Wilks wins Trackrod Rally
- 28th September 2008, 7:27pm
The annual Trackrod Rally Yorkshire helped throw wide open what many people consider to be the UK’s premier two championships, while affording a fairytale return to a man who broke his neck on the event 12 months ago.
Tesco 99 Octane British Champion, Guy Wilks, repeated his overall victory of 2007 but in more emphatic style – going fastest in each of the ten stages – to reinvigorate his bid to retain the crown.
Wilks’ speed in the Yorkshire forests was too much for any of his rivals, although three times former British Champion and 2004 Trackrod winner Mark Higgins was relatively pleased with his second place, as it makes him the new championship leader with younger brother and pre-event series front-runner David slowed by transmission failure and managing only sixth place.
An early season car fire meant Wilks had been playing catch-up but he enthused, “Today was great – better than last year as we were quickest on every stage."
“I’m back in the frame for the championship now and if the car continues to prove as reliable as it was today and was on the run-in last year, I’m very confident we can still retain the title.”
Mark Higgins paid tribute to Wilks’ pace and commented:
“Guy was very good today. We lost about a minute with a gear linkage problem, meaning the car was stuck in low gears on both of the last two stages before service, but in fairness, I think that second was the best we could hope for so we’ll take the points and are still in a good position going into the final round.”
The slightly shorter National Rally finished in dramatic style with defending Pirelli ANCRO National Gravel Champion, Marcus Dodd, leading for much of the day only to see his hopes of capitalising on the absence of current series leader, Jon Ingram, blown to pieces on the final 14-mile Givendale stage.
Dodd, outright winner of the Trackrod Rally in 1998 and 1999, pulled up agonisingly in Dalby Forest when his Hyundai Accent WRC’s engine failed, handing victory to Steve Perez, in a Ford Focus WRC, just days after he had returned from an equally successful fourth place on the Rally of Peru.
A gloriously warm and sunny day began with the Trackrod Historic Cup for cars built prior to 1981, where Nick Elliott emerged triumphant in a Ford Escort and there were category victories for the mid-1970s Porsche 911 of Steven Smith and the even older sixties Sunbeam Tiger driven by Patrick Watts.
Later Tim Pearcey scored a popular and notable success in the Trackrod Clubman’s Trophy – repeating his victory of 2005 (when he also won the National Rally 24 hours beforehand) – but, more significantly, burying the painful memories of last year.
Then, the 37-year old Pearcey destroyed his Mitsubishi in a horrific 125mph accident and was airlifted to hospital with a broken bone in his neck but 2008 proved to be nothing but celebration as he and co-driver, Jamie Edwards, steered his new Lancer Evo 9 to quickest times on each of the five stages to win by one minute and 25 seconds.
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