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.
The Woodpecker rally saw seven crews making their way to Ludlow for the sixth round of the MRF ST Trophy
Six m-sport cars and one RF class car started from the race course and with 7 good quality stages ahead it was going to be a great battle.
Zak Hughes took the lead with a stage 1 time of 6.41, Kalvin Green was 11 seconds behind him with Ewan Tindall matching Green's time. James Giddings was a further 2 seconds behind them and Mat Tordoff a further 2 seconds behind James. In 6th place and getting to grips with her new steed was newcomer Emily Retallick. Emily, a former Rally First front runner, was making her rallying return after an 18 month lay off and was expected to go well. Wesley was in 7th place in the RF spec car.
Zak topped the time sheets again on Stage 2 leaving the rest of the crews needing to dig deep if they wanted to catch him.
Stage 3 saw Zak take a stunning stage time 22 seconds faster than his rivals, Zak now had a lead of 40 seconds going into service and only 16 seconds covered the next three cars.
The famous Haye Park was the 4th Stage and again Hughes lead the ST's with a fastest time,Giddings was close on his heals with a quick time & Tindall was finding his rhythm too.
Sadly Kalvin Green ground to a halt on this stage with a mechanical issue. Emily was now starting to increase her pace as she was getting used to the new car and her confidence grew with each mile. Wesley was now 6th, his main competition coming from the other BTRDA rally first runners.
The crews now headed back to service at the Ludlow Race Course, all crews seemed happy and had no issues to report. The new improved MRF tyre was holding up well with all the crews happy with their performance.
The crews set out for the final 3 stages. Ewan took his first stage win of the day in Stage 5 just 1 second ahead of Zak & James who tied on times. Mat had a good run and was only a further 3 seconds down.
Zak again topped the ST's times in Stage 6. Ewan had kept us his pace and moved into 2nd ahead of James in third place making for an interesting final stage.
The battle between Ewan and James over the next 5.5 miles of Stage 7 was going to be interesting, Giddings set fastest ST time ahead of Zak. Ewan finally losing out to James by the slimmest of margins, 1 second in fact, thanks in part Tindall being held up by another competitor mid-stage. Mat Tordoff snapped a shaft in the final stage but managed to limp out of the stage to continue.
So the top three leaving the final stage was Hughes, Giddings and Tindall.
Disaster then struck for Zak on the road section back to the finish with his car cutting out and failing top re-start. Sadly the crew, despite working frantically to find the fault, ran out of their allotted time and retired from the event. Rallying can be a cruel sport at times! A simple earth wire was located as the issue by the team back in the workshop.
Zak's retirement promoted everyone up a place so Giddings & Cunniff took top honours with Tindall & Hudson only 1 second behind in 2nd place. Retallick took a well deserved 3rd place on her debut in the series, improving as the day had gone on.
So the final results are:
1st James Giddings and Sion Cunniff
2nd Ewan Tindall and Paul Hudson
3rd Emily and Eliot Retallick
4th Mat and Tim Tordoff
5th Wesley Gilford and Mark Townson
The final round is the Trackrod Rally in the fast Yorkshire forests and the championship is still all to play for so it will be an exciting showdown for sure.
Six crews headed for the Builth Wells showground for Round 6 of the MRF ST Trophy. The previous few weeks had been sunny, hot & dry and despite a heavy shower on Friday lunchtime the stages were still going to be dry and dusty.
Zak Hughes & Tom Wood led the field away and into the first stage. This was a new stage for the event and Zak threw caution, literally, to the wind over a crest and topped the leader board at the flying finish, as well as achieving a new high jump record for a Fiesta ST in Wales.
James Gddings & Sion Cuniff matched times with Ewan Tindall & Paul Hudson over the opening 5 miles with Kalvin Green & Osian Owen just 6 seconds behind. Mat & Tim Tordoff were in 5th with Martin Laverty & Phil Kenny rounding off the Trophy crews.
The pace stayed tight at the top over the next couple of stages with the top 4 behind split by only a handful of seconds.
Mat & Tim Tordoff suffered a puncture in Stage 3 and dropped some time but were determined to push on in the afternoon to claw back the lost minutes.
Green & Owen had upped their pace and were getting closer to Tindall & Hudson, the gap only 2 seconds after stage 3 and with Tindall only 6 seconds adrift of Giddings in 3rd who was 6 seconds shy of the leading Hughes it was going to be an epic fight for honours ahead.
Sadly the stage 4 start line was as far as the popular crew of Laverty & Kenny were going to get, a snapped shaft grinding their event to a halt.
The five remaining crews came into service back at the Royal Welsh Showground, all having enjoyed the close battle a one make series brings, the stages were fast and in good condition so it was all to play for in the afternoon loop.
Zak kept pushing hard and despite suffering a little front end damage was still leading the way. James started the afternoon stages 5 seconds behind but dropped a couple of second over the next 2 stages until disaster struck in Halfway 2 when they suffered a puncture. The crew tried to push on but under steered off the stage and hit a rock ending their rally. Ewan had been dropping a few seconds each stage to the 2 crews ahead but seeing the stricken Giddings on Stage 7 they knew they just needed to keep their noses clean for the final 2 stages for a podium position. Another crew to drop by the way side was Green & Owen, a fuel issue after stage 7 making them the 3rd ST on the retirement list.
Mat & Tim Tordoff's day went from bad to worse, they were trying to claw back some of the lost time with the puncture when they lost their power steering after a heavy impact, Mat needing to manhandle the car through the final 2 stages, but having seen the retirements around him knew he had to dig deep and struggle on for some important championship points.
The final 3 crews made it back to the ceremonial finish on the banks of the river Wye with Zak Hughes & Tom Wood getting to spray the Champagne in 1st place. Ewan Tindall & Paul Hudson took the 2nd spot and the Tordoff's managed to nurse their car home to a well deserved 3rd.
James Giddings still leads the championship with Mathew Tordoff only 3 points behind. 9 points adrift is Zak and with Kalvin only 2 points behind in 4th and Ewan Tindall only 2 points behind that in 5th it is still all to play for over the next 2 rounds.
The championship now has a short summer break before the excitement continues in Ludlow for the Woodpecker Stages on 1st September.
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