In the third round of the British Historic Rally Championship, Richard Tuthill snatched the Plains Rally win on the very last stage of the event on 20 May. The Porsche 911 driver, co-driven by Dale Furniss, had been locked in an intense battle for the lead with Marty McCormack and Barney Mitchell’s Ford Escort MKII throughout the event, heading into the short and final LLangower stage on identical times. Tuthill took the stage two seconds faster to score his first BHRC victory since a similar battle with McCormack in 2007 on the Isle of Man, which Tuthill also won. History repeated itself, but this time on the gruelling North Wales gravel.
The two duelling drivers were never more than five seconds apart all day with the lead swapping three times over the eight stages until Tuthill’s final stage flurry. “I don’t quite know what to say, that’s pretty cool,” said Tuthill at the finish. “We have some history together, I think one of my most enjoyable performances ever was at the Manx Rally battling with Marty and had I lost today, there would have been no better man to lose to.”
The one-day Plains Rally took crews to the spectacular Snowdonia National Park, where they were met with hot, dry, and dusty conditions that ultimately led to a drama filled day. Tom Walster and Andrew Roughead (Escort MKII) set the early pace but fell down the order after the loop of Alwen stages. In fact, Walster enjoyed his own mini duel with Adrian Hetherington and Ronan O’Neill in a similar Escort for the final podium place, which was decided when Hetherington slipped off the road on the first stage after service, leaving Walster to secure more points for his maiden BHRC season. His third place on the Plains has slotted him into second in the championship standings.
Nick Elliott and Dave Price hustled their FIAT 131 Abarth through the stages and were another to be fighting for position during the day, this time with championship leaders Roger Chilman and Patrick Walsh (Escort MKII). But the outcome was decided for them when Chilman left the road on the final stage, handing Elliott fourth and first FIA Category car home. Moreover, his result means he now leads the championship standings.
The Category Two (cars between 1968-1975) contest was a little simpler. No one could touch the pace of championship leader coming into the event, Mike Stuart in his Ford Escort MKI. He had built up a lead over almost a minute from nearest rivals Josh Carr and Richard Wardle in their example, even challenging some of the more powerful Category Three cars in the process. But his rally came to an end when an engine issue forced him out on the sixth test, leaving Carr to manage the remainder of the event and take his second win of the season.
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