Mikkelsen’s 6th win in 6 months
- 8th November 2006, 1:35pm
In stark contrast to the 2005 running, this year’s Cambrian Rally was a bright and sunny affair, but the clear weather had left a thin layer of ice on a lot of the stages, making conditions remarkably tricky.
Mikkelsen immediately showed his incredible talent by going 9 seconds faster than anyone else on the opening three mile Great Orme Stage! Second fastest was Gwyn Thomas in his Ford Puma, whilst newly crowned BTRDA champion Shaun Gardener was tied on times with Opel Manta pilot Jon Ballinger in third. Burton, who is not a fan of tarmac, was down in 8th spot, 15 seconds slower.
Icy conditions on the first forest stage took a few people by surprise, causing Paul Benn to briefly invert his Ford Focus World Rally Car, whilst a number of competitors paid visits to the undergrowth. Although most were able to get going again, some, such as BRC regular Rob Swann, were firmly embedded in the undergrowth and their rally was over.
Burton, who won this event last year, was in fine form and was six seconds quicker than Mikkelsen through this stage, with Shaun Gardener a further 10 seconds back. Wyn Humphries was next up in his Group N Subaru, whilst Henri Grehan was the fastest 2 wheel drive in his Mk II Escort.
Mikkelsen soon put Burton firmly in place, taking 12 seconds out of him on Stage 3, whilst Paul Benn showed no ill effects from his roll on the previous stage by going third fastest. However a dropped valve on Stage 4 saw the demise of Burton’s Peugeot leaving Mikkelsen way out in front, where the young Norwegian was in dominant form. Stage 4 saw him go over 20 seconds faster than anyone else, whilst on the short 2.4 mile Haffotty stage, he was an astounding six seconds quicker than his nearest rival!
By the lunch time service the 17 year old was 1 minute 22 seconds ahead of Shaun Gardeners’ Mitsubishi Evo 6, whilst Wyn Humphries was lying third overall and leading the production class by over 20 seconds.
Best rear wheel drive for most of the morning had been young Henri Grehan, but a broken cross member and no welding machine available at service saw the pair retire from a 38 second lead, leaving ‘Mad Mick’ Jones with the class lead. However top 2 wheel drive was Gwyn Thomas in the Puma who was 10th overall, proving that all wheel drive can be beaten in the slippery conditions.
At 14 miles, Clocaenog Main was the longest stage of the rally and Mikkelsen literally flew through the forest - an incredible 51 seconds faster than the rest of the field! With this kind of domination it was no surprise that Mikkelsen, who makes his World Rally debut on Wales Rally GB in December, took the rally win, but even by his standards this was an amazing result, eventually winning by well over 3 minutes!
Second car home and taking his fourth maximum BTRDA points in a row, was 2006 Champion Shaun Gardener, whilst Wyn Humphries not only took Group N honours but also completed the podium in his Subaru Impreza. 11th overall was the 2 wheel drive Puma of Gwyn Thomas, whilst Mick Jones took rear wheel drive honours in his Mk II Escort.
With 2006 Xspec 1400 champions Neil Weaver and Nick Thornton absent, the battle had been expected to be between young Scotsman David Bogie at the wheel of a Nova and Welshman Carwyn Harries in his Suzuki. Despite power steering problems on the first stage, and a puncture on each of the next two, Bogie flew back up the leader board, and when Harries retired, the flying Scotsman was left way out front, eventually winning the class by over 40 seconds from the Proton of Duncan Williams.
Despite having won the championship at the previous round, Shaun Gardener was highly enthused about his performance this weekend.
“The atmosphere has been fantastic this weekend and I’ve really enjoyed every moment of it. The conditions were really slippery and we had a few moments, including one edge-of-the-seat one in Stage 5 when I braked a bit late. We’ll be back to defend our title with a new car next year!”
With the 2006 championship now over the competitors and organisers have a three month break before the new season begins.
BTRDA 2006 Gold Star Champions:
Shaun Gardener, Ben Innes – Mitsubishi Evo V
BTRDA Xspec 1400 Champions:
Neil Weaver, Nick Thornton – Vauxhall Corsa
BTRDA Silver Star Champions:
Paul Barrett, Dermot Colgan – Ford Escort G3
BTRDA Group N Champions:
John Bannister, Dave Robson – Subaru Impreza
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