THE LEGEND Fires North West Stages Rally, which took place largely around the Fylde coast, ended with glory for one local crew as Hambleton duo Simon Bowen and Richard Robinson brought their Subaru Impreza home fourth overall to win the Class D awards.
There was a surprise in store for them at the finish in the Norbreck Castle Hotel’s Norcalympia Exhibition Arena as waiting to greet them were Wyre Mayor and Mayoress Don and Vera Lawrenson. Vera used to be Simon’s schoolteacher ... but isn’t revealing how long ago!
It was a tough event and for Bowen in particular, who arrived at Friday’s start just hours after a transatlantic flight.
Despite looking bleary-eyed and feeling jet-lagged, he somehow mustered up the energy to put in a sterling performance through the five opening stages that ran in total darkness.
The South Shore Motor Club duo were initially classed as third but a disputed timing error meant they finished the leg in fourth place.
Blackpool’s ‘Battling Benson Brothers’, Dave and Steve, were already out at this point when a damper burst on their Honda Civic, while Hambleton’s Callum and Anthony Cross crashed their Ford Fiesta at Clifton.
Derek Blyth and Phil Peak made it to the end of the Michelin Blackpool Promenade stage but clutch failure meant their Subaru Impreza wouldn’t go any further.
Saturday morning’s opening Fleetwood Waterfront Stage claimed two South Shore crews as Adrian Atkinson and Chris Melling retired their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo6 with a broken propshaft, and the same fate befell Mark Holmes and Craig Simkiss. Adam Taylor and Loic Ditchburn then retired their Focus ST here with a broken driveshaft.
The fast-flowing ABP Fleetwood Docks stage ran smoothly without incident, but when the rally moved to the Taylors Garage Weeton stage there were more dramas for South Shore crews. John Stone and Lee Carter crashed their Skoda Fabia WRC, while Duncan Taylor and Stephen lost time after drowning their Seat Ibiza in the watersplash.
Bowen and Robinson had to stop to change a wheel here, losing over two minutes and dropping to 21st place making their recovery to fourth in the final standings nothing short of fantastic!
Kirkham Carr Hill teacher Garry Houghton and co-driver Steve Davies were the second South Shore crew home, bringing their Toyota Corolla home 30th overall.
Duncan Taylor finished 36th, despite a last stage accident at Clifton which forced co-driver Graveson to abandon his stage maps and hold his damaged door closed.
Myerscough College tutor Pat Masters and co-driver Steve Coombes got their Nissan Micra back to Blackpool in 52nd place.
The overall rally win went to Penrith’s Paul Bird and his Welsh co-driver Aled Davies in their Ford Focus WRC. They finished 26 seconds clear of the Subaru Impreza WRC of Northallerton duo Kevin Procter and Dave Bellerby.