) 52:28 - E2, 15 28, Barry Morris/Tom Hutchings (Darrian T90) 52:29 - D, 2 29, William Creighton/ Liam Regan (Ford Fiesta) 52:30 - BRC4, 1 30, Niall Henry/Damien Duffin (Ford Fiesta R5) 52:37 - E2, 16 31, Kyle White/Sean Topping (Peugeot 208 R2) 52:41 - BRC4, 2 32, Neil Roskell/Daniel Roskell (Subaru Impreza) 52:45 - E2, 17 33, David McMullan/Marc Melhuish (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo6) 52:48 - E2, 18 34, Eamonn Kelly/Conor Mohan (Ford Fiesta Rally4) 52:48 - BRC4, 3 35, Finlay Retson /Rhys Stoneman (Ford Fiesta Rally4) 52:53 - BRC4, 4 36, Josh Payton/Jamie Vaughan (Ford Escort Mk2) 53:09 - C, 1 37, Ashley Dickson/Stephen Joyce (??) 53:17 - E2, 19 38, Alistair Inglis/Colin Inglis (Ford Fiesta R5) 53:19 - E2, 20 39, Donnie MacDonald/Jamie Edwards (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9) 53:22 - E2, 21 40, Brian Brady/Eamon Creedon (Ford Fiesta R2) 53:26 - BRC4, 5 41, Ciro Carannante/Simon Coates (Porsche Cayman) 53:26 - D, 3 42, Kev Furber/Colin Blunt (Peugeot 208 T16 R5) 53:32 - E2, 22 43, Peter Jackson/Craig Simkiss (Ford Escort Mk2) 53:35 - D, 4 44, Nick Whale/Sally Whale (Ford Escort Mk2) 53:44 - D, 5 45, Mike Taylor/Martin Haggett (Talbot Sunbeam Lotus) 53:51 - D, 6 46, Nathan Evans/Rhys Williams Edwards(Renault Clio Cup) 54:05 - C, 2 47, Dave Roberts/Nigel Perkins (Ford Escort Mk2) 54:05 - D, 7 48, Jason Dickson/Martin Brady (Ford Fiesta) 54:07 - BRC4, 6 49, Adrian Spencer/Lauren Hewitt (Subaru Impreza) 54:07 - E1, 1 50, Zak Hughes/Ian Beamond (Renault Twingo R2) 54:08 - B, 1 51, Darrell Taylor/Stephen Mcnulty (Ford Fiesta R5) 54:13 - E2, 23 52, Tony Robinson/Paul Spooner (Proton Satria) 54:19 - E2, 24 53, Christopher Newton/Anthony Newton (Vauxhall Nova) 54:21 - A, 1 54, Eddie Lewis /Dom Adams (Ford Fiesta Rally4) 54:23 - BRC4, 7 55, Julian Hope/Neil Chambers (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo7) 54:36 - E2, 25 56, Danny Davies/Liam McCallion (Vauxhall Corsa) 54:41 - B, 2 57, Mark Bentley/Ed Bentley (Ford Fiesta Evo) 54:42 - E2, 26 58, Chris Ruck/Steve Harris (Opel Corsa) 54:43 - B, 3 59, John Morrison/Peter Carstairs (Ford Fiesta R5) 54:49- E2, 27 60, Chris McGurk /Liam McIntyre (Ford Fiesta R5) 54:52 - E2, 28 61, Darren James Nugent/Liam Whiteley (Ford Escort Mk2) 54:54 - D, 8 62, Alex Cannon/Alan Carfrae (Ford Fiesta R2) 54:57 - C, 3 63, Johnnie Mulholland/Calum Maguire (Ford Fiesta R2T) 54:58 - BRC4, 8 64, Alasdair Stables/Neil Jones (Vauxhall Chevette HSR) 54:58 - D, 9 65, Darren Meadows/James Squires (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo) 55:11 - E1, 2 66, Cathy Sewart/Colin Stephens (Talbot Sunbeam Lotus) 55:15 - D, 10 67, James Boland/John McCay (Ford Fiesta Rally4) 55:15 - BRC4, 9 68, Jackson Willett/Robert Burgess (Renault Clio RS) 55:19 - C, 4 69, Christopher Woodward/Tom Bowen (Renault R3) 55:19 - C, 5 70, Ben Smith/Steven Smith (Ford Escort Mk1) 55:30 - H, 1 71, Rupert Flynn/Jamie Mactavish (Ford Fiesta Rally4) 55:32 - BRC4, 10 72, Seamus Morris/Jarlath Kelly (Darrian GTR+) 55:39 - D, 11 73, Terry Pankhurst/Alex Allingham (Ford Escort RS2000) 55:41 - H, 2 74, Chrissy Palmer/Toby Marshall (Mazda MX5) 55:44 - MX5, 1 75, Jonathan Jones/Jez Rogers (Ford Fiesta) 55:44 - BRC4, 11 76, Josh Evans/Callum Young (Renault Clio) 55:47 - C, 6 77, Dave Holland/Neil Gater (Ford Fiesta R5) 55:49 - E2, 29 78, Fraser Anderson/Jack Bowen (Ford Fiesta R2T) 55:52 - BRC4, 12 79, Ruairi Bell/Gareth Parry (Ford Fiesta Rally4) 55:55 - BRC4, 13 80, David Kelly/Dean O Sullivan (Ford Fiesta Rally4) 55:56 - BRC4, 14 81, Mark Peterson/Jim Bowie (Peugeot 208 R2) 55:57 - B, 4 82, Tony Simpson/Ian Bevan (Skoda Fabia R5) 55:58 - E2, 30 83, Lewis Gatt/Ian Jones (Ford Escort Mk2) 56:00 - B, 5 84, Paul Walker /Jonathan Bennett (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9) 56:02 - E2, 31 85, Ian Woodward/Anthony Rodgers (Ford Escort Mk2) 56:14 - C, 7 86, Steve Benton/Oliver Benton (Ford Escort Mk2) 56:18 - C, 8 87, Roger Taylor/Paul Bevan (Ford Escort Mk2) 56:22 - D, 12 88, Danny Cowell/Jonathan Cragg (Ford Escort) 56:28 - C, 9 89, Finlay Brock/Jonathon Kennedy (Ford Fiesta R2000) 56:29 - C, 10 90, Oliver Hunter/Mark Holmes (Ford Escort) 56:43 - C, 11 91, Richard Kay/Adam Kay (Vauxhall Corsa) 56:47 - B, 6 92, Martin Hodgson /Tony Jones (Ford Escort Mk2) 56:54 - D, 13 93, Kevin John Williams/Andrew Davies (Vauxhall Chevette HSR) 56:57 - C, 12 94, Ben Wilkinson /Andrew Wilkinson (Peugeot 106 Maxi) 56:57 - B, 7 95, Mike Webb/Robert Bryn Jones (Ford Fiesta) 57:03 - C, 13 96, Paul Steventon/Andy Caldwell (Ford Escort Mk3) 57:04 - C, 14 97, Ian Philip Skipp/Russell Joseph (Vauxhall Astra GSi) 57:07 - C, 15 98, Stephen Johansen/Lewis Griffiths (Mazda MX5) 57:18 - MX5, 2 99, Paul Gorge/Daniel Hurst (Mazda MX5) 57:32 - MX5, 3 100, Ryan Burns/Stephen N Hallmark (Opel Corsa) 57:35 - B, 8 101, Greg Williams/Richard Edwards (Subaru Impreza) 57:53 - E1, 3 102, Kevin Gilgrist/Harry Stubbs (Ford Fiesta ST) 58:31 - C, 16 103, Elliot Payne/Cameron Fair (Ford Fiesta) 58:36 - E2, 32 104, James Hardy/Nick Wilkins (Nissan Micra) 58:38 - A, 2 105, Ken Sturdy/Joe Sturdy (Talbot Avenger) 59:21 - C, 17 106, Kimberley Stuart Mather/Yvonne Mather (Talbot Sunbeam Lotus) 59:21 - H, 3 107, Howard Alexander/Martin Young (Ford Focus) 59:54 - B, 9 108, Kay Thompson/Charlotte Wainwright (Nissan Micra) 59:56 - A, 3 109, Stu Mclaren/John Anderson (Opel Kadett GTE) 59:58 - H, 4 110, Nigel Brain/Catherine Jenny Brain (Mazda MX5) 1:00:21 - MX5, 4 111, Keith Anglesea/Christine Pearson (BMW Compact) 1:00:22 - C, 18 112, Rob Jones/Chris Cooke (Ford Fiesta) 1:00:44 - A, 4 113, David Forrester/Ian Nichols (Peugeot 205 GTI) 1:00:48 - B, 10 114, Barrie Marshall/Oliver Marshall (Nissan Micra) 1:01:18 - A, 5 115, Steve Casey/Sam Casey (Peugeot 205 GTI) 1:01:33 - B, 11 116, John Carroll/Rob Brook (Honda Civic Type R) 1:01:37 - C, 19 117, Michael Stanley/Shaun Stanley (Subaru Impreza) 1:01:55 - E1, 4 118, Chris Cooper/Victoria Swallow (Mazda MX5) 1:02:23 - MX5, 5 119, Mike Watson/Adrian Lloyd (Ford Sierra Cosworth) 1:02:31 - D, 1