NOW regarded as the premier rally in the East of England, the Richard Burns Memorial Rally attracted a large entry to RAF Marham last weekend, for two days of tarmac special stage competition.
The rally attracted extra attention when it was announced that the Mini John Cooper Works WRC team would have factory drivers Kris Meeke and Dani Sordo sharing duties in a course car, but that was eventually given even more prestige when the young Corsican star Pierre Campara contested the rally at the wheel of a Works Mini.
Campara has recently come to the attention of the rallying world following excellent results on the Monte Carlo and Corsica rallies. He is being funded by the French motorsport governing body, the FFSA, and, together with Meeke and Sordo, was using the Norfolk event as a shakedown for the German rally.
Seeding for the rally saw last year’s winners, John Indri and John Harland, running at number one in their Darrien T90GTR, Campara and co-driver Sabrina De Castelli completed the top 10, with our local crew of Tony and Emma Hewitt running at number eight in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 5.
Clare Rix was out again in her Ford Ka, with co-driver Rob Cook hoping he would not be adding to his long list of retirements during the 2011 season.
Unfortunately, Rob did increase the list, as the engine of the Ka died on the first stage: “We tried hard to rectify the problem, but with no luck. At least the gearbox trouble seemed resolved, so that’s good news.”
As the rally progressed, it seemed to become a battle between Campara and Indri and, eventually, Indri had to settle for second position, but ran out winners of class D.
Just 21 seconds separated the leading duo, while there was a five-minute-12-second gap down to the third-placed Ford Escort of Rob Dennis/Lee Harding.
Husband and wife Tony and Emma Hewitt brought the Evo 5 home 12th overall, fifth in class.
The rally has raised a considerable sum for the Richard Burns Foundation. It was formed following Richard’s death from a brain tumour in November 2005. He remains the only English driver to have won the World Rally Championship, having done so in 2001. The foundation’s mission now is to help the Brain & Spine Foundation create a network of brain centres in the UK.
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After four years as championship co-ordinator for the Ward Construction - AEMC Stage Rally Championship, Rob Cook tells me he intends to stand down at the end of the current championship year.
There is little doubt that, over that period, he has been responsible for the growth of the championship, and his successor should find it in good health. I am sure all involved in the Eastern rally scene will wish him well in his new ventures.
It seems amazing to mention the last event of 2011 already, but that has happened at Stretham, as Cambridge AC staged their final autograss event of the year last Sunday.
For Bury’s Matt Ellis, it was a continuation of his dominance of the Stock Hatch category, as he took his Citroen AX to victory in both of his two heats and completed the day with a similar situation in the A final.
This has secured Matt the class championship in the Cambridge club’s competition. This weekend, he takes in the East Anglian Open, with the Concord MC at Cold Norton.
Steve Fisher also recorded heat wins with his twin bike engined Peugeot, but stalled one of the power units at the start of the A final for his class.
However, with the leaders three-quarters of a lap ahead, he got underway and, in a fine performance, came through to secure a well-deserved second position.
Short Circuit. Foxhall Stadium, Saturday, 6.45pm. Lightning Rods; 2.0 Stock Cars; Bangers.
Great Yarmouth, Sunday, 5.30pm. Stock Rods; Ministox; Bangers.
Great Yarmouth, Thursday, 8pm. 1300 Stock Cars; Rookie Rods; Bangers.
Autograss. East Anglian Open, Sunday. Old Whitmans Farm, Hackmans Lane, Cold Norton, Chelmsford. Sat Nav CM36 6RH.
Motor Racing. Oulton Park, Saturday, BARC. Races include Kumho BMW.