Thursday, 14 March 2019

Chaos in Cumbria

The second round of the ST Trophy was the Malcolm Wilson Rally based in the forests around Cumbria. The Rally HQ and start were based at M-Sport, the home of the Ford WRC team. 7 crews had ventured to the most northerly round of the championship and the weekend kicked off with a tour of the M-Sport workshops for registered ST Trophy crews.
Drama started early for one crew at the Cockermouth town centre scrutiny area. The master cylinder on Mathew Baddeley & Phil Kenny's car started leaking fluid into the car from the clutch pedal. The team tried to sort the problem, Mat & Phil even rushing to a local motor factors to find a replacement part but after further inspection decided to throw in the towel and have a day spectating instead.

The weather was going to play an interesting part in the event, heavy rain on the Friday would make the going tough and with overnight temperatures dropping there was a fear of ice. Saturday dawned to snow on the high ground but the temperature was rising so the ice fear was quashed but slushy conditions were going to make the early stages very slippery.

Zak Hughes & Tom Wood were the highest seeded ST crew. As championship leaders they had a target on their backs, and they were going to have to push hard to keep that yellow 'leader' sun strip. The crew went out strong in stage 1 but sadly an overshoot lost them around 10 seconds. Stage 2 was so slippery, and with over a dozen cars retiring in that stage, Hughes decided to be sensible and just get round the 5 miles and keep their nose clean. Stage 3 in Greystoke had better conditions and Hughes pushed hard and topped the time sheets but were in 2nd place heading into the first service, just 3 seconds behind the leaders.

Bobby Mitchell & Shannon Turbull were keen to show 'what could have been' on the opening round in Wales, punctures scuppering any hopes of challenging Hughes for the win there.
Mitchell meant business here in Cumbria and came out of the opening 2.6 mile test with a 4 second lead. Unfortunately they were held up in stage 2 by a slower car ahead, the crew not seeing Mitchell & Turbull, so they were forced to follow at a reduced pace for quite a distance. They were then 3 seconds slower than the charging Hughes on stage 3 but still came into service as the leading ST crew.

Third crew away were the Irish crew of David Kelly & Gerry Hughes. David had been doing some testing to gain experience of gravel and the car, this being only Kelly's second forest event, however David is no slouch in his native Ireland on the tarmac so only time will tell until he is up to speed on the gravel.
They were quick out of the blocks and were only hampered on stage 1 went they caught a slower car but on the short stage this didn't cause too many problems and they matched Zak & Tom's time. A clean run through the treacherous stage 2 with a joint fastest time with Mitchell saw them 2nd overall heading to stage 3, Greystoke. With Mitchell & Hughes battling hard now, Kelly dropped some time over the 6.5 mile M-Sport test track, maybe the lack of gravel experience the cause, but lying in 3rd place at service was something to be very pleased with.

Elliott Stafford & Lewis Sim wanted to make up for their troubled first round so headed into the first group of stages with high hopes, however, a rear puncture on stage 2 slowed them slightly & trouble with the car starting caused them a few worries. They kept going and a clean run through Greystoke stopping the clock just 1 second behind Kelly saw them go into service in 4th place just over a minute down on the leaders.

Steven Ormond-Smith had made the trip over from the Isle Of Man, this was his first showing in the championship, unfortunately missing the first round due to work commitments. Like Kelly, he was more used to tarmac so the early slushy conditions were going to be a big eye opener for the Manx man. With Max Freeman calling the notes they kept their noses clean through the first 3 stages and came into service in 5th place with no problems to report.

Wesley Gilford returned to the ST Trophy again this year, he is again the only registered competitor using the RF2.0 clubman version of the car. Wesley was joined by Mark Townson for this event and the crew had an early start with the RF cars running at the front of the field and in reverse order, Gilford & Townson actually being the 3rd car on the road so the conditions of the first 2 stages being extremely tricky. The crew made it to service but would retire on the road section out to stage 4 with an under powered engine & an electrical gremlin.

Four more stages greeted the crews before a second service back at Penrith. The first 2 short stages were identical and the crews looped round to repeat it which caused inevitable holds ups. Hughes dug deep and pushed hard through stage 4 beating Mitchell by 12 seconds and taking the lead. Stafford had a good run and was only 1 second behind Mitchell, Bobby confessing he had been caught napping after the long delay. Kelly started to suffer with a misfire and the car finally crying enough after the stage with an upset coil pack. Ormond-Smith was continuing to gain experience and kept heading in the right direction, now up to 4th with Stafford being promoted to 3rd with the demise of Kelly.
After stage 5 the crews headed to the longest stage of the day, the 12 mile Grizedale. With Hughes & Wood holding a 17 second lead over Mitchell & Turnbull they had a little bit of breathing space. Hughes again topped the time sheets but only 1 second quicker than Mitchell who had now woken up! Mitchell admitting he was going to have to settle for 2nd again if Hughes kept up his current speed. Sadly the fight wouldn't continue as Bobby found a leaking fuel rail at service 2 so was forced to retire. Steven Ormond-Smith was given a notional time and was shown as 3rd quickest through the stage with Stafford having a nightmare with punctures which then caused him to retire on the road section back to service.
Only two crews tackled the final stage back at Greystoke. Zak Hughes & Steven Ormond-Smith. They then headed the short distance back to the finish ramp at Penrith. Hughes & Wood overjoyed with their 2nd win of the season and impressively they had also come home 2nd overall in the BTRDA silverstar category for 2WD cars. Ormond-Smith & Freeman ware pleased to bag valuable points for the championship and gain experience on the gravel.

