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Moonbeam Rally 1996

Sponsored by Telford Motor Auctions

Telford Auto Club

9th/10th March 1996

Clerk of the Course: Maurice Leach

Route: 130 Miles

Maps: 126 127 & 137

Starters: 74

Winners: Richard Lewis/Philip Pugh (Toyota Corolla)

Richard Lewis/Philip Pugh made it two wins out of two when they took their Toyota Corolla to victory on the Telford Motor Auctions Moonbeam Rally, the second round of the Welsh Road Rally Championship. They succeeded despite losing twenty minutes when they got stuck on a white halfway through the event.

Moonbeam Rally 1996

Telford AC, under the leadership of Maurice Leach for the sixth consecutive year, ran what had become the standard formula for the Moonbeam - an intricate route in the area to the south of Shrewsbury utilising a large number of whites. Unusually for events in 1996 the Club didn't demand that entrants supply marshals, despite this all controls were manned and no code boards were used.

The 130 mile route was split into eight competitive sections, the first two being the most demanding of the night. The whole route card was handed out at the Start Control thus allowing most crews to complete plotting during neutral sections.

The first section was 15 miles long with four Intermediate Time Controls and a large number of three metre passage controls. Last year's winners Jonathan Gwillym/Neil Spiers emerged as the leaders at the end of it; they were the only crew not to drop a minute at the first ITC and had a 59 second lead by the end of the section. Unfortunately they only got a few miles into the second section before, in the forestry section, contact with a rock, hidden in the grass, bent the steering so badly that they were forced to retire.

Also out of the event at an early stage were Dennis Quinn/Nick Darkin. Dennis had turned up in his wife's shopping car, a Sierra Cosworth 4x4. The car dropped onto three cylinders soon after the start of the first section, the crew were then unable to replace the oil soaked spark plugs due the specialised nature of the units on the car.

Section Two was the longest of the night at 25 miles and established the leading runners for the rally. It ran from Map 126 onto the north west corner of 137 and included a two mile run through Mortimer Forest as well as a number of uncharted tracks. Lewis/Pugh arrived at CFC2 with a 46 second lead over Wyn Jones/Phil Clarke.

A short selective took competitors to Petrol at Craven Arms. Most crews dropped further time on this section but the lead positions remained the same. Lewis/Pugh were on 8m 53s, while Jones/Clark had narrowed the gap slightly to be on 9m 17s. Cyril Crook/Chris Ware held third in their Sunbeam on 9m 45s; they had lost time early on when spectator cars had blocked the entrance to PCB, which was in a lay-by. Other than these three crews, no other competitors were under 11 minutes.

There were problems immediately after Petrol when a track leading to a Via Control quickly became impassable. Lewis/Pugh got stuck for almost 20 minutes before resuming the original route. The section was scrubbed at the finish which meant that the penalties didn't count. The delay however left Lewis/Pugh fighting for the rest of the night to remain within their 30 minute time limit. A number of other crews also got stuck on this field, most notably affected were Paul Holmberg/Gareth Price who had held fourth at Petrol, they subsequently picked up a number of fails as they cut route to keep within maximum lateness. A broken clutch cable also cost them time. They finished in 27th position, remarkably, exactly the same position as Holmberg had achieved on the Rali Bro Caron, the opening round of the Welsh Championship.

The fifth section took crews over the Stipperstones which was blanketed in fog, it was to prove the final decider for the top places as the last three sections which followed it were relatively short and few dropped any great amount of time over them. It was Lewis/Pugh who held a healthy four and a half minute lead at CFC5 after an impressive drive as they fought to avoid going OTL. They were to maintain the pace and had a final victory margin of almost eight minutes. It was a performance which gave them a second victory and a substantial lead in the Welsh Championship.

Second was taken by Phil Harding/Paul Middleton, they'd been in fifth at Petrol but moved up as the route took them into home territory; it actually went through the driver's farmyard at one point. The result was doubly pleasing as they had spent the previous day changing the head gasket on their Chevette.

Jones/Clarke managed to hold on to third despite problems caused by damage sustained in an incident near Bridges, where they had lost five minutes to the leaders. The loss of a headlight slowed them in the thick fog and the Escort's radiator, which had been damaged, needed to be continually topped up to keep the car running. At the end they beat Crook/Ware for third place by just 3 seconds.

