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.

Saturday, 8 September 2018

A sting in the Woodpeckers tail

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.

Keep up to date on our Facebook page.

Monday, 16 July 2018

High Flying Hughes takes top spot in Builth Wells

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.

Keep up to date with everything ST Trophy on the Facebook page.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Rough going in Killer Kielder

Nine ST Trophy crews headed north for round 5 of the championship, the Carlisle stages. The event was based at the popular H&H Auction Mart in Carlisle just off the M6. The 5 special stages lay 30 miles to the north east in the Kielder complex. The weather had been good leading up to the Rally so dust could be an issue on some stages.
The first loop of stages before service seemed to be cutting up badly and all crews reported how rough it was with lots of loose rocks on the stage surface. Several crews arrived back to Carlisle having suffered punctures and this theme was to continue throughout the day.
Steven Brown & Russell Fair were the first casualties retiring on Stage 2 after clipping a rock and a gatepost and damaging the front suspension. Brown had complained about an ill handling car up to that point.
Wesley Gilford and Sam Colman sadly found one of the deep Kielder ditches in the Kershope stage. There had been a torrential down pour mid way through the stage and the surface had become so slippery according to the new crew.
Kalvin Green & Rhys Stoneman also retired on the Kershope stage with mechanical issues.

The rest of the crews battled on through the rain and the rough conditions to make it back to the finish in Carlisle with Ewan Tindall & Paul Hudson topping the time sheets, this being only Ewan's second forest rally making the result that much more impressive. It's clear Ewan is going to be one to watch in the future.
 Mat & Tim Tordoff's controlled drive paid off with 2nd place and Zak Hughes & Tom Wood rounded off the top 3 after a fraught day.

The crews head to mid wales again for the next round, The NG stages, on July 14th.

Keep up to date with everything ST Trophy on our Facebook page.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Not all 'Plains' sailing in Welshpool

Seven crews arrived in Welshpool for round 4 of the ST Trophy. There had been some rain on the lead up to the event but the sun had managed to show itself for the Saturday, even resulting in dusty conditions as the day progressed.
8 Stages lay ahead of the crews in the classic Dyfnant & Gartheiniog forests.

Zak Hughes & Tom Wood led the crews away, Zak had fitted a new engine after his incident with a log pile on the Severn Valley Stages. Following crews had reported seeing smoke from the car early on and sadly for Zak & Tom the new engine cried enough during stage 2 so their rally ended with an early bath.

James Giddings & Sion Cunniff were next away at set the early pace, pushing hard to arrive at service after stage 4 with a 13 second lead over Martin Laverty. Unfortunately some mileage had been lost due to a bad accident on Stage 3.

Kalvin Green & Osian Owen were third Fiesta away and despite their best efforts were off the pace in the opening stages arriving at service in 6th place and needing to gather their thoughts ready for a much needed attack of the afternoon stages.

Mat & Tim Tordoff were next into the stages and were gaining more and more confidence in the new car with each mile. Mat had a steady first stage but then increased the pace and they arrived at mid point service still holding 3rd place and only 1 second behind 2nd place Laverty.

Martin Laverty & Phil Kenny seemed to have left their bad luck behind them and were rewarded with 2nd quickest time on the opening Dyfnant stage. They kept up the pace and arrived at service in 2nd place 13 seconds down on Giddings but with Tordoff only 1 second behind them it was going to be an interesting afternoon.

Ewan Tindall & Paul Hudson were the next away, a new crew to the Championship, Ewan only having past his driving test 2 weeks before the event. Ewan & Paul had moved up from the Junior leagues and this was to be Ewan's first outing in the forests and gravel. Luckily for Ewan, Paul Hudson has plenty of experience and would be a good guide for the youngster. This mix of young and old experience seemed to be paying off and the crew settled in to a quick pace which was getting quicker with each mile, arriving at service in 4th place but with only 4 seconds up to Laverty in 2nd they had a chance of a podium in their sights.

Final ST crew over the start ramp were straight talking Yorkshire crew of Neil Fewlass & Stephen Varey. Neil still getting used to left hand drive and front wheel drive. Neil & Steve arrived at the service halt in 6th pace 29 seconds behind Kalvin Green with just one thing on their mind, eurovision!

The crews all attacked the afternoon stages which was a re-run of the morning loop and despite a hold up all the mileage was there for them to fight it out. Green & Owen went on a rampage, throwing caution to the wind and aiming their sights high they managed to claw their way back up the leader board and with a bit of luck overhauled the leaders to come home as victors taking some well earned Championship points.
Giddings & Cunniff were comfortably leading until their gearbox mounting broke, they stopped on a road section and strapped the engine up, sensibly dropped their pace in the remaining stages to make sure they got to the finish. Their lowered pace handed the victory to Kalvin & Osian but they fought to the end finishing only 7 seconds behind but took valuable points with their 2nd place overall.
Ewan & Paul had settled into a good rhythm and kept upping their pace stage by stage to slowly move up the leader board, with veteran Hudson on the notes and keeping Tindall in check they came home with a very respectable 3rd overall just 5 seconds adrift of  second place Giddings.
Martin Laverty & Phil Kenny had slowly slid down the leader board as the afternoon went on and came back to Welshpool in 4th place just 2 seconds ahead of Mat & Tim Tordoff, the 2 crews had been within a hand full of seconds all day.
Fewlass & Varey came home in 6th place and with more experience under their belts will be hoping to improve on the next round. Sadly with the late finish of the event Neil had to miss The Eurovision Song Contest!

The Championship moves to the fast stages of Kielder for the Carlisle Stages on June 9th.

Keep up to date with everything ST Trophy on our Facebook page.