Ford boss wins RAC Rally
- 18th November 2008, 8:28am
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Principal Malcolm Wilson has swapped roles over the past four days jumping behind the wheel of a Kick Energy/Pirelli supported Stobart Ford Escort Mk2 as he and co-driver John Millington took an emphatic victory on the 2008 Roger Albert Clark (RAC) Rally.
Wilson began today’s final five stages of the event with a comfortable buffer and did not waste the opportunity to claim his first ever RAC rally crown by a massive six and a half minute margin over his closest rival.
After two spectator stages on Friday night, and a further two on Saturday morning in Leeds, the proper action got underway as Wilson proceeded to win 10 stages on the trot and head into Saturday night’s service with a commanding 1m42s lead over Irishman Martin McCormack.
Sunday saw McCormack fight back and after 20 stages the gap was now down to just 56 seconds, still in the favour of Wilson. Unfortunately McCormack slipped off the road on stage 21 handing the former British Rally Champion a five minute lead to his closest opponent David Stokes by the close of the day.
It was a superb effort by Wilson to dominate the event which was helped by co-driver Millington who, as a former Motorsport News Road Rally Champion, had a wealth of experience on the maps and of the route they would encounter.
The RAC Rally’s route is a real challenge to crews and this year there was no exception with competition kicking off Friday night in Leeds before making its way north through the Yorkshire and Cumbrian counties on Saturday. Sunday then took crews to south west Scotland and the Dumfries and Galloway region before heading east today for the final stages in Kielder Forest.
In total a whopping 946 miles were covered, 204 of those competitive over 31 stages. The concept behind the event in recent years has been to replicate the original style of the British round of the World Rally Championship both geographically and mechanically. This saw a raft of exceptionally maintained and presented historic rally cars including the legendry Ford Escort Mk2, Lancia Stratos Group 4 and Porsche 911 all pitching for the spot of 2008 RAC Rally champion.
Overnight service and Parc Ferme on both Saturday and Sunday was based at Stobart Air’s Carlisle Airport, while the ceremonial finish was held in Carlisle city centre. The RAC was named after Roger Albert Clark, the first man to win Britain's round of the World Rally Championship back in 1972.
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team Principal & Driver Malcolm Wilson said:
“I’m absolutely overjoyed. Roger Clark was my hero and to come back and win the rally that carries his name is a real joy. It’s so easy to forget the physical effort required and in the old RAC rallies we didn’t really have many second passes over the stages; but here I found it really demanding. However, it’s also very rewarding to know I can still be reasonably competitive.
“I knew, after competing on the McRae Stages, just how difficult this rally would be and I trained hard for it and its really paid off. But I have to take my hat off to Milly, he was fantastic on the maps and his preparation for the rally was first class; he left no stone unturned.
“The boys in the team here have done a stunning job as well. The car was only started on the morning of the rally and it’s run like clockwork with no major problems at all. And I can’t believe I haven’t put a scrape on it either, that’s not like me!”
Roger Albert Clark Rally - Provisional Results After SS31
1 Malcolm Wilson/John Millington (Ford Escort Mk2 RS1800) 3hr 42m01s
2 David Stokes/Guy Weaver (Ford Escort RS1600) + 6.24
3 Seamus O'Connell/Paul Wakely (Ford Escort Mk2) + 9.56
4 Charlie Taylor/Steve Bielby (Ford Escort) + 10.19
5 Phil Squires/Mick Squires (Ford Escort RS1800) + 11.34
6 William Onions/Tim Hobbs (Ford Escort RS1800) + 16.11
7 Reg Britton/Gerry Buckley (Ford Escort Mk2 RS1800) + 21.01
8 Andrew Siddall/Colin Thompson (Ford Escort RS2000) + 21.28
9 Bob Bean/Malcolm Smithson (Ford Lotus Cortina Mk1) + 21.31
10 Steve Perez/Kevin Rae (Lancia Stratos) + 28.44
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