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Cotswold Historic Rally

Tavern Motor Club

30th June 2024

Cotswold Historic Rally 2024
Winners: Dan Willan/Niall Frost (Volvo PV544)
Photograph: © M&H Photography

Cotswold Historic Rally 2024
Winners: Ross Whittock/Dave Whittock (Mini Clubman 1275GT)
Photograph: © M&H Photography

Organiser: Tavern Motor Club

Date: 30th June 2024

Clerk of the Course: Gavin Rogers

Route: 150 Miles (6 Regularities, 8 Tests)

Base: Cirencester

Starters: 69

Tavern Motor Club attracted 69 starters to its annual HRCR Clubman Championship round, the Cotswold Historic. The entry was split between an Inter Club event, which had 52 crews, and a well supported Club Rally, with 17 starters. The contenders in the Club Rally were provided with different, less complex, navigation for the regs.

There was a very short run out from the start venue, Cirencester Ruby Club, to the beginning of the first regularity; there was only half a mile for competitors to prepare themselves. The reg was 18 miles long and included four timing points. It brushed Perrot's Brook, Chedworth and Compton Abdale before finishing near Shipton. Like all the day's regularities, there were numerous speed changes included - Reg 1 had six.

Dan Willan/Niall Frost and Peter Higton/Phil Savage posted the best times here, dropping just five seconds in total.

There was no respite as only two miles separated the finish of Reg 1 and the start of Reg 2. The latter was eight miles in length and took the route back to the south from St Paul's Epistle to the Coffee Halt at the Highwayman Inn, Elkstone.

Traffic was an issue on this section and Willan/Frost, along with Dan Darkin/Nick Darkin, were delayed approaching the second of the three timing points. This meant that the Volvo crew were only in twelfth position at the halt.

Three crews dropped just two seconds over the reg; these were Paul Crosby/Ali Procter, Ian Crammond/Matthew Vokes and Lewis Ayris/Matt Outhwaite. This gave Crosby/Procter a narrow lead of one second at the coffee break over Histon/Savage. While Crammond/Vokes and James Griffiths/James Howell were tied for third, one second further back.

The third regularity began just outside the Highwayman Inn's car park and used lanes that went through Edgeworth, Frompton Mansell and Cherington in its 15 mile route. There were five timing points.

It was on this section that numerous cars bumped into a classic car tour event organised by a local Rotary Club, causing some delays.

Crosby/Procter put in the best performance and took a clear lead; heading Darell Staniforth/Henry Carr by four seconds after the section.

The morning session was completed by a series of four tests; two at Kemble Airfield and another two at Charlton Park.

Dan Darkin/Nick Darkin, uniquely, beat the bogey on both Kemble tests. Despite this they were still outside the top ten following their traffic induced delay on the second reg. John Haygarth/Martyn Taylor were second fastest on both tests, but like Darkin/Darkin were recovering after being held up earlier in the day.

Like Haygarth/Taylor, Crosby/Procter matched the test bogey on Kemble 2 and increased their lead to seven seconds after the test.

It was then on to Charlton Park, where dust was a problem for many on Test 3, especially as there was a split and cars on different loops got stuck in the dust cloud of others.

The gravel surface suited Dan Willan; he and Niall Frost were ten seconds faster than any other crew and moved into a lead they were to hold until the Finish.

Critically on the test, Matt Fowle/Ryan Pickering were penalised for a stop astride fault on the test; this added 20 seconds to their total - they were to finish in third place at the end, one second off the runner up spot.

Six crews beat the bogey on Test 4; Willan/Frost stopping the clock 12 seconds under the target. They were now 16 seconds ahead of the field as crews headed to lunch at Crudwell. Behind them Staniforth/Carr had now edged one second ahead of Crosby/Procter to hold second place.

Cotswold Historic Rally 2024

Charlton Park saw the first of only two retirements during the event; Ian Prout/Kev Bryant ran out of spare tyres as they picked up two punctures. Tim Tordoff/Ian Frazer were the other non-finishers, withdrawing with a lack of brakes in the afternoon.

Despite the navigator being unwell, Mark Goodwin/Anthony Davies were the best placed Expert crew by 26 seconds at the break, while Ayris/Outhwaite were tied with Martin Leonard/Jason Murphy for the top Novice placing.

The afternoon session started with a regularity where a plot 'n bash hand out was issued at the second timing point for the remainder of the reg. The section, which was 18 miles long, circled around Tetbury, before heading south through Westonbirt and Sherton to finish at Morton. There were five timing points.

Fowle/Pickering were best, by one second, over the section. Crosby/Procter were one second behind and moved back into the runner up spot as Staniforth/Carr were firstly held up behind a tractor, and then found their tripmeter had failed; the problem eventually being traced to a faulty sensor. Unable to resolve the fault, they struggled to the Finish, dropping to sixth place in the final standings.

Ken Binstead/Sarah Binstead, who had been ruing an early penalty on the first reg of the day, made amends by being best over the fifth regularity. They were one second better than Outhwaite/Ayris and Haygarth/Taylor, the latter were recovering from the hold ups that they'd experienced in the morning and were now in fifth place overall.

The Opel Kadett pairing moved further up the leader board as they took fast times on the final four tests of the day; repeats of the morning tests at Charleton park and Kemble. They were among nine crews who beat the bogey on Test 8. These performances moved them up to second place with just the final regularity to contest.

However, with two timing points remaining, the Opel ran out of fuel. A top up was purchased from a farmer, but the delay meant that they took a maximum two minute penalty at the following timing point. They plunged to ninth place in the final standings.

The top places were further shaken up when third placed Crosby/Procter had their Mini's throttle cable break on the final test. They rigged up a hand controlled mechanism to complete the test, but they incurred a maximum. They stopped before the final reg to repair the failed part; they completed the route, finishing just within their maximum lateness. They were classified in tenth place, with Procter having put in the best performance over the six regularities; picking up 12 seconds fewer penalties than any other navigator.

Willan/Frost finished the event with a victory margin of almost a minute, with Willan taking the Test Pilot honours, two seconds ahead of Haygarth.

After the travails of their rivals, the runner up spot was secured, after a steady run, by Griffiths/Howell, who finished that vital second ahead of third-placed Fowle/Pickering.

Goodwin/Davies held on to the top Expert honours at the Finish, but they were only three seconds ahead of Tim Sawyer/Suzanne Barker. Meanwhile, Ayris/Outhwaite were well ahead of any other Novice crew, finishing in 13th place overall.

The Club Rally was initially led by Peter Myles/Louise Myles, who held a lead of sixteen seconds at the Morning Coffee Halt, however they were slowly hauled in by the Mini of Ross Whittock/Dave Whittock. The father and son team eventually finished a minute ahead of the field.