John Evans/Eurig Evans (Hillman Avenger) had decided on a steady run after an off on the Bro Caron. However they suffered a big moment at a ford and yump on the roman road near Leebotwood. The heavy landing making it impossible for the driver to open his door for the rest of the event. They were pleased to finish in seventh place.

Two places further back at the Finish was the Corolla of Tony Smith/Paul Green. They had struggled with a dodgy gearbox from the first section, then lost their handbrake and map light in the second half.

Kev Ikin/Rob Jones were debuting a new Ford Escort - last minute adjustments being made in the start car park. The car performed perfectly, but their run was spoilt by the fact that they missed a passage control on the opening section and then also failed to get the final PC of the night. They finished in 22nd place.

The Semi-Expert class was won by the Telford crew of Chris Wilson/Roger Fildes, they were consistently faster than any other in their class all night and thus managed fifth overall. The winning Novice crew were the Rhyl pairing of Stephen Edwards/Paul Jones in their Sunbeam.


Pos Driver Navigator Car Penalty
1 Richard Lewis Phil Pugh Toyota Corolla 10m 59s
2 Phil Harding Paul Middleton Vauxhall Chevette 18m 38s
3 Wyn Jones Phil Clark Ford Escort 21m 55s
4 Cyril Crook Chris Ware Talbot Sunbeam 21m 58s
5 Chris Wilson Roger Fildes Vauxhall Astra GTE 25m 20s
6 Baron Glaze Dave Pitchford Ford Escort 28m 51s
7 John Evans Eurig Evans Hillman Avenger 32m 59s
8 Sarah Harmer Phil Harrison MG Maestro 33m 32s
9 Tony Smith Paul Green Toyota Corolla 39m 48s
10 Simon Price Alan Lovett Ford Escort 39m 54s
11 Des Phasey Steve Price Ford Escort 40m 02s
12 Duncan Williams Lance Gilmore Peugeot 205 40m 23s
13 Darren Williams Mat Morgan Vauxhall Astra 40m 56s
14 Mick Huffer Colin Bowen Ford Escort 44m 36s
15 Mark Price Chris Read Ford Escort 57m 00s
16 Simon Tuckman Ric Chalmers Ford Escort 59m 48s
17 John Jones Chris Rowlands Renault 11 1F 42m 26s
18 Stephen Bishop Timothy Kear Ford Escort 1F 44m 19s
19 Jonathan Ross Dave Stocking Ford Escort 1F 44m 33s
20 Stephen Edwards Paul Jones Talbot Sunbeam 1F 54m 05s
21 Huw James Owen Dodd Ford Sierra 2F 18m 34s
22 Kevin Ikin Rob Jones Ford Escort 2F 21m 34s
23 Nigel Thomas Phil Stocking Ford Escort 2F 25m 59s
24 Peter Zjalic Gerallt Davies Toyota Corolla 2F 38m 59s
25 Brian Jones Nigel Roberts Ford Escort 4F 37m 04s
26 Kev Nunns Dave Evison Toyota Corolla 7F 24m 30s
27 Paul Holmberg Lee Ellis Ford Escort 8F 13m 40s
28 Richie Roe Dave Sillars Talbot Sunbeam 9F 49m 35s
29 Jonathan Robinson Joylon Robinson Morris Ital 10F 44m 56s
30 Dave James Alan Mellings Ford Escort 10F 52m 53s
31 Steven Hilditch Paul Hughes MG Metro 11F 59m 49s
32 Nick Martindale Adrian Higman Ford Escort 12F 41m 02s
33 Oliver Davies Chris Jones Ford Escort 12F 59m 34s
34 Mark Skellern Steve Turner Ford Escort 14F 32m 33s
35 Sean Pinches Chris Jones Ford Escort 15F 24m 28s
36 Geraint Davies Emyr Jones Toyota Corolla 15F 24m 56s
37 Tony Watkins Medwyn Evans Mini 16F 48m 48s
38 Carl O'Grady Gwyn Williams VW Golf 16F 52m 32s
39 Robert Fearn Brian Jenkins Ford Escort 17F 37m 59s
40 Brian Spurr James Clarke Ford EScort 19F 24m 43s
41 Christopher Rogers Kevin Povah Ford Sierra 23F 36m 44s
42 David Williamson Martyn Allen Ford Fiesta XR2 32F 31m 46s