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Kemble Targa Rally

Bath Motor Club

4th June 2023

Kemble Targa Rally 2023
Winners: Neil Jones/Aled Jones (Mazda MX5)
Photograph: M&H Photography

Organiser: Bath Motor Club

Date: 4th June 2023

Clerk of the Course: Nick Chapman

Route: 6 Tests

Base: Cotswolds Airport

Starters: 56

Bath Motor Club's annual Kemble Targa Rally ran to its usual format of six tests at the confines of Cotswold Airport. The format allowed for crews to swap seats and run the same tests as driver and navigator.

Previous Kemble winners Steve Conner/Ben Griffin (Mazda MX5) were fastest on Test 1, stopping the clock two seconds ahead of James Griffiths/Matt Venables (Vauxhall Astra).

Neil Jones is a frequent winner of autosolos at the venue and, with Aled Jones in the left had seat, would have been fifth fastest, but they had taken the wrong route around a cone on the test; this added 20 seconds to their time; they fell to 24th place. Gavin Roger/Suze Endean would have been third fastest, but made the same error and suffered the same penalty.

Simon Fuidge/Aaron Gent had an event that lasted less than two miles after their Citroen Saxo suffered a clutch failure halfway through the test. Neil Marfell/Oliver Marfell (Ford Focus ST) completed the test, but then withdrew as the clutch on their car began to play up. These were to be the only retirements of the day.

Jones/Jones made amends for the Test 1 error by taking fastest time on Test 2. This pushed them up to eleventh place overall. They were to be quickest again on both Test 3 and 4, by which point they were in fourth place, 17 seconds off the lead.

Nigel Davies/Dafydd Owens came to a halt on Test 2. Connectors on the starter motor and burnt out the battery. They had to take a test maximum after being towed back to the paddock, where the problem was solved and they completed the rest of the event.

By the end of Test 4 Conner/Griffin had a nine second lead over themselves, that is second place was held by Griffin driving a Peugeot 206, with Conner navigating. At this point Griffiths/Venables were in third five second off the runners up spot.

It appeared that the battle for the win would between Conner/Griffin and Griffin/Conner, however, on Test 5 both crews were penalised for failing to stop at a PC; this added 20 seconds to their total. This dropped Griffin/Conner to fifth.

Conner/Griffin still held the lead, but their advantage had been reduced to just three seconds, with Griffiths/Venables tied with Rob Fields/Andy Fields (Toyota MR2) for second place, while Jones/Jones were one second further back.

With one test remaining there were six crews within eight seconds of the lead. Tom Brooks/Owen Turner (Toyota MR2) had taken fastest time on Test 5 to put themselves level in fifth place with Griffin/Conner.

Jones/Jones maintained their pace and took fastest time on the final test, eight seconds ahead of Conner/Griffin and two seconds faster than Fields/Fields, Brooks/Turner and Griffin/Conner. This allowed the North Walian crew to take the victory, finishing just one second ahead of Fields/Fields. Griffiths/Venables were one second further back in third.

Connor/Griffin finished a disappointed fourth, one second ahead of Griffin/Conner and Brooks/Turner; fifth place having to be decided in Griffin/Conner's favour by the tie breaker of who was fastest on Test 1.