The next round is the Rallynuts stages in April. Keep up to date with all ST Trophy info on our facebook page and on twitter & instagram.

Championship Leaders: Zak Hughes & Tom Wood

ST Trophy crews during their visit to M-Sport

Monday, 25 February 2019

Cambrian opener

The 2019 MRF ST Trophy got underway at the Cambrian Rally based in North Wales. 7 of the 11 registered crews made their way to a surprisingly sunny Llandudno. The event was also round 1 of the BRC so the organisers had put on a spectacle which included town centre servicing for the crews.

Bobby Mitchell & Shannon Turnbull led the crews away and immediately struggled with brake issues in the first couple of stages. Not knowing if it was the car or the conditions causing the issues. Their plan coming into the event had been to push hard from the word go, but with the brake issues they opted for a more conservative approach but still arrived at the Llandudno town centre service with a 7 second lead.
Zak Hughes & Tom Wood returned to the ST Trophy for a second season. Last year they were always setting the pace but a catalogue of mechanical woes put them out of any championship contention. With a fully refreshed car they headed out to the stages in a confident mood but like Bobby they suffered brake issues in the slippery opening stages. After Zak realised he had been turning the bias valve the wrong way he managed to settle into a nice rhythm and topped the time sheets on a couple of stages and were looking forward to a battle with Mitchell & Turnbull in the afternoon.

David Kelly & Kenny Bustard had made the long trek over from Ireland, arriving just in time to get the car passed through scrutiny. This was to be David's first time on the gravel, only ever doing asphalt events over on the emerald isle. The first couple of stages were taken with caution but they soon settled into a good pace and reported no issues at service and in a comfortable 5th place.

Rhydian Price was another returnee to the championship, he had the world famous Steven 'Doc' Brown in the passenger seat, the pair had teamed up last year in the Welsh championship to good effect. Sadly their first event back wasn't going to bare the fruit they had wished for, a spin on stage 1 with a costly three point turn followed by a snapped shaft on stage 3 which sidelined the likeable duo.
Matt Baddeley had Phil Kenny on the notes, Phil is a regular co-driver in the ST championship so Matt was in good hand. The plan for the event was to get miles under their belt and get used to the new car. With no issues at service they were happy with their progress and they were in 6th place.

Will Corey & Brynmor Pierce set a good pace from the word go, Will actually driving Brynmor's car so a little pressure on to make sure the car stayed in one piece. Will was settling in nicely to the car and was at the sharp end of the leader board through the morning loop coming into service in 3rd place.

Elliott Stafford & Lewis Sim, another new pair to the championship were on a learning curve, getting to know the car and the stages. They were struggling with overheating issues at first service, the mechanics stripping the front of the car trying to solve the issue. They were laying in 4th place at this point.

6 cars set pout from service to tackle the remaining 4 stages. Bobby still led after stage 4 but Hughes had been pushing hard and Mitchell's lead was now less than a second. Corry was still in 3rd and was happy with his pace, Stafford had started to have gearbox issues and the car was still struggling with the overheating issue and had begun to cut out so he was overhauled by Kelly.
Stage 5 was a disaster for the leading crew of Mitchell & Turnbull. They started the stage on a rapidly deflating rear tyre. Having been told on the start line that they had to change it in the stage the crew took a tactical decision to run the 4 miles on the flat hoping to lose less time than stopping to change. They then suffered a 2nd rear puncture and had to limp through in a very sideways style.
Zak & Tom had seen Bobby set off with the soft tyre and they knew the Scottish crew would struggle so suddenly the pressure was off. They knew just a clean run through the final stages would give them victory.
Will & Brynmor had closed the gap to 2nd place with Bobby's puncture problems and were only 6 seconds behind going into the last stage, Mitchell now out of tyres was going to have to play it cool to keep the 2nd place.
Stage 6 would be the last we would see of Stafford & Sim, the car causing too many issues to continue. Kelly now in 4th & Baddeley in 5th were having trouble free runs just getting used to their new cars, Kelly, with no lamp pod was a little nervous of the diminishing light going into the final stage but all was good.

Zak Hughes & Tom Wood returned to the finish ramp on Mostyn St in Llandudno in 1st place, Bobby Mitchell & Shannon Turnbull held on to a well deserved 2nd place with Will Corry & Brynmor Pierce taking 3rd place after a clean run.

