Sunday, 12 March 2017

Bilham battles to DMack ST Trophy win in Cumbria

Bingley driver Sam Bilham and co-driver Cameron Fair battled through tough conditions to win round one of the Dmack ST Trophy which took place on the Malcolm Wilson rally in Cumbria. Alasdair Currie was second and Richard Wells third.

Bilham was fastest of the ST Trophy crews on all but the first stage and his winning margin was almost two minutes after 43 miles of competition in the forests of the Lake District.

“We had a trouble-free day, stage one was very slippery and it took some time to get used to the car with it being the first event since last season,” said Bilham. “It was good to be the quickest crew on six of the seven stages, I’m aiming for the championship win after a strong performance last year so it’s the ideal start to our year.”

Alasdair Currie and Steven Brown were in second place, a great result given their car was only finished the night before the event.

“The gearbox broke on the Snowman rally two weeks ago and we’ve been flat out repairing it,” commented Currie. “We finally got the job finished on Thursday night before heading down to Cumbria. We struggled on stage one but then were settling in nicely before a total loss of brakes in stage four. We struggled back to service and discovered a split pipe which we repaired. The brake peddle was still spongy in the afternoon stages but we managed to get second place.”

Richard Wells and Calvin Houldsworth finished in third after setting joint fastest time on the first stage. They shared the fastest time with Jason Dickson and Arwel Jenkins who ended the event in fourth place after spending the day working on the set-up of the car, having previously only contesting Irish forestry events. 

Jon Ambler made the long journey north from Hampshire and he and co-driver Doug Chivers were rewarded with fifth place. 

“We started fairly steadily to get back into the swing of things after the winter break,” said Ambler. “We had no real dramas other than some damage to the front bumper caused by the stages being rough in places. Our times improved as I got used to the car and I’m happy with fifth place.”

In sixth place was Martin Auskerin and John Ross. Auskerin struggled for grip early on and then had a huge moment in the Wythop stage which resulted in the car getting stuck and needing the help of spectators to get going again. This, and a few other moments, saw a fair bit of time lost to the other ST Trophy crews. 

Tom Easson and Abi Haycock had a disappointing event. Like other crews, they struggled with the conditions early on but their rally would come to a dramatic end in Grizedale when the car went off the road and a fence post came through the windscreen, narrowly missing the crew who fortunately escaped injury.

Enniskillen’s Jody McManus and co-driver Jon Armstrong were setting some great times in their Fiesta but hopes of a good result were ended in Grizedale when an engine mount broke and, subsequently, a driveshaft failed which caused them to retire. 

Another crew to fall victim to the notorious Grizedale forest were Guy Butler and Jamie Mactavish who suffered a broken shaft.

“It was my first event in the car,” said Butler. “It was a case of learning with each mile and I was really enjoying my first taste of the ST Trophy. Sadly we broke a shaft on the start line of stage five, we limped through the stage but decided to retire rather than risk further damage to the car.”

The DMack ST Trophy will resume on the Somerset Stages on April 8th.

DMack ST Trophy Round 1 results:

Sam Bilham 51:11
Alasdair Currie +1:58
Richard Wells +0:29
Jason Dickson +0:11
Jon Ambler +0:30
Martin Auskerin +4:28

Stage shots courtesy Songasport