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Mike Hart Memorial Targa

Sponsored by Andrew Bowen Transport

Knighton Motor Club

7th July 2024

Mike Hart Memorial Targa 2024
Winners: Shaun Bee/Simon Bentley (BMW 120)
Photograph: © Jordan Gullick Photography

Organiser: Knighton Motor Club

Date: 7th July 2024

Clerk of the Course: Andrew Sheers

Route: 14 Tests (36 Test Miles)

Starters: 42

Knighton Motor Club ran their first Targa rally in memory of Mike Hart, a stalwart of the club and long time key organiser of the Pacemaker Rally, who died in 2023.

The event was modelled on Llandysul MC's Classic Tracks, using a large number of farm tracks. Fourteen tests were planned, giving competitors 36 miles of competitive motoring. The maximum entry was limited to 45 and it was 43 cars that took the start from the club's home town.

The opening test, at The Farlands, was almost three miles long. Unfortunately, a localised torrential downpour just as the first cars arrived at the venue caused the route to become impassable after around 20 cars had struggled to the finish, the following 15 cars became stuck, while the final 10 cars didn't start the section. This meant that the test was cancelled.

Cwmgilla was the site of Test 2, which was just over a mile and a half in length. The pattern for the first half of the rally was set as Dan Morris/Kieran Price (Ford Puma) were quickest by 11 seconds, with Matthew Jones/Richard 'Tyson' Morris (Vauxhall Astra) in second place. At the Finish, the latter crew could have been in with a chance of the win, but two missed code boards, one on Test 4 and a second on Test 8, consigned them to 15th place.

Unusually, for a targa event, the rally was using the Fail system, so a missed route check or signature incurred a fail, although a Wrong Test was a time penalty of five minutes.

On Test 3 two crews were penalised for taking a wrong route, one of these was Elliott Stafford/Sam Stafford (Mazda MX5), this gave them a test maximum, but they still went on to finish in fifth place.

Morris/Price then took fastest times on next four tests and were only one second off quickest on Test 7. This meant that they arrived at the halfway halt with a lead of four minutes.

By that point top seeds, Mark 'GT' Roberts/Lexi Roberts (VW Golf) had retired with engine problems, while a broken fuel line had stopped the BMW Compact Ti of Joe Jones/Ryan Griffiths.

There were many reports of cars getting stuck on tests; most notably Mark Lennox/Clive Jones (Ford Escort) lost over three minutes on the leaders on Test 3, and arrived at MC2 in sixth place. They were another crew to incur a fail for a missed code board, this being on Test 8. Again, without that fail, they might have won; they were finally classified in 12th place.

Former British and BTRDA Rally Champion, Graham Middleton, was competing in a Suzuki Swift, with Paul Benson navigating. They ended the first half with five fails, and then retired in the second half with a broken drive shaft.

Gremlin Historic Rally 2024

While Morris/Price held a large lead at MC2, there was a tight battle for second place, with Gareth Price/Jamie Mills (BMW 318Ti) one second ahead of Shaun Bee/Simon Bentley. The latter crew were competing in a BMW 120 as their intended Honda Civic had been damaged on the previous weekend's PK Memorial.

Lewis Clarke/Edward Luxton (Ford Fiesta) were 40 seconds further back in fourth place, but were to fall down the leader board after booking in a minute early at the start of Test 11; the resulting fail drop them to 13th at the Finish.

Dylan Roberts/Osian Thompson (Mazda MX5) had denied Morris/Price a clean sweep of first half top times, by being fastest on Test 7. They repeated the performance on Test 8, but were forced out on the penultimate test when they picked up more punctures than they had spare tyres.

The battle for the lead was turned on its head just after the MC3 restart - Morris/Price had the engine on their Puma fail and their domination of the event was over.

The lead now fell to Price/Mills, who had pulled 50 seconds ahead of Bee/Bentley on Test 8. They maintained that advantage until Test 12 when a broken engine mount added them to the retirement list.

This allowed Bee/Bentley, who had had an incident free day, to cruise home to a win, with a victory margin of almost two minutes. Alwyn 'Menace' Passant/Denny Harris (Ford Escort) finished ahead of Alun Horn/Steve McPhee (Vauxhall Nova) to win a Newtown & District AC battle for the runner up spot.

Not far behind were the leading Semi-Experts, Dion James/Gethin Jones (Ford Puma), who were eight seconds off third place in fourth. Eighth placed Russell Jones/Nigel Roberts (Ford Focus) were the leading Novice crew.

On time penalties, Aled Davies/Llyr Davies (Ford Puma) would have taken the win by three minutes, but they had failed to get a code board countersigned at the end of test 3, the resultant fail put them in 11th place at the Finish.