The crews make their way to the Lake District next for the Malcolm Wilson Rally on 9th March. To keep up to date with everything ST Trophy find us on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Register for the 2019 ST Trophy 
before or at the Autosport show 
 & get 10% discount off your 
first 4 championship control tyres

A representative from the ST Trophy will be at the show on Saturday 12th January.

Friday, 21 December 2018


ST Trophy

 Regulations & Registration



Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Giddings keeps on Track for championship win

The Trackrod Rally Yorkshire was the final round of the ST Trophy. The event is held in the famously fast Yorkshire forests to the west of Scarborough and with most places in the ST Trophy decided only 4 crews entered the event.
The championship had come down to a 2 horse race between James Giddings and Ewan Tindall. James had led the championship since the 2nd round and Ewan had shot to the top ranks in a short space of time, only joining the championship at the mid point after his 17th Birthday.

Sadly for Ewan a gearbox issue he picked up on the last round, The Woodpecker Rally, had left him struggling to effect repairs in time for the Trackrod so he and codriver, Paul Hudson, had to sit on the side lines which meant James & Sion were crowned ST Trophy champions before they even started the first stage.

The morning of the event was dry and sunny albeit very cold, frost has been reported in the early stages so a little caution was needed.
Newcomer to the championship Bobby Mitchell was first of the ST's away. Bobby, a former M-Sport ST Trophy competitor from 2007 had decided to dip his toe into the last round of the championship and get a feel for the competition with a chance he may return next season. He set a fast pace into the first stage in his new car but half way through the stage go caught out on a notorious corner and left the road at high speed, luckily the car sustaining no damage but the steering wheel had hit his hand. He put in a push on stage 2 and was quickest ST through the 6 miles of Gale Rigg showing his speed of the past. His hand was still giving him grief which had now swollen badly as they arrived at the first service.
James Giddings & Sion Cunniff were next away, with the championship sewn up you would expect the welsh crew to play it safe but no, they topped the time sheets in Cropton making their mark on this rally as they had done on the championship. Stage 2 saw them match times with Tordoff  and head back to service with a 9 second overall lead.
Mat & Tim Tordoff were the third crew into the stages, Mat & Tim had been pretty consistent all year and this had paid off with them taking 2nd overall in the championship, helped a little by Ewan Tindall & Paul Hudson's no show at this event. Mat had a moment on Stage 1, overshooting a corner over a crest, no damage was done and matching Giddings in Stage 2 showed them in 2nd place at Service 1, just 9 seconds behind Giddings & Cunniff.
The fourth crew away were the local crew of Neil Fewlass & Steven Varey. Both crew members had cut their teeth in these stages in the past but sadly that was pre pacenotes and probably pre colour television! The crew had used descriptive notes all season but had struggled so decided to opt for the simpler number system for the final round, Steven finding it a lot easier to get the information out. They had a clean run through the first couple of stages and were happy to be back out after their harvest lay off.

The third stage was 10 miles of  Dalby, the stage is not to everyone's taste as it has long straights and square corners and is definitely not suited for the ST's but the crews all made it safely through and back to service 2. Bobby Mitchell & Sam Coleman were the fastest through with Mat Tordoff having a push and stopping the clock just 7 seconds behind Mitchell and 7 seconds ahead of champion Giddings. Fewlass was 4th and getting used to the new notes.

The final 20 miles of the event were in the classic Yorkshire stages of Staindale & Langdale, both stages suiting the ST's. Giddings hit the top of the time sheets again in Staindale, just piping Mitchell by 3 seconds with the charging Tordoffs a further 3 seconds behind Mitchell. The crews then headed into the longest stage, Langdale with James & Sion holding just a 7 second lead over Mat & Tim so it was going to be a last stage showdown between the two season regulars.
Giggings pushed hard and managed to keep the Tordoff's behind and finished the stage 3 seconds quicker giving them the overall event win. Mat & Tim took a well deserved second and despite topping the time sheets on the final stage Bobby & Sam took 3rd place. Their stage 1 excursion obviously making their overall result suffer. Sadly Neil & Steven snapped the gear selector and had to drive most of the 13 miles of Langdale and the road section back to Filey stuck in 3rd gear!

The crews lined up on the sunny promenade in Filey for the traditional champagne spraying and this brought the 2018 ST Trophy to a climax.

James & Sion were officially announced as the champions of the 2018 MRF ST Trophy and win the use of the Castrol R2 on the 2019 BTRDA R2 Rallye Cup

2nd place goes to Mat & Tim Tordoff. They win a free entry into WRGB National and the use of the Castrol R2 car.

3rd place goes to Ewan Tindall & Paul Hudson who win a test in the Castrol R2 in 2019

The final points standing for the Championship are on the side margin of the website home page.

It has again been a close fought championship, this year coming down to the final round. We would like to thank all of the competitors for making it such a competitive and fun championship.
Thanks must go out to the championship sponsors, MRF Tyres, Castrol, Mintex, REIS insurance & TORQ racewear.

Details of the 2019 ST Trophy will be announced soon.