Although hit by snow and ice early on, it was the final gravel stage that decided the result of the Robin Hood Historic Forest Stages, the opening round of the Armajaro MSA British Historic Rally Championship.
Into Birklands, the last test, David Stokes/Guy Weaver and Mark Solloway/Mark Crisp were level after Solloway lost his 15sec lead with a half-spin in Harlow Wood. Sensing his chance, Stokes attacked, but slid his Escort Mk1 sideways into a pile of dirt and spent 26sec stationary as spectators pushed the car clear.
That left Solloway clear for victory in his Mk1, but it was only quick work before the final stage that saved his rally. “I had problems with the gear selector, so I pulled it apart and changed the gear lever,” explained Solloway. So close was the less powerful Escort RS2000 of Steven Smith/John Nichols that they jumped ahead of Stokes to claim second, just 9sec adrift of the winners.
Patrick Watts was a clear Category One winner in his Sunbeam Tiger, partnered by Elgan Davies, with only a fuel-induced misfire to trouble them. An inspired Philip Atkinson, co-driven by Simon Coates, led the chase of the Tiger in the best of the Lotus-Cortinas.
From the strongest Classic entry to date, packed with Mk2 Escorts, it was Peter Slights/Joyce Champion who took a half-minute victory. Gareth Lloyd and Ryland James dropped time on Saturday evening on the ice, but stormed through Sunday’s stages to bag second.