By Barry Lindsay
The Pendragon Stages had to change date this year due to army commitments in August. It had also lost the use of Lowther stages so the 2011 Pendragon was a single venue rally on the Warcop ranges in May.
Spadeadam MC had a good attendance at the event which with the new date being the day after the dinner dance. James Coxon was the highest seeded SMC member, sitting in with Michael Johns in the EVo6 at 10, followed by Barry and Michael Lindsay at 11, then Keith Taylor and Paul Hughes at 12 in the Subaru. Tim Finch was at 19, but wasn’t well enough to compete and non-started. Peter Taylor with Andrew Roughead had the Clio at 21 and using the event as practice for the Jim Clark, which followed the next weekend. Chris Taylor and Jonny Sproat were at 27 in the front wheel drive RS2000, Barrie Thomson and Jerry Hettrick had their 106 at 36. Nigel Hepburn and James McWhir had the 206 at 51.
The heavy overnight rain left everything wet with heavy showers mixed with sunny spells it was a day of which tyre to be on. Barry and Michael used the knowledge of both Warcop and wet tarmac to set 7m30 for the stage (4th fastest behind Stobart, Hall and Benn!) Keith and Paul were 5 seconds behind with 7m 35, then Mike and James on 7m 55. Peter and Andrew stuck the Clio off backwards losing over a minute.
Stage two was a rerun and slightly drier, Keith and Paul were quickest with 7m20 with Barry and Michael on 7m 23 then Mike and James on 7m29, then Chris and Jonny with 7m 34.
Stage three was a changed route with a bit more mileage. It was also drier in most places and some gambled on intermediate tyres. Keith and Paul were quickest with 9m 09 agead of Mike and James with 9m 16, then Barry and Michael on 9m 22, the Peter and Andrew on 9m 40. Barrie and Jerry had lost some time reversing after hitting a concrete barrier at the split.
Stage four a rerun and again the showers moved over, Mike and James got 9m 05 wit Barry and Michael on 9m 17, then Peter and Andrew on 9m 23, then Chris and Jonny on 9m 28. Barrie and Jerry were in trouble again with the re-occurrence of the engine misfire that plagued them at Ingleston.
After a lunch break as Eden Valley marshal frantically changed the stages direction for the afternoon four stages.
As crews lined up for stage 5 a slight wait at the start and and other heavy shower arrived! Barry and Michael had opted for cut slicks, but struggled away from the start but they were the right choice. The stage in the opposite direction Barry knew the bits to watch for! 3rd overall time of 9m 34 as they found the limit of the 106 with Mike and James next getting 9m 47. Chris and Jonny got 10m 04. Peter and Andrew went off for about 6 minutes just along the road from where Nigel and James who had flown off on a right over crest, damaging the radiator so were unable to continue. Keith and Paul had also gone off and were unable to get back on. Stage 6 was wetter and claimed both Hall and Benn from the top three who were slicks. Mick and John were the best SMC crew with 9m 38. Barry and Michael got 9m 42, then Chris and Jonny on 9m 53, then Peter and Andrew on 10m 17.
Another route change for the final two stages, Stage 7 Mike and John had another quick run in the Evo with 8m 51, then Barry and Michael on 8m 56, and Chris and Jonny on 9m 09 followed by Peter and Andrew on 9m 13. Results updates were a bit scarce in the service area, but ahead of the final stage it showed Barry and Michael in 4th only 1 second ahead of Ricky Wheeler in a 2lt Mk2. The 106 went into the stage realistically expecting to drop to fifth. The first part of the stage was a bit untidy, clipping the wooden sleepers that formed the merge with the back wheel. Then nearly spun at the hairpin, but after a few calming comments the rest of the stage flowed and the grip was good and the car was on the rails. 8m43 was second fastest time, 2 ahead of rally winner William Stobart in the Focus WRC! Which also meant 4th overall was safe and a 2 minute class win. Mile and James got 8m 46 with put them 6th overall, then came Peter and Andrew with 10m 05 who had to stop when the back bumper started to melt and smoke on the exhaust. A troubled day for them finishing 30th overall. Chris and Jonny had a cruel blow putting the RS2000 into a ditch at the tree near the pens. They retired from a 3rd in class position.
Thanks must go to all the marshals and organisers for putting on and running this new evolution of the Pendragon Rally in a very shower day.
4th OA 1st Class Barry & Michael Lindsay 106 GTi 1hr10m27
6th OA 3rd Class Mike Johns & James Coxon Evo 1hr10m47
30th OA 8th Class Peter Taylor & Andrew Roughead Clio 1 hr21m28
Chris Taylor & Jonny Sproat RS2000 Off Last Stage
Nigel Hepburn & James McWhir 206 GTi Off Stage 5
Kieth Taylor & Paul Hughes Subaru Off Stage 5